May 6th, 2008

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Photoplay, October 1933: "There are 7 Kinds of Love"

"There are, claims Carole, seven kinds of love, not one. And she should know, because she has personally experienced all seven, and love, she says, you can only know from intimate experience."

With a sentence such as that, are we to expect a Kama Sutra-like piece from Lombard exploring (carnal) love's variety? Well, given that this is Photoplay, not a Tijuana bible, no (even if it's still the pre-Code era). But it's nevertheless a fascinating article -- and one that's hard to get a good feel for, due to a number of reasons.

For one thing, it was issued in the October 1933 issue, not long after Lombard had divorced William Powell, and in an introduction, the magazine notes her comments were given while she was still married to him. So there's a sense of backtracking here; as the introduction says in its closing sentence, "It brings up the question, 'How can we be sure?' "

For another, Carole's quotes go on and on. I can't imagine this being 100 percent verbatim, so author Gladys Hall probably did a good deal of paraphrasing -- assuming, of course, she actually interviewed Lombard and didn't merely make things up from thin air.

And for another, Photoplay itself had changed a bit from 1931, when it last ran a lengthy Lombard article. Publisher and editor James R. Quirk had died in 1932, and his successor as editor, Kathryn Dougherty, gradually altered the magazine into a more female-oriented fan publication, with fewer of the industry-related features that had set it apart from many of its competitors.

Some of Carole's comments on the nature of love (if they indeed came from her) are perceptive, profound. We'll investigate further after the article; for now, read it and imagine you're a Lombard fan in the fall of 1933...


“There are 7 Kinds of Love”

says Carole Lombard to Gladys Hall

How many kinds have you had? The seventh, which she thought ideal, proved otherwise

This interview with Carole Lombard reveals the seven various kinds of love she has experienced in her own life. Her statements were made some time before her action for divorce from William Powell. As a consequence, this article has an unusually interesting angle. It brings up the question, “How can we be sure?”

Carole says that the most conceited thing anyone can do is to try to define or describe love. Every great one from Solomon down has attempted to do it. But none has succeeded.

And so, said Carole, in spite of all this failure, she would nevertheless give her version of love.

There are, claims Carole, seven kinds of love, not one. And she should know, because she has personally experienced all seven, and love, she says, you can only know from intimate experience.

“To begin with, there is Child Love, and let no one say that a child cannot be in love. I mean, in love. No one could tell me differently, because I was in love when I was eight years old. The very Impossible He was eleven, and he was named Ralph Pop. You may gauge the extent of my passion by the fact that at an age when the names of Percival and Ronald and Curtis and so on were romantic names to me, I was able to idealize the name of Pop.”

Carole was, she explained, as madly in love with what-a-man Pop as ever she has been since with any man! It was a completely adult passion in every one of its manifestations. She wrote him ardent love notes, rather smudgy, but none the less burning and intense, She waited in agonies of alternating hope and fear for the answers that never came. She suffered, then, the torments of unrequited love. She knew sleepless nights and feelings of faintness and the desire for death. She fought tooth and nail, actually and physically fought off other girls who seemed to hover ’round him. She dreamed of the day when she would be Mrs. Pop and they would live together in a cottage by the sea, and there would be lots of babies tumbling about.

“I tell you I was in love with Ralph Pop,” Carole said, “and even now, after all these years, I can’t really laugh at it, or about it. I felt all the pain, all the actual intense emotion, all the hurt pride and baffled hope of a woman for a man. Don’t ever laugh at a child in love, Really, don’t. It hurts.

“Then there is Emotional Love. The love that is nothing but emotion. I suppose it would be called, baldly, physical love, because that is all there is to it. I had that experience, too, when I was in my ’teens. I was so crazy about a boy named Clive that I could think of nothing but making opportunities to be alone with him. I didn’t care about anything but being alone with him; because all I wanted from him were his kisses, his love-making.

“I didn’t want to talk to him. I had nothing to say to him and he had nothing to say to me, nothing I was interested in hearing. We hadn’t one taste in common. We didn’t think alike. I didn’t want to do things with him, go places, or play games, or read books or anything like that.

“The whole point was that I loved him, but I did not like him. If the quality of emotion had been subtracted from the little affair, there would have been nothing left. So many girls marry that kind of a love. Their senses fool their brains. It’s too bad, because the instant the emotion, the passion dies away, there is nothing left. And two strangers find themselves living together and, usually, two enemies.

“Then there is the Love Ideal. That is, an ideal built up by yourself, out of your own mind, created by something you have read or dreamed about or imagined.

“You build this ideal in your own mind and heart, and then you attach it to the first presentable male who happens to come along. You build your ideal to the proportions of a god, and then attach it to the boy next door, or some casual caller, or some man you have seen somewhere and who seems to fit the self-made picture.

“Nine times out of ten, the ideal doesn’t fit the person in any respect. He wears your ideal of him as a man wears a hat several sizes too large or too small.

“I had that experience, too. It is the love that always leaves a faint, sad fragrance, like the breath of lavender, in your memory. Perhaps because it was so perfect, being an illusion.

“At any rate, I had created my own image of the ideal man. I’d read a lot of poetry and things. I was at that age. I planned out the kind of things this ideal man would do, the flowers he would send to commemorate, sensitively, certain shared and lovely hours. I dreamed of the gallantries he would exhibit, the songs he would sing, the lyrical names he would call me, the poetic things he would want to do with me. And when my ideal was all built and ready-to-wear, I met a stolid, commonplace lad and forthwith pinned my ideal to his rather prosaic chest.

