vp19 (vp19) wrote in carole_and_co,

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Goodbye celebrities, hello Aquarius

Last year, we did an entry on the famed Earl Carroll Theater on Sunset Boulevard and one of its trademarks -- large concrete slabs signed by celebrities and hung on the theater wall. Carole Lombard was among the stars who provided their signatures when the theater opened in 1938 (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/112620.html).

The slabs apparently remained hung on the theater wall following Carroll's death in a 1948 plane accident, after which the building was used for other entertainment purposes.

By the spring of 1969, however, change was in the air. Old Hollywood was in eclipse; studios such as MGM and 20th Century-Fox began auctioning off prized artifacts and selling land once used for sound stages. There was a new breed taking over, a younger generation.

This applied to the Earl Carroll Theater as well. It was renamed the Aquarius Theatre (as in "this is the dawning of the age of..."), and to commemorate the change, down went the slabs, and up went a mural, one of Brobdingnagian proportions.

The mural was estimated at about 12,000 square feet -- roughly one-third larger than the huge "Crucifixion" mural hanging at Forest Lawn in Glendale. Part of the mural was worked on by a Dutch design collective called "The Fool" (who had previously worked with the Beatles' Apple Corps), and artwork slowed Sunset Boulevard traffic for several weeks, according to a Los Angeles Times report of April 23, 1969. In fact, here's what the Times wrote about the mural:

But what of the signatures? Never fear, said Seemon Posthuma, leader of The Fool. They were to be restored, forming a single row at the bottom of the mural. "We could have done anything we wanted to with them, but we felt we should put them back," Posthoma said. "I mean, what they did then in a way makes possible what we're doing now. Everyone is a stepping stone, you know?"

I'm now trying to conjure up an image of Carole Lombard in 1969 hippie garb, responding with a "far out" or something to that effect. (Below is the closest approximation I could find to a flower-power Carole; it's one of her last photos, taken by Robert Coburn to promote "To Be Or Not To Be.")

Then again, given Lombard's iconoclasm, she might have had an entirely different -- shall we say, saltier? -- reaction to the Aquarian sensibility.

I don't know whether the slabs were indeed placed on the bottom of the mural, much less whether Lombard's was among them. Nor do I know what subsequently happened to the slabs (let us hope they were not destroyed). I do know that the mural apparently didn't last very long, falling out of favor at about the same time the Age of Aquarius did.

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