So tell us, Carole Lombard, who was better at kissing -- William Powell or Clark Gable? (For all we know, if she was in a candid mood, she might say "George Raft.") Let's turn it around and ask, what was it like to kiss Lombard?
For this, we have an answer, and I found it collecting items for my "looking back" entry for May 1933. Two full-page stories seemed worthy of separate entries, and here's one of them.
This ran in the May 7, 1933 Oakland Tribune, as actor Walter Byron -- "the man who has touched the lips of forty beautiful screen stars" -- discusses the whys and wherefores of on-screen osculation in "What I Know About Kisses," written by Alice L. Tildesley of the Philadelphia Public Ledger syndicate, who had conducted an intriguing interview with Carole in 1932 (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/2
Who is Walter Byron, you ask? He was a native of England, born in 1899, who began making films in 1926, progressed to leading man roles (albeit as a complementary type rather than a star), and continued making films throughout the 1930s, although his last eight screen appearances (in 1941 and 1942) all went uncredited. He died in 1972.
Byron worked with Lombard in "Sinners In The Sun," though in this shot his character appears too tired to kiss. (They must have done it in another scene.)
Here's what he had to say about her:
"Carole Lombard is charming. She has her feet on the ground and there's no nonsense about her. She never holds back; she never says, 'You may kiss me here, but not there'; she never seems to remember that she is a star and I am the leading man or the heavy or whatever it is; she doesn't argue about camera angles and whether or not I have the best one."
Byron is too much the gentleman (and probably also cognizant of future employment) to rank actresses' kissing ability, but he does note that Jean Harlow ("the kind of girl any man would like to hold in his arms"), Clara Bow, Loretta Young and Joan Crawford rate as "torrid" kissers, ready to perform love scenes with abandon.
He also spent 18 months off and on with Gloria Swanson on the troubled production "Queen Kelly" (shown above), but said of her, "For charm, sweetness, sportsmanship, sense of humor and unselfishness, Gloria Swanson is the finest woman on the screen."
For all the kissing talk, Byron issued this caveat near the end of the article: "Glamorous love isn't something you can stand as a continuous affair. You must have time for conversation and shopping and prosaic everyday affairs."
You really can't do an entry about kissing and not conclude with this -- Betty Everett's original version of "The Shoop-Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)," a top 10 hit in the spring of 1964. (Cher later redid it for the movie "Mermaids.") Here's some great Chicago soul, girl-group style: