vp19 (vp19) wrote in carole_and_co,

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Carole and the blacklist

When we think of what might have been had Carole Lombard lived a few decades longer, we normally consider the triumphs she may have posted on the screen, or what her domestic life might have been like (would her marriage to Clark Gable have lasted?). But imagine this scenario: Lombard as a possible victim of the blacklist in the postwar era.

It's not that far out of the realm when you note this, from columnist Sidney Skolsky in the Hollywood Citizen News of Oct. 19, 1939 (courtesy of G.D. Hamann):

"Carole Lombard wanted to buy 100 copies of Dalton Trumbo's anti-war novel, 'Johnny Got His Gun,' and together with Clark Gable, send them to Senators and Congressmen. A studio publicity department talked her out of it."

One would guess that department was RKO, where Lombard was working at the time -- but it might have been Gable's home turf of MGM, run by the conservative Louis B. Mayer.

Trumbo was probably the best known of the "Hollywood Ten," screenwriters and other personnel who refused to disclose their relationships to the Communist party to a congressional panel after World War II and thus lost their jobs. Eventually, Trumbo returned in triumph thanks to stars such as Kirk Douglas and Frank Sinatra. ("Johnny Got His Gun" was filmed in 1971.)

Did Lombard know Trumbo? Perhaps; she certainly knew screenwriters of a similar ilk, such as Donald Ogden Stewart, who would move to England after World War II due to anti-communist hysteria in America. We know Carole was a liberal and much more politically inclined than Gable.

Would Lombard have faced scrutiny from some of the witchhunters during the red scare? Stars generally had less problem with such panels than screenwriters (think of when Lucille Ball was accused of communist leanings). It's an intriguing "what if" to ponder.

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