March 21st, 2012

carole lombard 03
  • vp19 Hirschfeld? Maybe

Most Carole Lombard fans are aware that "Twentieth Century," released in the spring of 1934, was the film that vaulted her from leading lady to star. But it also could well have led to the only time she was caricatured by one of the most important illustrators of the -- pun unintentional -- 20th century.

We're referring to Al Hirschfeld, best known for his drawings involving Broadway stars such as Carol Channing.

But many of his subjects had little to do with the Great White Way, and he often took assignments from film studios. For example, it's his drawing on the bottom of the program for 1933's "Dinner At Eight," whose cast included Jean Harlow:

On May 25, 1934, the Montreal Daily Star ran this advertisement for "Twentieth Century":

Let's isolate, and enlarge, two of the three drawings found in this ad:

If that isn't a Hirschfeld drawing, it's a heckuva tribute to him. (Oh, and don't bother looking for the famous hidden "Nina" in these drawings, a tribute to his daughter; she wasn't born until 1945.) Did he draw it? There is a book, released not long before his death at age 99 in early 2003, called "Hirschfeld's Hollywood," featuring many of his film-related works; it might be included in that volume, or it may not.

Hirschfeld was past 30 at the time "Twentieth Century" hit theaters, and he would work well into his nineties. He was an integral part of New York culture, and a Manhattan theater is named in his honor.

The page the ad is on measures 21" x 15"; the ad itself is 12" x 9", and the seller lists it in fair condition. I've never seen any other "Twentieth Century" ads that used drawings, and perhaps this was commissioned by a Canadian advertising firm. Bidding opens at $8.99, and you don't have much time left, as bidding closes at 3:14 p.m. (Eastern) on Thursday. Interested in what may (and we emphasize may) be the link between Hirschfeld and Lombard? Then go to
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  • vp19

Before Lombard-Loy redux

That's the latest banner to remind Carole Lombard fans to vote for her, the top seed, against second-seeded Myrna Loy in the upcoming final of the "Funny Ladies" division of the Silents/1930s bracket of the 2012 Favorite Classic Movie Actress Tourney. (Expect the polls to open late tonight or early Thursday; the other final, "Singers/Dancers," will pit #1 Irene Dunne, who's been putting away opponents by frightful margins, against #3 Ginger Rogers.)

This is a rematch of sorts, since Lombard conquered Loy 59-41 in the tourney a year ago; at that time, total votes were limited to 100. But that was last year, and Team Carole will have to show the same tenacity it did by helping Lombard rally to edge Jean Arthur, 80-78, in last week's match.

Next week, the "Funny Ladies" champ will take on the "Tough Broads/Pre-Code Babes" winner -- and right now, that final is proving to be every bit as epic as the Lombard-Arthur match, especially considering the "combatants" were actually longtime friends in real life. As of 9 a.m. (Eastern), #3 Joan Crawford has a narrow 66-64 edge over #1 Barbara Stanwyck; this one looks as if it will go down to the wire.

In the other final, "They Had Faces," top seed Greta Garbo has things more in hand, leading #6 Gloria Swanson, 73-41. Cast your ballot while there's still time at

In the other three divisions:

1940s (
#5 Gene Tierney 44, #3 Lauren Bacall 34
"Drama Queens"
#1 Bette Davis 46, #6 Olivia de Havilland 38

1950s (
#2 Audrey Hepburn 51, #1 Grace Kelly 46
"Drama Queens"
#1 Elizabeth Taylor 54, #3 Ava Gardner 35

1960s (
#1 Jean Simmons 41, #6 Anne Bancroft 24
"Drama Queens"
#3 Catherine Deneuve 45, #5 Susannah York 14

So make sure and vote; meanwhile, Lombard is readying herself for the challenge of Loy. She earlier played some tennis -- now, time for some bowling.

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