November 14th, 2011

carole lombard 01
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With help from Hawks, Carole conquers Cohn

Director Howard Hawks, along with leading man John Barrymore at right, helped coax Carole Lombard from a leading lady into a star with her performance in "Twentieth Century." But Hawks -- a distant cousin of Carole's -- apparently helped her out in another way as well. He told the story to director-author Peter Bogdanovich in the book "Who the Hell Made It: Interviews with Legendary Directors":

She came to me one day and said, "What’ll I do? -- Cohn’s making passes at me." I said, "Do you want to really fix it?" She said "Yes," so we planned out something: I was in Cohn’s office talking with him, having a very serious discussion, and she just busted in through the door and said, "I’ve decided to say ‘Yes,’" and began as though she were going to remove her clothes. And he said, "Now, wait a minute!" She said, "I thought you--" and I said, "I better get out of here if this is the kind of studio you run." And he said, "Now, wait a minute, don’t go!" She said, "Well, make up your mind," and he said "Just get out of here!" And she said, "All right," and never had any more troubles with him after that.

What's interesting about all this is that Lombard had previously made three films at Columbia ("Virtue," "No More Orchids" and "Brief Moment") and, for the most part, had gotten along well with Cohn, a rather crude type even by mogul standards. (A private staircase led from his office to the women's dressing rooms, and it apparently still exists on the Sunset-Gower lot Columbia eventually abandoned.) But apparently Cohn was persistent, and it may explain why Lombard never made a film at Columbia after 1934 (though she had signed to make "They All Kissed The Bride" before her death)..

All in all, yet another colorful Carole anecdote to add to Lombard lore.

This week's header shows Lombard with the great Frank Morgan in a scene from the only film she made in New York, Paramount's "Fast And Loose" in the summer of 1930.
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