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carole lombard 01

At last, my review: 'Twentieth-Century Star'

Posted by vp19 on 2016.12.05 at 16:57
Current mood: gratefulgrateful

I'm certain many of you were wondering, "Just when is he going to review the new Carole Lombard biography?" Well, truth be told, I've been very busy of late, getting plenty of work from an agency...work that requires long commutes from downtown Los Angeles to the San Fernando Valley. So I simply haven't had much time to gather myself and write something.

Now I have -- and rest assured, Michelle Morgan, I love "Carole Lombard: Twentieth-Century Star." There are a few flub-ups scattered throughout its pages, minor things that I hope can be fixed for a softcover or American printing of the book. (This comes from The History Press, a British publisher.)

What I like most about this book is that it lets Lombard explain herself in her own words, through comments from newspapers or fan magazines of the time. Yes, some of them may have been sanitized by the studios for public consumption, but if you read between the lines, the real Carole comes through. For example, here's part of an interview Lombard gave reporter Ellsworth Finch in mid-1932:

"I love movies. I must, otherwise I'd have got myself a saner job long ago. I hang on stubbornly, hoping that someday I'll have a crack at a really intelligent, fine picture. I laugh about the stupidities afterward, but at the time it is heart-breaking and nerve-racking. The stories, little confections that have been stirred up by half a dozen hands into a tasty morsel that would drive any adult into acute nausea! The whole system is so cockeyed. The talent is there, but it is so badly used -- the wrong people doing the wrong things, world without end, amen! Casual anecdotes of ordinary studio routine are more harrowing than the darkest Russian tales you can name. It's such a pity -- directors and writers forced into niches where they don't belong. And of course, the actors are eventual victims too."

If we somehow zapped Lombard ahead 84 years into the largely comic- and animation-driven movie world of late 2016, her indignation probably would be amplified tenfold. And one wonders whether a Paramount executive called her into his office to suggest she be a mite kinder to the film industry.

The biography is well-organized, with plenty of fascinating pictures and background on Lombard's family. No matter what part of Carole's career you're particularly interested in, chances are you'll find it here.

And finally, a disclaimer I've mentioned several times before -- I assisted with research on this book, as the above dedication notes. She adds in the acknowledgements,

"Vincent Paterno, Carole Sampeck, Debbie Beno, Douglas Cohen, Bruce Calvert, Robert S. Birchard, Dina-Marie Kulzer and Ann Trifescu have all been gracious enough to share their photos, letters, rare documents and other memorabilia with me. Vincent also trawled the archives at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences -- a kindness I will never forget."

Neither will I forget being attached to a project such as this. Thank you for letting me be part of it.

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Lots going on in Lombardland -- a blogathon and (another) book

Posted by vp19 on 2016.11.28 at 17:31
Current mood: impressedimpressed

So much Carole Lombard stuff is happening, it's getting hard for me to keep up -- and that doesn't include Michelle Morgan's new biography "Carole Lombard: Twentieth Century Star," of which I hope to have a review up in a few days. (I will say at the outset it's very good.)

But it's not all that's going on. Not by a long shot.

Less than two months from now, the 75th anniversary of Lombard's death will be commemorated, and as a tribute, two sites -- Phyllis Loves Classic Movies and In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood -- will co-host a three-day event, "Carole Lombard: The Profane Angel Blogathon," from Jan. 16 to 18. (And yes, I plan to participate, though I haven't yet selected a topic.) As of this writing, 24 blogs are scheduled to contribute something...and you can, too. Find out more by going to https://crystalkalyana.wordpress.com/2016/11/21/announcing-the-carole-lombard-the-profane-angel-blogathon/ or to http://phyllislovesclassicmovies.blogspot.com/2016/11/announcing-carole-lombard-blogathon.html.

My friend Crystal Kalyana Pacey has created eight banners for the blogathon, which you can access at either site. Here are three of them:

As someone who's administered a few blogathons (including one on Lombard in 2011), I hope you'll take part. These events not only inform, but are plenty of fun.

Additionally, Morgan's bio isn't the only new Lombard-related book out there. Carole's intense but ill-fated romance with singer-musician-composer Russ Columbo is the topic of a new volume, "Two Lovers: The Love Story of Carole Lombard and Russ Columbo," written by Beverly Adam.

You can read the first chapter and part of the second at https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_p_kb_dp&asin=B01N0FYPIH&tag=facebook0c410-20&reshareId=QF1R29773BSDXD1CCTE7&reshareChannel=system. From what I read, this book looks fascinating, and I await the rest of it. ("Two Lovers" can be ordered from with Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and formats include large print and audio book.) A Facebook site dedicated to the book is at https://www.facebook.com/Two-Lovers-the-love-story-of-Carole-Lombard-and-Russ-Columbo-692980384187271/.

And its title? "I See Two Lovers" was the last song Columbo ever recorded, on Aug. 31, 1934, two days before his shocking death in a freak gun accident. This book makes me wish that planned 1992 Lombard-Columbo biopic, with the ethereal Michelle Pfeiffer as Lombard and Tom Cruise as Columbo (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/48480.html), had reached fruition.

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Do me a favor, and please do it now!

