vp19 (vp19) wrote in carole_and_co,

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Carole, Cubano

Carole Lombard did her share of traveling during her brief life, but most of it was within America's borders. Like many southern Californians, Lombard frequently visited nearby Mexico. She and her mother often discussed taking a trip to Europe in the 1930s, but it never went beyond talk.

But Carole did travel east to a foreign country -- only it wasn't in Europe. In early 1935, Lombard and her personal secretary (and cohort from Mack Sennett days), Madalynne Fields, traveled to Cuba, of which scenes from the 1930s are shown below.

Due to the political tension between the U.S. and Cuba that's existed for nearly half a century, for many of us the concept of Americans traveling to Cuba verges on the surreal; indeed, barring a few isolated circumstances, it's illegal for most Americans to travel there (although some manage to circumvent such regulations, often through the resources of a third country).

But in the mid-thirties, Fidel Castro was a quarter-century removed from power; heck, the Batista regime which Castro overthrew hadn't yet taken control. From the 1920s, when Prohibition stateside boosted the Havana bar scene, Americans regularly visited Cuba.

That's Sloppy Joe's bar, a Havana landmark at the time, along with an ad for the place from the 1930s. (Ernest Hemingway liked the place so much that when a friend of his opened a bar in Key West, Fla., he suggested the name. That place survives and thrives, while the Havana Sloppy Joe's went into oblivion following the 1959 revolution. However, the building is now being restored to its 1930s splendor.) One wonders whether Carole and "Fieldsie" spent some time there.

It would be nice to find some Havana newspapers of the time (there was probably at least one catering to the English-speaking community) and discover more about Lombard's stay. Why did she go? The press found out on Feb. 2, 1935, when Lombard and Fields spent several hours in Dallas while changing planes. (Carole Sampeck, who runs The Lombard Archive, lives in metropolitan Dallas and is probably delighted to discover Lombard was in the Metroplex, however briefly.) Fields said they were "in search of a cure for a slight case of influenza which Miss Lombard had been suffering for the last two weeks." (She presumably found it.)

What's interesting is that less than a week after Carole returned to the States, Paramount released "Rumba," a dance film she made with George Raft that was set in Cuba. One wonders whether the visit was done on its own, or whether the studio encouraged her to promote the upcoming movie there. Again, some contemporary articles would clarify things.

Carole has another Cuban connection, one you can now find on eBay:

As we've noted before, movie star images were frequently used as premiums in the 1930s, by everyone from soap sellers to cigarette makers. And cigar manufacturers got into the act, too. The still photo above measures 7 by 9 inches -- about the size of a cigar box -- printed on heavyweight paper and issued as part of a series from a Cuban cigar company. (The photo is somewhat tinted, and Lombard's lips are slightly shaded red.)

This isn't being auctioned -- it's a "buy it now" item for $22.95, which means that once someone picks it up before the expiration time (about 11 a.m. Eastern, Dec. 5), it's gone. Interested? Then go to http://cgi.ebay.com/1930s-vintage-original-CAROLE-LOMBARD-collector-photo_W0QQitemZ290272996295QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item290272996295&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=66%3A2%7C65%3A1%7C39%3A1%7C240%3A1318.

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