A pair of autographed Lombard photos from early in her career are now up for auction at eBay, with bidding starting at $4,000. Without further ado, here's the first, an image I've never seen before:
It apparently was taken in conjunction with her last film at Pathe, "The Racketeer," issued near the end of 1929. The photographer for both of these pictures was William E. Thomas of Pathe's staff.
Here's a close-up of Lombard's autograph:
It reads, "To Herb, wishing you all the success in the world, Sincerely, Carole Lombard."
And while legend has it that she was still "Carol" Lombard at this time, and didn't adopt "Carole" as a first name until a printer's mistake on posters for her second Paramount film, "Fast And Loose," it's been documented that she used Carole or similar variations before that time (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/81372.html, http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/81610.html), so this wouldn't necessarily mean the photo was signed at a later date.
The back of the photo looks like this:
Okay, now to the other picture, somewhat more common among Lombard collectors, along with the autograph:
Inscribed on this one is "To Herb, Most cordially, Carole."
The rear of the photo is marked thusly:
Now the question is: Who was Herb? According to the seller, his full name was "Herbert Huston"; beyond that, I don't know anything about him. I thought he might be related to actor Walter Huston (perhaps another son, and thus the brother of director-to-be John Huston), but I doubt that's the case. A check of the Internet Movie Database revealed no one named Herb or Herbert Huston ever having worked in the industry. A search engine check showed a few men in the era with that name, but no one I could conclusively pin down as the person Lombard signed these for.
Judging from penmanship and a few other things, these autographs look to be the real deal. Unfortunately, I don't have a few thousand dollars to spend on them.
If you do, or you just want to pretend, you can see the photo at http://cgi.ebay.com/RARE-SIGNED-CAROLE-LOMBARD-1929-ORIGINAL-PHOTO_W0QQitemZ280262601286QQcmdZViewItem?hash=item280262601286&_trkparms=72%3A635%7C39%3A1%7C66%3A2%7C65%3A12%7C240%3A1318&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14. And as the seller notes, an autographed Thomas photo of Lombard was recently auctioned off for $13,000. (These probably won't reach those heights; heck, as of this writing, no one has placed a bid, and the deadline is a few minutes before 11 p.m. Eastern on Monday.)
Oh, and whomever Herb was, in these instances he was certainly a lucky guy.