Posted by vp19 on 2016.11.23 at 05:17
Current mood: determineddetermined

My romantic comedy "Stand Tall!" is in the running for a $250 prize in the Thanksgiving best screenplay contest at IndieWise, part of the IndustryBOOST competition.

You only have a few hours to help -- the deadline is 8:30 p.m. Pacific/11:30 p.m. Eastern, a bit more than 15 hours from when I typed this.

Here's what you do:

* Go to https://getindiewise.com/eQ8gqp4EDal, where you can read my script (which I hope you genuinely love). After the final page, you can provide feedback, helping with my ratings. If you join GetIndieWise.com (it's free), you can nominate it for best screenplay. The most-nominated script wins $250.

I've already earned finalist status, but winning the cash would be nice, too. (And I could use it.)

By the way, there's lots of stuff going on in Lombardland...and come tomorrow (Thanksgiving), I intend to tell you all anout it.

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What a wonderful feeling to be booked with Carole!

Posted by vp19 on 2016.11.08 at 19:36
Current mood: excitedexcited
In the words of Jack Paar, I kid you not. Turn to one of the introductory pages of Michelle Morgan's new biography, "Carole Lombard: Twentieth-Century Star," and look what you'll find:

Wow, what a thrill. I feel so honored to be one of two people this book is dedicated to -- and delighted my good friend Carole Sampeck, a wonderful lady who's been a splendid source of information about Lombard lo these many years, has been similarly honored.

Now I await reading the book. It should arrive any day now...

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A 'Cult' celebrates 'a life less ordinary'

Posted by vp19 on 2016.11.03 at 13:19
Current mood: satisfiedsatisfied

The reviews are coming in for Michelle Morgan's new biography, "Carole Lombard: Twentieth-Century Star." One of them is from the British site "We Are Cult" (http://wearecult.rocks/), and it's glowing.

The reviewer notes, "we are presented, and not for the first time, with an actor's life which is arguably more interesting than any of the characters she played," adding, "What a biopic Lombard's life would make. Comedy! Tragedy! Sex! Death! A typical Hollywood star, but no stroppy and insecure egomaniac was she."

Thr reviewer praises Morgan's digging up "virtually every interview Lombard ever gave to the Hollywood press, either official or fan-based." Carole supposedly "quickly grew frustrated -- and often furious -- with fan magazines' intrusion into her personal life." (This may explain why Lombard, despite having good rapport with fans, apparently never established a fan club, http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/487094.html.)

The book is called "entertaining and lucid" and is said to present Lombard as "a confident and down-to-earth person, determined to demonstrate her independence as far as she could."

Read the entire review at http://wearecult.rocks/a-life-less-ordinary-carole-lombard-twentieth-century-star, which includes a link to ordering the book through amazon.co.uk.

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Here's a five-star Halloween treat

Posted by vp19 on 2016.10.31 at 16:49
Current mood: impressedimpressed
It's from vlogger (video blogger) Andrea Pryke on Michelle Morgan's new Carole Lombard biography, "Carole Lombard: Twentieth-Century Star." It lasts for nearly 10 minutes. but it's worth a listen:

Andrea loves the book. Once I'm able to see it, I'm certain I will, too.

(For those of you who have read it, will you kindly provide your own review?)

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How'd ya like to win a book?

Posted by vp19 on 2016.10.28 at 08:28
Current mood: chipperchipper
And not just any book, but Michelle Morgan's new biography of Carole Lombard? Now you can -- and it's autographed by the author herself.

As she says:

"My author copies of Carole Lombard have arrived at last! Whoopee!! To celebrate, I am giving away a signed copy on Facebook... All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning, is to a) join my Official Michelle Morgan Authoe page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/124973377514850/), b) share this post and c) tell me why you'd like to win. I will choose the winner at random on 1 November. Good luck!!

Best wishes to all who participate.

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In store for Carole (and perhaps don't get Amazon-ian)

Posted by vp19 on 2016.10.12 at 12:34
Current mood: cheerfulcheerful
If you're in the United Kingdom and you want Michelle Morgan's new Carole Lombard biography, "Carole Lombard: Twentieth-Century Star," drop by your local bookstore. There's a very good chance it's arrived.

According to Morgan, it's now heading into stores, and of course she's thrilled. "Releasing a book out into the world, is like releasing a baby in a way," she commented on her blog, http://michellemorgan.co.uk/carole-hits-stores-last/. (Having done neither, I'll simply take her word for it.) "You want everyone to like your offspring, and for them to be loved and make people happy!"

If you want to see Morgan's Lombard literary delivery, perhaps you shouldn't contact Amazon.com's UK division. As of today, she wrote, it had only one copy left in stock, although she added more should be on the way soon. Fortunately, there are alternative processes available, and her link above lists a few.

And for my British friends, please do Morgan a favor. If you buy a copy at a store or simply see one in stock, take a selfie of you plus book and send it to her via Twitter or Instagram (@MMwritergirl). Mom the author will be so proud.

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An author's thrill of victory

Posted by vp19 on 2016.10.08 at 09:06
Current mood: ecstaticecstatic
Visual proof of Michelle Morgan's new Carole Lombard biography, "Carole Lombard: Twentieth-Century Star," from the writer herself:

How delightful! It also gives us a feel for what the book will be like when we get it in our hands.

