November 21st, 2011

carole lombard 01
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A toast to going 'Hollywood'

By the fall of 1934, Carole Lombard was moving up in the screenland world, and this inside page from that October's Hollywood magazine provides proof. It raises "A Toast to..." Lombard

"because she climbed from Mack Sennett comedies to the top of the screen ladder; because, in 'Twentieth Century,' she gave one of the finest performances of her career -- or anybody's career; because she scores again in 'Now And Forever' with Gary Cooper; and because, on or off the screen, she is one of Hollywood's loveliest and most talented ladies"

I'm sure Carole appreciated the compliments, but since the magazine likely hit the newsstands in mid-September, she was probably still trying to get over the shocking passing of Russ Columbo. (The photo appears to be from one of the "Twentieth Century" portrait sessions, but I've never seen one where she was holding a dog.)

This issue of Hollywood is a good snapshot of the film industry at the time. Sylvia Sidney, who my mother would see knitting on a train about a decade later, graced the cover:

My mother, who turned 14 that October, may well have bought this issue, not because of Sidney but because there was a story on her favorite star of the time, Ruby Keeler (along with her husband, Al Jolson):

There were also stories on Mae West's Broadway days, as told by her former pianist, Harry Richman...

...Ernst Lubitsch's "The Merry Widow"...

...even a Max Factor ad with Jean Harlow (note that her upcoming film is titled "Born To Be Kissed"; MGM soon renamed it "The Girl From Missouri):

For a magazine more than three-quarters of a century old, it's in pretty good shape; its few defects include "a little bit of minor binding wear."

Bids for this begin at $24.99 (none have been made as of yet), with bidding closing at 3:28 p.m. (Eastern) Saturday. If this catches your fancy, or you're merely curious, visit

This week's header features Lombard in fur, an attractive pose from the otherwise lackluster "Fools For Scandal."
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some more questions...

Hello again! I hate to keep spamming the community with questions about Carole's life, but since this is the best source of Lombard information on the internet, I figured I'd take advantage of it. I have a few quick questions tonight about two of the most important men in Carole's life - and two of the biggest banes of my research existence!

- First on the list is Husband #2, Clark Gable. In the nature of full disclosure, I must admit that I have always been a much bigger fan of Carole than I am of Clark, but even I don't understand the vilification of Gable that I keep coming across in my research. I keep reading that he didn't deserve Carole one bit, that she only loved him for his name, that their "love" is a facade constructed by MGM, etc. I don't know how much of this is based on a need to puncture the legacy of Gable and/or Lombard, but I'm finding it all rather confusing. Sure, they weren't perfect, but why is that suddenly being taken as indisputable proof that their romance is largely a product of studio publicity? I'm sure there's a happy medium somewhere between the innately-flawed "Most Perfect Marriage Ever" belief and the idea that the whole relationship was an elaborately-constructed myth, but I keep getting bogged down in speculation. Can anyone help set me straight?

- Next up is Russ Columbo. I recently came across this comment on a blog, and to say it confused me is putting it mildly: In her will, [Lombard] wanted to be buried at Forest Lawn because that's where [Russ] Columbo was; Gable had to scramble to buy a crypt for himself next to her. As soon as she died, MGM publicity went into overdrive dismissing her relationship with Columbo as an unimportant affair to play up the "great love" with Gable.

I've never heard that the reason Carole wanted to be buried at Forest Lawn was because of Columbo, and although it would make a romantic anecdote if true, I can't find any solid evidence for it. As far as I know, it seems to be nothing more than conjecture. Does anyone know anything more about this? Furthermore, after everything I've read from the immediate aftermath of Carole's death, I can't see what purpose would have been served by tearing down Columbo in order to build up Gable. How would that angle have even played into the tragedy?

- And while we're on the subject of Russ, I have one more quick question. I've tossed it out there before, but I never found a clear answer. So at the risk of repeating myself, here it is! I was recently going through my copy of Screwball, and Swindell says that the "Columbo was the love of my life" comment was made off-the-record to a reporter from LIFE. But to complicate matters, I've also heard that it was Carole's brother Fred who informed Swindell of the quote. So where did this comment originate from? Did Carole tell the LIFE reporter (Noel Busch, maybe?), who then told Fred, who passed it down to Swindell? Since I'm having trouble getting a grasp on Russ and Carole, it would be a huge help if I could cite the quote with confidence, but it's hard when I keep hearing that it originated from a dozen different sources. Anyone know anything more about this?

I think that's all for now. I know these questions all kind of run along the same line, but these are the big issues that I just can't make heads or tails of in my research, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask for some clarification again! Thanks for any help you can offer!