When Carole Lombard was still known to all as Jane Alice Peters, and was watching movies instead of appearing in them, it's fairly certain Gloria Swanson was one of her favorites. Swanson epitomized the film actress of the post-World War I era, largely succeeding Mary Pickford in that role (although Pickford remained popular well into the 1920s). Whether it be comedy or drama, Swanson could do it all. Like Pickford, she was tiny -- five feet tall on a good day -- but she exuded a statuesque aura.
Those who only know Swanson from her knockout performance as Norma Desmond in Billy Wilder's "Sunset Boulevard," or worse, view her as Norma Desmond, do neither her nor her career justice. Much of that, of course, is because most of her success came during the silent era (although Swanson did succeed in talking film; changing public tastes, not sound, led to her decline). And a check of past "Summer Under The Stars" rosters shows that Swanson has never received that accolade from TCM. That's simply wrong.
Lombard likely viewed Swanson as a sort of cinematic role model. Signing with Mack Sennett after recovering from her 1926 automobile accident was probably due in part to Swanson having worked with Sennett roughly a decade earlier -- even though that by '26, Sennett wasn't quite the industry force he had been in the teens. One presumes Lombard and Swanson first met in the late 1920s, when Swanson signed with Joseph Kennedy's Pathe studio (and had an affair with him).
Lombard and Swanson remained friends for many years; as the look on her face above makes evident, Carole had to be thrilled that someone she idolized in her youth now regarded her as both a friend and peer. Here's another photo of the two we've run before, showing them with George Raft on the set of "Bolero":
But now, a new photo of Swanson and Lombard has surfaced. It was taken in early 1938, while Carole was making "Fools For Scandal" at Warners in Burbank:
The "FS" in the lower right-hand corner gives it away, since there's another photo, of Lombard herself, with the same initials, wearing an outfit seen in the film:
(She's sitting in a rather awkward position because something is directly in front of her chair.)
Both of these photos measure 8" x 10" and can be bought at eBay for $9.95 (they will be available through Monday afternoon). For the Swanson/Lombard pic, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/CAROLE-LOMBARD-8X10-PHOTO-8698-/270558492169?cmd=ViewItem&pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3efe8af609. For the solo Lombard, visit http://cgi.ebay.com/CAROLE-LOMBARD-8X10-PHOTO-8699-/270558492157?cmd=ViewItem&pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3efe8af5fd.