February 6th, 2020

carole lombard 04
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Always touched by their presence, dear: Carole, Debbie, Mamie



Above is Carole Lombard "singing" in the 1933 Columbia film "Brief Moment"; I put quotation marks around the word because she was dubbed on screen. But Lombard was among several blonde icons whose images influenced a flaxen-haired musical goddess of several decades later.



It's Debbie Harry of Blondie, a band that blended punk themes with girl-group innocence to create some of the best rock of the late '70s and early '80s. Debbie periodically acted on film and TV as well, and still records.

Last year, she wrote her memoirs, "Face It," where we learned why the Hawthorne, N.J. native -- a Playboy Bunny as a '60s brunette -- decided to lighten her hair:



"A lot of us were very taken with the silver screen. The blonde image. And Marilyn [Monroe], of course was prime example in those days, in the fifties and sixties. So I wanted to bring a more cinematic image to the front of the band ... I think that the first song I wrote with Chris [Stein] was 'Platinum Blonde,' and it says, 'Marilyn and Jean, Jayne, Mae and Marlene.' Carole Lombard and some of the earlier ones, too -- it was just a very exciting image. ... We were working on getting a name. And I came in and said, 'Oh, why don't we call it Blondie'?"

The rest, as they say, is history. One can imagine the young Debbie watching Lombard movies, which were frequently shown on New York TV (https://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/513349.html).



Another blonde icon not mentioned in this song, Mamie Van Doren, turns 89 today. She's a Facebook friend of mine, a bright, funny, age-defying lady with some sharp opinions on things (hey, it's part of being a citizen!). Mamie, burn Joan Olander in South Dakota, saw Carole and Clark Gable arrive at the Sioux Falls airport before they went pheasant hunting in October 1941...little knowing that 17 years later, she would act with Clark in "Teacher's Pet."

Mamie was musically associated with rock 'n' roll, appearing in several exploitation films of the era, but she liked standards, too. Here she is with ex-husband Ray Anthony (who's still with us, and they remain amicable with a son, Perry), singing "Deed I Do" on Feb. 8, 1957:

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