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Lombard's Pathe pix, part 5, another interview; a voice silenced

How about two more photos of Carole Lombard from her Pathe days (when she often would have more accurately been described as Carol Lombard)? They span the spectrum from sublime to...well, you know the rest, and neither are currently up for auction.

Here's CL-108, probably from early 1929, showing Lombard in a bridal gown. Very pretty:



Shortly thereafter, Lombard posed for CL-125 -- but you're going to have to find a different adjective other than "pretty" to describe it. (No, I take that back; you can use "pretty," all right, but only if it's followed by a word such as "absurd," "ridiculous," "silly," etc.)



This photo cries for an explanation why it was made, much less released. Was this the "before" pic in a two-part shot showing how Carol's hair was dressed? (At least that would explain her smile.) Otherwise, it looks as if Lombard's locks were infused with a sudden jolt of electricity. Weird.

Next up, another 1929 interview, uncovered by the resourceful G.D. Hamann -- but unlike most of his finds, this doesn't come from a Los Angeles newspaper. Rather, it's from the Olean Evening Times, a small upstate New York daily. One doubts a paper of that size would have its own full-time Hollywood reporter, so this may be syndicated; then again, for all we know, it may have come from a staff writer who was vacationing in southern California and was able to visit a few of the studios. From June 4, 1929, here's an interview by Dan Thomas...and note he refers to her as "Carole." Ah, more moniker confusion:

Hollywood. Calif, June 4. —- Out of sight, out of mind.

"Carole Lombard can't tell you the exact phrasing of that old proverb but she's a strong believer in it just the same.

" 'I don't give them any chance to forget me,' laughed Carole -— 'them' being officials at the Pathe studio where she is under contract. 'When I'm working I have to be at the studio every day and when I'm not I go out just the same. In that way I don't give anybody a chance to forget about me if a part comes up which I might play. You know, having a contract isn't everything. It is still necessary to do a lot of plugging in order to get the real breaks.'

MAKES MANY CHANGES

"Carole's idea seems to be a pretty good one. At least it has kept her plenty busy. She has made five pictures in the last eight months and while quantity isn't everything, it counts for quite a lot when a girl is still on the upward grade.

"The blond actress already has joined the class of Mack Sennett grads who have made good. That alone is a point in her favor because it is a big class containing a lot of prominent names. And the only change to be found in her since her days as a bathing suit comedienne is that she is more reserved than she was then.

" 'I don't know what to tell you,' Carole replied after I had asked her four or five times to tell me something about herself. 'You know more about me now than I know myself. All I'm doing is working like the very devil. And when I'm between pictures, I spend a good deal of time posing for publicity pictures. Publicity is an important factor in this game and I am not overlooking that fact.'

"Carole comes about as close to being a native Californian as anybody in the film colony. She missed that distinction by just seven years, having been born in Ft. Wayne, Ind., just a few doors from the house in which Buck Jones first saw light of day. She was christened Jane Peters and used that name until a little more than two years ago when she started her celluloid career.

"When the girl was seven years old her family moved to Los Angeles and it was here that she received her entire schooling, including three years in a dramatic art school. She had had only two small roles when she was in an auto accident. That kept her from the cameras for six months. Then she signed a contract with Mack Sennett and went to work in that famous old studio where so many film folk started on the road to fame.

LIKES DRAMATIC ROLES

"About a year ago Carole decided to follow the lead of so many Sennett graduates and try dramatic roles. That is where she found her real success. After working in one picture, Me, Gangster, for Fox, she signed a long-term contract with Pathe where she has appeared in five films.

" 'I like dramatic roles the best but don't think I don't appreciate the comedy work I did,' she declared. 'That gave me marvelous training better than I could have gotten in any other way. And now that we have talking pictures, I am getting the full benefit of my three years in dramatic school.' "


If yesterday's article didn't show that the young Lombard knew where she was going and had a pretty good idea how to get there, then this interview will.

Finally, it's been a tough week to be a baseball fan. The old saying goes that death comes in threes, and that unfortunately has proven true over the past few days. Last week, Los Angeles Angels rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart was among three people killed by a driver who police said was drunk. On Monday, former Detroit Tigers pitcher Mark Fidrych, the 1976 American League rookie of the year, died in a farm accident at age 54. And a few hours before Fidrych's death, Hall of Fame announcer Harry Kalas, 73, longtime voice of the Philadelphia Phillies and NFL Films, died in Washington, D.C., only hours before he was to broadcast the Phillies-Nationals game.



I lived in Philadelphia for nearly a decade, and Harry's rich, deep, honest voice made him one of the city's most beloved figures. He used that voice to convey the excitement of baseball day after day, night after night, always adding a bit of droll humor (especially alongside his good buddy Richie Ashburn, the Hall of Fame outfielder who worked in the booth with Kalas for 26 years until his own death in 1997).

No one called a home run like Harry -- his "outta here" call was one of the game's trademarks, especially when hit by the Phils' great third baseman, "Michael Jack Schmidt." But unlike some announcers, he never shoehorned his calls, but made them apply to the moment. If you hear his famed call of Schmidt's 500th homer in 1987, a ninth-inning shot that enabled the Phils to rally for a win at Pittsburgh, he doesn't say "outta here" -- and appropriately so, because if you see footage of Schmidt's historic homer, it's not a booming fly ball but a line-drive blast that quickly reached the stands.

Kalas broadcast many of the greatest moments in the history of the Phillies, a franchise whose history for years could best be described as woebegone. Due to a shortlived rule banning local radio broadcasts, he wasn't on the air when the Phils won their first World Series in 1980 (if you see his "call" of Tug McGraw's Series-clinching strikeout, it was a re-creation). Thankfully, last October Harry did get to actually call a World Series winner, and many fans were glad he finally got the chance.

Harry grew up in Naperville, Ill., the son of a minister, and the first baseball game he saw was a doubleheader at old Comiskey Park between the White Sox and Washington Senators. Harry, about eight years old at the time, went to the Washington dugout to get autographs, and when it began raining, Senators first baseman Mickey Vernon brought him inside the dugout. Harry became a Senators fan...but here's a Paul Harvey "rest of the story" twist: Mickey Vernon lived in Marcus Hook, Pa., just south of Philadelphia, and got to hear Kalas broadcast Phillies games for decades until he died a few years back. (Harry was master of ceremonies several years ago when a statue of Vernon was unveiled in Marcus Hook.)

Kalas -- one of the nice guys in the business -- won many friends in the game and in Philly. When he won the Ford Frick Award for baseball broadcasting in 2002, thousands of Phillies fans converged on Cooperstown, N.Y., for the celebration (I know -- I was one of them). A few months before, when word came that Kalas had won the honor, I suggested that when the Phillies played in an interleague series at Detroit, he should do an inning with another broadcast icon, the Tigers' Ernie Harwell. And that indeed took place, as part of a season-long celebration.

A good baseball announcer is the voice not only of his team, but his city. Kalas, Harwell and another legend, Los Angeles' Vin Scully, proved that for decades. A voice in Philadelphia may now be stilled, but the memories he gave millions will live on.

Thanks, Harry.
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