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carole lombard 01

2015 TCMFF, day 4: Advice from a comic legend, then going Chinese for a 'Psycho'

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.30 at 22:27
Current mood: happyhappy

It looks as if Carole Lombard's ready to catch a train, if this image is indicative. She doesn't appear in the best of moods; perhaps she's a bit rushed from preparing her trip. But since it's 1938, we know from the technology of the time that she didn't immediately sign this, as she might have today. In fact, the information on the back corroborates that:

I long thought Lombard apparently was going somewhere for the weekend, but a check of the 1938 calendar instead revealed May 2 was a Monday, May 5 a Thursday. This was nearly a year before the new, and soon iconic, Los Angeles Union Station opened, so this may have been taken at one of the earlier LA terminals, or perhaps at Glendale or Pasadena. (Both were popular embarking points for the Hollywood crowd, as they generally were less crowded and weren't as much a hassle.)

Sunday was getaway day at the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival. Several films were on the schedule, including a number of repeats that had proved popular on the first go-round. But I already had seen "Don't Bet On Women," and while watching Ernst Lubitsch's "The Smiling Lieutenant" to witness Claudette Colbert and Miriam Hopkins sing the outrageously saucy "Jazz Up Your Lingerie" on the big screen would've been fun... conflicted with something else I wanted to do, an event not under TCM auspices. It was over at the famed Larry Edmunds Bookshop on Hollywood Boulevard (that was the name of its founder, who opened the store, specializing in entertainment books and related items, back in the '30s), for a reading and book signing from a genuine legend of comedy:

Carl Reiner, who turned 93 earlier this month, was promoting his new book "I Just Remembered," an array of recollections, most of them comedic of course. You know him from the "2,000-Year-Old Man" routines with fellow legend Mel Brooks, creating "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and all sorts of other things. Or perhaps you know him better as director Rob Reiner's dad. Whatever, he was regaling a mesmerized crowd of several dozen seated at the bookstore.

Not one of my better photographs; sorry.

Afterward, there was a book signing, and when he got around to me, I mentioned I was beginning a career in screenwriting, but added I might be too old. (I was using it in the context of starting a sustained career at age 59.) Anyway, he said in an encouraging way, "You're never too old to write." Considering he's more than one-and-a-half times my age -- and I can't say that about too many other folks anymore -- he's right, of course. When I make my Academy Award acceptance speech for Best Original Screenplay, I will cite that...and I want Carl to be there to hear it.

From there, it was over to the Chinese Theater for my second movie there in as many days. More on that later, but first some pictures. First, here I am in line, dressed in full TCM regalia (red cap and an I <3 movies T-shirt)...

...then went into the Chinese lobby, where I photographed several iconic costumes, such as Travilla's gown for Marilyn Monroe in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes"...

...Julie Andrews from "Thoroughly Modern Millie"...

...Judy Garland's gingham dress from "The Wizard of Oz"...

...Vivien Leigh's green gown from "Gone With the Wind"...

...and finally, Rita Hayworth's scintillating black satin gown from "Gilda":

Then it was time to take my seat, and once again I was to watch a film from 1960. But while Saturday I saw Billy Wilder's sweet-but-tart comedy "The Apartment," this time I witnessed the flip side of '60 -- Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho," a film I had never before seen in its entirety.

I've often compared Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane" to Stravinsky's "The Rites of Spring" for its revolutionary nature, but this film -- and the shock it still can give audiences 55 years after its release, despite the many parodies and homages it's inspired -- might be a better analogy for the Stravinsky piece. After the Technicolor lushness and star power of "Vertigo" and "North By Northwest," Hitch threw his fans a curve with this one.

We know how Janet Leigh felt about showers following the making of this film, but I wonder how daughter Jamie Lee Curtis first reacted to watching her mother's demise on screen? But at least before poor Marion Crane meets her maker, we do play voyeur and view her in underwear -- first wearing white during her initial bedroom affair, then in black after she's made off with $40,000 in cash:

From there, I soaked up all the atmosphere I could get, including posing between Doris Day and Buster Keaton in the Hollywood Roosevelt lobby...

...then snapping this pic at "The Road to Hollywood" walkway at the Hollywood & Highland shopping/entertainment complex:

(If you have a telephone number formerly used by a Hollywood celeb, please let me know.)

Finally, I found this at "The Hollywoodland Experience" on the Boulevard, across from the Chinese. Aspiring actors, actresses and directors get faux license plates and other goodies as sale items; we poor screenwriters-to-be have to settle for...

...and "screenwriter" is spelled with two words (like an archaic reference to "base ball" or "basket ball"). Oh, well.

And speaking of basket ball -- oops, basketball -- congratulations to my University of Maryland women for securing a return trip to the NCAA Final Four with a 58-48 victory over Tennessee in a game where both teams' offenses seemed stuck in quicksand. That's the good news for the Terrapins.

The bad news? Their next game is Sunday against the Evil Empire of women's basketball (two-time defending national champion Connecticut), which actually trailed underdog Dayton at halftime Monday night before putting away the pesky Flyers by 21. Brenda Frese has pulled off all sorts of postseason magic during her 13 years in College Park, but she'll need the ultimate miracle to beat Geno Auriemma's bullies. Brenda, a nation is rooting for you.

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2015 TCMFF, day 3: Making book of a trip from '42nd Street' to 'The Apartment'

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.29 at 08:37
Current mood: cheerfulcheerful

This photo of Carole Lombard, said to be taken by a fan in the mid-1930s, was shot at Sardi's, the long-gone restaurant at 6313 Hollywood Boulevard, just west of Vine. And just look at its exterior...1930s Streamline at its best, especially dramatic at night:

The Hollywood of 2015 may not have that kind of glamour, but it doesn't stop people from searching for it. I'm proud to label myself among those searchers, and many of us have converged upon Hollywood this weekend for the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival, where we try to recapture that magic, then immerse ourselves in it. And most of the time -- perhaps through the magic of our minds -- we succeed.

This was how I'd wanted to begin my Saturday -- seeing 100-year-old Norman Lloyd being interviewed by Ben Mankiewicz at the Montalban Theater on Vine Street. (Lloyd, probably best known for his role in Alfred Hitchcock's "Saboteur," remains active -- playing tennis nearly every day -- and has a small role in the forthcoming comedy "Trainwreck," starring Bill Hader and Amy Schumer. Alas, attendance was limited and I couldn't get in, not even with my Palace Pass. (Reminder to self: Upgrade pass status for 2016.) So I moved on...specifically to the Chinese theater multiplex, metaphorically to "42nd Street":

The 1933 film that singlehandedly revived the movie musical genre, dormant for several years following a glut of poorly made movies at the start of the decade, featured the favorite film star of my mother in her youth, Ruby Keeler. (That's her, the brunette in the chorus line between the monocled Ginger Rogers and Una Merkel.) "42nd Street" has been restored by Warner Archives, and helping introduce the film was none other than Broadway star Christine Ebersole, who starred as Bebe Daniels' character Dorothy Brock in the 2001 Broadway revival of the show, first converted into a stage musical in the 1980s. She engagingly discussed the difference between the film and Broadway versions:

Perhaps if Lombard's 1934 film "Twentieth Century" finally gets the restoration it deserves, Kristin Chenoweth -- who's getting rave reviews for her turn as Lily Garland in the Broadway revival of the musical derived from the movie, "On the Twentieth Century" -- will introduce it at a future TCMFF. (We can only hope for both.)

