November 18th, 2009

carole lombard 03
  • vp19

Stone, immaculate

Not many of us were actually around during the heyday of Carole Lombard and other Golden Age movie stars...but we know enough about the times they lived in and how they were covered to understand why they were perceived as larger-than-life figures (something you certainly can't say about the stars of today, regardless of their talent or charisma).

Among the press conduits between star and public were the movie magazines, and until color photography was perfected in the middle 1930s, most of the leading magazines used artwork for their covers, from some of the top portrait painters of the day. These covers gave an ethereal glow to many of these actresses (while actors were subjects, too, their appearances were far less frequent), and consequently they were perceived as ideals of beauty.

Several artists were frequent contributors to film magazines. F. Earl Christy was one; another was named Marland Stone. Not much is known about him other than that he died in 1975, but he was an active illustrator and his work graces many a magazine. Motion Picture was probably the publication he did most covers for; here are two of them from 1928, Joan Crawford in March and MGM archrival Norma Shearer in August:

Stone's work continued into the 1930s. Here's a portrait he did of Constance Bennett. This was used as the cover for Movie Classic magazine in March 1934:

As you might expect, Lombard also became a subject of Stone's. It appears the first time they worked together was for the November 1931 cover of Motion Picture, though this appears to be merely a color reworking of a Paramount publicity still:

Three Novembers later, Stone again worked with Lombard for the magazine, and I'm not certain this was derived from a studio photograph:

Note the price is 15 cents, "formerly 25 cents." A belated welcome to the Depression, Motion Picture.

In addition to the Fredric March story publicized on the front, there are also articles on Grace Moore, Janet Gaynor, Rochelle Hudson, Mary Brian, Anna Sten, Harold Lloyd, Dolores Del Rio, James Cagney, Henry Wilcoxon and Bette Davis.

This issue is being auctioned at eBay, and while the cover looks a trifle frayed, the seller maintains that inside, the issue is in excellent shape. The minimum bid is $74.95, which may explain why there are no bids as of this writing; bidding closes at just after 11 p.m. (Eastern) tonight.

To take a look, visit

Lombard appeared on the cover of Motion Picture at least two other times (in July 1936 and January 1938), although I don't know whether Stone was the artist. (By then the magazine was selling for a dime.)
  • Current Mood
    contemplative contemplative