November 12th, 2011

carole lombard 06
  • vp19

A photography lesson

eBay has auctioned a wide array of Carole Lombard photographs over the years, and by now most of them have been seen before by collectors. But every now and then, a genuine rarity pops up, showing Lombard in a completely different light. The following is an example:



Carole is clad in what looks to be an aviatrix outfit, complete with scarf, looking over a camera. Is that woman with her in either the aviation or photography business? Fortunately, there's a snipe on the back, so we can find out:



Let's focus on the snipe:



PICTURE STAR IS PICTURE-TAKING FAN.
Latest of Hollywood's screen stars to take up candid camera study is blonde Carole Lombard. Carole recently bought a new camera and everything and is now ready to start shooting around her studio lot. Here she is with Sara Parsons, noted New York photographer, who is instructing her in its use.


The photo, from the Acme syndicate, is dated June 13, 1935.

Carole's curiosity certainly extended to photography; she made herself an expert on cinematography and lighting, and one guesses she asked many questions of all the photographers she worked with over the years. Therefore, it wouldn't be surprising to find out Lombard was interested in taking photos on her own, though I've never come across anything expressly identified as being shot by her.

So just who is this Sara Parsons? I've been able to find out a little bit about her. She was a photographer for Vogue, among other publications, in the 1930s, and was also a painter, spending much time in the artists' colony at Santa Fe, N.M.



Later in the 1930s, Parsons and a fellow photographer named Bob Mack set up shop in Hollywood, creating what Popular Science referred to as an "odd photographic laboratory" to ostensibly discover potential film stars:



Did this setup actually discover any stars? Probably not. An actress from Quebec then known as Francine Bordeaux moved to Hollywood in 1938, took the test and signed a contract with Parsons and Mack which apparently required her to live by their rules over virtually all facets of her personal life, from dress to diet to dating. Called a "prisoner of talent" by one newspaper, Bordeaux went to court and successfully petitioned a release from her contract. She got small parts in films throughout the '40s, changed her name to Nanette Bordeaux, and appeared in a number of Three Stooges shorts in the early and middle 1950s before dying of acute bronchopneumonia at age 45 in September 1956.



Parsons eventually returned to New Mexico, and was interviewed by an art magazine in the 1960s. Beyond that, I can't find much about her.

The picture of Parsons with Lombard is a wire photo measuring 8" x 6". Two bids have been made as of this writing, topping out at $11.50, with bids closing at 9:42 p.m. (Eastern) on Wednesday. If you want to get in on the action or simply learn more, visit http://www.ebay.com/itm/1935-Movie-Star-Fashion-Carole-Lombard-NY-Photographer-Sara-Parsons-Plane-Photo-/170726473614?pt=Art_Photo_Images&hash=item27c0173f8e.

One wonders whether Parsons that day took some of the photos of Lombard with small planes, images such as these:

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