The afternoon was spent in the Hollywood Roosevelt lobby, buying festival merchandise as well as the book "The Dawn of Technicolor, 1915-1935," signed by its authors, James Layton and David Pierce... well as keeping an eye on the lobby TV, where my University of Maryland women's basketball team advanced to the "elite eight," conquering one-time rival Duke by 10 points.

Then it was time for a visit to the apartment -- no, not the one where I live in Los Angeles, but the one inhabited by Jack Lemmon (most of the time, anyway) in "The Apartment," the 1960 Academy Award winner for best picture. It also marked the first time I ever have set foot inside the main Chinese theater on Hollywood Boulevard, and its recent renovations apparently have not dimmed its luster:

And speaking of luster, Shirley MacLaine's still got plenty of it. The screen legend and raconteur discussed the production with Leonard Maltin, who along with Mankiewicz has been doing yeoman work at the festival in lieu of the absent Robert Osborne (best wishes for your recovery, Bob!). She told of dining with notoriously frugal co-star Fred MacMurray, who shrewdly used his money for an array of real estate holdings (including at one time the now century-old Bryson on Wilshire Boulevard, which I can see from my apartment). Perhaps that was the topic of conversation when this shot was taken:

And finally, I ran into Mankiewicz -- hurriedly in between gigs -- after "The Apartment," reminding him I had given him a Carole & Co. business card at the 2014 TCMFF. He said he hadn't had a chance to see the site (understandable, given his busy schedule), but promised to see it in the future. Knowing your fondness for Lombard, Ben (, I think you'll enjoy dropping by.

Ladies and gentlemen, here are two of the passions in my life -- Carole Lombard and the University of Maryland women's basketball team. While I've passed Carole's star many times and taken pictures of it, I don't believe I've ever posed next to it. I rectified that the other night by having my picture taken with the star while at the TCM Classic Film Festival and saluting the Big Ten champions. (For those looking for it, the star is in front of the Baja Fresh restaurant at 6930 Hollywood Boulevard.)

Day 2 of the festival -- the first full day of events for me -- was exhausting, but fun. It began at the Egyptian in the morning with a presentation of clips from early Technicolor musicals (alas, few remain in their original color state, or in their entirety) and it was a joy to see the likes of the likable Winnie Lightner and other early talkie stars perform on screen in two-strip Technicolor.

This session was held in conjunction with a new book, "The Dawn of Technicolor, 1915-1935," a commemoration of sort of the centennial of the leading color photography process. One of its authors, David Pierce, helped found the Media History Digital Library, which has been invaluable in aiding the research capability of Carole & Co. and other classic Hollywood blogs ( Pierce is shown below at yesterday's presentation.

Later today, Pierce and co-author James Layton will hold a book signing at the Roosevelt; you can be certain I'll be getting a copy.

Also in the hotel lobby Friday was a series of interviews conducted by Ben Mankiewicz, presumably filling the role Robert Osborne (who's had to sit this year's event out for medical reasons) held at past TCM festivals. He interviewed composer Carl Davis (more on him later), Alan Ladd Jr. (who as a child acted with his father), and two lovely redhaired legends, Shirley MacLaine and Ann-Margret. (As you can tell from the photo below, A-M may be in her early 70s, but she still has the power to make men melt.)

A highlight was returning to the Egyptian Friday night and seeing the world premiere of a restored version of the 1928 Buster Keaton classic "Steamboat Bill Jr.", with Davis leading a live orchestra in his newly-composed score. What an experience!

Introducing the event was Leonard Maltin, whose path I crossed a few hours earlier when I attended a screening of the restored 1931 Fox comedy "Don't Bet on Women" (Jeanette MacDonald's lone non-singing film role) at the Chinese Multiplex. (Una Merkel, in one of her earlier supporting roles, steals the show with a hilarious turn as a sex-crazed southern belle who, like the real-life Una, hails from Kentucky.) Here's Jeanette with co-star Edmund Lowe, six years after he was Lombard's first adult leading man in the long-lost "Marriage in Transit":

I was attending on standby, and when directed to my seat, who should I pass in my row but...Leonard Maltin! I said hello, gave him a Carole & Co. business card, and went on to my seat. Wish I'd had a chance to talk with him and thank him for his Lombard book, written back in the '70s...

...or tell him that I gave budding actress Laura Prepon a spare copy of said book early in her career (

All in all, a delightful day -- and I eagerly await my Saturday adventures at the TCMFF.

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2015 TCMFF, day 1: 'Godfrey' + group = greatness

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.27 at 02:35
Current mood: ecstaticecstatic

Few would dispute the glory of "My Man Godfrey," arguably the greatest screwball comedy ever made and the film that provided Carole Lombard her only Academy Award nomination. Yes, some might make a case for "Bringing Up Baby," but "Godfrey" has far more depth to it than "Baby" and is just as clever as another Howard Hawks contender with Cary Grant, "His Girl Friday."

But as good as "Godfrey" is when you watch it on TV or video, its magnificence amplifies when you see it in a theater with several hundred other fans, as I did last night at the opening evening of the TCM Classic Film Festival.

The 500-seat Chinese Multiplex House 1, largest of the Chinese's auxiliary theaters, was nearly full for the 10 p.m. showing (actually, it didn't get going until 10:12 or so with those fabulous Streamline opening credits, the best this side of Saul Bass). But no one complained, since the film was introduced by occasional TCM presenter and friend of the channel Illeana Douglas (granddaughter of Melvyn Douglas), whose enthusiasm for "Godfrey" was obvious from the get-go.

Douglas was briefly interrupted by "Godfrey"-related cheers throughout her intro, including a nice hand for Lombard. She called her the forerunner to later funny, sexy comic actresses such as Goldie Hawn and Sandra Bullock.

And then came the film.

The collective enthusiasm you get from an audience watching a really good film is one you simply can't duplicate at home, no matter how big your screen or how fancy your equipment. That certainly was the case with "Godfrey." They cheered Godfrey pushing Cornelia into an ashpile (and Lombard's Irene Bullock explaining that was something she always wanted to do), adored Carole's rapid-fire responses early in the film, and hooted at Alice Brady's delightful obliviousness.

Some non-verbal humor you may have taken for granted watching by yourself gains impact on the big screen, such as when Godfrey carries the "fainted" Irene up the stairs before the pivotal shower scene. Fascinating to examine. While we'll never be able to precsely replicate the 1936 audience's experience watching "Godfrey" -- try as we may, we'll never possess that mindset -- it was good to remember why filmgoing in groups has its own very special pleasure.

Better be getting some about 6 1/2 hours, day 2 of the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival will begin. For an idea of the myriad of choices, visit

Our latest Lombard LiveJournal header is an odd bird -- Paramount p1202-630A. The gown Carole's wearing is rather unusual, too.

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That 'New Yorker' from San Bernardino

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.26 at 07:27
Current mood: happyhappy

Among the joys of classic Hollywood is watching its able corps of character actors cavort with the likes of Carole Lombard. We've previously discussed Walter Connolly, at right, from "Twentieth Century" (, but the man in between them, Roscoe Karns, also had a substantial career.

The fast-talking Karns had so much New York sass on screen most filmgoers probably wondered which borough he hailed from. The answer: None. He was born (in 1891) and raised in San Bernardino, long before Los Angeles would become recognized as a cinematic capital. Karns appeared in eight shorts during the teens, then worked his way up the movie hierarchy during the 1920s, including a part in "Wings," the first Academy Award-winning film.