Congratulations, Michelle.

P.S. For a limited time, you can purchase it at a 31 percent discount, with free shipping, through this link: https://www.bookdepository.com/Carole-Lombard-Twentieth-Century-Star-Michelle-Morgan/9780750966054.

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News of a birthday present -- to us!

Posted by vp19 on 2016.10.06 at 11:06
Current mood: thankfulthankful
This just in from Michelle Morgan:

"The books have arrived in the warehouse and publisher's office! This means that UK bookshops will start to receive them very soon. Overseas fans can still order them though, from Amazon and The Book Depository, etc. Happy Birthday to Carole, and Happy Publication day, too! I'm very happy!"

We can tell, Michelle, from all those exclamation points.

The book, of course, is "Carole Lombard: Twentieth-Century Star," Morgan's long-awaited Lombard biography, from the British publisher The History Press. And isn't it fitting that news of the release takes place on the anniversary of Carole's birth? (Did she use her celestial powers to make sure it happened that way? I wouldn't put it past her.)

In ensuing weeks, many of us will receive copies of this book, and I'm certain we will cherish it. Those of us who have enjoyed Morgan's books on Marilyn Monroe and other subjects look forward to seeing what nuggets of Lombardiana she has uncovered through her thorough research.

Somewhere, Lombard is smiling. So are we.

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Celebrate her 108th!

Posted by vp19 on 2016.10.06 at 01:59
Current mood: excitedexcited
It was 108 years ago today that Jane Alice Peters came into the world in Fort Wayne, Ind. That world would come to know, and love, her as Carole Lombard, an actress who would have a relatively brief life (less than a third of a century), but one with plenty of impact -- both in her work (immortalized through the process of motion pictures) and in her deeds (she made plenty of friends along the way). What a wonderful legacy.

Carole's millions of fans, most of whom hadn't yet been born when she left this earth in 1942, will celebrate that life today.

And what's the latest on what promises to be the definitive Lombard biography, "Carole Lombard: Twentieth-Century Star?" No update, according to author Michelle Morgan. "I am very frustrated," she messaged me. "I hope it arrives today." As do we.

At her Facebook page today, Morgan saluted Lombard on her birth anniversary, calling her "the woman who has taught me so much about business, and how important it is to stick to your guns and trust your instincts." She left us with this quote from Carole: "A woman has just as much right in this world as a man and can get along in it just as well if she puts her mind to it."

Morgan's recent piece on Lombard, as well as a link to order her book, can be found at http://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/articles/how-carole-lombard-s-career-was-almost-over-before-it-began/.

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TCM's birthday present: Lots of Lombard

Posted by vp19 on 2016.10.04 at 16:11
Current mood: happyhappy
For the 108th anniversary of her birth on Thursday, Turner Classic Movies is multiplying Carole Lombard by five. That's right -- five films of hers will be shown during the day, and it's a good collection, focusing on the last few years of her career.

Things begin at 6:30 a.m. (Eastern) with 1937's "Nothing Sacred," her only three-strip Technicolor feature, followed at 7:45 with her other movie for Selznick International, "Made For Each Other" with James Stewart. Then it's a trio from RKO: "Vigil In THe Night" at 9:30, "In Name Only" (her only starring vehicle with Cary Grant) at 11:15 and the 1941 "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" with Robert Montgomery (directed by Alfred Hitchcock, his lone romantic comedy) at 1 p.m. (That segues into several of Hitch's other films.)

The schedule for the day is at http://www.tcm.com/schedule/index.html?tz=PST&sdate=2016-10-06. Enjoy.

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A taste of what's to come...and thank you, Vin

Posted by vp19 on 2016.10.01 at 21:25
Current mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Sometime next week, if all goes according to plan, The History Press, a British publisher, will release Michelle Morgan's long-awaited Carole Lombard biography, "Carole Lombard: Twentieth-Century Star." (I believe it's already available via Kindle, for those who prefer to go that route.)

And Morgan wrote a story for the publisher's website which gives an idea not only of what the book is all about, but her incomparable research. It deals with an incident that came close to derailing Lombard's career -- the automobile accident that effectively ended her career as a teenage starlet, perhaps to her benefit. (It's hard to gauge, as none of the films she made before the accident have survived.)

Morgan uncovered several interviews Lombard later gave in which she referred to the accident. In one, she said, "No girl should start picture work in a leading role [as Carole did in her first film at Fox, "Marriage in Transit"]. It's unfair to her and punishment to an audience."

According to Morgan, Lombard "immersed herself in self-study," reading plays, including Shakespeare. (I regularly visit the Los Angeles Central Library, which opened in 1926, and wonder whether the teen Lombard used it as part of her recovery.) We even learn that later in 1926, she returned to one of her favorite pre-accident hangouts, the fabled Cocoanut Grove nightclub, where she reached the finals of a dance contest. (Her rivals included Joan Crawford and Billie Dove.)

The page is at http://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/articles/how-carole-lombard-s-career-was-almost-over-before-it-began/, which also has a link to purchase "Twentieth-Century Star" and another Morgan book, "Before Marilyn" (about Monroe's early modeling career; Morgan arguably is the definitive Marilyn authority).

