July 12th, 2007

carole lombard 03
  • vp19

Carole on the cover...of "Photoplay"

Go to a newsstand at any time over the past few years, and it's virtually inpossible to avoid a magazine with Jennifer Aniston on the cover. So it was with Carole Lombard throughout her career (and thankfully, we'll end the Lombard-Aniston comparisons there). Periodically, pardon the pun, we'll look over a few of these Carole covers; we'll begin with "Photoplay," arguably the dominant fan magazine of the time.

"Photoplay," a monthly, began in 1911 as a short-fiction magazine concerned mostly with the plots and characters of films. By mid-decade, it had shifted to a format focusing on the actors of the industry, who had now gained celebrity status. James R. Quirk edited the magazine in its glory years, blending celebrity journalism with occasional perceptive writing about the movie business. By the 1930s, "Photoplay" evolved into more of a fan magazine, and its once-general audience took on a more female tone. It continued for several more decades, but its influence waned; it eventually ceased publication in 1980.

Lombard was featured on the "Photoplay" cover several times. Here are a few, beginning with June 1934, near the end of the pre-Code era (note the NRA eagle on the cover):



By the way, I have no idea what the story "Blondes Plus Curves Mean War" was about, or whether it had anything to do with Lombard. But it's a great title, and I know that where blondeness and curves were concerned, Carole certainly possessed a potent arsenal.

Next, November 1935:



Carole was back on the cover the following November -- but this time, in an illustration from noted artist James Montgomery Flagg (who, two decades before, had drawn the famed Uncle Sam "I Want You" World War I recruiting poster):



In 1937, "Photoplay" shifted from artwork to photographs on its covers. Here's a stunning shot of Lombard from the April 1938 issue:



One more from "Photoplay," January 1940, to be precise: