Think Hollywood in the 1920s and many things come to mind: the artistic apex of silent pictures and the hectic, hurried rush to talk; the heyday of "exotic" characters portrayed by the likes of Rudolph Valentino and Pola Negri; and parties, lots of them, parties where illegal hooch (it was during Prohibition, after all) was consumed with abandon and all-night revels continued to the rising sun.
Well, at least that was the public perception. The picture at left above promotes Paramount's 1929 film "The Wild Party," a campus caper starring Clara Bow. By this time, the "It" girl was known for her share of wild parties off-screen, including a few that were apocryphal (the notorious romp with the University of Southern California football team, for instance).
The image at right is part of a poster from an unrelated 1975 film also called "The Wild Party," a fictional story loosely based on the Fatty Arbuckle case (though that incident occurred in 1921, and the movie's takes place in 1929). It starred James Coco as a comedic film star and Raquel Welch as a doomed starlet; below is an actual photograph of Welch from the film, and she looks lovelier in 1920s fashion than one might expect:
So bacchanalian romps were seen as a way of life in the movie colony, at least from an outsider's viewpoint. But in February 1932, Carole Lombard said such perceptions were outdated.
Interviewed by a Hollywood columnist at the time her new film, "No One Man," was released, Lombard dismissed the rumors.
“Stories of Hollywood revels lasting into the early morning hours may once have had foundation; they have none today,” she continued. “The morning after the night before has taken on a new meaning. The night before is the only time left in the day to study the dialogue lines to be spoken the morning after.”
“Dialogue changed Hollywood’s outlook and mode of living. Spoken lines must be studied, they can’t be properly memorized in the few minutes between scenes on the set."
Lombard cited personal experience:
"Yes, Hollywood continues to keep late hours, but it is a studious and industrious city now –- not a Hollywood at play.”
“Often it is one o’clock in the morning before I put aside my script, with my next day’s dialogue well in hand,” said Miss Lombard, “and I must be up at seven each morning to make a nine o’clock call at the studio.”
She said her schedule was typical of most featured players, and noted things evened out over the long run:
"Of course we have time off between pictures to seek what I call ‘deserved recreations,’ but when we’re working, we’re really working. There is no time for play.”
The irony, of course, is that a few years later, Lombard herself gained renown for hosting parties. At the same time, she always understood how the industry worked; she was noted for her promptness to work, and for never letting glamour go to her head.
The above quote was taken from a recent entry at "Hollywood Heyday" (http://hollywoodheyday.blogspot.com/), from which we also learn that at about that time, Hearst columnist Louella Parsons was reporting, "Poor Carole Lombard, who has had more than her share of sickness, is fighting a bad case of the flu." A reminder to check with your doctor, and if you get the green light, go for your flu shot. Mass vaccination was not an option in 1932 (remember, some 14 years earlier an influenza outbreak had killed millions worldwide).