September 10th, 2009

carole lombard 04
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To 'Carol,' from John

"Twentieth Century" was indeed the film that established Carole Lombard as a first-rate star, not just an actress or leading lady. True, she'd had her moments in previous movies such as "Virtue" or "No Man Of Her Own," but when she was cast as the female lead in this adaptation of a hit Broadway play, some in the industry whether it was merely because Columbia mogul Harry Cohn, who had a relatively meager talent roster of his own, couldn't get a bigger "name" through loanout.

Director Howard Hawks helped Lombard find herself, discover a talent some suspected she had but very rarely saw on screen. And co-star John Barrymore, already a legend on both stage and screen, coaxed a comedic effort from Carole that finally helped her find her niche.

Barrymore was so pleased with Lombard's performance that he signed a photo for her when the production was done. Here it is, courtesy of The Lombard Archive:

The inscription reads:

"To Carol Lombard, a grand actress and a grand person, with the affectionate good wishes of John Barrymore"

Lombard -- who was being considered for a role in a Barrymore silent film at the time of her automobile accident in 1926 -- cherished this item and remained good friends with Barrymore, going so far as to get him a key supporting role in her starring vehicle "Truce Confession" in 1937, at a time when alcoholism had diminished Barrymore's skills and reputation. Barrymore died in 1942, several months after Lombard.
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