The arrival of sound unveiled a new dimension to Karns and bolstered his career. (Turner Classic Movies occasionally runs a 1929 short called "Copy!", where he plays a city editor -- most of his scenes are spent talking on the phone -- in a tour de force.) The following year, Karns crossed paths on screen with Carole for the first time in her initial Paramount feature, "Safety in Numbers," and as the decade progressed, he appeared in several notable films, including "Night After Night" (Mae West's movie debut) and the multi-episodic "If I Had a Million." (He's also the radio announcer broadcasting a bridge match -- you read that correctly -- in the Loretta Young comedy "Grand Slam.")

But it wouldn't be until 1934 that Karns would make his two most memorable movies, both at Columbia -- first as the obnoxious Shapeley, Clark Gable's bete noire, in "It Happened One Night," then as press agent Owen O'Malley in "Twentieth Century." Here he is with Lombard's Lily Garland, who at this point in the film is getting a bit too big for her britches (probably from emulating mentor and lover Oscar Jaffe):

In the early '40s, Karns appeared in the likes of "His Girl Friday," "They Drive By Night" and "Woman of the Year." With his film work diminishing after World War II, he made the transition to television, with a supporting role on the sitcom "Hennessey" and a 1963 appearance on "The Lucy Show." His swan song came in films in 1964, once again working for Hawks (as he did in "Twentieth Century" and "His Girl Friday") as Major Phipps in "Man's Favorite Sport?" He died in 1970.

The photo just above the preceding paragraph is on sale at eBay for $22, although you also can make an offer. It's in very good condition, though there is a long crease across the top of the photo. Interested? Then visit

If you're going to the TCM Classic Film Festival (and I note from KNX radio traffic reports that part of Hollywood Boulevard has been closed to traffic to handle the visitors), I hope to see you tonight at 10 for "My Man Godfrey" at the Chinese Multiplex House 1. Even if you've seen it countless times (as I have), watching it with an audience and sharing in the laughter is a splendid experience.

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Bad news for screenwriting, good news for 'Godfrey'

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.25 at 20:39
Current mood: excitedexcited

Attention Carole Lombard, Alice Brady, Mischa Auer, William Powell and Gregory La Cava: As fate would have it appears I will be able to attend tomorrow's 10 p.m. showing of "My Man Godfrey" at the Chinese Multiplex House 1 (provided I can get a standby ticket, and with my luck...) That's because the screenwriting contest I had entered in Glendale -- where a 10-page segment of a romantic comedy I'm writing was to have received a table reading from professional actors -- was canceled for lack of entries.

Hey, these things happen, and there will be other contests, other outlets to display my cinematic writing prowess. This is merely a momentary setback.

At least the TCM Classic Film Festival is there to soothe my psychic wounds...although I won't get the full deal until Friday, when my Palace Pass begins. About the only thing I won't be able to partake of is Club TCM, but that's OK. So much else will be going on that I should have a blast. It's just a matter of deciding which way to go, as I feel like a kid in a cinematic candy store.

It will seem a bit different this year without the gracious presence of Robert Osborne, absent for medical reasons. (I saw him at last year's festival while I visited Los Angeles to search for an apartment.) But as he noted in his message making the announcement to the channel's fans last week, the event is in good hands with many talented, knowledgeable people filling in for him. I fully concur.

Perhaps I'll attend the vivacious Colleen Moore in "Why Be Good?" on Saturday morning, or one of dozens of other films or special presentations. You'll know me from my Washington Nationals or University of Maryland cap -- and I'll probably also be wearing a T-shirt to honor the Maryland women's basketball team's Big Ten regular-season or tournament championships. If you see me, ask for a Carole & Co. business card...and wish me luck on my budding screenwriting career.

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'Hi, Mom, I'm home. And divorced.'

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.24 at 21:25
Current mood: accomplishedaccomplished

No, I don't honestly believe Carole Lombard used those precise words upon greeting her mother on Aug. 18, 1933 after returning to California following her divorce from William Powell in Carson City, Nev., earlier that afternoon. Whichever words she did use were her first on California soil since traveling to Nevada at the start of July to establish legal residency in the Silver State. Now, her domicile had reverted from Silver to Golden, and she could get back to work as an actress again.

This is an Acme Newspictures photo; here's what's on the back:

Roscoe Turner was a renowned 1930s pilot who three times won the Thompson Trophy air race. He also owned a pet lion, though I doubt it accompanied him on this trip.

The photo measures approximately 7" x 9", and exhibits light to moderate wear and toning around the edges and corners. The caption has been affixed to the back of the photo and exhibits an Acme Newspictures stamp. (As we all know the ultimate fate of both Lombard and her mother, I apologize if this entry seems too flippant for some.)

The opening bid for this is a mere 99 cents, and the auction is set to conclude at 9:24 p.m. (Eastern) you might have a chance at this. Think you're interested? Then visit

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Time to celebrate a classic, blogathon style

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.23 at 22:06
Current mood: ecstaticecstatic

I think it safe to say most people with any sort of knowledge of Hollywood history would define Carole Lombard's 1937 film "Nothing Sacred" (she's shown here with co-star Fredric March) as a classic. Well, it just so happens that in less than two months, a day has been designated to honor such films -- in fact, just about any more made before 1970:

That day is May 16, and for the second time in four days, I've agreed to participate in a blogathon (the other one, on short subjects, will take place in early May). This one, "My Favorite Classic Movie Blogathon," is set for May 16, and is sponsored by the Classic Film & TV Cafe (

Just which Lombard "classic movie" will I choose (I have several favorites)? Not certain yet, but I have plenty of time. As of this writing, 13 blogs have chosen favorite movies, and I'm sure the number will grow. For now, I'll contribute this way...with a poster suitable for borrowing:

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Herald-ing South America in the 'Sun'

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.22 at 21:30
Current mood: sleepysleepy

Imagine having Carole Lombard as your date and literally falling asleep on the job! Well, that's what apparently happened to poor Walter Byron in this scene from the 1932 Paramount film "Sinners in the Sun." No wonder Carole looks so ticked off.

We bring this up because a rare herald from the movie -- one issued for Spanish-speaking South American markets -- is up for auction at eBay.

According to the seller, who hails from Argentina, heralds such as this one (which measures 9.5" x 6.5" and is in "very good condition") weren't common in South America. These "were printed by a local distributor, Max Gluksmann...between 1929 and 1936."

Check the cast list, and you'll also note one of the supporting players is (erroneously listed as) "Gary Grant." This probably wasn't the first time this mistake befell Cary (it was his second film), and it wouldn't be the last -- although after his 1937 breakthrough with "The Awful Truth" and "Topper," the "Garys" for Cary diminished significantly.

Bidding for this begins at $14.99, and the auction closes at 9:52 p.m. (Eastern) Saturday. Many of you collect heralds, so this may be right up your alley. If so, visit to bid or find out more...especially since the seller adds, "This item is on auction only once, after auction ends if the item isn’t sold it pass to my store for double or more than this initial price. I don’t relist items, so don’t lose this opportunity, and good luck."

We've literally got Carole cornered in our latest Lombard LiveJournal header, specifically Paramount p1202-626.

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'Godfrey' comes to the plate

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.21 at 19:36
Current mood: accomplishedaccomplished

No, not as in baseball (though the mind chuckles at the premise of Carole Lombard pitching to William Powell while he bats wearing his "Godfrey" butler's outfit). The plate we're referring to is something you eat on, or display (as in "commemorative plate") -- although given the condition of this one, we strongly recommend the latter:

Can't make out the inscription? Try this:

The plate measures about 6 inches, according to the seller. As you can see, it's not in the greatest of shape, but some wise care (and a visit to a silversmith) probably could substantially improve the appearance of this item.

