October 22nd, 2008

carole lombard 03
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Who's who? Now we know!

Some time ago (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/31395.html), we ran the photo above, taken at one of those famed Hollywood parties we noted a few days back -- but at the time, we didn't know who everyone was. Sure, we saw Carole Lombard, Marion Davies and Clark Gable; they're pretty easy to spot. But many of the others weren't people you could instantly identify.

However, now you can identify them, without prodding. That's because the picture is being auctioned at eBay, and the seller provided a list, presumably from the original photo's caption. Here it is:

2/24/36: According to rows - starting from front...Miss Marion Davies; Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Carole Lombard and Prince Serge Obelensky; 2nd row--Douglas Fairbanks Sr.; 3rd row--Mrs. James Bodrero, of Santa Barbara; Mrs. Donald Ogden Stewart with arms about Clifton Webb; 4th row--Clark Gable, Miss Dorothy Fell of New York and Mrs. Joan Payson (sister of Jock Whitney); 5th row--Countess Di Frasso in robe, Susan Rosenberg and Donald Ogden Stewart; 6th row--Virginia Bruce, Delmer Daves and Jean Negulesco.

Okay, so we have the elder and younger Fairbanks; I met Doug Jr. many years ago at a Film Forum retrospective of his father's fine movie work, and in retrospect I'm sorry I didn't ask him about Lombard. A few others there have names we remember as actors (Clifton Webb, Virginia Bruce).

But this wasn't strictly an actors' party by any means. A few others gained fame in the industry as writers (Donald Ogden Stewart, who we previously profiled at http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/49026.html), directors (Jean Negulesco) or both (Delmer Daves). By the way, Mrs. Donald Ogden Stewart is Beatrice Ames, the first of his two wives.

Joan Payson, sister of Jock Whitney, would become better known in later years for her ties to baseball than to society. In 1957, she was the lone member of the New York Giants' board of stockholders to vote against the struggling team's move to San Francisco; several years later, she became principal owner of the Giants' National League replacement at the Polo Grounds, the expansion New York Mets.

Prince Serge Obolensky, who sat next to Carole in this photo, was a Russian native and art collector whom at one time was married to Czar Alexander II's daughter, Catherine. They fled Russia following the 1917 revolution, settled in the U.S., and divorced; he then married Ava Alice Muriel Astor, New York tycoon John Jacob Astor's daughter. He would serve with honor as a American lieutenant colonel during World War II, making several jumps as a paratrooper at age 53.

Countess Dorothy di Frasso was born in, of all places, Watertown, N.Y., but her father was genuinely wealthy, and she inherited a $12 million fortune. She gained her royal standing through marriage to an Italian count, but later had an affair with Gary Cooper and ultimately moved to Los Angeles, where she became popular with the film colony.

The date of Feb. 24, 1936 is also illuminating. Supposedly Lombard's romance with Clark Gable began at about this time -- but if that's the case, why aren't they next to each other?

If you'd like the picture, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/Clark-Gable-Carole-Lombard-Douglas-Fairbanks-Jr-Photo_W0QQitemZ390002504476QQcmdZViewItem?hash=item390002504476&_trkparms=39%3A1%7C66%3A2%7C65%3A1%7C240%3A1318&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14. Bidding continues through noon (Eastern) next Tuesday. Bids begin at $6.
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