September 2nd, 2013

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Time to 'Shado' the 'Sheba Of Shivers'

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Carole Lombard never referred to "Supernatural" as her worst film (she reserved that dishonor for "The Gay Bride"), but had someone asked Carole about her worst movie experience, she almost certainly would have considered "Supernatural" a contender. She was out of her element in the horror genre, likely placed there by Paramount because it couldn't think of anything else for her to do at the time, and while she tried to have some fun with the absurd nature of it all, such as leaving her character's altered gray makeup on one evening to "scare" friends...

carole lombard supernatural 032533a reno evening gazette

...she had to inwardly worry about this assignment, and the effect it could have on her career. (Consider Olga Baclanova, a fine actress who never recovered from being cast among "Freaks.")

Nearly three years ago, we ran an entry about the new Photoplay subsidiary Shadoplay and the story it ran in its May 1933 issue, headlined "Carole Lombard, Our New Sheba Of Shivers?" ( At the time, we only could reproduce the story at a small, largely unreadable scale. While Shadoplay hasn't yet joined its older, more successful sibling in having an online presence, we have obtained a copy of that May 1933 issue, Shadoplay's third.

Initially, we thought the headline alone would spur Lombard's infamous inventive invective into action. And while the 50-foot woman wouldn't attack for another quarter-century, we could envision a Kong-sized Carole storming to the magazine's office (since it's at 221 West 57th Street in New York, she might have had to climb a few stories), poking her huge hand in search of whomever wrote that story (she isn't quoted in it), then after finding him, throwing him with all her might as far as possible.

Then we read the story...and there's enough over-the-topness between the lines to render author Meivin Crawford safe from a Lombard attack at any size:

carole lombard shadoplay may 1933aa
carole lombard shadoplay may 1933ba
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Crawford wasn't saying that Lombard should attempt to become a horror queen; far from it. His contention was that Carole could use the casting to show off her versatility and expand her range, which would pay off once she returned to romantic roles, though I bet she got a chuckle out of this paragraph:

As for choking and murdering -- well, Carole hasn't had a chance at that yet, and with many years of Hollywood behind her, she must have the memories of quite a few murderous yens stored up, all untapped and ready for use as the script demands.

Perhaps one of those "murderous yens" was for the person who came up with the headline.

There are a few other Lombard bits in that issue, though none include pictures. She's mentioned in a fashion column, alongside an ad for the Santa Fe railroad:

carole lombard shadoplay may 1933da
carole lombard shadoplay may 1933ea

Here's the Lombard bit in closeup:

carole lombard shadoplay may 1933db

Carole's cited for her style in part of another column, on a page that includes one of the few adult pre-Code actresses still with us, Mary Carlisle:

carole lombard shadoplay may 1933fa

Again, the Lombard item in closeup:

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Finally, a portrait of the luminous Loretta Young in sepia, just as the magazine ran it:

loretta young shadoplay may 1933a

A happy Labor Day to all.
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