Sunday is a very special day for those of us who love baseball, as it's the final broadcast in the 67-year career of Los Angeles Dodgers announcer Vin Scully. It'll be in San Francisco, where Scully -- the last link to the Dodgers' Brooklyn roots -- announced the first major-league game on the West Coast (an 8-0 loss to the also-transplanted San Francisco Giants) at Seals Stadium in April 1958.

Carole & Co. paid a "heavenly" tribute to Scully two years ago (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/713739.html). It isn't merely his longevity that has made him special, but his quality, his way with words, his knowledge of the game. (He played baseball at Fordham University.) This finale will be carried on TimeWarner SportsNet LA and Channel 5 in Los Angeles; in addition, KLAC radio, the Dodgers' flagship, will simulcast Scully's TV call the entire game. (Normally, only his first three innings are simulcast.)

Here's a special treat -- Scully calling a Brooklyn Dodger game! It's from June 4, 1957 at Ebbets Field against the Chicago Cubs, the start of a two-week homestand against the "western" teams (in 1957, the Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Braves and St. Louis Cardinals). To make things even more fascinating, the Brooklyn starter was erratic young lefthander Sandy Koufax, who eight years later would fire a perfect game against the Cubs.

Scully -- who notes at the start of the game he had just spilled some coffee in his lap! -- comments that the following night's starter (at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City) would be Don Drysdale, like Koufax a future Hall of Famer in Los Angeles. (Don would become part of the Dodgers' broadcast team.) It's about three hours long, but worth a listen to anyone who wondered what Scully sounded like early in his career (his eighth with the Dodgers, fourth as lead announcer). Hear it at https://youtu.be/9w7Kt1vo-3Y.

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Can you wait a little while longer?

Posted by vp19 on 2016.09.05 at 21:57
Current mood: annoyedannoyed
It'll be worth it, I promise. What am I talking about? This.

Michelle Morgan's long-anticipated Carole Lombard biography, "Carole Lombard: Twentieth-Century Star," was scheduled to be released in Great Britain (where Morgan is from) on Thursday. But this morning came an update from Morgan's Facebook author site:

"Heads up, Carole fans -- I have just heard from my publisher, and although the official publication date for the Carole book was 8th September, they are now not expecting copies to arrive in their office and distribution centre until at least the 5th October. This means that book shops won't have it in stock until shortly after that, This is extremely disappointing, especially as since there has not been an explanation as to why the hold-up has occurred. However, I will keep you all up-to-date with developments, and I hope that the copies come in much sooner than they are currently anticipating. Please keep your pre-orders in place, as books will be sent out as soon as they are ready. Sorry for any inconvenience!"

"Disappointing" is an accurate word...but for those of us who have waited years for this, what promises to be the definitive Lombard bio, we can afford to wait several weeks more. And Oct. 5 is the eve of the 108th anniversary of Carole's birth. (Yes, I suppose that's rationalizing.)

Understandably, Morgan fears some may decide to cancel their pre-orders -- but I think fans of both Lombard's cinematic work and Michelle's books on classic Hollywood will continue their support. Keep the faith.

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That book's release draws nearer...

Posted by vp19 on 2016.08.28 at 12:48
Current mood: pleasedpleased
And you know the book I'm talking about... Michelle Morgan's long-awaited biography of the subject of this site, "Carole Lombard: Twentieth-Century Star." (Alas, current finances prevent me from showing the book's cover, or any illustrations, for that matter; I hope to rectify that in the near future.)

It should be released in Great Britain, where Michelle lives, in less than two weeks, with hopes an American printing soon will follow. Fortunately, you can order it regardless of where you live -- simply go to the UK publisher's website and order, http://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/publication/carole-lombard-twentieth-century-star/9780750966054/ or https://www.amazon.co.uk/Carole-Lombard-Twentieth-Century-Michelle-Morgan/dp/075096605X. I would not be surprised if the Larry Edmunds Bookshop on Hollywood Boulevard will get copies in the near future, as it has promoted Morgan's recent (and well-received) Thelma Todd biography.

I haven't read "Twentieth-Century Star" yet, although I'm certainly eager to (as many of you are aware, Michelle has dedicated the book to both myself and Lombard authority Carole Sampeck), but Morgan's track record on Hollywood bios -- her several books on Marilyn Monroe focus on her as a person, unlike so many Monroe biographers who are too blinded by her sex-symbol persona -- and her talent at research promise to make this volume the definitive Lombard bio. (Disclosure: I assisted her with research.)

A week ago Monday, the London daily the Express ran an interview with Morgan about Carole (http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/702434/carole-lombard-life-new-book-twentieth-century-star-michelle-morgan), and it's fascinating.

As Morgan wrote promoting the book at her site, http://michellemorgan.co.uk, "Carole was a woman well ahead of her time, and her experiences have taught me a lot about how I want to conduct my own career. ... She was definitely a woman to be admired, and I hope this comes across in the book." (Morgan's offical Facebook author page, https://www.facebook.com/groups/124973377514850/, also is worth checking out.)