This probably wasn't a collectible for the general public, but one for distributors, exhibitors and such. Universal was under new ownership in 1936, and with "My Man Godfrey" and its runaway success, a tie-in with that film seemed apropos.

One bid, for $24.99, has been made as of this writing; the auction is scheduled to end at 12:30 a.m. (Eastern) next Saturday. Interested in this rarity? Then visit

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A blogathon designed for short shrift

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.20 at 21:30
Current mood: amusedamused

Did Carole Lombard look good in shorts? From the photo above, probably yes...though the gal looks so doggone tired.

Oh, you're referring to another sort of shorts, the type Lombard didn't wear but merely performed in -- the two- or four-reelers she appeared in for Mack Sennett from 1927 to 1929. We'll get sort of an answer to that question, among others, in a blogathon hosted by my friend Fritzi Kramer of the blog Movies Silently (

OK, so the above pic is actually from a feature, Marion Davies' "The Fair Co-ed" (1927, with Marion at right) -- but they're wearing shorts. Get it?

From the pics I've run here and the sponsoring blog's title, you may get the impression that this is limited to silent-era releases. Take my word, that isn't the case. According to Fritzi, any film under 40 minutes made before 1970 and getting a theatrical release is eligible...which gives potential entrants a world of films to choose from. Shorts made outside the U.S. are welcome too -- no clothing tariff here. (OK, no more puns about shorts.) As Fritzi notes, "Comedy, drama, live-action, animation, documentary, indie or mainstream… If it tells its tale in the short format, I want it."

If I wasn't writing on the Lombard short "Run, Girl, Run" (1928) -- something I feel obliged to do given this blog's title, and you certainly can write about one of her other Sennett shorts if you so desire -- I might have chosen one of Harold Lloyd's shorts, such as the brilliant "Get Out and Get Under" (1920, shown below with future "Our Gang" member "Sunshine Sammy" Morrison).

As of this writing, none of Max Fleischer's clever Betty Boop or Popeye cartoons or Walt Disney's groundbreaking Mickey Mouse 'toons have been taken (a true shame, because Mickey should be remembered not as a corporate logo but as a delightful animated character). "One Week" and "The Music Box" have been claimed, but there's plenty else from Buster Keaton and Laurel & Hardy to examine, not to mention Charley Chase, the Three Stooges and others. How about Frank Sinatra's 1940s call for tolerance, "The House I Live In"? Short comedies from Robert Benchley, Pete Smith specialties or James A. FitzPatrick's TravelTalks? The possibilities are endless -- check out TCM fare in between its features for inspiration.

Are you a blogger who's still stumped? Fritzi can come to your rescue. As she notes, "Give me a date range and I will play Shorts Roulette for you, giving you a title and a link to a random public domain short on or YouTube." Now what could be easier than that?

Good things do come in small packages, as Kristin Chenoweth has proven for years. So don't shortchange yourself -- join in this blogathon.

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Saluting the 'Crew,' the unsung heroes of L.A. music

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.19 at 21:10
Current mood: happyhappy

While Carole Lombard never fancied herself as much of a singer, music was a key part of her life, including her relationship with Russ Columbo, a vocalist, composer and bandleader whose bizarre, premature death in 1934 robbed the music world of a major talent. Even before the end of the 1920s, when sound was fully featured in motion pictures, the development of both radio and the electrical recording process had vaulted Los Angeles into a significant venue in music.

That only amplified as decades went on, and by the start of the 1960s, LA was clearly the hub of the popular music universe, as the iconic presence of the Capitol Records tower, shown still under construction in 1956, made clear.

But in those studios and several other lesser-known recording places elsewhere around town, a group of talented musicians -- many of them trained in jazz and other genres -- nevertheless were defining the sound of the rock 'n' roll era.

I saw their story yesterday.

In the recent behind-the-scenes tradition of "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" and "Twenty Feet From Stardom," the documentary "The Wrecking Crew," about these Los Angeles session men (and one woman) has fully seen the light of day after making the rounds for a few years in a series of rough cuts.

Denny Tedesco, son of crew member and ace session guitarist Tommy Tedesco, directed the film -- a project that began in 1995 when his father was diagnosed with terminal cancer, originated as a 14-minute short and eventually expanded into this feature-length endeavor.

The "Wrecking Crew" (an informal title other musicians dubbed them) didn't simply go into the studio and do what was told of them. They came up with imaginative riffs and arrangements -- anything that would make the recording distinctive and marketable. They took command for some acts who weren't experienced in that part of the business; for others, such as Beach Boys co-founder Brian Wilson, they helped foster his already impressive creative ability.

Some of the performers, such as famed drummer Hal Blaine, gained some renown (he's shown by name on a '60s Las Vegas marquee in support of Nancy Sinatra, and was making about three times as much money for playing Vegas as Irv Cottler, drummer for Nancy's father Frank). A few, such as guitarist Glen Campbell, made the jump to full-fledged stardom. But others, such as Tedesco and bassist Carol Kaye, remained known to the cognoscenti and few others. (It says something about my views on gender roles -- at least where music is concerned -- that until recently, I didn't realize one of these fine guitarists was a woman.) Below is Tedesco, followed by a pic of Kaye and guitarist Bill Pitman:

The Crew was part of Phil Spector's Wall of Sound; the legendary (and eccentric) producer augmented them with many other session musicians to make the records sound even more grandiose.

Screenings of the documentary will appear all over the place over the next few weeks; find out where it'll play in your area by visiting And a partial list of songs Crew members appeared on is at Let's hear three of those classics, giving you an idea of the wide-ranging talent that appeared on these records:

Blaine's signature moment on record unquestionably is the Ronettes' "Be My Baby," arguably the definitive Spector Wall of Sound recording. From the opening, his drum work propels everyone involved to incredible heights:

That came in 1963. In August of '65, the Crew played for Gary Lewis and the Playboys (who could play their own instruments, but nowhere as impressively as the Crew -- nothing to be ashamed of by any means) on "Sure Gonna Miss Her." In the documentary, Lewis notes that his guitarist complained there was no way he could duplicate the riff the session men came up with...but it made the record a Top 10 hit in early 1966:

By 1968, Campbell had made the leap from ace session guitarist to pop star, and he used his buddies on the Wrecking Crew on his sessions well into the '70s. Here's my favorite record of his, Jim Webb's "Wichita Lineman" -- and while it's Campbell playing that iconic guitar riff on the break, he says in the documentary that Kaye actually came up with it, which he borrowed for the recording:

As the '70s progressed, the Wrecking Crew's services were becoming less needed. By now, most musical acts played their own instruments well enough not to need much outside help. Thankfully, their legacy has been preserved through this I'm proud to say I aided through Kickstarter. For more on the project -- including a trailer for the film, which also can be seen through video on demand and iTunes -- go to

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Attending the TCM Classic Film Festival (but it may not feel like one)

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.18 at 14:40
Current mood: disappointeddisappointed
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That's because word came out today that a "medical procedure" will prevent Robert Osborne from taking part in next week's event in Hollywood. (When I don't run a photo of Carole Lombard with my first shot -- a policy I've followed for several years now -- you know it's big news.)

I caught some of last year's festival while in Los Angeles searching for an apartment, and saw Robert interviewing Mel Brooks, among others, at the lobby of the Hotel Roosevelt, so I know how important he is to this event, and his presence definitely will be missed.

I'm particularly unhappy because Osborne was scheduled to interview Sophia Loren on Saturday, March 28 at the Montalban Theater -- an interview he said he had been looking forward to doing for several years.

