June 22nd, 2013

carole lombard 06
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'Made For'...'Orchids,' at the Hillstreet

carole lombard made for each other 61a front

Two vintage images of Carole Lombard with her leading men are up for auction at eBay. We begin with Lombard and James Stewart, from "Made For Each Other"...along with a snipe on the back from Russell Birdwell and Selznick-International Pictures:

carole lombard made for each other 61a back

It's an 8" x 10" single-weight glossy in near mint condition (minor edge wear). The minimum bid is $99.99, and bidding closes at 8:16 p.m. (Eastern) Wednesday. If this strikes your fancy, you can bid or get additional information by visiting http://www.ebay.com/itm/CAROLE-LOMBARD-AND-JAMES-STEWART-VINTAGE-8X10-PHOTO-MADE-FOR-EACH-OTHER-W-SNIPE-/200936570527?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2ec8c0be9f.

Lombard's leading man in the other pic isn't as well remembered today...

carole lombard no more orchids lyle talbot rko hillstreet front large

...but he's been getting more attention of late, thanks to his daughter. He's Lyle Talbot, whose daughter Margaret Talbot has written a terrific book about him called "The Entertainer" -- not a strict biography per se, but a book that examines his life in the entertainment industry, from traveling carnivals and theater to films and TV (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/554537.html). Lyle's identified on the back of the photo...

carole lombard no more orchids lyle talbot rko hillstreet back large

...but what's "RKO" doing there? "No More Orchids" was a Columbia production. A look at the following word -- "Hillstreet" -- provides the answer.

The RKO Hillstreet was a theater in downtown Los Angeles, located on 801 South Hill Street, a few blocks south of Pershing Square. (The picture was probably used in a local newspaper or other publication, though there's no hint as to which it might have been.) The Hillstreet opened in 1922 on the RKO vaudeville circuit, then switched to movies (with occasional stage shows) a few years later. Designed in the Gothic style, it seated 2,890 and had the same luxuries as most downtown palaces of the era:

los angeles rko hillstreet interior 1928ba
los angeles rko hillstreet interior 1928aa

We know at least two other Lombard movies played at the Hillstreet -- "Ned McCobb's Daughter" (this looks to be from early 1929, as there's a reference to a Mack Sennett talkie)...

carole lombard ned mccobb's daughter rko hillstreet los angeles large

...and "The Racketeer," shown in an ad from February 1930:

carole lombard the racketeer rko hillstreet los angeles feb 1930 large

After World War II, the Hillstreet was redesigned in a Moderne style, including a new marquee, as shown by these images from 1947 (top) and 1953:

los angeles rko hillstreet 1947a
los angeles rko hillstreet 1953b

Imagine -- 3-D, one of the best sci-fi films of the '50s (directed by Jack Arnold) and a stage show with Nat "King" Cole? Good times.

But they wouldn't last. While many Los Angeles film palaces went untouched by urban renewal as developers went into the San Fernando Valley and Orange County, the Hillstreet wasn't so fortunate. It temporarily closed in April 1963, opened again for a while, and then was demolished in early 1965 to make way for a parking garage.

The "No More Orchids" pic is in similar condition to the one for "Made For Each Other" and also opens at $99.99, though its bid deadline is at 7:26 p.m. (Eastern) Wednesday. Interested? Then go to http://www.ebay.com/itm/CAROLE-LOMBARD-LYLE-TALBOT-VINTAGE-8X10-PHOTO-NO-MORE-ORCHIDS-/200936559130?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2ec8c0921a.
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