March 18th, 2010

carole lombard 04
  • vp19

Sorry, no freebies

Carole Lombard was renowned for her generosity. But it only went so far...especially when it came out of the pockets of the company she was working for.

As proof, here is a postcard sent to a Sacramento fan on Nov. 5, 1936:

The flip side has a message from Lombard saying it was impossible for her to send a free picture.

The reply reads,

Dear Friend:

Thank you so much for your letter. Your cordial interest in me and my work surely is appreciated.

I wish it were possible to send you a photograph, but as you cannot know, there is a ruling that no pictures be mailed out free of charge. I feel sure that you will understand the situation and will realize my position in the matter.

Thank you again and my best personal greetings to you.


Carole Lombard

The autograph is a facsimile.

One presumes that similar cards were made for all Paramount notables, and that other studios had a similar practice. After all, requests for such pictures was incredible at the time.

If you decided to spring the cash for a Lombard photo, how much would it have cost you? There's a price list just to the left of her signature:

This fascinating artifact of interplay between star/studio and fan is up for auction at eBay. The minimum bid is $24.99, which to me sounds a bit steep (although the seller thankfully admitted the autograph was a facsimile), and bidding closes just before 5:45 p.m. (Eastern Daylight) on Sunday. If interested, go to

We have no idea how this McLennan person in Sacramento reacted to the news. However, he or she could take a bus or train to Los Angeles and, with luck, take a photo of Carole. Heck, she might even autograph it.

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