February 1st, 2012

carole lombard 03
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Well, look who's back!



Sometimes, you get so wrapped up in things that you miss something right under your nose. Such is the case on my part, because I want to extend a hearty salute (just as Carole Lombard herself is doing) to the return of a site many have been wondering "whatever happened to" lo these many months.

I'm referring to http://carolelombard.org, the site operated by Carla Valderrama. For years, it was a wonderful resource for Lombard material, notably a magnificent photo archive, and full of entries...a worthy (and friendly) competitor in what I call "Lombardiana," Carole-related research.

Then, in November 2009, the entries stopped coming. I knew Valderrama was working on a Lombard biography, and was focusing on collecting research for that project -- but the months went by, and still no entries. Thankfully, the site itself was still there and had not been deleted, and Valderrama could be found at Facebook and elsewhere, so we knew she was okay. Nevertheless, the inactivity was worrisome.

But in late December, the site was updated with an entirely new look:



There are a few new pictures to the photo archive -- and half a dozen new entries from Carla, including one I'm particularly fond of (and admittedly a bit jealous that she stumbled upon it first!). It's from the November 1930 issue of a magazine called Screen Mirror, written by one Gus McCarthy, with a wonderfully seasonable title: "Xmas Not the Only Time for Santa Claus, Says Carole."



It's a good read, a snapshot of Lombard as her Paramount career was beginning to ascend, and I thank Carla for making the rest of us aware of it.

She also uncovered film footage of Lombard, with then-husband William Powell, at the opening of the Warner Brothers Western Theatre, the venue now known as the Wiltern (it's where Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue intersect, hence the new name). The opening was for the Warners film "Alexander Hamilton" -- a prestige item then, but today far less remembered than the snappy pre-Codes that was the studio's stock in trade. The event occurred on Oct. 7, 1931, the day after Carole had turned 23 (or 22 if you were gullible for studio publicity):




Even after returning to "Carole" for her last six films, the "e" was still being left off (this was from a Universal newsreel). Find the film at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyGIrzzA-Og&feature=player_embedded.

Carla has even found a copy of the book from which the obscure Lombard Fox silent "Me, Gangster" was adapted, with pictures from the movie...none of Carole (she was 12th-billed). If it's any solace to you, Carla, I don't have a photo of her in it, either, and neither does Frederick Ott's "The Films Of Carole Lombard."

Anyway, it's great to have carolelombard.org back in action, and I eagerly await seeing more of what Carla's cinematic sleuthing has found. Her return is something definitely worth celebrating.

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