Here's the release of the news from Robert, via TCM:

To all you members of the TCM family:

I'm Robert Osborne and I want to tell you about a funny thing that happened to me on the way to this year's Film Festival. I’ve been putting off a minor health procedure (as everyone tends to do now and then). I planned to take care of it as soon as the Festival was over but my doctor said, "enough already, Osborne. Let’s get this done now so that sooner rather than later you can get back to introducing movies on TCM.” So that's what I'm in the process of doing right now — taking care of that medical procedure.

The downside is that it means I won’t be joining you at this year’s Festival in Hollywood — very disappointing for me because for the past six years the TCM Classic Film Festival has been one of the things I've enjoyed most: sharing the Festival with you, the great sense of community we have, the conversations with so many of you Festival goers as well as the gifted actors and artisans who are part of the classic films we show, the pure joy of it all. But as we all know, one's health is a gift, and has to be protected and put first. Rest assured that the many talented hosts at the Festival, including Ben Mankiewicz, will be helping you have the very best Festival going experience.

I know you'll enjoy the wonderful films we have programmed, and meeting the gifted artists who are participating in this exceptional event. Enjoy every moment of it and make as many memories and new friends as you can. And rest assured, I’ll be seeing you again, very soon.

But right now: on with the show.

Robert Osborne

tcm classic film festival 2015 buster keaton

We wish Robert well for a full and rapid recovery.

Send your cards of encouragement to:
Robert Osborne
c/o TCM
1050 Techwood Drive NW
Atlanta, GA 30318

If you'll be attending the festival, there will be a mail box at the info desk, outside of Club TCM, where you can drop off cards.

As stated earlier, it won't quite seem like a TCM Classic Film Festival without Osborne, a veteran film historian and journalist who's earned the right to be the face of this wonderful channel. But as he says, the show must go on.

Get better soon, Bob.

carole lombard 02

TCM Classic Film Festival: I'm in!

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.17 at 20:04
Current mood: excitedexcited
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The good news for Carole Lombard fans: "My Man Godfrey" is part of the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood next week, playing at 10 p.m. Thursday, March 26 at the Chinese Multiplex House 1. The bad news for me: I won't be able to make it.

If you haven't heard much from me about this year's festival, there are good reasons. First, I was turned down for media credentials (hey, maybe next year), so I wasn't certain whether I should buy a pass. Yesterday, I did -- and while I could have purchased a Classic pass for $549, which would have lasted Thursday to Sunday, I instead bought a Palace pass for Friday to Sunday, for a mere $299. It lacks the Club TCM privileges of the other passes, but that's OK.

And there's another reason I chose that pass -- I have something else scheduled for Thursday, something that might pay off for me in the long run. I've mentioned that among the reasons I moved to Los Angeles was to learn the ropes of screenwriting. Next Thursday, I'll get an idea where those ropes are leading me.

2015 celebrate spring screenplay reading contest 00

I'm delighted to announce that 10 pages of my romantic comedy screenplay "Fugitive Sweetheart" will be read by professional actors as part of the Celebrate Spring Screenplay Reading Contest in Glendale. With luck (and audience support!), I could win, get $100 and free entry into this fall's Glendale International Film Festival screenplay contest. If you're in the neighborhood, come on by and cheer me on.

Now for the TCM festival -- yes, I'll miss out on Lombard...but there's plenty of other things going on that should thrill any classic movie fan. But what to choose, what to choose?

the smiling lieutenant 1931-32 paramount pressbook 01

* Friday morning: "The Dawn of Technicolor" documentary at 9 at the Egyptian, or "The Smiling Lieutenant" (jazz up your lingerie!) at 9:30 at the Chinese Multiplex House 4?

* Later Friday: "Lenny" at 11:30 at the Egyptian (including Dustin Hoffman interviewed by Alec Baldwin) or "The Purple Rose of Cairo" (arguably my favorite Woody Allen-directed film) at 12:15 p.m. at the Chinese Multiplex House 6?

* Friday evening: A restored "Steamboat Bill, Jr." with a new score at 7:15 at the Egyptian, or the Peter Sellers-Blake Edwards romp "The Party" poolside at 8 at the Roosevelt?

Decisions, decisions. And as for Saturday?

colleen moore why be good jean harlow in background 00

* Morning: "Why Be Good?" with the vivacious Colleen Moore (can you spot Jean Harlow in the background?) at 9:15 at the Egyptian, or "A Conversation With Norman Lloyd" at 10 a.m. at the nearby Montalban Theater? (Lloyd, who recently turned 100, has a small role in the Bill Hader-Amy Schumer comedy "Trainwreck," directed by Judd Apatow, that premiered this week at SXSW in Austin and received excellent reviews.)

* Afternoon: "1776" at 1:45 at the Chinese IMAX with cast member William Daniels introducing a new director's cut, or Robert Osborne interviewing Sophia Loren at 2 at the Montalban?

* Evening: Shirley MacLaine on hand to introduce and discuss the Billy Wilder classic "The Apartment" at 6 at the Chinese IMAX, or Anthony Quinn's daughter discussing his Oscar-winning turn in "Viva Zapata!" at 6:15 at the Chinese Multiplex House 6? (Then follow up either with the cheesy, but fun, "Earthquake" poolside at the Roosevelt at 8, and I hope Facebook friend Monica Lewis, who was in the production, will be on hand.)

janet leigh psycho 01b

Sunday has all sorts of goodies (some not announced yet), including a showing of "Psycho" at 1:15 at the Chinese IMAX

Looking forward to going...and perhaps seeing you there. For a complete schedule to date, visit

carole lombard 01

Adding to the p1202 club

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.16 at 23:45
Current mood: impressedimpressed
carole lombard p1202-1439a

As many Carole Lombard fans know, p1202 was the player number Paramount assigned her for publicity shots, usually solo assignments and often not immediately related to a film she was making at the time. The photo above, p1202-1439, is a new pose for my collection, and I'm delighted to share it with you.

Many of these images feature a snipe or other printed information from Paramount on back that give us a better explanation of what this photo signified; alas, no luck regarding that here. Instead, we have this:

carole lombard p1202-1439a back

What does it mean? Not sure. Here's page 40 from Modern Screen, January 1938:

carole lombard modern screen january 1938aa

...then page 14 from that magazine's February 1937 issue...

carole lombard modern screen february 1937aa

(Attention, Modern Screen: Had you been Pinocchio, your nose would have grown past Jimmy Durante proportions based on what you wrote about Adolph Zukor. While he's among the more admirable of moguls, he frankly had next to nothing to do with his studio signing Lombard.)

Finally, page 61 of the December 1936 Photoplay (in color!):

carole lombard photoplay december 1936a color

None of them match p1202-1439.

According to the seller, this is "A magnificent Hollywood regency portrait shows a commanding and irrepressibly beautiful Lombard wearing the fantastic fashions of Travis Banton in a decadent black ball gown. The images from this photo shoot were published several times in Hollywood magazines including twice in Modern Screen magazine and a gorgeous, John H. Doolittle colorized image in Photoplay magazine.*

"Measures 7 3/4" x 9 3/4" with margins on glossy, double weight paper stock. There are handwritten notations in pencil on verso indicating the magazines in which images from this photo shoot appeared in."

*The Photoplay caption indicates that Doolittle's shot was a "natural color photograph." The process did exist at the time; in fact, in its April 1936 issue, Photoplay ran another true color Doolittle photo of Carole:

carole lombard photoplay april 1936 travis banton color large

Expect bidding on this Lombard-Banton rarity to go through the roof; eight bids, topping at $31, have been made as of this writing, and the auction isn't scheduled to close until 9:54 p.m. (Eastern) March 25. If you'd like to see if you can capture this gem, go to

Our latest Lombard LiveJournal header from Paramount is p1202-623, a white-on-white experiment that probably has turned up in better condition somewhere.

