While Carole Lombard was one of filmdom's most photographed stars where fashion stills was concerned, she never became associated with one particular photographer (think Clarence Sinclair Bull for Greta Garbo, or George Hurrell for Norma Shearer).
One who might have come close, had he stayed at Paramount longer, was Otto Dyar (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/78273.html), who frequently shot stills of her at sessions during the first half of her Paramount career. However, Dyar left Paramount in 1933 to become head of the portrait department at Fox (this was prior to its merger with Darryl F. Zanuck's Twentieth Century Films).
It can still -- pardon the pun -- be said that Dyar, more than anyone else, helped shape Carole's image in the pre-Code era. And the good news is that he's well represented in the Lombard portion of the upcoming Profiles In History auction of Hollywood memorabilia.
How well represented is he? Of the 54 Carole-related items, nearly half (26) are Dyar portraits -- 36 photos in all. And while we can't feature every one of them here, we'll show some highlights and shots that rarely surface on the collecting circuit.
We'll begin with five of Dyar's portraits from Lombard p1202 sereies at Paramount (most of these were hand-retouched by Dyar himself). First up, p1202-38, a previously unfamiliar outfit and pose:
Next, p1202-252 for some sleek Art Deco; the sleekness is from Lombard, who fills that gown like nobody's business, and the Art Deco is from the cabinet behind her.
Third is p1202-554. We've seen Lombard in that outfit before, but her pose and gaze give this a whole new meaning. The look on Carole's face reminds me of Elvis Costello's famous line, "I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused." She's not wearing red shoes at the end of those lovely Lombard legs -- but she certainly looks like an angel.
Next in line, p1202-654, where Carole looks every bit the sophisticate, although may have overdid the lipstick a little bit (did actresses use collagen in the 1930s?). Get beyond that, and it's a splendid picture:
This batch closes with p1202-941, among Dyar's final photographs of Lombard at Paramount. At first glance, it appears Carole's staring down at the inhabitants of some unseen Lilliputian village, as if she's saying, "How dare you little people mock me! For that I shall topple your Christmas tree before you can decorate it." Actually, that's a veil she's holding, and who knows what she's thinking beneath those bangs?
Now for a few other Dyar photos of Lombard. We'll begin with three of the five photos being auctioned from her 1932 Paramount film "Sinners In The Sun":
Finally, two more Lombard portraits from Dyar. Both are settings we've seen before, but these are nonetheless distinctive:
All of these items have estimated starting bids between $200 and $300. To see them (and learn more about possibly bidding), go to http://www.profilesinhistory.com/new/index.php?option=com_auctions&catid=34, then select "Otto Dyar"; you'll not only find his Lombard portraits, but those he took of Clara Bow, Louise Brooks, Sylvia Sidney, a young Jean Arthur and more.
We'll feature more Lombard portraits from the auction tomorrow.