March 11th, 2008

carole lombard 02
  • vp19

The admirable Crichton (interview)

Among the best-known interviews Carole Lombard ever gave was one that few people, at least in recent decades, have actually read.

It came in the Feb. 24, 1940 issue of Collier's, written by Kyle Crichton, a piece with the rather trite title of "Fun In Flickers." While many recent fans have heard of it, since several Lombard biographers (notably Larry Swindell) have made references to it, relatively few have been able to see it.

There's good reason why. Collier's, a popular general-interest magazine of the day (sort of along the lines of the Saturday Evening Post, but without the Benjamin Franklin heritage and the Norman Rockwell covers), folded in 1957. It probably hasn't been microfilmed much; even the Library of Congress, where I did my research, only has Collier's on microfilm through 1915.

Fortunately, a reading room at the Library had a rather musty, bound copy of the early 1940 issues, and I was able to photocopy the article there.

Before getting to the interview, which runs nearly 2,800 words long, some info on the interviewer, Kyle Crichton: Born in Peale, Pa., in November 1896, he graduated from Lehigh University in 1917. He decided to pursue a literary career in the 1920s, becoming a book editor at Scribner's.

Like many in the 1930s, he became disillusioned and politically drifted leftward, joining the Communist party for several years (and writing articles for the Daily Worker and a pair of books under the pseudonym "Robert Forsythe") before resigning from the party following the signing of the short-lived Hitler-Stalin pact.

At the same time he was writing as Forsythe, Crichton wrote many articles under his own name at Collier's, where he had become an associate editor in 1933. He remained there through 1949, conducting many interviews with entertainment and sports personalities. Crichton wrote a number of books as well, notably a 1945 biography of the Marx Brothers. He died in New York in November 1960.

Without further ado, Crichton's interview with Carole Lombard, a fairly vivid portrait of the lady. (It is in the style in which it was published, although I have put the titles of movies in quotation marks to better set them off from the rest of the copy.) Enjoy!

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