vp19 (vp19) wrote in carole_and_co,

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Near the end of Pathe days

Carole Lombard's tenure at Pathe -- its famed rooster logo is on the outfit above -- didn't last very long, less than two years, ending in late 1929. (In fact, while she was there, she was usually known as Carol Lombard, not Carole; the "e" wouldn't stick for good until the latter half of 1930.) Artistically, her time there was mixed, as she made several part-talkies and three all-sound features, none of them ranking among her most important work. Nevertheless, it was a crucial period for her, as she made the transition from Mack Sennett silent star to talkie starlet. She both gained confidence in her skills and became more familiar with the workings of the film industry -- something that would pay off during the following decade.

Carol developed insights into the power of publicity, and began to take the process rather seriously (though not to the point where she couldn't have fun with it as well). Part of this involved having promotional photos taken. While one could argue that Lombard didn't make this into an art form until she was at Paramount -- a studio whose PR machinery was much more sophisticated than Pathe's -- in these Pathe photos, you can see the Lombard persona beginning to blossom. (She was dismissed by the studio around the time of her 21st birthday, in the fall of 1929.)

If numerical order is indicative, more than 200 stills were made of Lombard during her time at Pathe (compared to more than 1,700 during seven years at Paramount) -- and those refer only to those specifically marked as hers. Pathe labeled her photos with the prefix "CL-" just as Paramount used "P1202-" as its Lombard link. I have no idea specifically how many photos Lombard posed for at Pathe -- but I recently came across what to date is the highest-numbered "CL" of hers. It's CL-225, probably taken in the late summer or early fall of 1929. Take a look:

Pretty chic, doncha think? The person selling this photo on eBay has used the adjective "silky" to describe it...and with Lombard's hose-clad legs front and center, the word is appropriate. (And those stockings are definitely silk; nylons wouldn't come around for another decade.) Love that look on her face, too -- it's the perfect blend of youthfulness and worldliness.

In contrast, here's Pathe CL-1, probably taken in early 1928, where she looks far more innocent:

CL-225 possibly explains why Constance Bennett didn't want Carol as blonde competition once she signed a Pathe contract.

As noted earlier, the photo (which is actually a soft sepia tone, in near mint condition) is being auctioned at eBay (http://cgi.ebay.com/VINT-CAROLE-LOMBARD-BEAUTIFUL-SILKY-1920s-PORTRAIT_W0QQitemZ220506301045QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item3357332275). As of this writing, one bid has been made, for $34.95; bidding closes at a few seconds before 5:15 p.m. (Eastern) on Tuesday.

It's a fine artifact of Lombard's evolution into a full-fledged actress.

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