I know I'm largely preaching to the converted here ("Carole Lombard one of the greatest comediennes ever in film"?, some of you are probably thinking), but I didn't write the following piece; it's from a TV writer who knows his comedy, and learning his backstory gives me an affinity with him.
His name is David Raether, and his considerable resume includes writing 111 episodes of the hit sitcom "Roseanne." Set aside your opinions on Ms. Barr for a moment, and acknowledge that was a significant series.
In his essay on Lombard (http://blog.dvd.netflix.com/new-dvd-releases/carole-lombard-one-of-the-greatest-comediennes-in-film?fbclid=IwAR3P_yvfMRo85sfHfl6qAEGLc52tRev3IAGgbiRMB_M2kd_E2nvS4przm68), Raether notes that many of his colleagues on the show didn't think women were funny (bringing to mind Jerry Lewis' comments on the topic some years back).
"What were they talking about?" he wrote. "I mean, really, my grandmother was hilarious, Lucille Ball was funny; in fact, most of the women I knew were pretty funny."
He rattled off the names of 17 women who were funny -- I could add at least a dozen more -- which is where Lombard, whom he calls "a film comedienne who operated on a very high level," comes in. He then cites Carole's early bio up to Mack Sennett days.
Raether writes, "Lombard was anything but plain. In fact, she is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful women of the 20th century. She was also, according to all who knew her, a kind-hearted, down-to-earth, foul-mouthed, but deeply compassionate woman." He cites the story of Lombard insisting a studio crewmember who lost a leg in an accident be made a permanent employee.
So Lombard was a compassionate person off-screen, but Raether adds she brought the skill on-screen as well. He mentions these films:
"My Man Godfrey"...
..."No Man Of Her Own"...
..."We're Not Dressing"...
..."Love Before Breakfast"...
...and "True Confession":
Brief clips from "Godfrey," "Dressing" and "Confession" are included.
OK, so it's a nice endorsement of Lombard's considerable comedic skill, but why do I feel such an affinity. It's not just that he's been where I want to be (as a comedy writer, although I'm more interested in writing film features than sitcoms), it's that we've both been in a place neither ever want to be again: Homeless.
Like me, Raether has a journalism background, made some economic mistakes, and paid for it. He's written about it in a 2013 memoir, "Tell Me Something, She Said."
Like me, Raether has had his ups and downs (to put it mildly), but he's never let it get the best of him. Wish I'd been aware of this book (which I plan to order) while I spent 18 months on Skid Row after losing my apartment in early 2016.
Keep the faith, Mr. Raether.