We're not sure how Lombard acquired this figurative power to deflate her leading men, but perhaps it was something she picked up at Pathe several years before. Want some proof? Here goes:
Isn't that a charmingly funny image? It was uncovered recently by Carla Valderrama (http://carolelombard.org/) as part of her research for her Lombard biography. She's informed me it's from Screen Secrets (a magazine I'd never heard of) from February 1929. It reads:
"CAROL LOMBARD, Pathe player, shows how to take a husband on your knee, give him a talking-to, and wind him around your finger. It's all very well, if you have a knee like that to take him on, a mouth like that to do the talking, and a finger like Carol's to wind him around."
Of course, at that stage of her life Lombard hadn't yet had a husband, but no doubt there had already been some men in her life whom she wanted to scale down to this size and lay down the law to. Certainly many female fan magazine readers felt likewise -- and heck, perhaps there were some men who saw the image who wouldn't have minded trading places with that puppet.