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carole lombard 06

What A Character! blogathon: That beleaguered paterfamilias, Eugene Pallette

Posted by vp19 on 2018.12.15 at 11:21
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

Every character actor dreams of landing a role as career-defining as that given` a lead, and in 1936 Eugene Pallette did just that in "My Man Godfrey." As businessman Alexander Bullock -- the lone note of sanity in a scatterbrained but wealthy Park Avenue family -- he wins our sympathy, as he's clandestinely aided by butler Godfrey in averting a potentially devastating financial crisis.

At the time of its release, Pallette had been in films for nearly a quarter-century and in fact already had made movies with both Carole Lombard and Powell. Moreover, several other notable supporting roles were to come.

Quite a bit about Pallette (born in Kansas July 8, 1889) is surprising. We think of him being stout from birth, but in silent days, he had not yet gained weight. Note this photo from May 1920...

...and this image of him the following year as Aramis (second from left and in inset) in "The Three Musketeers":

By decade's end, he had gained considerable weight, and sound provided him another edge in a distinct "bullfrog" voice that he used when cast as authority figures, such as officer/detective Ernest Heath in several Philo Vance films opposite Powell. Here they are with Jack La Rue and Helen Vinson in arguably the best of the series, 1933's "The Kennel Murder Case":

Two years before "Kennel," Pallette and Lombard appeared in the Paramount comedy "It Pays To Advertise":

Many other films benefited from Pallette's presence; he had more than 240 credits. Prior to "Godfrey," he had roles in "Intolerance" (1916), "Tarzan Of The Apes" (1918), "Chicago" (1927), the first all-talkie "Lights Of New York" (1928), "The Virginian" and "The Love Parade" (both 1929), "Shanghai Express" (1932) and "Bordertown" (1935).

But after "Godfrey," his career ascended. Pallette appeared in "Topper" before appearing as Friar Tuck in the 1938 swashbuckler classic "The Adventures Of Robin Hood":

He's also to be seen in "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" (1939) and two comic gems from 1941, "The Lady Eve" and "The Bride Came C.O.D."

Pallette's downfall began in 1944, when he was cast as Jeanne Crain's father for "In The Meantime, Darling." Director Otto Preminger claimed Pallette believed Germany would win World War II, and the actor -- who turned 55 that year -- refused to sit at a kitchen table with black actor Clarence Muse, reportedly using a racial slur to describe him. Pallette was fired by Fox studio head Darryl F. Zanuck, and his scenes were written out from further shooting. His final film roles came in 1946.

That year, Pallette moved to a 3,500-acre cattle ranch in Oregon, convinced bombs would blow up the world. Two years later, he disposed of his Oregon assets and returned to Los Angeles, though he never made another film, and died there Sept. 3, 1954.

This is part of the "What A Character!" blogathon, saluting character actor, the often unsung heroes of film. It's sponsored by "Outspoken and Freckled" (https://kelleepratt.com/), "Once Upon A Screen..." (https://aurorasginjoint.com/) and "Paula's Cinema Club" (https://paulascinemaclub.com/).

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Welcome home to plum and pink

Posted by vp19 on 2018.12.14 at 15:54
Current mood: accomplishedaccomplished

It's spring 1934, and Carole Lombard's riding high. Her latest release, Columbia's "Twentieth Century," is drawing rave reviews as a stellar example of a new genre that would ultimately be known as "screwball comedy." Moreover, Carole -- now eight or nine months divorced from William Powell -- has rented a home, decorated by William Haines, at 7953 Hollywood Boulevard, just west of Fairfax, which she would occupy for the next two years as she boosted her reputation within the Hollywood community.

This photo, Paramount p1202-714, has information on the back, letting us visualize the colors on this black-and-white pic:

Lots of plum and pink...and mirror images.

This vintage 8" x 10" photo, in good condition, is available at eBay. Bidding begins at $204.95, and the auction concludes at 10:06 p.m. (Eastern) Thursday. Bid, or find out more, by visiting https://www.ebay.com/itm/CAROLE-LOMBARD-TRIPLE-MIRROR-VIEW-PHOTO-HER-ELEGANT-HOME-1934/223283129968?hash=item33fcb62e70.

carole lombard 04

Thoughts on the Blu-ray of 'Made For Each Other'

Posted by vp19 on 2018.12.13 at 15:55
Current mood: contentcontent

Carole Lombard's first dramatic foray in several years, 1939's "Made For Each Other" (she's shown alongside co-star James Stewart) and recently issued on Blu-ray for the first time, was reviewed several days ago at dvdtalk.com. Reviewer Stuart Galbraith provides some fascinating perspectives on the release.

First of all, Galbraith sets the record straight for those of you who have never seen the film. While it's often labeled a romantic comedy, and indeed there are some comedic elements, "Made For Each Other" is more accurately described as a drama with a few humorous moments.

Also note that Lombard is billed ahead of the up-and-coming Stewart; this was released in January 1939, when Carole had a bit more clout with audiences despite her recent misfire with "Fools For Scandal." Stewart had some successes in 1938 with "Vivacious Lady" and "You Can't Take It With You," but '39 would be his breakout year -- think "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington," "Destry Rides Again" and more.

Yet according to Galbraith, Lombard's character is a far stronger presence here than Stewart's: "'Made For Each Other' might have been insufferable had its script made [attorney] John [Mason] appear any weaker than he does in the story." (Carole and James play a young couple who marry soon after meeting, much to the dismay of his mother and his boss, whose daughter John was expected to marry.)

