Carole in early 'Times,' part 3Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.20 at 01:11
Current mood: frustrated
Carole Lombard's budding film career continued in the summer of 1925 with a female lead in the Buck Jones western at Fox, "Hearts And Spurs." However, the Los Angeles Times, the leading newspaper in the capital of the film industry, had no mentions of Lombard in its pages in 1925, beyond the items we showed in the first two parts of this series.
There's Lombard in a lobby card from "The Road To Glory," a Fox film directed by Howard Hawks (who, more than a decade later, directed an unrelated film of the same name) and released in February 1926. Unfortunately, that's about all we have of Carole for the entire year; the Times apparently didn't print a single item on her for all of '26.
For the Lombard researcher, 1926 is a virtual black hole, largely because she was in an automobile accident that caused a noticeable scar on her left cheek that required plastic surgery and an extended period of healing. It also led Fox to drop her from its acting roster. We're aware of that general information, but as far as specifics, no luck.
No biographer has ever provided a definite date to when the accident happened, or precisely where it occurred. Perhaps it's hidden somewhere in Los Angeles police files, but if it exists, it's never been retrieved. One would believe at least one of the city's newspapers ran something on it, but if one did, it remains hidden.
At a dead end where 1926 is concerned, we move forward to 1927, where Carole gained work as a member of Mack Sennett's bathing beauty troupe in two-reelers. Her Sennett debut came in "Smith's Pony," released on Sept. 18 -- and as fate would have it, that day the Times ran Lombard's picture as part of a rotogravure display:
Let's isolate and run a closeup of that Lombard portrait:
Somewhat resembles a 1927 version of Christina Aguilera, doesn't it? Here's what the caption says:
"The loveliness that so charmed the eye of Mack Sennett is revealed in this photograph of Carol Lombard. Small wonder that the comedy king has signed Miss Lombard to appear in his two-reelers. -- Photo by Hesser"
As in Edwin Bower Hesser, the noted glamour photographer. Also note that her first name has no "e"; might it have been to give her a new persona, distinct from that long-ago Fox player (whose past isn't mentioned here)? Whatever, it's a stunning photo, and the blonde hair certainly makes her look different from the Fox Lombard.
Less than a month later (Oct. 13), Lombard was back in the Times, this time in the news section, and it's also the first report of the auto accident in the paper:
Note she is listed as "Carole Jane Peters" (although her legal name was still Jane Alice Peters), and she was suing Harry Cooper and his parents for $35,000 for damages suffered in the accident. It doesn't give us any detail on when and where the incident occurred (also note that Lombard, whose professional name this time does have an "e," is listed as being 17, even though she had turned 19 the week before). Moreover, it says nothing about her prior work with Fox.
Two days later, we learned the result (thanks to Bill Drew for uncovering this) -- as often happened in such cases, it was settled out of court before going to trial:
And Carole apparently came out of it with $3,000, so for her it was a victory of sorts.
That's where Carole Lombard stood as 1927 ended, as she continued to gain expertise in a type of acting far different than what she had done at Fox. If only we knew more about the incident that had sent her career in this new direction.