The initial stage of Carole Lombard's professional acting career -- the period in 1925-26 when she was under contract to Fox before an automobile accident ultimately interrupted, and changed, her work -- can't be documented as well as we would like because none of the films she made then apparently survive. Consequently, any still image or other tidbit from the time are prized and appreciated.
Two such images are now being offered at eBay.
First, a publicity still from the 1925 western "Hearts And Spurs," in which Lombard, then only 16, was the leading lady for star Buck Jones:
As the headshot at the top indicates, her hair was darker then. The film was directed by W.S. Van Dyke, who would become renowned for his work at MGM in the 1930s.
The image is 8" x 10" and in reasonably good shape, though the wear of nearly 85 years makes it a bit less sharp than we'd like, particularly around Lombard's face.
The photo can be found at http://cgi.ebay.com/Carole-Lombard-Buck-Jones-silent-photo-25-Hearts-Spurs_W0QQitemZ380220651853QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item5886eab94d. As of this writing, one bid has been made, for $20; bidding is scheduled to end at 9:08 p.m. (Eastern) next Wednesday.
Here's another photo of the pre-accident Lombard, though this was probably taken a few months after the "Hearts And Spurs" still. We're showing it twice, showing the entire image and a more closely cropped version:
Lombard is at the far right, with her mother at far left; the woman at center is May McAvoy, whose mother stands between her at Lombard. The McAvoys were getting ready to board a train. May is best known today as the leading lady in the pioneering Al Jolson part-talkie "The Jazz Singer." Lombard had a supporting role in her 1926 Fox film, "The Road To Glory" (directed by Howard Hawks eight years before he worked with Carole in "Twentieth Century" and unrelated to a 1930s film of that name that Hawks would direct). Also, take a look at the boy in the sunglasses -- I have no idea who he is, but he's certainly showing off the 1920s equivalent of "cool."
In between Elizabeth Peters and May are Miriam Cooper and her husband, director Raoul Walsh; this was before an accident damaged his eye. Walsh would direct Lombard in the 1928 Fox film "Me, Gangster," and slightly more than a decade later, he would sell his Encino home to Lombard and Clark Gable. I'm guessing the boy with the sunglasses is their son.
The information on the back of the photo was difficult to make out. I thank those who double-clicked the image below to enlarge it and supply the info:
This is believed to be a contemporary reprint and not an original, which may explain why the only bid on this as of this writing is $9.50. Bidding will close at 5:20 p.m. (Eastern) next Wednesday; to bid or for more information, visit http://cgi.ebay.com/Mae-McAvoy-Carole-Lombard-Lovely-1920s-Photo_W0QQitemZ390177405897QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item5ad862bbc9.
Two intriguing items. Now if we could only uncover film footage of the pre-accident Lombard...