Adds Galbraith, "Stewart, not fully-formed yet as an actor, is fine, and his screen chemistry with Lombard is great, but it's her Jane that holds the picture together." (Jane Mason is the only Lombard character to marry and give birth during the course of a film.)

"Both project the kind of passion and deep devotion one associates with young marrieds, and her growing but repressed resentment toward him and his mother is entirely believable. Lombard, as always, is luminous ... uniquely beautiful, but in an approachable, identifiable way, and movie audiences could certainly relate to and empathize with their everyday problems, and are rooting for their eventual happiness."

That empathy comes in handy during the film's controversial third act, which veers perilously close to melodrama. (The Masons' young son needs a rare medicine to save his life while hospitalized, and it's delivered by a pilot who must fly through adverse conditions.)

Like several other Lombard films ("My Man Godfrey," "Swing High, Swing Low"), "Made For Each Other" fell into public domain, meaning reconstruction of the movie wasn't entirely successful. Galbraith says of this version, "this new release is a vast improvement over earlier home video releases [although the first reel is not in fine shape]. ... overall the results are very good." He has no complaints with the sound quality.

Extras include a trailer for the movie and audio commentary from film historian Lee Gambin.

The movie rates between 2 1/2 and 4 stars out of five in various categories, and is listed as "highly recommended." The complete review is found at https://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/73503/made-for-each-other/.

carole lombard 03

Riding the rails, eating the food, then and now

Posted by vp19 on 2018.12.12 at 12:12
Current mood: hungryhungry

Carole Lombard and Clark Gable were no strangers to restaurants, such as the Vine Street Brown Derby where they were photographed above. And when either or both had to get out of town and took the train, they relied on railroad food, which at the time was known as pretty darn good -- and not just in the fabled dining cars on board.

This is the Harvey House restaurant at Los Angeles Union Station when it opened in May 1939. Did Lombard ever eat here, perhaps before the fateful trip east that left on Jan. 12, 1942? We don't know, although I believe the train (the "City of Los Angeles") left early that Monday morning, and since she had arrived at the station from Encino in the Valley, she might not have had time for breakfast before boarding.

The Harvey House shut down in 1967, a victim of declining interest in passenger rail travel and the station's diminished traffic as a rail hub. But over the past quarter-century, especially with the growth of short-term rail such as Metrolink and Amtrak service between San Luis Obispo to the north and San Diego to the south, Union Station revived as a travel destination.

Now, more than half a century after the Harvey House closed, the site lives anew.

Welcome to the Imperial Western Beer Company, which began in October as a blend of beer pub (with its own on-site brewery) and restaurant. Its menu focuses on seafood, in the tradition of the Oyster Bar at New York's Grand Central Station. But it's not the only new rail-related venue there.

Next door is the Streamliner, a bar Harvey House officials designed during World War II for servicemen more interested in a drink than a full meal. Today, it serves riders waiting to head home to Ventura, San Bernardino or Riverside.

More about them can be found at https://www.latimes.com/food/dailydish/la-fo-re-union-station-20181005-story.html.

Back in Lombard's day, rail was an integral part of Los Angeles life. As proof, consider the Pacific Electric Building at 6th & Main.

Today, it's known for its spacious lofts...but for many years, this building was a rail hub, carrying commuters between downtown and points east and south. Its last train, to Long Beach (paralleling much of today's Metro Blue Line light-rail trackage), ran in April 1961.

Among its services to riders, the PE was home to a restaurant:

Here's a look at its interior:

Did Lombard ever eat here? Perhaps, if she and her family were headed east on the PE or south to Long Beach. But I think we can safely say she never had breakfast here in December 1941, which is when this menu is from (take a look at these prices!):

Yum. (And no substitutions.)

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A daughter of two legends tells all

Posted by vp19 on 2018.12.11 at 17:34
Current mood: excitedexcited

Carole Lombard occasionally had intense interest in famed screenwriter Robert Riskin. She supposedly romanced him in 1932 as her passion for husband William Powell waned, and in 1935 these were regularly seen in public, though by year's end that too fizzled out and Carole pursued the married-in-name-only Clark Gable early in 1936.

Riskin -- whose earlier amorous interests included Glenda Farrell -- later pursued another noted actress romantically linked to writers...

...Fay Wray, whose many fine performances prove she was far more than a "scream queen." (Want proof? Watch her in the 1928 silent "The Wedding March," where she holds her own with Erich von Stroheim.) Wray and Riskin married and had three children, one of them Victoria Riskin.

After many years as a psychologist, Victoria transitioned to writing and producing for television; her works included "The Last Best Year" (1990), "World War II: When Lions Roared" (1994) and "My Antonia" (1995). She had a term as president of the Writers Guild of America, West. She's also worked to aid persecuted writers throughout the world.

And she's soon to release a book about her famed parents.

the book is scheduled to come out in late February, and already have been lauded in early reviews. It's another in the series of memoirs of classic Hollywood folk written by their offspring (think of "The Entertainer" a few years back by Lyle Talbot's daughter Margaret).

Victoria examines the lives of both parents, whose romantic relationship didn't begin until 1940. She pulls few punches about their earlier lives, especially Wray's troubled marriage to writer-aviator John Monk Saunders ("The Eagle And The Hawk"). Riskin suffered a stroke in 1950 and would die five years later, and it was up to Fay to handle family affairs (https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-5247-4728-2?fbclid=IwAR3MjS-ddT7G5JCC27MSMuCJBTWC4Zlw4VXxezNHkFED30Tk3k6QR_fVxgw).

