Posted by vp19 on 2015.02.10 at 22:00
Current mood: contemplative
When I moved to southern California last year, my friend Carole Sampeck of The Carole Lombard Archive congratulated me on coming out to the West Coast, noting I now could see areas she knew through her eyes (even if I had to re-imagine such sights some 75, 80 or 90 years earlier).
Sunday, I did a bit of just that.
Above are two photos of Lombard’s famed week-long stint handling publicity for Selznick International Studios in July 1938 (and, as you can see, she also served cheesecake to photographers hungry for leg art). On Sunday, I passed the site where she not only played publicist, but acted in a number of films for both Selznick (“Nothing Sacred,” “Made For Each Other”) and Pathe nearly a decade later (“High Voltage,” “Big News,” “The Racketeer”)…
…the historic Culver Studios on Washington Boulevard, the second studio built in Culver City by silent-era pioneer Thomas Ince. (The first, some blocks up the street, gained most of its renown as MGM’s home and now is host to Sony/Columbia.) It’s a landmark of sorts, with a plaque to prove it:
So what was I doing in Culver City Sunday? Well, sightseeing I guess, but I also had another purpose:
The University of Maryland Alumni Association, of which I am a member (class of 1977), is re-establishing its formerly dormant chapter in Los Angeles, and a few dozen former Terrapins converged on a sports bar on Washington Boulevard named Rush Street for a game watch, as the Maryland men’s basketball team played at Iowa and carried on the Big Ten Network (after 61 years in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Terp teams moved to the Big Ten this past fall). The less said about the game, the better (Iowa led from the start and blitzed Maryland, 75-59)…but thankfully, one of the sets was tuned into the fifth-ranked Maryland women’s game, a 59-47 conquest of Nebraska before nearly 11,000 in College Park.
(The Terps continued their winning ways Tuesday by turning back Rutgers, 80-69; Maryland now is 13-0 in the B1G and has a 2 1/2-game lead over second-place Iowa.)
New friends were made, business cards exchanged (including some of those new Carole & Co. cards), and aside from the men’s result, a good time was had by all.
After the game watch, I walked over to the historic Culver Hotel, as seen in Laurel and Hardy films and today best known in popular culture as where the little people known as the Munchkins stayed during the making of “The Wizard of Oz”:
While I have no documented proof Lombard visited the hotel, its proximity to what first was Pathe and then the Selznick studio made it likely Carole at least dropped in for a meal, and possibly stayed a few nights in the place.
A pedestrian plaza stands between the hotel and Washington Boulevard, including a fountain with a metal lion sculpture (symbolizing MGM? Bert Lahr? Who knows?):
That was it for Culver City, so I decided to take the bus home. However, the bus I took connected to the 217 route on Fairfax Avenue, so with time left in the afternoon, I did something I hadn’t done since my first visit to Los Angeles in 1989…
…”visited” Lombard’s legendary Hollywood Boulevard house, just a block west of Fairfax.
Can’t say the place has changed that much over the past quarter-century, but then again I didn’t expect it to. But knowing far much more about Carole than I did then, I appreciate the house’s history and its place in Lombard lore. (The stories it could tell!)
Which reminds me — I have to go play Powerball tomorrow morning. If I win the $450 million-plus jackpot, there’s some real estate I intend to buy…