December 18th, 2011

carole lombard 07
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Archiving more 'Carol' than 'Carole'



Here's more on the Newspaper Archive discussed in yesterday's entry, and it has to do with the period in which Carole Lombard posed for the above image -- 1929. It's no secret that until late 1930, Lombard often used "Carol" as her first name for film purposes (or had it used by studios), but how much more often? Apparently quite a lot.

A check of the archive's search engine discovered that between 1925 and 1929, there were 630 references to "Carol Lombard," as opposed to a mere 40 for "Carole Lombard" in the same time frame.(and five of those were actually from the 1930s, but somehow erroneously categorized as being from 1926). In fact, between December 1925 and May 1929, there was not a single "Carole" reference.

In contrast, "Carol" proliferated throughout this half-decade, evident on many items dealing with her at Fox and at Pathe. (Most of them were the latter; of those 630 references shown above, 540 of them were from 1929.) While Mack Sennett's film credits generally spelled it "Carole," save for the occasional excursion into "Carolle," there were no items listed specifically dealing with Sennett's two-reelers, but only as a performer in features, with her Sennett ties as part of the backstory. Here's an example -- from the Circleville (Ohio) Herald of April 15, 1929:



To the left of the Carol caricature is a fashion illustration with her ill-fated Pathe stablemate, Diane Ellis. They were teamed up for a syndicated story that ran in the June 21 Danville (Va.) Bee, providing visual illustration for a story on swimwear:



As 1929 began, Lombard was looking forward to a juicy lead role in the Cecil B. De Mille film "Dynamite," and on Jan. 9, the Williamsport (Pa.) Gazette and Bulletin noted how she was working with MGM's famed designer, Adrian:



But 16 days later, the Syracuse Herald reported Pathe was taking Lombard back to have her work on a new picture, "High Voltage." Actually, it's now known that Carole was fired from "Dynamite," so this was everyone's way of saving face:



But even as late as the end of March, she was erroneously tied to the De Mille production, as witness this item from the March 31 Ogden Standard-Examiner:



And speaking of lag time..."Ned McCobb's Daughter," a part-talkie released in November 1928, was still making the rounds of some theaters nearly a year later, as witness this note and ad from the Olean (N.Y.) Times of Sept. 7:



One senses the Sunday-only showing was some sort of contractual obligation, as it came between two hit talkies, the Marx Brothers' "The Cocoanuts" and Al Jolson's "Say It With Songs."

June 7 found Lombard pictured twice, in a swimsuit for the Athens (Ohio) Messenger...



...and as part of a syndicated "Cameragrams" spread in the Oshkosh (Wis.) Daily Northwestern, where her carefully draped image (one of William E. Thomas' more seductive portraits of Lombard) overpowers and dwarfs that of an airplane hung in the middle of New York's Grand Central Station:



Here's a clearer version of that racy image:



Finally (for now), the Oakland Tribune of Sept. 13, as her film "Big News" is hitting town:



Anyway, there's a more detailed examination of how Carole -- or is that Carol? -- was covered in newspapers for much of 1929. And we haven't yet examined "The Racketeer," or how newspapers covered (or, more likely, did not cover) her dismissal from Pathe.
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