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Some 'Twentieth Century' technology

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.15 at 09:26
Current mood: curiouscurious
carole lombard twentieth century 008a

Want to own the breakthrough film for Carole Lombard (shown here with Roscoe Karns and Walter Connolly), "Twentieth Century"? The good news is that now you can. See?

carole lombard twentieth century vhs 00a

You're probably thinking to yourself, "That's one weird-shaped DVD case." Well, that's because it's not a DVD at all, but a VHS videocassette. (You do remember videocassettes, don't you?) But it's listed as "brand new" (or at least unopened) and apparently never used. If you've got the machine to handle it -- probably stored next to your four-speed phonograph -- you can watch Carole cavort with John Barrymore in this delightful railroad romp.

carole lombard twentieth century 045e

Unfortunately, while "Twentieth Century" technically is available on DVD, it was last issued 10 years ago, apparently in a mediocre transfer lacking the extra amenities a film of this stature deserves. (Paging Criterion!) So VHS -- a technology that literally signals "twentieth century" -- might be your best way to go if you really want this early screwball gem. You can buy it for $15.99; go to to learn more.

Oh, and a sort of true confession (to borrow the title of Lombard and Barrymore's other film pairing): Another reason for this entry, in addition to filling my daily Carole & Co. quota, is that it lets me note the current Broadway revival of the story's musical version, "On The Twentieth Century," and gives me an excuse to run this photo of lovely little Kristin Chenoweth in lingerie:

kristin chenoweth on the twentieth century 02a

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A little 'Variety' (and a pair of 'No's) at the start of '33

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.14 at 21:34
Current mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
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carole lombard no more orchids 22b

At several times in Carole Lombard's career, she had two films simultaneously battling for box-office patronage. (Perhaps the best-known instance of this came as 1937 turned into 1938, as Selznick International's "Nothing Sacred" and Paramount's "True Confession" faced off in theaters.) Above is another example, from the dawn of 1933; at top is Lombard in lingerie from Paramount's "No Man Of Her Own," below is Carole with Lyle Talbot in the Columbia loanout "No More Orchids."

In the Jan. 3, 1933 issue of Variety, the entertainment trade paper reviewed both films. First, here's what it had to say about "No Man Of Her Own":

carole lombard variety 010333bb

Then, "No More Orchids":

carole lombard variety 010333ab

Both movies also were included in a capsule summary of new releases:

carole lombard variety 010333ac

Remember, Variety was examining this from a business, not artistic, perspective. And perhaps the lack of chemistry between William Powell and Joan Blondell was why "Lawyer Man" would be their only on-screen pairing.

Each of Carole's films held its own at the box office, although by virtue (pardon the Lombardic film pun) of owning its own theaters and having Clark Gable as a drawing card, "No Man Of Her Own" did substantially stronger business than its Columbia counterpart.

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An icon, a muse...and on the 'Red List'

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.13 at 19:47
Current mood: gratefulgrateful
carole lombard the eagle and the hawk 09b otto dyar

This attractive portrait of Carole Lombard, taken by Otto Dyar to promote her 1933 film "The Eagle and the Hawk," is but one of the hundreds of goodies you can find at the site the Red List (, where she's shown as both a "muse" and an "icon." We'll agree with both assessments; Carole was an icon of the 1930s whose style and personality has made her arguably the most timeless of classic Hollywood stars, and she remains a muse for actors, writers and everyone inspired by her good spirits and generous nature. She'll always be modern.

The site essentially is a primer to Lombard -- copy is minimal -- but there are plenty of photos at the site, from the late 1920s, such as this from noted photographer Edwin Bower Hesser...

carole lombard edwin bower hesser 13a her final movie, "To Be Or Not To Be":

carole lombard to be or not to be 59a

If you know someone who's only begun learning about Lombard, the Red List is as good a site as any to start...but then bring him or her over to Carole & Co. for an advanced course.

carole lombard 04

'Supernatural' stuff Down Under

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.12 at 16:11
Current mood: weirdweird
carole lombard supernatural 26b

Carole Lombard, possessed by the spirit of executed murderess Vivienne Osborne, uses her unearthly strength to try to strangle Allan Dinehart as Randolph Scott arrives on the scene in "Supernatural." (However, from what we know about this troubled production, Lombard probably wanted to strangle director Victor Halperin instead.) While Carole had little love for the horror genre, she gives a respectable performance in this atypical film for her.

"Supernatural" hit U.S. theaters in the spring of 1933, but Australian audiences didn't see it until the midst of winter...which for Aussies means August. We learn this from a pair of movie pages on sale at eBay, both from the Labor Daily, a Sydney-based paper which was the organ of the Australian Labor Party.

carole lombard labor daily sydney 081733aa
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The paper ran two separate stories on "Supernatural"; whether they were staff-written or Paramount handouts is uncertain. First, this from Thursday, Aug. 17:

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carole lombard labor daily sydney 081733fa

The other piece is from Monday, Aug. 21:

carole lombard labor daily sydney 082133da

Note that the James Cagney comedy "Hard To Handle," for which Lombard had rejected a loanout to Warners (Mary Brian took her place), was the second feature.

RKO's blockbuster "King Kong," which Americans first saw in late February of '33, didn't reach Australian shores until August. Here's how the Labor Daily covered it on the 17th (alongside a piece on Clark Gable and Jean Harlow in "Hold Your Man")...

carole lombard labor daily sydney 081733ba

...then on the 21st, next to ads for "Kong" and "Supernatural":

carole lombard labor daily sydney 082133ba

There's some Lombard-related news in the "Films in the Making" column on the 17th, even though she isn't mentioned. See if you can find it:

carole lombard labor daily sydney 081733ea

Stumped? German star Dorothea Wieck's first Paramount film was announced at "White Woman"...which ended up as a Lombard vehicle (an over-the-top one).

The 21st also features this ad for "Hold Your Man":

carole lombard labor daily sydney 082133ea

You can buy each page, mesuring 19" x 23", for $30.32 US ($39.99 AU). For the Aug. 17 page, visit

For the one from Aug. 21, go to

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HBO Banks on a tennis battle of the sexes

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.11 at 22:33
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic
carole lombard clark gable tennis 00b

And no, we're not talking about Carole Lombard facing Clark Gable on the courts (and usually beating him). Rather, this concerns an upcoming HBO movie about an event that transfixed a nation back in the day -- featuring two players who both had ties to Lombard. In fact, there's a good chance Carole saw one of them play.

In September 1973, women's champion Billie Jean King took on 55-year-old Bobby Riggs, a one-time world number-one player, in a match that filled the Astrodome in Houston and was telecast nationally. King won in what was viewed at the time as a landmark achievement for women's sports; certainly it was a quantum leap for women's athletic recognition.