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It was a most unusual day

Posted by vp19 on 2016.08.19 at 23:29
Current mood: nervousnervous
it was a birthday I'll never forget...though Lord knows I'll try to.

It was late morning, and I was in an office talking to a counselor. The next thing I know, I'm in an ambulance, headed to Glendale. (And while I wouldn't mind that city's Forest Lawn becoming my permanent home, assuming I can afford it, I'm not planning to finish my life there.)

For much of the afternoon, I was at Glendale Memorial Hospital with low blood sugar. I was given a good, hearty lunch that brought me back to a steady level. Following a few hours' observation, I was released. Had a birthday cup of Earl Grey at my favorite Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, above the Wilshire/Vermont Metrorail station, then went back to my abode.

A lesson learned, to be more careful.

It's funny. Early in the day, I answered a Craigslist ad for a comedy screenwriters lab that meets in Sherman Oaks each Tuesday night. I'll be there next week, with hopes of making a good impression. Learn more about it at http://www.deadlinejunkies.com.

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They say it's my birthday...

Posted by vp19 on 2016.08.19 at 00:21
Current mood: thankfulthankful
As of a few minutes ago, I turned 61. I find that hard to believe.

Not because I've lived the type of life that would make reaching that milestone an improbability; I'm hardly the daredevil sort. And I can't claim to be in the usual condition to celebrate, not what with all that's gone on during 2016. Still, I roll with the punches and hope for a happy ending.

As Rare Earth (a white Motown rock band, kiddies) once sang, I just want to celebrate another day of living. At this stage, that's sufficient satisfaction for me. Many of you already have sent online regards, to which I say thank you. Keep your fingers crossed that this year will end on a high note. I like to think somewhere, Carole Lonbard is rooting for me.

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It's once again time to get 'Under the Stars'

Posted by vp19 on 2016.07.31 at 14:48
Current mood: excitedexcited
Tomorrow begins August, many classic film fans' favorite month. Why? Because for more than a decade, Turner Classic Movies uses those 31 days to commemorate 31 notable actors and actresses in an event it calls "Summer Under the Stars."

While Carole Lombard won't be featured this year (she was honored in 2007, 2011 and 2014), quite a few classic Hollywood favorites -- including quite a few first-time recepients -- are included. Here's who TCM in the U.S. is highlighting during Summer Under the Stars:

August 1 - Edward G. Robinson
August 2 - Lucille Ball
August 3 - Bing Crosby
August 4 - Fay Wray
August 5 - Karl Malden
August 6 - Montgomery Clift
August 7 - Jean Harlow
August 8 - Esther Williams
August 9 - Tim Holt
August 10 - Hedy Lamarr
August 11 - Spencer Tracy
August 12 - Janet Gaynor
August 13 - Ralph Richardson
August 14 - Cyd Charisse
August 15 - Roddy McDowall
August 16 - Anne Baxter
August 17 - James Edwards
August 18 - Angie Dickinson
August 19 - Ruby Keeler
August 20 - Humphrey Bogart
August 21 - Bette Davis
August 22 - Robert Montgomery
August 23 - Brigitte Bardot
August 24 - Constance Cummings
August 25 - Van Johnson
August 26 - Boris Karloff
August 27 - James Garner
August 28 - Jean Arthur
August 29 - Charles Boyer
August 30 - Jean Simmons
August 31 - Dean Martin

An intriguing and eclectic list, isn't it? Some old reliables, some obscurities (James Edwards was a black actor in the '40s and '50s, mostly in supporting roles), and some stars whose diverse parts may surprise some (e.g., Boris Karloff, who excelled in genres far beyond horror, and Fay Wray, far more than a "scream queen").

I'm delighted Angie Dickinson (whom I met at a memorabilia show last year) is around to see herself honored, and wish Esther Williams and James Garner similarly were still here. And on the 19th, my 61st birthday, the honoree is Ruby Keeler, who was my mother's favorite actress in her youth.

For more on the event, go to the channel's site at http://summer.tcm.com/. My friend Aurora brings her own perspective on the festivities at https://aurorasginjoint.com/2016/07/29/tcms-summer-under-the-stars-2016-picks-and-pics/.


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Hot and Bothered, the Films of 1932 Blogathon: 'No More Orchids'

Posted by vp19 on 2016.07.09 at 13:33
Current mood: contemplativecontemplative

From Lyle Talbot's rather bored look, you'd get the mistaken impression that "No More Orchids" is among Carole Lombard's least interesting pictures. Far from it. And while I can't quite call it a four-star classic, it's at least a 2 1/2-star movie, and in more charitable moods I might raise my rating to three. It's solid entertainment that rounds the gamut from comedy to drama to tragedy. And like its predecessor, "Virtue," it again proves that in 1932, Columbia had a better sense of Lombard's strengths than did Paramount, the studio she was loaned out from.

And speaking of 1932, this entry is part of the blogathon "Hot and Bothered: The Films of 1932," co-hosted by Once Upon A Screen (https://aurorasginjoint.com) and CineMaven's Essays From the Couch (https://cinemavensessaysfromthecouch.wordpress.com).

