Several possible Lombard-related items would make the heart of any Carole fan flutter. Finding a photo of Lombard with her good friend Jean Harlow would excite two of classic Hollywood's most avid fan bases. And another long-sought image that comes to mind is this:
That's from the rear dust jacket of Larry Swindell's biography, "Screwball," a stunning photo of Lombard that's full of life -- many fans deem it their favorite image of her, and it's not hard to see why. Unfortunately, no one has been able to find a copy of the photo (Swindell isn't even sure where one is, though to be fair, it's been some 35 years since he wrote the book).
The good news: The photo has been found in the Chicago Tribune archives. The bad news:
It features cropmarks for use in publication (although the Tribune watermark isn't on the actual product).
But what else can we learn about the image? Is there a snipe on the back, revealing valuable information? The answer is a qualified, very qualified, "yes."
It turns out the photo was used at least twice -- not by the Tribune, but by a newspaper called the Chicago American -- once in 1955, when it was still a Hearst property, and again in 1957, the year after it had been sold to the Tribune Co. All we can see from the snipe is the last line, the phrase "rancho inspection -- costume distinctly original." The rather bizarre typeface (small "a" and "e" look like capital letters) match that of a snipe from RKO for a still from "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," indicating this photo also came from that studio.
As was the case with the other Tribune archive pictures of Carole, bidding starts at $24.99 (no bids have been placed as of yet). Bidding continues through 10:38 p.m. (Eastern) Sunday; if you're interested, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/CT-Chicago-Tribune-Photo-Carole-Lombard-/260637660992?cmd=ViewItem&pt=Art_Photo_Images&hash=item3caf371740.
And cross your fingers that someday, somewhere, an unmarked version of this photo will finally, pardon the pun, crop up.