King was trained in her youth by Alice Marble, whose career Lombard had sponsored in the '30s on the way to winning four consecutive U.S. Open singles titles, as well as the last pre-war Wimbledon in 1939.

carole lombard alice marble 00d

But Lombard probably was no stranger to Riggs, either -- he was a Los Angeles native and a regular on the West Coast circuit. In fact, Bobby and Alice teamed to win mixed doubles at Wimbledon in 1939, repeating the feat at the U.S. Open in Forest Hills the following year. (Riggs also won the singles and partnered with Elwood Cooke for men's doubles at Wimbledon in '39; although this was still the amateur era for tennis, Riggs won a $100,000 bet in Britain for achieving the triple.) Here's Riggs, at right, with Marble after a match against Jack Kramer (their nationwide tour in 1947-1948 filled Madison Square Garden and other arenas):

jack kramer alice marble bobby riggs 00a

Small among male players of his era, Riggs overcame his relative lack of power through smart play and speed. Riggs three times was named the world's number-one player, winning four professional titles after World War II. However, in popular culture, Riggs today is best remembered for his match against King, who defeated him 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. (He later won senior titles in his 60s and 70s before his passing in 1995.)

billie jean king bobby riggs 00

Why are we bringing all this up? It's been announced that HBO is planning a film about this event, with Facebook friend Elizabeth Banks playing King and Paul Giamatti ("Sideways") as Riggs.

elizabeth banks 00apaul giamatti 00a

David Auburn ("Proof") will write the script, and Tom Hanks will be one of the executive producers. Since I was pleased for Banks' sake to learn the news, I sent this photo of Lombard and the following message to her Facebook site:

carole lombard tennis 10d

"Heard the news from HBO, Elizabeth -- so just how is your tennis game? (smile emoticon) Anyway, congratulations...and from a fellow actress who was pretty good with a racquet (Carole Lombard, who sponsored the career of tennis champ Alice Marble, who later instructed BJK), some inspiration."

I'm looking forward to this endeavor -- and although it's been publicized throughout the entertainment press, Banks herself has been mum on the issue, at least at Facebook and I suppose she'd prefer to publicize her projects coming up, such as "PitchPerfect 2." Also, sometimes industry honchos aren't keen when the press jumps the gun on some news.

anna faris mom 01b

For example, today it was learned that "Mom," my favorite current sitcom, is coming back for its third season, and Chuck Lorre stablemate "Mike & Molly" will return for its sixth year. The news got out via Twitter from people associated with each series, not CBS or Warners TV (although the renewals for both series was expected), and while the Twitterfeeds were quickly erased, it was too late to undo.

Here's a profile shot of Carole as our latest Lombard LiveJournal header, Paramount p1202-622.

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Care for a $20K 'Breakfast"?

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.10 at 17:49
Current mood: productiveproductive
carole lombard love before breakfast 18c

Carole Lombard and Cesar Romero engage in a romantic scene from Universal's 1936 comedy "Love Before Breakfast." And Lombard's enduring appeal as one of the 1930s' most popular stars has been certified, thanks to Heritage Auctions of Dallas, which is having its latest Movie Poster Signature Auction on March 28 and 29.

This 27.5" x 41" one-sheet for "Love Before Breakfast" is one of the auction's featured items:

carole lombard love before breakfast poster 08a

Heritage describes this as an "incredible stone litho one sheet that is rare and features one of the best-known images of this beloved actress ever released. Only a sliver of paper loss in top border required touchup. The linen has been trimmed up to the edge of the border. Very Fine on Linen."

Oh, and its estimated value? $20,000 to $40,000, with an opening bid of $10,000. Suffice it to say this mere mortal won't be among the bidders. But if you think you could be (in which case we really should become friends!), then visit to learn more.

The highlight of the auction is undoubtedly a three-sheet from the 1931 Universal classic "Frankenstein":

1931 frankenstein three-sheet

It's the only copy known to exist, with a pre-auction estimated value of more than $100,000.

And get a load of this full-bleed one-sheet promoting Marlene Dietrich's "The Song of Songs":

marlene dietrich the song of songs full-bleed one-sheet 00

It's estimated that it will go between $15,000 and $30,000.

Read more about the auction at

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From the 'UCLA of the East' to the real thing

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.09 at 18:00
Current mood: cheerfulcheerful
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Carole Lombard's formal education may have ended during her junior year at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, but it didn't stop her from appearing in a number of campus comedies for Mack Sennett, playing everything from a track star (as in "Run, Girl, Run," above, with Daphne Pollard) to the title role in "The Campus Vamp." But in the 1920s, a degree wasn't required for stardom in Hollywood -- and you can be sure that if Carole was pursuing an acting career today, she'd get as much education as needed.

Today's entry is, to borrow the old term, "going collegiate," focusing on one college I know well and the other am rapidly learning about. We'll begin with the college where I obtained my undergraduate degree back in 1977, the University of Maryland:

university of maryland campus 00a

Much has changed in College Park since my campus days. The university has bolstered its academic programs, tightened admissions requirements (perhaps I would be admitted today, but it wouldn't be a lead-pipe cinch!) and instituted an honors college. And in 2012, the university announced that in July 2014, it would enter the Big Ten Conference after 61 years as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

maryland women&quot;s basketball 2014-2015 big ten tournament champions

That's the fourth-ranked Maryland women's basketball team, which yesterday completed a 21-0 record against Big Ten foes (the Terrapins are 30-2 overall) by winning the conference tournament title to accompany their regular-season crown. But the Big Ten has meant more for Maryland than winning titles (in the fall, the Terps were B1G champs in men's soccer and field hockey). It is unique among conferences in that it has academic initiatives -- including interlibrary loans and a research consortium, the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, consisting of the 14 Big Ten members plus the University of Chicago.

I'm proud to say that as far back as February 2010, when the conference announced its intention to expand, I called for College Park officials to pursue Big Ten membership, a move few endorsed at the time ( But as university president Wallace Loh noted Saturday, when the move was announced, 90 percent of those in the Maryland community opposed it; now, with the benefits clear to all, 90 percent are in favor.

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So it's no wonder that the university is making an effort to spread the word and revive its once-dormant alumni base in southern California. On Saturday, it hosted an event at the Sofitel Hotel on Beverly Boulevard, with Loh (above) and Hall of Fame basketball coach Gary Williams (below, now a university fundraiser) as keynote speakers.

030715 university of maryland los angeles alumni 02a

It was wonderful meeting so many fellow Terrapins and making alumni connections, since there are many involved in the entertainment community. (Soon, I hope to be among them.)

In 1969, when Charles "Lefty" Driesell was hired as Maryland's new basketball coach, he said he thought the school could become "the UCLA of the East." It didn't quite happen under his watch, but in many ways he was right. Maryland has won a pair of national basketball titles (the men under Williams in 2002, the women under Brenda Frese in 2006), and has grown into an academic powerhouse rivaling UCLA, UC Berkeley and other top state flagships. And speaking of UCLA...

ucla 030415 bruin statue 00a

...last Wednesday, I visited the Westwood campus, home of not only the famed Bruin statue but one commemorating arguably the greatest college basketball coach of all, John Wooden:

ucla 030415 john wooden statue 01a

I met Wooden in December 1974, early in what would be his final season at UCLA, when the Bruins played at the Maryland Invitational tournament at Cole Field House (where Wooden had won one of his 10 NCAA titles in 1970), shook his hand and he signed the game program. A genuine man.

The coach's statue naturally stands in front of the arena where he had many of his greatest triumphs, one of the legendary venues of the college game...

ucla 030415 pauley pavilion 00a

...also home to Bruin volleyball (a big deal in this neck of the woods), gymnastics and women's basketball. This night marked the men's regular-season finale against archrival Southern Cal...but unlike their heated football rivalry, UCLA has dominated the Trojans in recent years, perhaps explaining why this crosstown rivalry game was not sold out. (UCLA would win 85-74.)

Wooden's legacy is commemorated throughout the building, which will turn 50 later this year and was renovated earlier this decade:

ucla 030415 pauley pavilion 01a
ucla 030415 pauley pavilion 02a

Once the game concluded, I posed for a picture:

vp ucla 030415a pauley pavilion

(An explanation to my Maryland friends: A few months ago, I donated $100 to the Wooden Athletic Fund and received that UCLA cap in return. However, I also donated $125 each to the Philip Merrill College of Journalism and the Terrapin Club. OK?)