“I waited – on tip-toe – and nothing happened. For weeks and even months, I made myself read into his babbitty words things he had never meant to say. I answered him with flights of imagery that left him dumb – and a little cross. I interpreted his rather unimaginative actions into the shining deeds of my own mind. I worked over that love as I never have over any other.

“And then, at last, I had to realize that the poor boy’s feet were clay, wingless clay. So much so, that they had trampled my ideal right under them. It took me a long time to learn that lesson because, of all loves, the love you create yourself is the hardest to kill, takes the longest time to die.

“There is,” Carole continued, cataloging the love classifications on the tops of her pointed fingers, “the Love-on-the-Rebound. Which usually follows some such disappointment as the death of the Love Ideal. It did with me. You feel so lonely after you have lived with an ideal of your own making for a long while, and then find yourself bereft of it. It must be like giving birth to a fairy child and losing him.

“At any rate, after my Love Ideal was gone I turned to the nearest boy at hand. He was a lad I’d known for years and had never even thought of falling in love with. But then I discovered that my Ideal Love was nothing more nor less than a dream I had dreamed. I thought that love would never come to me. I was afraid of being lonely. I was slightly and very dramatically bitter. I talked a great deal about disillusionment and the lamed heart of the world. I was in that phase. The boy listened to all of my young, self-conscious grief and world-weariness. He did all the things I had wanted my ideal to do. He sent flowers on certain days and sang sweet, sad songs to me, and remembered places we had gone together and what I had worn the first time we danced together, and all sorts of things like that.

“I tried to believe that I was in love with him. I told myself that he was real. But I had gotten over fooling myself after that last experience. He had a funny nose, and I couldn’t make it straight. He had a funny curly mouth, and I couldn’t make it into the mouth of a Galahad. He talked all the time and said funny things, and I couldn’t recreate him into the stern and silent type. I couldn’t make believe about him for very long…”

There often follows, Carole says, Companionship Love. And that is the direct antithesis to the Love Emotional. The Companionship love is all friendship and no emotion. All prose and no poetry. All practicality and no passion. Love for companionship, she explained., is really friendship., but young people are so incurably romantic that they must attach the poor tired tag line of love to any relationship between the sexes.

“I had the Companionship Love too. He was a slightly older man. They usually are when they play this role. I admired him enormously. I liked everything about him. I liked his mannerisms and his manners, I liked his style. I liked, his tastes, his hobbies, his friends, the things he did and the way he did them.

“He taught me things, lots of them. He opened doors to me. He brought out ‘the best’ in me. And – I would have been positively ill he had ever kissed me. The thrilling ingredient that sets friendship on fire simply was not there.

“There is, of course, the Maternal Love. I mean the maternal love of a woman for a man. In every love, I think, there is some element of the maternal, or there should be if the woman is a thoroughly normal woman.

“But that is not what I mean now. I mean the love that is all maternal, that takes a man and makes a little boy of him, spoiled, dependent, indulged, forgiven all things. The love that assumes all of the responsibility for everything, takes all the burdens, makes all the decisions.

“This is the love that usually comes to strong and dominant women for rather weakling men.

“They become the mothers of these men. That is what they want to be. They are never attracted to men who are stronger and more dominant than they.

“And this, also, happened to me. I seem to be giving a complete symposium of my love affairs. But I’m glad I have a symposium. Only by the process of elimination does a woman ever know what is real, authentic, true.

“I fell in love with this boy. I tried to make him over. I wanted to replace his habits with other habits. I tried to find jobs for him, and when he had a job I kept it for him, or thought I did.

“I tried to protect him from criticism and from unkindness on the part of other people. I finally discovered that he was as yellow as the yolk of an egg and that nothing I could ever do would improve him one iota.

“This maternal love is, or can be, the most dangerous love of all, because it usually comes to strong women who crave children of their own, and when that woman marries her weakling mate and has children, and that craving is satisfied, he has served his purpose and shipwreck follows.

“And now,” said Carole slowly, “there is the seventh love. The real love. My love for Junior. Junior’s love for me.”

“Junior,” I must pause to tell you, is Carole’s name for Bill Powell. She said, when my look of inquiry and more than slight surprise appeared upon my face, “But I always call him Junior – didn’t you know?” And isn’t it too perfect for him? Junior! Just think of Bill, so suave and dignified and all the things he is, and then think of calling him Junior and you will appreciate the really divine humor of it, if I do say so--!

If these stories have a semblance of accuracy, it begs some questions from those of us who try to put together the jigsaw puzzle that was Lombard's life (and no, we'll never have all the pieces, but perhaps we can get a few things in focus):

* Is publisher Horace Liveright ( the one Lombard had "companionship love" with? He was significantly older than Carole, and she apparently admired him. And from all we know, her relationship with him was not in any way a physical one. (Some of the things she describes about this man are also traits of Powell, and that relationship was definitely physical, even if she indeed sometimes complained to friends about his lovemaking.)

* One wonders how Ralph and Clive felt about this piece...especially if they had at one time or another boasted they were friendly in their youth with this girl who eventually became known as Carole Lombard!

* Carole's thoughts on "emotional love," about how "so many girls marry that kind of a love," still hold water do her comments on the potential hazards of "maternal love."

We'll leave you with this Photoplay picture from the December 1933 issue, and note how the caption holds out hope that Lombard and Powell could get back together again:

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