May 26th, 2011

carole lombard 04
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Was Carole's face red? Her hair seemingly was

When "Nothing Sacred" came out in late 1937, that's how movie audiences first experienced Carole Lombard (and Fredric March, for that matter) in three-strip Technicolor. But Carole's hair led to potential problems for what planned to be her color talking debut (segments of a few of her silent Mack Sennett shorts were shot in two-strip Technicolor).

We're referring to a movie she never made, "Spawn Of The North" ( Lombard was announced for the Paramount film in June 1936, but while she had shown she could deliver good box office, the studio feared her fans might be confused. Why? Let Hearst columnist Louella Parsons explain in the Los Angeles Examiner of June 21, 1936, yet another clipping courtesy of Tally Haugen:

Under the headline "Carole Lombard Will Compete With Aurora Borealis" (some of the exteriors were to be shot well north of the continental U.S.), Parsons wrote:

"In making the color photography tests Carole and everyone concerned received a shock to discover that her gilded locks filmed as Titian as Jeanette MacDonald's tresses or Ginger Rogers' morning glory. And the studio was in one of those well-known, old-fashioned quandaries.

"What would happen, everyone asked, if Carole's fans should be faced out of a clear screen with a Lombard gone redhead, redhead, gingerbread-head right overnight and without a word of warning?"

So what happened, Louella?

"...Carole came galloping to the rescue like a true United States Marine and changed the color scheme of her coiffure by permitting her hair to resume its naturally beautiful ash-blonde hue."

And thankfully, she didn't have to adopt a Marine cut to go with it, as she returned her hair to its appearance of earlier in the 1930s (although I doubt Carole went back to her 1931-32 ultrablonde look).

Also note the byline below Lombard's picture: Otto Winkler, whose fate would sadly tie in to Carole's slightly more than 5 1/2 years later. At the time, Winkler covered the film industry for the Examiner before joining MGM's publicity staff.

Of course, Lombard never made "Spawn Of The North" (when it finally hit theaters in 1938, Dorothy Lamour had her part) and by the time "Nothing Sacred" was made, Carole had returned to a slightly reddish shade, though nowhere as vividly red as that of future RKO studio mate Lucille Ball:

Oh, and one final twist: "Spawn Of The North" was ultimately filmed in black and white.
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