July 12th, 2019

carole lombard 05
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Ladies, a show of hands

Carole Lombard's hands are in the forefront of this image, a reminder that her glamour arsenal had far more than face and figure. Need further convincing? Check out this, from the June 1933 issue of Modern Screen:

But attractive hands aren't the only thing linking the three actresses pictured on that page. There are these...

..."Hell's Angels," the 1930 aviation epic produced and partly directed by Howard Hughes.

Greta Nissen, at the top of the Modern Screen page, was a Norwegian actress who'd gained some North American success in the late silent era. She was initially cast as Helen, the sexy female lead, when "Hell's Angels" was planned as a silent. Then talking pictures arrived, and Hughes believed Nissen's accent would betray her character's upper-class English origins. So she was dumped from the production, and despite a career with success in both silents and to a lesser extent talkies, Nissen today is better remembered for a film she didn't make than the many she did.

Hughes needed a replacement who'd both sound and look appropriate for the role, and Lombard -- who'd recently passed a Pathe vocal audition -- qualified on both counts. It's believed the young millionaire not only considered Carole for the part, but took her virginity in the process (https://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/57165.html). Said affair, if it occurred, was extremely secretive.

As we know, Lombard didn't get the role, but another blonde did...

...Jean Harlow, who vaulted from near-obscurity to become the first bona fide sex symbol of the talkie era.

That pic of Lombard's hands was derived from a Paramount publicity photo, p1202-495:

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