I eagerly await this book, and believe most of you will too. Order it at https://www.amazon.com/Fay-Wray-Robert-Riskin-Hollywood/dp/1524747289.

carole lombard 01

Some Lombard auction items 'Profiled'

Posted by vp19 on 2018.12.10 at 16:55
Current mood: creativecreative

How'd you like to own this portrait of Carole Lombard and Cary Grant from what would be their only teaming as co-stars, the 1939 RKO drama "In Name Only"? Well, you can, but you'd better contact Profiles In History...fast.

The Calabasas, Calif.-based memorabilia dealer is holding a multi-day auction tomorrow, immediately after its auction Marilyn Monroe items (https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/lists/9-items-film-fan-wants-profiles-history-auction-1167928). And while the Lombard stuff is fairly minimal, there are some nice photographic items.

That pic, for instance. It's among seven Lombard pics on sale together:

The pic to the left of Carole and Cary is a rarity from "Big News," the little-seen 1929 Pathe newspaper talkie. All told, the seven are expected to command an initial bid of $200 to $300.

Another group is comprised of nine stills, all from Paramount and in good to very good condition:

Again, bids are expected to open at between $200 and $300. That's also the expected initial bid for this elegant Lombard portrait from 1933:

Download a copy of the auction book at https://profilesinhistory.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/96HollywoodS.pdf.

carole lombard 07

Tomorrow, Una x 10 (happy birthday!)

Posted by vp19 on 2018.12.09 at 15:01
Current mood: excitedexcited

Carole Lombard was one of the many Golden Age actresses who benefited from having Una Merkel as a cinematic "best friend"-- and she'll be saluted all day Monday by Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. And while "True Confession," Lombard's lone film with Merkel, isn't among the 10, count 'em, 10 films featured, those that are prove Una was among the great character actresses of the '30s, excelling in a variety of genres.

The Merkel tentet (all times Eastern):

* 6 a.m. -- "Whistling In The Dark" (1933). A mystery writer's plan for the perfect murder greatly interests a mobster. With Ernest Truex and Edward Arnold.

* 7:30 a.m. -- "They Call It Sin" (1932). Not as well known as the 1933 Una-Loretta Young teaming "Midnight Mary," but lots of pre-Code fun. Loretta's a church organist turned pop songwriter, while Una's a clever chorus girl. With George Brent and David Manners.

* 8:45 a.m. -- "Man Wanted" (1932). Merkel and Manners support Kay Francis in this story where Kay's an executive and David her male secretary. Directed by William Dieterle.

* 10 a.m. -- "Day Of Reckoning" (1933). Richard Dix and Madge Evans are the leads as a man's nagging wife drives him to crime. Also with Conway Tearle.

* 11:15 a.m. -- "Beauty For Sale" (1933). Una and Madge again -- this time with Alice Brady and Otto Kruger -- in a tale about an innocent young hairdresser who snares herself a rich husband...but he's already married.

* 12:45 p.m. -- "Private Lives" (1931). The adaptation of a Noel Coward story casts Una as the new wife of Elyot (Robert Montgomery) who discovers he's rekindled the spark with his now-remarried ex Norma Shearer, who's in the adjacent honeymoon suite. Also with Reginald Denny.

* 2:15 p.m. -- "Murder In The Private Car" (1934). TCM ran this railroad mystery last month as part of its Mary Carlisle tribute. Charles Ruggles is the lead as an unorthodox detective.

* 3:30 p.m. -- "The Women In His Life" (1933). Kruger plays a hard-living lawyer who defends the chief subject (Ben Lyon) in a murder case, with Merkel providing support.

* 4:45 p.m. -- "Born To Dance" (1936). Stewart aids newcomers Eleanor Powell and James Stewart in this musical, where Stewart introduces the Cole Porter standard "Easy To Love." Also with Virginia Bruce./ A sailor on leave helps a young dancer make it to the top on Broadway.

* 6:45 p.m. -- "Four Girls In White" (1939). Student nurses cope with life's problems. With Florence Rice and Ann Rutherford.

Two years ago, Una finally became the subject of a biography, entitled "Una Merkel: The Actress With Sassy Wit And Southern Charm" (she was a native of northern Kentucky). Written by Larry Sean Kinder, it can be ordered via amazon.com at https://www.amazon.com/Una-Merkel-Actress-Sassy-Southern/dp/1593939027.

carole lombard 06

Vintage glamour, backed in linen

Posted by vp19 on 2018.12.08 at 10:44
Current mood: artisticartistic

This is a promotional still for "Ladies' Man" (1931), Carole Lombard's second Paramount collaboration with William Powell, and they were married a few months after its release. It's not hard to see how Lombard's beauty attracted him -- she was elegant.

The picture, a vintage linen-backed original, now is available via eBay. It's listed in very good+ condition and measures 7 1/4" x 9 1/2" (with borders trimmed) -- both well-kept and very stylish.

Its price ($289.95) probably will scare off all but the most serious memorabilia collectors, but if you're in that group, it's worth it. Find out more by visiting https://www.ebay.com/itm/CAROLE-LOMBARD-FANTASTIC-ART-DECO-GLAMOR-PORTRAIT-LINEN-BACKED-NICE-SHAPE/223276159082?hash=item33fc4bd06a.

