Carole in early 'Times,' part 1Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.18 at 01:11
Current mood: nostalgic
As in Los Angeles Times, the dominant newspaper in southern California -- and by "early," we're referring to the mid-1920s, the first instances of Jane Alice Peters being publicized for her new name and new profession.
We've noted a few of these items in the past, but we've never shown them to you as they actually ran in the newspaper. Thanks to Bill Drew, we've obtained a number of articles that ran in the Times, and you can get an idea of how they must have thrilled a teenage girl who had long dreamed of movie stardom, emulating the notables she had watched in moviehouses since early childhood.
The first part of this series is from early 1925, as Lombard -- still closer to age 16 than 17 -- embarked on her journey to stardom. We'll begin with what may be the first time the name "Carole Lombard" appeared not just in the Times, but perhaps any newspaper. (Perhaps someone can study other Los Angeles papers of the period -- G.D. Hamann, where are you? -- to learn if any other daily beat the Times to the punch.) Here's the entry, from the Times of Feb. 4, 1925:
Jane Peters, "another lovely society girl"...Elizabeth Peters, "society leader"..."Incidentally Miss Peters has taken the name of Carole Lombard." (From the start, that first name has an "e"!) We learn how she won an interview with Fox's Sol M. Wurtzel, impressed them enough to win a five-year contract, and was given the female lead opposite Edmund Lowe in an upcoming film called "The Best Man." (The world would come to know it as "Marriage In Transit.") Pretty heady achievement for a girl of sweet sixteen -- although her previous debut with Monte Blue is noted.
About a month later, March 8 to be exact, the name "Carole Lombard" would again appear in the Times, in an article written by Edwin Schallert, whose son William was then two years old -- he's still going strong today and continues to get work as one of the industry's most beloved character actors (http://community.livejournal.com/carol
"Girls who have the least suspicion of talent are not only being given small supporting parts in the pictures, but in several instances they have been put right into leading roles." Lombard is one of those cited, along with other actresses of note, including Sally O'Neill, Dorothy Sebastian, Greta Nissen, Constance Bennett and a new Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer played named Lucille LeSueur, whom Carole by now might have met on the dance floor at the Cocoanut Grove and who soon would be renamed Joan Crawford. It's an intriguing article, as Schallert evaluates this trend in the industry.
Later that month, March 25, Carole's photograph likely made its debut in the Times, as part of a salute to filmdom newcomers:
"How do you like these newcomers?" Very much, thank you.
Lombard's in the lower right-hand corner. Want a close-up?
Of Lombard, it says she "walked into the films via the ballroom. Her beauty attracted attention at a recent dance and Fox immediately signed her up." (Funny, but that wasn't mentioned in the account the previous month.) "She is playing opposite Edmund Lowe in 'The Best Man.'" And it appears that shot is taken from a wedding scene still from that picture.
Fascinating stuff from about 86 years ago, and one can imagine the Peters family buying up a few extra copies to mail to friends back home in Indiana, and perhaps saving a copy or two for the family scrapbook. Our next entry will feature Lombard items from later on in the year.