vp19 (vp19) wrote in carole_and_co,

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So what's your fortune?

If Carole Lombard dined at a Chinese restaurant during her lifetime, chances are she probably didn't get a fortune cookie for dessert; the concept really wasn't popularized until after World War II. However, in pre-cookie days, people got cheap fortunes from a variety of places -- popularly from weight scales on carnival midways or in a local store. You'd put in a penny or two, climb on the scale, and not only would you get your weight, but a fortune card dispensed as well. Many of them featured movie stars...yet another example of how pervasive their presence was during the Golden Age of Hollywood.

And guess who was on one of these cards? You guessed it...

The card copy is interesting. It notes she "is married to William Powell," so we know it was printed between 1931 and 1933 -- but curiously, it also says "She has scored a personal triumph in the Paramount Picture 'Power.' " Well, Lombard did appear in a film called "Power," but it was a silent made at Pathe (not Paramount) a few years earlier, and she was little more than a supporting player (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/104192.html). It also says she was educated at "the Dramatic Art School in Hollywood."

Heightwise, it puts her on the short side, 5-foot-2, with a weight of 112 pounds (for more on Lombard's measurements over the years, go to http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/25477.html). It adds her favorite activities are dancing, tennis and swimming -- which, from what we know about Carole, seems fairly accurate.

As for the horoscope on back, it reads, "You have marked literary ability and should make a name for yourself as a writer. You are naturally humorous, and this is the form your writing might take, if you look to it as a living. You also have dramatic ability and might make a success on a stage. In amateur theatricals you always excel. You are a born entertainer and the life of the party wherever you are. Your popularity is great and easily assumed by you. You are loyal and sincere in your friendships."

The concept continued for many years. Here's a fortune featuring 1940s actress Marsha Hunt:

Incidentally, Hunt, who will turn 91 in October and still occasionally acts, has a Lombard connection of sorts: she played Carole's role in a 1945 Lux Radio Theater adaptation of "Made For Each Other" opposite the film's original star, James Stewart. Lombard played in a 1940 Lux version of "Made For Each Other," with Fred MacMurray in the Stewart role (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/4082.html). Hunt, an ingenue at Paramount in the mid-thirties, likely knew Lombard there.

I should also mention that Hunt was a victim of the blacklist during the McCarthy era for having endorsed free speech and other liberal causes in the late 1930s.

Fortune cards continued into the 1950s, and one of these sets not only features film actors, but people primarily identified with television and recording:

The concept fizzled out as penny weight machines became a relic of the past. To get your fortune these days, you better have some General Tso's chicken first.

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