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'Mon Cine,' ma Carole

Posted by vp19 on 2018.12.07 at 15:39
Current mood: contentcontent

Above is p1202-1, taken in New York in mid-1930, Carole Lombard's first official portrait as a Paramount player. That Dec. 11, the French film magazine Mon Cine reprised the photo, though it listed her as "Carol Lombard" (the version of her screen name she had dropped earlier that year to return to her original moniker of "Carole"):

The magazine now is available on eBay. We know it measures 10" x 13", and we have a view of the back cover as well as the front:

Mon Cine, founded in the early 1920s, was a respected French-language magazine. It was a weekly up to 1959 (save for a wartime suspension from 1938 to 1946), then became a monthly until its suspension in March 1967.

It's available for $9.99. To buy it, visit https://www.ebay.com/itm/CAROL-LOMBARD-1930-FRENCH-MOVIE-MAGAZINE/352538475272?hash=item5214ee3b08:g:2vAAAOSwL4Rb3c3H:rk:8:pf:0.

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Who's in Clark's top ten?

Posted by vp19 on 2018.12.06 at 08:59
Current mood: contemplativecontemplative

Carole Lombard appears thrilled (well, sort of) to be out on the town with new love interest Clark Gable in 1936. But would she have felt that way had she seen this article the previous year from the British movie mag Picturegoer Weekly (found by Jean Hunter at the Facebook site "Clark Gable: Original King Of Hollywood")?

It ran Feb. 23, 1935:

"Gable Selects The Ten Most Attractive Women." After describing the qualities he finds attractive in a woman -- character, lack of affectation -- he then announces his list:

* Mrs. Gable (Ria Langham)
* Norma Shearer
* Joan Crawford
* Kay Francis
* Jean Harlow
* Claudette Colbert
* Greta Garbo
* Grace Moore
* Helen Hayes
* Lily Pons

Note who's absent?

To be fair, a lot can happen within the course of a year...and had someone in the press in early 1935 asked Lombard to assemble a similar list of attractive males, Clark might've been a no-show. Since making "No Man Of Her Own" in late 1932, they had met in public a few times, such as at this 1933 function with Ricardo Cortez and Cary Grant (below). Nothing was romantically ignited.

Several of those names are noted Gable leading ladies -- Shearer, Crawford, Harlow, Garbo from home base MGM -- but three on the list never worked with him onscreen. Kay Francis had excellent chemistry with Carole's first husband, William Powell; would she have done likewise with Gable? Grace Moore and Lily Pons were both renowned operatic singers, something Clark apparently liked.

Lombard isn't the only notable omission here. By early 1935, Gable had made several films with Myrna Loy, including "Men In White" (above), but given Loy's status as a complementary star (she had relatively few lead vehicles of her own), perhaps her absence isn't all that surprising.

We don't know precisely when the interview took place, if it did at all. It's possible an MGM publicist (Otto Winkler?) wrote it out of whole cloth. But at the time it ran, Gable had wound up with another lady not on the list, giving her something she'd secretly deliver that November.

But one other quality Clark quotes may explain why he and Carole were fated to be mated:

"But the one thing a woman must have is understanding...understanding and the ability to be a good companion, a pal."

That Lombard possessed in spades.

carole lombard 03

Academy Museum unveils its plans

Posted by vp19 on 2018.12.05 at 12:48
Current mood: optimisticoptimistic

This gown Carole Lombard wore in the 1936 classic "My Man Godfrey" was shown to the public nearly eight decades later when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ran the exhibit "Hollywood Costume" in late 2014:

It was held at the old May Co. department store building at Wilshire & Fairfax (https://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/709175.html), where it's hoped about a year from now, it will open, reborn as the Academy Motion Picture Museum and shown in projected front and side views.

Four years ago, I had money (seems like such a long time ago!), and I contributed $100 of it to the museum's building fund. Yesterday, the Academy announced plans for what will be in store for the former store...and it promises to appeal to a multitude of audiences, from classic Hollywood buffs to those interested in today's techniques.

What's it about? Let the museum describe it for yourself:

First, the long-term exhibit, tentatively titled "Where Dreams Are Made: A Journey Inside The Movies." It will convey the development of film technology dating back to the late 19th century, as well as its cultural and social impact. Here's what part of it may look like:

There will be plenty of memorabilia for fans to enjoy, including the iconic ruby slippers from the 1939 "The Wizard Of Oz" (in author L. Frank Baum's beloved children's book "The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz," they were silver, but MGM wanted to take advantage of Technicolor). Will something from Lombard be shown there? We surely hope so.

But as stated earlier, this is meant for more than Golden Age movie buffs. The first rotating exhibits will include a retrospective of famed Japanese animator Hayao Miyasaki (he'll turn 78 on Jan. 5), whose works include "Spirited Away" and "Kiki's Delivery Service."

Another early exhibit, "Regeneration: Black Cinema 1900-1970," will examine director Oscar Micheaux and others who pioneered motion pictures for black audiences.

I sense that $100 I contributed was money well spent. I'm looking forward to late 2019, and certainly hope you are too.

To learn more about the museum, get on its mailing list and possibly contribute or donate, visit https://www.academymuseum.org/.

carole lombard 02

'Godfrey' to go public in Oklahoma

Posted by vp19 on 2018.12.04 at 11:38
Current mood: enthralledenthralled

Among the more popular sites to watch Carole Lombard movies, such as "Twentieth Century" (above), is public television. Local non-commercial channels -- whether or not they are affiliated with the Public Broadcasting System -- regularly run classic Hollywood films, frequently on Saturday night. Stations such as WNET-13 in New York, WHYY-12 in Philadelphia and WETA-26 in Washington have made such fare a tradition.