And since we mentioned "Run, Girl, Run" at the top of this entry...

carole lombard run, girl, run super 8 film 00a
carole lombard run, girl, run 10b

...a 400-foot Super 8 reel of "Run, Girl, Run" from legendary Blackhawk Films is up for auction at eBay, said to be in very good condition. Bidding begins at $7.95, though you don't have much time -- the auction closes at 6:55 p.m. (Eastern) Wednesday. Learn more by visiting

Finally, we wish to pay tribute to Sam Simon, co-creator of "The Simpsons" and philanthropist extraordinaire, who lost his long battle with colon cancer today at age 59. He gave away much of his $100 million fortune from the show to help people and animals; we should all go so gracefully.

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carole lombard 07

Hurrell's photography gets the Disney touch

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.08 at 20:28
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic
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The photographer whose work defined Hollywood portrait glamour (such as in the above portrait of Carole Lombard) is currently being honored by a museum spotlighting the man who revolutionized animation.

George Hurrell, shown in a self-portrait...

george hurrell self-portrait 00b the subject of an exhibit, "Lights! Camera! Glamour! The Photography of George Hurrell," through June 29 at the Walt Disney Family Museum at the Presidio in San Francisco. And among Hurrell's subjects was Walt Disney himself, shown in 1940:

george hurrell walt disney 1940b

The exhibition covers some 80 portraits, and yes, Carole is among the subjects. So are Jean Harlow, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Ramon Novarro, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable and Katharine Hepburn. Some of these images have not been publicly seen since the 1930s.

Most of you know by now how Hurrell was the master of light and shadow, adding a subtle sophistication to the craft of glamour portrait photography. But what you may not know is that Hurrell had ties to the Disney family. Hurrell married Disney's niece Phyllis Bounds, who then employed her cousin Sharon, Disney's youngest daughter, as an assistant. (Walt drove Sharon to work.) Hurrell founded a television production studio —- Hurrell Productions —- in the 1950s, which was housed on The Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank. Disney animators and staff were employed to create animated television commercials.

The Walt Disney Family Museum (which is not part of the Walt Disney Company) is at 104 Montgomery Street at the Presidio in San Francisco. It's open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day but Tuesdays, and admission is from $12 to $20. For more information, call (415) 345-6800 or visit

Hurrell glamour is always worth checking out, so if you'll be visiting the Bay Area over the next few months, take it in to see Crawford and Harlow, among others.

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jean harlow george hurrell 02a

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Carole and 'Baby' (Leroy, that is)

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.07 at 11:25
Current mood: contemplativecontemplative
carole lombard baby leroy 00c

One of the many sadly unanswered questions about Carole Lombard is how she would have functioned as a mother. Given her genuinely generous nature that made her among the most popular stars within the film industry even before "Twentieth Century" showed the world beyond Hollywood what she could do, Carole probably would have been good at parenting. (She had a splendid role model in her mother, Elizabeth Peters.)

And while it tends to be overshadowed by the magnitude of Lombard's romance with Clark Gable, Carole could very well have married noted screenwriter Robert Riskin in 1935 -- but when she wanted children in their marriage and he didn't, that ended any potential coupling. (He changed his mind in the 1940s after marrying Fay Wray -- whose previous marriage had been to author-screenwriter John Monk Saunders -- and they had offspring.)

The photo above, showing Lombard with Paramount's child star Baby Leroy, gives an indication of Carole's affection for children. They had posed on other occasions, such as in this toothpaste ad (which appears to be from the same session)...

carole lombard phillips portuguese ad baby leroy

...or this Screen Book cover from June 1934:

carole lombard screen book june 1934 large

Here's more information on the top photo from the seller:

"Original 8x10-inch sepia-toned, glossy publicity photo/movie still was produced to promote popular actors, CAROLE LOMBARD and BABY LEROY. It was produced in 1934. According to the printed info on the back, Ms. Lombard was currently filming a movie called YOU BELONG TO ME -- but as far as we can find, the actress did not appear in a film by that name. This is an original studio-issued still -- NOT a copy or reproduction. Copyright information is printed on the lower border. The photo features a great portrait of the lovely actress posing beside the adorable child star,Baby Leroy. Overall condition: Solid VG/VG+..... There are some areas of surface bubbling on the reverse side, where the top layer of paper has air trapped underneath. However, this flaw in no way affects the image side. The still also has slight edge wear on the borders, and it may have lightened a bit with age. None of these flaws are very distracting, and otherwise, the photo is in very nice shape."

While Paramount did release a film in 1934 called "You Belong To Me," starring Lee Tracy and Helen Mack, research shows this also actually was a working title for the Lombard film titled "Now and Forever," with Gary Cooper and Shirley Temple (

You can buy this delightful, original photo for $25 by visiting, while we stop and ponder what might have been.

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Carole, Marlene on the 'Silver' screen in D.C.

Posted by vp19 on 2015.03.06 at 15:59
Current mood: enviousenvious
carole lombard nothing sacred blu-ray 02a

Good news for the many Carole Lombard fans in the Washington, D.C. area where I once resided: Two of her cinematic classics will be shown over the next few days at the American Film Institute's Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, Md., just north of the District line. "Nothing Sacred" (1937), where she's shown above with Fredric March, will be screened at 5 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Wednesday. Her breakthrough film from three years earlier, "Twentieth Century," is to be shown at 1 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Monday.

It's part of AFI's series "Leading Ladies of Hollywood’s Golden Age," as from Saturday through next Thursday, Lombard and Paramount stablemate Marlene Dietrich will be featured.

Karina Longworth, whose fine podcast "You Must Remember This" recently focused on Lombard and second husband Clark Gable (, was interviewed by the Arts Desk of the Washington City Paper ( Here's what she had to say about Carole:

carole lombard twentieth century 050d

AFI is also showing two films starring Carole Lombard this weekend: "Twentieth Century" and "Nothing Sacred." Your episode about her and Clark Gable is the most tragic one I’ve heard, which is ironic since she was a terrific comic actress.

"Twentieth Century" was really the film that made her. Before then, she was knocking around Hollywood a long time, starring in B-movies or playing the second lead. She hadn’t really found her identity. It was on "Twentieth Century"...that she was able to let loose and be the girl she was in real life: a wild party girl, but with a core of absolute sweetness. You see that codified, but "Nothing Sacred" is my favorite of her films because it’s really weird. It’s her first film in Technicolor, and it’s really beautiful, with this pastel painting look. The first set-piece has to do with a guy who’s presenting himself as an African dictator to New York society, and while its racial/ethnic stuff is dated, there’s a terrific screwball comedy there, too.

So the combination of dated racial material and screwball comedy is what makes the film so weird?

That’s what makes the first 10 minutes so weird, but then it continues. It’s directed in a strange way, in terms the way Lombard and her co-stars are framed in the film. They’re deliberately hidden by tree branches, or the camera will do elaborate movements in order to find the actors. The camera work is really advanced for its time.

Kudos to director William Wellman for such "strange" camera work.

marlene dietrich shanghai express 03b

Oh, and as for the two Dietrich films, they're both from 1932 and directed by her enigmatic lover, Josef von Sternberg -- "Shanghai Express" at 11:10 a.m. Saturday and at 3 p.m. Monday, and...

"Blonde Venus" at 11:10 a.m. Sunday and at 3 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.

Carole, apparently poolside with a robe on, has some fun with a dachshund in Paramount p1202-616, our latest Lombard LiveJournal header.

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