"No More Orchids" deserves a better reputation than it has; in its review of the film, Turner Classic Movies describes it as one of Carole's "dreary dramas" before she saw the comedic light with "Twentieth Century" nearly two years later. In reality, it could be encapsulated as a comedy that turns dramatic, in much the same vein as the far better known "No Man Of Her Own," which came out at the tail end of '32. Then again, that film answers the trivia question, "What is the only feature in which Carole Lombard co-stars with Clark Gable?" (Of course, they later married.) No one ever asks, "What is the only feature in which Lombard co-stars with Lyle Talbot?" And truth be told, as movies they're roughly on the same level.

Somewhere, Carole might be wondering the same thing.

The answer probably is that while both films have plenty of Lombard pre-Code sex appeal as well as appropriate endings where love wins in the end (as it should), "Orchids" concludes in a downbeat, even tragic manner, thanks to Walter Connolly, the magnificent character actor making his first of several teamings with Lombard. He plays her father here, a banker in trouble during the Depression (banks were failing left and right, a year before the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation protected bank customers). In fact, "No More Orchids" reached theaters not long after Frank Capra's "American Madness," where Walter Huston portrayed a failed banker.

The only way Connolly's character can salvage his bank is if he gives into his father-in-law's demands that Carole's character marry into royalty, not the struggling lawyer portrayed by Talbot, the man she really loves. Oh, and the father-in-law is played with 1 percent smarminess by C. Audrey Smith, my choice for the most despicable villain in any Lombard film (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/689208.html) -- at least Gail Patrick in "My Man Godfrey" learns her lesson at the end. Here are Connolly and Smith, when it appears the latter will get what he wants:

Jameson Thomas (shown below) portrays Prince Carlos, the suitor Lombard doesn't want; nearly 18 months later, he'd again play a prospective Connolly son-in-law, this time a "king" -- King Westley, that is, who intends to marry Ellie Andrews (Claudette Colbert) in the much better known "It Happened One Night." He again is thwarted, this time under far happier circumstances. (Edward Bernds, a sound recorder for Columbia who held that position on "Orchids" and later directed many of its comedy shorts, most notably those of the Three Stooges, made that observation in his book "Mr. Bernds Goes to Hollywood.")

Louise Closser Hale plays Lombard's paternal grandmother, who's sympathetic to Talbot's plight and adds plenty of comic sparkle early on. Like many on and off screen in the early '30s, she ignores Prohibition (and can legally do so for some of the movie, since she's on a ship outside U.S. waters).

Two other good sources for info on "Orchids" are a fine review of the film at pre-Code.com in 2014 (http://pre-code.com/no-more-orchids-1932-review-carole-lombard-walter-connolly/) and Bernard F. Dick's 2015 book "The Merchant Prince of Poverty Row: Harry Cohn of Columbia Pictures."

As stated earlier, this is a film that frankly deserves a better re-evaluation, especially as it shows that even in 1932, Lombard had the skills for talking-picture comedy, even if Paramount either didn't seem to know it or, to their eventual detriment, didn't care.

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Some 'Tall!' news (and good news, too)

Posted by vp19 on 2016.06.29 at 12:21
Current mood: cheerfulcheerful

No, that's not my script Carole Lombard's reading... but with luck, in the not-too-distant future, some actress will. That's because my romantic comedy screenplay "Stand Tall!" has reached finalist status at the Los Angeles CineFest.

What does this mean? According to the director of the event, if someone in the industry asks about the work, "we'll let them know how to contact you directly." Hey, it's a start.

"Stand Tall!" is a charming little story about a casino waitress who needs to "get bigger" (in the bust, that is) so she can moonlight as an exotic dancer to help pay her young nephew's medical expenses. A scientist friend and customer of hers suggests an experimental operation to enlarge her breasts, and she indeed gets bigger -- in an unintended way. The very moment the procedure occurs, a minor earthquake throws the device off kilter, and she's instead tripled in size to 16 feet, 3 3/8 inches tall.

He unsuccessfully tries to undo her growth as she stays in his lab (a converted trucking warehouse), and they also find they're falling in love. The casino's billionaire owner tracks her down, promises to pay the nephew's hospital bills, then signs her to a million-dollar contract to sing and dance at his showroom. She becomes the top attraction in Vegas, a beautiful giant beloved by young and old... but when the scientist is kidnapped by a mobster, will she have to sacrifice the size she's come to like to save the man she's come to love?

You can read the latest version of the script -- it's 105 pages, but a smooth read, I promise -- by visiting https://filmfreeway.com/projects/476988. If you know any producers, please bring them over.

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Help a screenwriter 'Stand Tall!'

Posted by vp19 on 2016.06.15 at 12:12
Current mood: cheerfulcheerful

From the late 1920s onward, Carole Lombard was noted for her sharp sense of story -- although as far as I know, Lombard herself never attempted to write a screenplay. (Had that infamous automobile accident that prematurely ended her tenure at Fox been even slightly more severe, thus dooming her career as an actress, she might have pursued a different path to remain in the industry she loved. Perhaps that path might have been as a screenwriter.)

So while Carole didn't write screenplays, nearly 90 years later, I'm trying my hand at the game. It won't be a lead-pipe cinch by any means -- the competition is fierce, and you can see many folks honing their scripts while using their laptops at the local Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (SoCal's equivalent of Starbucks, and since I drink tea and not coffee, my preferred hangout).

