February 4th, 2009

carole lombard 03
  • vp19

Put her to work*



*just not as an actress

Every now and then, we play the game of "what if" with Carole Lombard -- and very often, the topic deals with what her life would have been like had her flight home arrived safely in 1942. This time, however, we're taking the conjecture in a completely different direction...

...what would Carole Lombard have done for a living had she not succeeded as an actress?

This scenario indeed could have happened. Perhaps that auto accident in her late teens never occurred and she continued on her way as a lead in Fox westerns, never progressing beyond that lower-tier status and never gaining the knowledge of cinematography and lighting or learning comedy skills from Mack Sennett. Or maybe the auto accident was slightly more severe, causing significant facial damage (from a cinematic perspective) and forcing her into another field.

Whatever, it wasn't etched in stone, or destiny, that Lombard was to become a major star. She got a few breaks and also created a few of her own. Had they not come, she might have gone in a different direction, a different profession. Above are photos of three occupations Carole held on screen: manicurist ("Hands Across The Table"), nurse ("Vigil In The Night") and sales clerk (briefly in "Mr. & Mrs. Smith").

This idea came to me upon seeing the recent Family Circle photo of a dog standing on Carole's back. Throughout her life, Lombard had remarkable rapport with animals; might she have become a dog trainer or horse breeder or veterinarian? Possibly, though I'm almost certain that she didn't have much familiarity with horses until she became sufficiently affluent to hang with the Hollywood horse crowd for polo and the like. Carole might have made a good sales clerk in that she could be very persuasive.

Of course, in real life Lombard did try out one other job, if only for a week:



That's from her time in Selznick International's publicity department in summer 1938 (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/17287.html), and one senses Carole would have made a sensational entertainment press agent.

So put on your thinking caps. In your alternate universe, where Lombard was denied film stardom for one reason or another and had to pursue an alternate occupation...just what would that occupation have been? Justify your reasoning, too; show you put some thought into it. And keep in mind the times she lived in -- for example, while Carole was a fine tennis player in the film community, she wasn't quite world-class, and truth be told, women athletes in those days didn't make much money, if any, at their craft. (Lombard's good friend and tennis champion Alice Marble technically didn't turn professional until 1941.)

I await your responses.
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