March 5th, 2008

carole lombard 03
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"Gable & Lombard," by the book...cover



They were the best-known Hollywood couple of their era, just as Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks were two decades earlier and Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were two decades later. So the story of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard was a natural for a book...and in June 1974, such a book was released, authored by Warren G. Harris:



The book was the first for Harris, who had been a publicist at Paramount's New York office during the sixties. He followed it up with a number of entertainment biographies, including one focusing on Gable a few years back.

Library Journal deemed "Gable & Lombard" a bit superficial in places, but called the book "affectionately written and full of Hollywood gossip," adding it "is a lot better than most (movie star biographies). Lombard, especially, is an irresistible subject."

And that subject would be further covered in biographies over the next few years. In 1975, Larry Swindell wrote "Screwball," still arguably the definitive Lombard bio. In 1976, Leonard Maltin wrote a paperback biography of Carole as part of Pyramid's film book series, and Joe Morella and Edward Z. Epstein wrote the paperback original "Gable & Lombard & Powell & Harlow," which is a bit juicy, yet better than one would believe.

Of course, in early '76, the generally reviled biopic "Gable and Lombard" was released, and many mistakenly think it was derived from the Harris book because of the similar titles. Not the case.

To cash in on the film, the book was issued in paperback, with a pretty attractive front and back cover:



Unfortunately, the same can't be said for a 1980s paperback reissue by another publishing house. The artwork is dreadfully cheap, and the "CL" conjured up by this image isn't Carole Lombard, but Cyndi Lauper:

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