That's the famous cover of the first issue of Life magazine, the Fort Peck Dam being built in Montana, taken by the renowned Margaret Bourke-White. Life rapidly became a publishing sensation, and was soon an integral part of American popular culture. Millions subscribed; virtually every American consumer company of note advertised in it.
The weekly Life folded in 1972, as postal costs and changing tastes made the magazine less profitable. The title was revived several times for monthly magazines and newspaper supplements, but none of the new versions carried anywhere near the resonance of the 1936-72 publication.
And now, Life lives anew. Its colossal photo library -- including many photos never published before, and a number that predate the magazine -- is being placed online. And yes, that includes Lombard; remember, she was on the cover in October 1938:
The library can be accessed by going to http://images.google.com/hosted/life. If you list "Carole Lombard" in the search, it currently comes up with 30 photos. (Officials say about 20 percent of Life's library is now online; the remainder will come over the next few months.) For example, here's Carole shown playing tennis on a Santa Monica court:
This was taken by the famed Alfred Eisenstadt in what would be the first of his many film star profiles (he also took the remarkably subdued cover photo seen above).
In September 1940, Lombard, Charles Laughton and director Garson Kanin were shown watching "dailies" of their forthcoming film, "They Knew What They Wanted":
Many of you may have seen that photo before...but how about this one?
Peter Stackpole took both photos; the latter lists Lombard with "head in her lap as if hiding," although her shapely stockinged legs (silk or nylon?) remain conspicuously displayed. Was she the subject of a ribald Laughton or Kanin joke? We'll apparently never know.
Note that the "LIFE" logo is imprinted on full-sized versions of the photos (which can be obtained for a fee), but not on the smaller ones.
We look forward to seeing a lot more of Carole's life...and Carole's Life...in coming months.