Dody, who died July 4 at age 90, had written extensively about actors -- those who were still with us. He ghost-wrote several autobiographies, including those of Bette Davis and Helen Hayes. But Lombard apparently interested him, because his estate includes a 1965 letter from Golden Age screenwriter Mary Loos, saying it would be difficult for those who knew Lombard to supply him information on her personal life. (A decade later, Larry Swindell, apparently not similarly dissuaded, produced a Lombard bio, "Screwball.")
But included in Dody's estate is this remarkable item:
Yep, it's an autographed 11" x 14" photo of Carole. Here's a closeup of the signature:
I'm pretty certain it's genuine, something Carole Sampeck of The Lombard Archive corroborates and calls "absolutely authentic." But just who is "Popsie"? Sampeck believes it was probably William Powell, her first husband, which would add further poignancy to this picture.
Before becoming a full-fledged writer (he wrote plays, in addition to books), Dody reportedly did a bit of acting, getting bit or extra parts in some films including the 1944 Betty Grable vehicle "Pin-Up Girl"; however, he is not listed in the film's cast, or anywhere on the Internet Movie Database for that matter. So it's possible Lombard personally autographed it for him. We may never know.
What we do know is that the autographed photo is currently being auctioned at eBay, and the seller is throwing in these two rare photos, also from Dody's estate, of Carole and Fred MacMurray:
I believe the first is from "Hands Across The Table," the second from "Swing High, Swing Low" (you can see the director of both, Mitchell Leisen, in each photo). Perhaps Dody planned to use them as illustrations in his Lombard bio.
Bidding on the photo package begins at $39.99, and one bid has already been made as of this writing; since bidding doesn't close until 9:10 p.m. (Eastern) a week from Tuesday, who knows how high this will go? Three figures for sure, perhaps four if bidding gets intense. If you want to get in on the action, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/FANTASTIC-ORIG-SIGNED-11X14-PHOTO-OF-CAROLE-LOMBARD_W0QQitemZ280443424873QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item414bbb1069.