I've partially completed one romantic comedy, and have finished another. And that latter, completed script has earned semi-finalist status at the Los Angeles CineFest, a monthly competition. And here's where you come in...you can help me win the event.

Simply go to http://www.lacinefest.org/page-9-52016.html and cast your vote for my script, "Stand Tall!" And you don't have to worry about being sold a bill of goods -- there's a link to the screenplay, so you can judge for yourself. (It's 103 pages, and I promise a fun, smooth read, even if you've never read a script before.)

So what's "Stand Tall!" all about? Well, remember the 2013 Favorite Classic Movie Actress Tournament, a competition Carole won on her third try? I promoted her successful campaign, and in one of my ads I used a bit of trick photography to show Lombard was one of Hollywood's larger-than-life figutes:

Yep, it's a "giant woman" story, a tall tale Hollywood has liked telling many a time since the late 1950s (in addition to 50-foot women, there have been 50-foot cheerleaders, 60-foot centerfolds and 30-foot brides). What makes "Stand Tall!" stand out from the rest of the queen-sized pack? A few things. Colleen Cossitt, our story's heroine, is rather puny compared to her towering cinematic predecessors, a mere 16 feet, 3 3/8 inches. She's generally too good-natured to "attack" anybody (although any bully should beware; as she says, "I look out for the little guy -- I used to be one myself"). And this is a full-fledged romantic comedy, with Colleen's target of desire one Keswick Fletcher, a regular customer of hers at the Bryson casino in Las Vegas, where she is a singing and dancing waitress.

When Colleen, whose ex drained her bank account and also physically abused her, needs to moonlight at a gentlemen's club to raise money for her 8-year-old nephew Ivan's medical expenses, she's rejected by its smarmy owner, Vito Cortez, who tells her to "get bigger" (a reference to her bustline, folks). Keswick, who's devised a machine that isolates and enlarges body parts, offers to enlarge her bust for free -- but at the moment Colleen undergoes the experimental treatment, a minor earthquake causes everything to go awry. Instead of the volume of her breasts being tripled, her entire body is made three times larger. She has to hide in Keswick's lab (a converted trucking warehouse) as he seeks to undo the process. Meanwhile, they gradually fall in love and equally struggling older sister Maureen and Ivan move in (to Colleen's relief, he loves that she's "fee-fi-fo-fum size").

Colleen is soon tracked down by Ernest Sanderson, the casino's eccentric billionaire owner, who accedes to her demand that he pay her nephew's hospital bills. Ecstatic, she picks him up and kisses him, saying she's so happy she "could sing and dance" -- and he signs her to do just that in his showroom (for a million dollars), with Keswick as her manager. After a clumsy beginning, she becomes beloved by young and old alike in Sin City, literally the biggest star in Vegas. (The above is from a one-sheet I commissioned early in the story process; were I to suggest a poster today, it would be of Keswick, on a stepladder, kissing and embracing the giant Colleen in her dressing room.) Meanwhile, Ernest is smitten with Maureen. Life is good.

But a secret in Keswick's past threatens their romance, and when he's kidnapped, Colleen must come to his rescue. Since this is a romantic comedy, there's of course a happy ending, with twists and turns you might not expect.

I've even proposed music for the story -- the girl-group sound of the '60s, which would wonderfully complement the script. One of the songs I "suggest" would involve Colleen performing with kids (at a special family "Team Colleen" weekend matinee). Try to imagine this 1963 gem from Brill Building legends Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry (who released this under the name "The Raindrops") as a dance routine. As Colleen later tells Keswick in her dressing room, "Isn't that the perfect song for a kids' chorus? OK, the lyrics are a bit ancient, but it's so cute." I hope that can be said of the entire screenplay.

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Nine years! Hard to believe

Posted by vp19 on 2016.06.13 at 11:56
Current mood: optimisticoptimistic

That's right -- it was nine years ago today this site began, as a way to honor Carole Lombard, her life and times, and the people she worked with. As blogs often do, Carole & Co. soon took a life of its own, and in those nine years, nearly 3,300 entries have appeared.

My life too has significantly changed, a major reason posts this year have been relatively few -- and this from someone who prided himself on doing some sort of entry every day. (Now I seek to do a few each month.) Reality often sends you in another direction, forcing you to reassess your priorities. While I won't burden you with the particulars, that's more or less what's happened to me.

This promises to be an epic year for Lombard fandom. Michelle Morgan's long-awaited biography of Carole is scheduled to arrive in less than three months, and if her previous biographies -- whose subjects have ranged from Marilyn Monroe to Madonna to Thelma Todd -- are indicative of what we can expect, there's a very good chance her book will take its place as the definitive Lombard bio.

There are some intriguing things happening in my life as well, things I promise to fill you in on later this week. For now, let's celebrate Carole & Co.'s number nine...with hopes that when its 10th anniversary occurs in June 2017, the celebration will be far less muted.

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RIP, Mr. Schallert

Posted by vp19 on 2016.05.09 at 15:23
Current mood: contemplativecontemplative
Today's a sad one in the entertainment industry, as we lost one of its stalwarts -- veteran character actor William Schallert, who died last night at age 93.