But large coastal metropolises aren't the only places where classic Hollywood and public TV unite; such fare also is popular in "flyover country." Consider Oklahoma, for instance.

For three decades, OETA.tv has run a series called the "OETA Movie Club," where Golden Age films air to introduce longtime film buffs and newcomers alike to the joys of classic Hollywood. And guess what it's airing Dec. 29?

"My Man Godfrey," arguably the greatest screwball comedy ever made, where the Depression meets Fifth Avenue and all sorts of comic conflicts ensue. Many of you have seen and love "Godfrey," but there's always something new to come across with each viewing; it's that good.

So whether you're in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Tallequah, Muskogee or Lawton, you can enjoy classic movies on your TV each Saturday evening.

More on this can be found at https://www.tahlequahdailypress.com/community/arts-entertainment/oeta-movie-club-lists-december-attractions/article_34ffb03b-aa34-5202-af49-9c6956afa8aa.html. Enjoy, Oklahomans.

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Belatedly heralding 'Fast And Loose'

Posted by vp19 on 2018.12.03 at 22:17
Current mood: impressedimpressed

"Fast And Loose" is the only film Carole Lombard ever shot in New York, and her only collaboration with the great character actor Frank Morgan. Now, a herald for that 1930 film has ben found...although it's not from 1930 (no surprise since it's from April, and the film wasn't issued until fall).

But before we tell you more, one side of the herald:

Now, the other side, which is where things get interesting:

April 2nd fell on a Thursday in 1931, meaning this herald almost certainly dates from 1932 (a leap year). And with the absence of a comma in the date and the font used, I'm guessing this is from a theater outside the U.S.

Since the seller is from India, that's probably where this "Empress" theater was located, but a search of http://cinematreasures.org/ for a venue of that name proved fruitless.

Many Lombard films had long lag times between premieres and market release, both domestically and outside the U.S. Her three 1929 Pathe titles didn't reach some rural regions of America until 1932.

Anyway, this herald is available at eBay. Its size isn't listed, but it's described as "average with minor faults."

You can buy it straight up for $36 or make an offer. Find out more by checking out https://www.ebay.com/itm/HOLLYWOOD-US-MOVIE-HERALD-FAST-AND-LOOSE-MIRIAM-HOPKINS-CAROLE-LOMBARD/323581031286?hash=item4b56eeb376:g:frMAAOSwLS5bPz6A:rk:32:pf:0.

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'Breakfast,' en francais

Posted by vp19 on 2018.12.02 at 09:25
Current mood: ecstaticecstatic

French film audiences adored Carole Lombard as much as their counterparts elsewhere, so much so that an early-sixties revival of "To Be Or Not To Be" ran in Paris for more than a year.

But a quarter-century earlier, "Love Before Breakfast" (titled "Ce Que Femme Veut" in France) was popular there -- so much so that it led to this item:

It's a 90-page novelization of the film, including 16 pages of photo stills.

Measuring 9" x 6", it's now available at eBay for $24 -- a fine holiday gift for the Francophile Lombard fan. To purchase it, go to https://www.ebay.com/itm/LOVE-BEFORE-BREAKFAST-CAROLE-LOMBARD-1937-FRENCH-PHOTOPLAY/352533460181?hash=item5214a1b4d5:g:WJMAAOSwFURcBAj~:rk:4:pf:0.

Au revoir, mes amis.

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Mrs. Smith, minus the Mr.

Posted by vp19 on 2018.12.01 at 13:50
Current mood: coldcold

Carole Lombard's return to comedy and penultimate film, "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," co-stars her with Robert Montgomery under the direction of Lombard's good friend Alfred Hitchcock. But here are some stills from that 1941 where we see Carole not with Bob, but a man trying to woo her after Mrs. Smith discovers that due to a technicality, her marriage to Mr. Smith isn't quite legal.

Gene Raymond was Lombard's leading man in the 1933 Columbia drama "Brief Moment," playing a wealthy ne'er-do-well she tries to reshape. Here, he's Montgomery's business buddy who's always liked his wife... and now has a chance to do more than like her. Think of him as a Ralph Bellamy "third wheel" to Montgomery's Cary Grant.

Two vintage stills showing Lombard and Raymond now are available via eBay. The first shows Raymond visiting Lombard at her Lake Placid cabin. (The film's three leads live in New York City, but the Adirondacks were -- and are -- a popular winter retreat. My mother spent several seasons there in her youth.)

To prove it's vintage, here is the snipe on the same side as the photo...

...as well as the RKO stamp:

It's 7.25" x 9", in excellent condition from the Marvin Paige collection and goes for $19.95. Want it? Go to https://www.ebay.com/itm/CAROLE-LOMBARD-GENE-RAMOND-Original-Vintage-1940-MR-AND-MRS-SMITH-RKO-Photo/332915706028?hash=item4d835288ac:g:a3wAAOSwkbxa2T6X:rk:39:pf:0.

