That's the entrance to the RKO studio in Hollywood -- geographically next door to Paramount, where Carole Lombard had plied her trade for seven years, but substantially different in so many ways. The RKO Lombard was branching out, showing the world she was far more than the dizzy doyenne of screwball comedy. She tried her hand at romantic drama ("In Name Only"), no-nonsense, almost turgid workplace drama ("Vigil In The Night"), starring in an adaptation of a popular play ("They Knew What They Wanted"). Good films, all of them, and generally well-received by critics...but none were huge smashes at the box office; they simply didn't show the actress the way people wanted to see her. When she returned to laughter in "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," one ad featured a little smiling figure saying, "Oh boy! Carole's in a comedy again!"
As she did at Paramount, Lombard did her share of photo shoots -- and on many of them, the predominant theme appeared to be establishing Carole's maturity and sophistication. She wasn't eschewing fun, mind you, just reminding the public that there was another side of her, that Clark Gable's wife was more than a madcap. It helped that RKO's top photographer was Ernest Bachrach, who had brought out the personalities of the urbane Katharine Hepburn and the boisterous Ginger Rogers.
Bachrach did the same for Lombard, amplifying the elegance that had been evident in many of her Paramount photos. Here's an example:
This photo -- almost certainly taken by Bachrach -- is from 1940, and in fact there's a caption on the back noting that Lombard had been signed for a starring role in "They Knew What They Wanted." She had moved up in the world, was now over 30 and part of the Hollywood aristocracy (marriage to Clark Gable does that for a woman), and this photo is indicative.
This is a gorgeous picture, and as of this writing, the bidding for this item on eBay reflects it: five bids, topping out at $59.70. (It's an original photo, 8 x 10 inches, in very good condition.) Bidding concludes just after 6:20 p.m. (Eastern) on Sunday. Want to try your hand at this lovely portrait? Go to http://cgi.ebay.com/Carole-Lombard-ORIGINAL-1940-publicity-portrait_W0QQitemZ260476773618QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item3ca5a024f2&_trksid=p4999.c0.m14.