Like many of you, I grew up watching him on all sorts of TV series -- "Dobie Gillis," "The Patty Duke Show" (shown above), "Get Smart" and countless others. He also appeared in many movies, worked on stage and did plenty of voiceovers. He even was president of the Screen Actors Guild.

I was fortunate to interview Mr. Schallert in 2002, and you can find a transcript here: http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/190884.html. It's well worth a read.

Let us celebrate a life well lived.

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On Mother's Day, a future gift of 'Orchids'

Posted by vp19 on 2016.05.08 at 09:25
Current mood: pensivepensive

A happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there -- thanks for bringing us into the world! -- so I thought I'd open this entry with this fan magazine pic of Carole Lombard and her mother, Elizabeth Peters, from the summer of 1931, not long after Carole married William Powell and honeymooned in Hawaii. (She caught ill there, a harbinger of a rocky marriage that evolved into a successful friendship.)

But today's entry focuses on the future, specifically something coming up in a bit over two months...

...a new blogathon headed our way. The topic: The films of 1932, a year that may not possess the inherent majesty of 1939 but in many ways is its pre-Code equivalent. Yes, '32 was a terrific year for movies, despite the Depression (which impacted the box office and in turn, the industry). Think of the many classics issued that year -- "Shanghai Express" (illustrated in the banner), Academy Award winner "Grand Hotel," Ernst Lubitsch's exquisite "Trouble in Paradise," the steamy "Red Dust," and so many more. It's only natutal I'd want to get in on the action with a Lombard spin on things.

But which film of Carole's?

Five productions starring her were released that year, and while the best of the quintet probably was "Virtue" (easily the most pre-Code in tone of the group), I've written extensively on it, perhaps too much so. If any fellow bloggers want to take a stab at it, be my guest.

"No Man Of Her Own" has that irresistible Clark Gable angle plus Lombard in lingerie (something for everybody!), but as a movie I find it falls apart in the second half and doesn't quite equal the star-studded sum of its parts.

"No One Man" (made in late 1931, issued in early '32), Carole's first top-billed Paramount production, is rather pedestrian despite the presence of Paul Lukas and everyone's favorite pre-Code antagonist, Ricardo Cortez. The same can be said of that summer's release...

..."Sinners in the Sun," perhaps now better remembered as Cary Grant's second film (a supporting role) and one where Lombard shows off a variety of fashions (from gowns to swimsuits) but does relatively little else.

So by process of elimination, I'm going with...

..."No More Orchids," Carole's Columbia followup to "Virtue." It's got a lot going for it: a hint of the comedic Lombard to come, a capable leading man in Lyle Talbot, the presence of Walter Connolly, a superb character actor who'd support Carole on three other occasions, and C. Aubrey Smith in an uncharacteristic bad-guy role. What else will I write about "Orchids"? You'll have to wait two months to find out.

To find out more about this blogathon, go to https://aurorasginjoint.com/2016/05/07/hot-and-bothered-the-films-of-1932-blogathon/. It's being co-hosted by Aurora and CineMaven's Essays From the Couch (https://cinemavensessaysfromthecouch.wordpress.com/).

Many fascinating films from '32 are still there for the taking -- not just the four from Lombard I left on the table, but several superb movies from her husband at the time, William Powell, notably two fine pairings with Kay Francis, the moving "One Way Passage" and the outrageous "Jewel Robbery" (aka the erudite Mr. Powell engages in drug humor!). Hope both of them are claimed soon.

And again, a happy Mother's Day as I reflect on my mother, who reached age 93 and left us in December 2013.

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On the set of the 'Century'

Posted by vp19 on 2016.05.07 at 08:29
Current mood: accomplishedaccomplished

Here's Carole Lombard taking a break on the set of what arguably is her most important movie, "Twentieth Century." It was released by Columbia in the spring of 1934 and helped transform her reputation from a clotheshorse with good legs but an undistinctive persona into the queen of a new cinematic genre, the screwball comedy.

Second from left is its director, Howard Hawks, a distant cousin of Carole's. (She'd had a supporting role in his first directorial effort, the lost 1926 silebt "The Road to Glory," which is unrelated to a film of the same title Hawks directed a decade later.) Hawks had a fascinatingly varied career, never tied down to a particular studio or genre, which may explain why it wasn't until the auteur theory took hold in the 1960s that his talent was fully appreciated.

As for the other two people pictured here, the seller has no idea who they are, and neither do I. Any ideas?

This original image, from the Frank Driggs collection, is up for auction at eBay:

The photo is described as in fine condition, with "light corner wear":

As of this writing, eight bids -- topping at $31 -- have been made for this rare pic, and the auction won't end until 9:21 p.m. (Eastern) a week from Monday. By then, expect bids to reach triple digits. If that doesn't daunt you or you want more information, visit http://www.ebay.com/itm/Howard-Hawks-Carole-Lombard-Rare-Set-Twentieth-Century-Vintage-Photograph-1934-/231910625128?hash=item35fef34f68:g:ET4AAOSwSzdXC~m1.

The reviews were positive (although here, co-star John Barrymore, not Lombard, is the focal point), as this feature from the Hollywood Reporter makes evident:

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