The other is vertical and shows Carole and Gene at the World's Fair in Queens in 1940. The weather is about to take a frightful turn

The rear snipe, and that weird font from the RKO publicist's typewriter:

This is slightly smaller, 7.25" x 6", and sells for $15.95. If you'd like to add it to your collection, visit https://www.ebay.com/itm/CAROLE-LOMBARD-GENE-RAYMOND-Original-Vintage-MR-AND-MRS-SMITH-RKO-Studio-Photo/332915706057?hash=item4d835288c9:g:pf8AAOSwsQFa2Tyf:rk:38:pf:0

Welcome to December, everybody.

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Fashionably negative, but not from '32

Posted by vp19 on 2018.11.30 at 14:57
Current mood: energeticenergetic

One benefit of being a Carole Lombard "expert" is that you can clarify mistakes about memorabilia made by sellers and collectors. Take the above photo whose negative is on sale at eBay, for example.

It's a lovely photo, said to be taken by famed Paramount photog Eugene Robert Richee. It shows Carole "from her days at Paramount Studios looking chic in art deco fashions including a flat, wide brimmed hat and simple black dress accented by jeweled clasps at the shoulders."

All that is accurate. But what isn't is the seller's claim that it's a "Carole Lombard 1932 original." We know that's not the case because of the studio's ID number in the lower right-hand corner, p1202-1381. The former identifies Carole's Paramount player number; the latter its numerical order.

Lombard reportedly had about 1,800 such portraits issued during her seven-plus years at Paramount, and based on the number, I'm guessing this to be from 1936 or even early '37. To the seller: Please understand I am not criticizing, merely clarifying. I wouldn't expect you to have known this.

Additionally, her hair style is darker than it was in 1932, when Carole was arguably at her blondest. As proof, here's a photo of her that ran in the August 1932 issue of Screen Book (https://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/841566.html):

Its Paramount number? P1202-325.

Again, the top photo is gorgeous, and it is a negative. It's in fine condition, with pinholes in the top corners and light storage and handling wear. It's also not cheap -- $385, although you can make an offer or pay $35 in 12 monthly installments if you can't pay one lump sum.

Learn more by visiting https://www.ebay.com/itm/Carole-Lombard-1932-Original-Eugene-Richee-Negative-Hollywood-Art-Deco-Fashion/273586359214?hash=item3fb3048bae:g:qxoAAOSw39NbVmvf.

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'Closer' to Clark and Carole, and happy birthday, Anna!

Posted by vp19 on 2018.11.29 at 12:22
Current mood: contemplativecontemplative

Apologies to Carole Lombard and Clark Gable, but I guess I haven't paid much attention to supermarket checkout stands lately. If I had, I'd know that earlier this month, the weekly mag Closer ran a cover feature on Clark, focusing on his legendary, ill-fated romance with Carole:

Moreover, the story had quotes from author Robert Matzen and cites "Fireball," his fine book on Lombard and the 1942 crash of Flight 3. (And isn't it an interesting coincidence that the upper right-hand corner of the cover refers to James Brolin, who played Clark in the otherwise less-said-the-better 1976 biopic "Gable And Lombard"?)

The story itself (https://www.closerweekly.com/posts/inside-clark-gable-and-carole-lombards-love-story/) has its share of errors that any researcher would have easily stopped -- Carole already was married to William Powell at the time she and Gable made "No Man Of Her Own," and Clark already was a top-tier star before "Gone With The Wind" -- but aside from those minor blemishes, it's a decent read.

Perhaps some newsstands still have that issue on sale if you're interested.

Today marks a birthday for a genuine heir to the Lombard tradition of blending comic talent, beauty, intelligence and likability...

...the adorable Anna Faris.

Of course, you can (and should) watch her tonight on the wonderful sitcom "Mom," but did you know she also has a podcast, "Anna Faris Is Unqualified"? (It shares a title with a memoir she wrote last year.) And look who her guest is this week:

The equally terrific Bill Hader. (Animation buffs will remember they teamed for the two "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs" movies.) Someone please pair them in a live-action romantic comedy -- had I won the MegaMillions or PowerBall a few weeks back, when each jackpot was above half a billion, I'd have done it myself (using one of my screenplays, of course!).

This marks Anna's 150th podcast. A link to this and previous episodes is at https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/anna-faris-is-unqualified/id1059045374?i=1000424651874&mt=2&fbclid=IwAR2s0PGy0u48CMAKzjbiOaD49spDPHYmuo4AxFcbZYTMvMIhqJYgfbnpmIU.

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Czech(oslovakia) this out

Posted by vp19 on 2018.11.28 at 14:13
Current mood: goodgood

Nice-looking portrait of Carole Lombard, doncha think? Here's more information -- it's from the cover of a Czechoslovakian magazine, seen below in full:

The magazine is from 1940 (not precisely sure when), at a time when Czechoslovakia was under Nazi occupation. Nor can I tell you much more about what's in it, aside from a page of dolls in color and a black-and-white story page with illustrations:

Beyond that, all I know is that it's a complete 52 pages, in good condition (the inside pages are off-white) and there are no cuts.

Bidding begins at $7.95, with the auction closing at 8:14 p.m. (Eastern) Sunday. To get involved or find out more, visit https://www.ebay.com/itm/GORGEOUS-CAROLE-LOMBARD-COVER-Cteni-vie-Zeny-1940-movies-fashions-cartoons/253968431451?hash=item3b21b2b95b:g:29UAAOSwfttba4~6:rk:17:pf:0.

