Why do I have a picture from the brilliant 1932 musical, "Love Me Tonight," above? I'll explain later, but first let me note that one of the entries while I was away over the weekend discussed plans for a possible stage musical version of "My Man Godfrey." And the person who wrote the entry suggested that one of the candidates to play Lombard's character Irene should be Broadway megastar Kristin Chenoweth, shown below:
Initially, the proposal drew skepticism. "At 4-foot-11, she's way too short," I thought. (Mind you, if sheer talent translated into height, Kristin would be tall enough to play center in the WNBA, although given their salaries compared to their NBA counterparts, she'd be taking a huge salary cut.) However, on second thought, I realized that while Kristin might be too short to portray Lombard -- I emphasize might -- the fictional character Irene Bullock has no height restrictions. In fact, since Irene was the younger sister (in the film; she's the elder sister in the Eric Hatch story the movie derives from), you probably wouldn't cast a strapping six-footer to play her. (June Allyson, who starred in the 1957 "Godfrey" remake, stood all of 5'1".)
This leads to another thought...what was Carole Lombard physically? How tall was she? What were her measurements? (Okay, now do you get the picture of Maurice Chevalier measuring Jeanette MacDonald?)
As far as height is concerned, there have been a number of varying reports to her stature, and since Carole left us more than 65 years ago, we can only estimate. In "Screwball," author Larry Swindell states that Lombard was 5'4 1/2", a half-inch taller than the listing at MovieMaidens.com. The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) lists Carole at 5'2". Or how about this profile (below) from 1933, which says "she is five feet, six inches in height, weighs 119 pounds, has blue eyes and real light blonde hair."
When Carole made "Fast And Loose" in New York in 1930, a visiting New York Times reporter referred to her as "a tall blonde." (And while a woman of 5'6" would not have been considered a giant in 1930, she still would have been substantially taller than average. Kay Francis, probably the tallest of the major actresses of that era, likely stood between 5'7" and 5'9".)
Here's a photo of Lombard from "Safety In Numbers," made in 1930:
The other actresses in the picture, from left, Josephine Dunn, Kathryn Crawford and Virginia Bruce, respectively stand 5'3 1/2", 5'2" and 5'6", according to IMDb; Buddy Rogers stood an even six feet. It would be easier to gauge if all the actresses were standing straight up, but Lombard looks a little taller than Crawford, a bit shorter than Bruce.
As for Lombard's measurements? IMDb says MGM costumer Adrian measured her at 34 1/2B-24 1/2-34. Sleek, slender, typical of a star from that era. Some have stated that Carole used to joke about having a relatively small chest. Conversely, Columbia engineer Edward Bernds has said that Lombard used to creep up from behind, place her hands over his eyes, and say, "Guess who." He said he knew "from her large breasts" it was Carole. (Then again, Bernds may have been putting us on; he eventually became a director of many Columbia comedy shorts, including quite a few made by the Three Stooges.)
So just what did Carole Lombard measure physically? The jury is out. But in terms of comedic actresses, after all these years, her shadow remains gigantic.