That's the cover of what is still probably the best-known Carole Lombard biography, "Screwball" by Larry Swindell. It was published in 1975, which means it's been out of print for a longer time than its subject's lifespan -- so long ago that for legal reasons, Swindell couldn't print the name "Howard Hughes" as the person Lombard likely had her first affair with (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/11206.html).
Despite its age, "Screwball" is still pursued by Lombard fans, and copies regularly appear for auction at eBay and similar sites...often for substantial prices. One copy now being auctioned has a starting bid price of $69.95, somewhat higher than final bids I've seen for the book. That it's autographed by Swindell plays a part in it, but it's probably more due on whom he autographed it for.
It just so happens this copy of "Screwball" was owned by someone who not only knew Carole personally, but worked with her professionally -- longtime Paramount designer Edith Head.
Indeed, Swindell noted in the introduction that Head's assistance "was greater than she might expect." That was written in March 1975; when "Screwball" came out later that year, he wrote this inscription to Head, who had just finished costume work on the film "Gable And Lombard":
It reads, "To Edith Head -- with thanks upon thanks (It was quite a while back -- remember?). Larry Swindell 11/1/75."
According to the seller, the book is "from the Collection of Shirley Judge, Executive Secretary to Edith Head. Ms. Judge acted as Edith Head's executive secretary during the last 8 years of Head's career and assisted her on the studio lot and at home. Upon Head's death, Judge was invited into Head's office to take a few remembrances of her work with Head. Judge passed away in 2007 and for the first time, her collection of Edith Head memorabilia was made available through Julien's Auctions. Book was recently acquired at Julien's Summer Sale, June 27."
The book itself is described by the seller as a "nice, clean copy. Inner pages are free of tears, dog-ears or writing. Binding is tight. Some wear to the dust jacket is present, namely bumping and tears along the edges and corners."
So this copy includes the dust jacket, which means it has one of my very favorite Lombard photos on the back cover:
It's a marvelously vibrant image of Carole, so wonderfully full of life. Yet in all my years of searching for Lombard memorabilia, I have curiously never come across it other than as this book's dust jacket back cover. Was it a publicity photo from a studio, something taken for a magazine or newspaper article, or was it from someone's personal collection -- even Clark Gable's? (Swindell also noted in the introduction that Jean Garceau, Clark and Carole's personal secretary, was of assistance in this biography.) Perhaps someone here knows more about this memorable picture.
Getting back to the book, if you're interested in possibly owning a copy of a Lombard biography that belonged to someone who actually knew her, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/EDITH-HEAD-Owned-Book-Screwball-Carole-Lombard-Swindell_W0QQitemZ320391117898QQcmdZViewItemQQptZAntiquarian_Collectible?hash=item4a98cc7c4a&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=65%3A1%7C66%3A2%7C39%3A1%7C293%3A2%7C294%3A50.
As of this writing, no bids have been placed. Bidding closes just after 9:20 p.m. (Eastern) on Wednesday.