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Letting gravity help her relax

Posted by vp19 on 2018.11.27 at 15:10
Current mood: crazycrazy

In 1929, Carole Lombard -- or as Pathe labeled her, "Carol Lombard" -- was filming "The Racketeer," and in one scene she had to wear a gown so tight she could not sit down in it. Fortunately, this recliner enabled Lombard to relax between takes, as a fan magazine of the time notes. Never saw this image before.

She wasn't the only actress to employ this contraption. Perhaps its most famous practitioner was Jean Harlow, who four years later wore a similarly constricting gown in "Dinner At Eight":

The device both icons are using is called a "leaning board," used when a costume an actor (OK, usually an actress!) is wearing can lean and relax without potentially damaging it. Harlow was sewn into her form-fitting "Dinner At Eight" gown; I don't know if Lombard underwent similar treatment at Pathe, but chances are that gown wasn't especially comfortable.

Some years later, Rita Hayworth utilized a leaning board:

Just a reminder how these legends suffered for their art.

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Not from '28, but nonetheless great

Posted by vp19 on 2018.11.26 at 16:11
Current mood: confusedconfused

Carole Lombard and scores of other classic Hollywood actresses relied on Max Factor to make their characters -- and themselves -- look ethereal both on screen and off. So it should be no surprise that they lent their images to a booklet Factor printed on the art of make-up, tips the everyday woman could employ to enhance their beauty. (With Max Factor make-up, of course.)

This booklet is being auctioned at eBay -- but there's a bit of confusion over when this was published. The ad's header is "Vintage 1928 Max Factor Make-Up Booklet," but look at its front and rear covers:

Lombard -- who stopped being a teenager that October -- wouldn't have graced the cover of this in 1928, as she was starring in Mack Sennett shorts and had small roles in Pathe features. Jean Harlow, all of 17, was even more obscure that year. Bette Davis, seen on the back, was still a stage actress.

So what gives? Perhaps this caused the confusion:

The brochure had a 1928 copyright...but this is the sixth edition, published in December 1932! (The Lombard image looks to be from late '32.) Evidently, Factor periodically updated it as actresses rose or fell in popularity.

While it was 48 pages long, we do have several of them to show you. One even features Carole:

An intriguing artifact if you're into the history of Hollywood glamour.

It's in very good condition with all 48 pages (though a bit of the rear cover is missing), measuring 4.25" x 5.5". One bid has been made, for $45; the auction is to end at 10:07 p.m. (Eastern) Sunday.

Want in on the action? Go to https://www.ebay.com/itm/JEAN-HARLOW-JOAN-CRAWFORD-CAROLE-LOMBARD-Vintage-1928-MAX-FACTOR-MAKE-UP-BOOKLET/332904282548?hash=item4d82a439b4:g:GxwAAOSwuUlb-1O1:rk:28:pf:0.

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For Carole, a matter of 'Time'

Posted by vp19 on 2018.11.25 at 14:44
Current mood: chipperchipper

Carole Lombard reached a cultural pinnacle of sorts when she made the cover of 2-year-old Life magazine. But it wasn't her first encounter with Henry Luce's publishing empire.

Nearly 4 1/2 years earlier, Carole was part of the elder sibling of Life...Time, the weekly newsmagazine. It's a story about her newest (and pivotal) picture, "Twentieth Century," with John Barrymore:

I wish I could show you the full review, but you have to be a Time subscriber to access the archives, and I'm not. However, here's the cover that week:

Samuel Insull was a major business figure of the day, a utilities magnate who in 1929 built the Chicago Civic Opera House for his soprano wife, Gladys Wallis. (Insull, William Randolph Hearst and other titans inspired Orson Welles to create the Charles Foster Kane character in "Citizen Kane.")

Here are some ads from that issue, including several in color (something I don't associate with Time in that era):

I knew Perrier had a long heritage, but had no idea it was sold in the U.S. in the 1930s. Wonder if Lombard ever drank it?

This 84-year-old issue is listed in "acceptable" condition. According to the seller, it's "all intact with some upper spine wear and corner wears. Front cover wears and surface wears on cover. Some wrinkle wear inside of magazine."

Bidding begins at $3.99, with the auction closing at 9:06 a.m. (Eastern) next Sunday. Interested? Then visit https://www.ebay.com/itm/TIME-MAGAZINE-MAY-1934-SAMUEL-INSULL-PHILLIP-MORRIS-BARRYMORE-CAROLE-LOMBARD/153276910404?hash=item23b0040b44:g:yc0AAOSwZ1hb-qtf:rk:10:pf:0 to find out more.

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A Mrs. Pantages, with an identity crisis?

Posted by vp19 on 2018.11.24 at 13:53
Current mood: curiouscurious

In her early years, Carole Lombard (born Jane Alice Peters) was known by slightly differing actress names. She was "Carol" Lombard during her time at Pathe, not permanently reverting to Carole until mid-1930, several months into her seven-year Paramount tenure. And above, we see her listed as "Carolle" for the 1927 Mack Sennett four-reeler "The Girl From Everywhere."

But today, we may have learned of yet another Lombard moniker from Sennett. And for that, we can credit...

...Hearst entertainment columnist Louella Parsons, shown visiting Lombard in mid-1933 as she waited out her three-month Nevada residency period before divorcing William Powell.

That was far in the future six years earlier, when Parsons ran this in her syndicated column on July 6, 1927 (a Wednesday):

Thanks to Brian Lee Anderson for uncovering this.

At this time in '27, Lombard was re-emerging into the public spotlight after her period as a Fox starlet had been derailed by an automobile accident in early 1926 that damaged much of her face -- a major setback for a young film actress whose image would be magnified many times over, particularly in close-ups.

