May 9th, 2014

carole lombard 05
  • vp19

Such nice, bright colors

carole lombard color 02a

True color portrait photography arrived just in time to take advantage of Carole Lombard. Relatively few such photos were made of Carole during her relatively brief life, and while the question, "What was the first color picture taken of Lombard?" may not be as hotly debated as what was the first rock 'n' roll record (and no, "Rock And Roll" by the Boswell Sisters doesn't count), we may have an answer.

This color image of Lombard is said to date from mid- to late 1934:

carole lombard kodachrome 1934ab

According to the seller, it was taken by noted photographer Paul Hesse, "using the very first stock of Kodachrome color film" -- the same film that would be introduced to the public in 1935 and be used for three-quarters of a century before falling out of favor and being discontinued.

The complete item measures 9" x 12 1/4" and looks like this:

carole lombard kodachrome 1934aa

OK, you're thinking, how can we be certain this actually is from '34 (although Carole appears to be young enough to confirm its accuracy)? Well, Hesse (and associate Hans Flato) took color pics of other Paramount players for these experimental images, and they all were on the studio roster for 1934. There's Miriam Hopkins, the year before she starred in the first three-strip Technicolor feature, "Becky Sharp"...

kodachrome 1934a miriam hopkins

...Bing Crosby, fast-rising musical star...

kodachrome 1934a bing crosby

...Sylvia Sidney, who looks as if she can't wait to get back to her needlepoint...

kodachrome 1934a sylvia sidney

...Cary Grant, who wouldn't reach the top tier of stardom until after he left Paramount...

kodachrome 1934a cary grant

...everyone's favorite misanthrope, W.C. Fields...

kodachrome 1934a w.c. fields

...and to prove the veracity of the date, two Paramount pretties in period gear from films of the time. First, Claudette Colbert, clad as Cleopatra...

kodachrome 1934a claudette colbert

...and Flato's photo of fur-wearing Marlene Dietrich to promote "The Scarlet Empress":

kodachrome 1934a marlene dietrich

The Lombard pic is in very good condition, its only notable blemish being a tiny spot off the top left corner:

carole lombard kodachrome 1934ac

As of this writing, one bid -- for the minimum 99 cents -- has been made for the Lombard photo, but expect many more to be made before bidding closes at 10:05 p.m. (Eastern) Wednesday...and the same applies for many of the other color shots here. Bid, or learn more, about Carole's image at; the other Paramount color photos, whose other subjects include Charles Laughton and Mae West, can be seen at

Carole sits in the spotlight of our latest Lombard LiveJournal header, Paramount p1202-414.
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