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Photoplay, June 1937: A glance at a wondrous woman



It's highly unlikely that Carole Lombard ever heard of Wonder Woman. The character debuted as a backup story in the December 1941 issue of All-Star Comics, then gained her first cover in Sensation Comics for January 1942 (shown above), a few weeks before Lombard's death. (Carole was certainly aware of at least one superhero, as Superman -- whose secret identity name, Clark Kent, was an amalgam of husband Clark Gable and one-time Lombard co-star Kent Taylor -- was extremely popular in the early 1940s...not just in comic books, but on radio and in animated short subjects. Unlike today, that was as far as Hollywood went with comic superhero adaptations.)

Wonder Woman was the first notable superheroine, an Amazon who tried to make her way in what she and her cohorts called "Man's World." It was the sort of battle Carole had fought for years, even though she never possessed a magic lasso or superhuman strength.

A few years before Wonder Woman was created by feminist psychologist William Moulton Marston (also the inventor of the polygraph), Lombard gave an interview to Hart Seymore in Photoplay where she discussed how she lived "by a man's code." It ran in the June 1937 issue, with Shirley Temple on the cover:

photoplay june 1937a

It's fascinating reading -- proof that Carole was indeed ahead of her time, if also very much of it -- and a good deal of her advice still rings true more than 70 years later. She is strong...she is invincible...she is Carole Lombard, living by her wits and often beating men at their own game. Enjoy this article.

carole lombard photoplay june 1937aa
carole lombard photoplay june 1937ba
carole lombard photoplay june 1937ca
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Some thoughts:

It was this article that cultivated the concept about never forgetting "that a woman's first job is to choose the right shade of lipstick," something occasionally erroneously believed to be a direct quote of Lombard's. But conversely, her quote -- "Man thinks he's dealing with an inferior brain when it comes to woman, and that makes him a sucker" -- has also endured through the years.

In his fine book on director Mitchell Leisen, author David Chierichetti mentions the preview of "Swing High, Swing Low," in which Leisen confirms the reaction Lombard received from the audience during the scene she described above. Leisen said the scene was cut from the film, much to his dismay.

Finally, while we previously discussed Lombard living in "man's world," she said she didn't believe it was. And chances are Wonder Woman -- shown below on the cover of the first issue of Ms. -- didn't really believe it, either.

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