She required significant cosmetic surgery to restore her appearance, and used her time away from the screen to learn the technical tools of the trade. Nevertheless, returning to work was problematic...but she still had a nice figure and attractive legs to complement her face, and for Sennett the former two counted for more than the latter.

Parsons probably was aware of her time at Fox (and her name there, Carole Lombard), but chose not to mention it, instead focusing on her new opportunities.

And perhaps, a new name -- one I've never come across before. Up to now, all of Lombard's "actressy" first names had two syllables. This one, "Caroline," has three.

Parsons was infamous in the industry for making errors in print, so it's entirely possible she was misinformed, and that Sennett had no plans to label his new discovery as Caroline. Or perhaps he was using Louella as a trial balloon of sorts to see if the public liked the name.

The other half of this story is equally fascinating.

Say the word "Pantages" to nearly any Angeleno, and this is what their mind will conjure up -- the Hollywood Pantages Theater, LA's prime venue for musical theater, although when it opened in 1930, it ran movies. It's across the street from the Red Line Hollywood/Vine Metrorail stop, and many legends have performed there. (In 2015, I watched as Kristin Chenoweth's Hollywood Walk of Fame star was installed in front of the theater.)

But the venue was named for film and theater impresario Alexander Pantages, a Greek immigrant whose life had highs (at his peak, he ran 84 theaters throughout North America) and lows (he was accused of raping a schoolgirl in 1929, found guilty in a first trial, then acquitted in the second). It was his son, Lloyd Pantages, whom Lombard was linked with.

Seen dating Billie Dove in 1931, the younger Pantages was born precisely 18 months earlier than Lombard in Seattle. The "screen aspirations" Parsons referred to were limited to an uncredited role as a drunk in "Dante's Inferno" (1935) and a scene as himself two years earlier in the short "Hollywood On Parade No. B-5." He died at age 80 in September 1987.

Lombard's family ties to Los Angeles society led her to date several notables during the 1920s, including one of William Randolph Hearst's sons, but I'd never heard of this pairing before. You learn something new every day. (And yes, Louella, since Lombard was 18 and Pantages 20 at the time this was printed, it is kind of young.)

Still, trying to imagine her as "Caroline Lombard Pantages" (or "Jane Alice Peters Pantages") boggles the mind, doesn't it?

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An ill-fated duo, together for the first time?

Posted by vp19 on 2018.11.23 at 10:56
Current mood: hopefulhopeful

This photo, taken at a polo match in the early '30s, shows Carole Lombard, Will Rogers and Leslie Howard, all of whom would die in aviation accidents -- Rogers in 1935, Lombard in 1942, Howard in 1943. Another pic showing Carole with an ill-fated star may have surfaced.

Thelma Todd was a beloved and beautiful comic actress, although most of her success came in short subjects with the likes of Zasu Pitts, Patsy Kelly and sometimes in support of Laurel & Hardy and the Marx Brothers. She died in December 1935, apparently via foul play. But did she ever meet or know Lombard? We've long been unsure, although G.D. Hamann, whose classic Hollywood research is sorely missed, found they both attended a social event in the late 1920s.

Now we may have proof they met.

This photo, taken on the boardwalk (Venice Beach?), apparently shows Lombard standing while Todd is seated (that's definitely her). Next to Carole is dancer/actor (and future U.S. senator) George Murphy.

It's a remarkable find if accurate -- 8" x 10" with wide borders, in fine condition.

Check it out and judge for yourself at https://www.ebay.com/itm/THELMA-TODD-CAROLE-LOMBARD-GEORGE-MURPHY-vintage-30s-pre-code-proof-photo/372482669366?hash=item56b9b27b36:g:ZrcAAOSwRbJb05Sn:rk:28:pf:0. Bidding begins at $34.50, and the auction ends at 2:55 p.m. (Eastern) a week from Sunday (Dec. 2).

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Happy Thanksgiving Day

Posted by vp19 on 2018.11.22 at 14:24
Current mood: thankfulthankful
From Carole Lombard and Clark Gable!

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Carole gives thanks, with an unexpected host

Posted by vp19 on 2018.11.21 at 21:44
Current mood: determineddetermined

This was a Thanksgiving message Carole Lombard gave readers of Movie Mirror in its December 1939 issue, her first of three Thanksgivings as Clark Gable's wife:

But three years earlier, Carole and Clark's first as a couple (though Gable still was technically married to Rhea Langham), they spent it with some friends...including one legend many of us have never seen photographed with Lombard. A hint from this pic:

That's Barbara Stanwyck, in between Robert Taylor and Gable. Where's Lombard, you ask? She took the picture.

So an image of Carole and Stany -- friends in real life -- has been a bit of a holy grail for fans of both actresses. As it turns out, one exists. Here's the pic:

Lombard is at far right (though at first glance it doesn't quite resemble her), although Gable, second from right, is far more recognizable. Continued from right are Marion Marx (co-owner and good friend), Zeppo Marx, Stanwyck, Taylor and a lady with the last name of Hart.

Not the greatest of photos, but it was meant to be informal.

It was taken at the 120-acre Marwyck Ranch that Marion Marx and Stanwyck owned in Northridge, which at the time was still under construction; it would be completed the following year.

For more on the complex and its fascinating history, visit https://www.barbara-stanwyck.com/a-visit-to-marwyck-ranch/.

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