vp19 (vp19) wrote in carole_and_co,
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carole_and_co

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A bit under the weather



That's Carole Lombard as Hazel Flagg, a healthy woman who's trying to pass herself off as severely ill (radium poisoning) in 1937's "Nothing Sacred." Lombard knew all about being sick, for a little over five years earlier she had been genuinely under the weather.

Much of Lombard's reputation rested on her energy (yes, I know that's an oxymoron) and her talent as an athlete, from schoolgirl track champion to skilled tennis player. So to hear that Carole was often susceptible to illness, and occasionally was laid low, would seem at odds with her image.

But it was indeed true, the Achilles heel of this active cinematic goddess. Several times, a Lombard production was either delayed or scrapped because of her health. And one of these occasions apparently happened in her in the second half of April 1932, something we've learned from the thorough research of the Hollywood press at the site "Hollywood Heyday" (http://hollywoodheyday.blogspot.com/) as it continues its exploration of the film colony in '32.



Here's what United Press (the "International" wouldn't come until 1958, when it merged with the Hearst-owned International News Service) wrote on April 27, 1932:

"Seriously ill for the past two weeks as the result of a nervous breakdown, Carole Lombard, screen actress and wife of William Powell, actor, was reported out of danger to-day. Announcement that she had passed the crisis in her illness was the first word given the public that she had been ill."

What sort of illness was it? Lombard biographer Larry Swindell noted that she had frequent bouts with colds and flu, so one or the other may have knocked her out of action. (Had Lombard lived to see "Guys And Dolls," she probably would have loved "Adelaide's Lament.") However, "nervous breakdown" may well have been a euphemism for menstrual cramps, which apparently were quite painful for Lombard. (She reportedly once quipped that God had switched the cycles on her personal physical calendar, so that there were only three days each month she didn't bleed.)

Whatever it was, it certainly took its toll on her (and her home studio, Paramount), as this news item the same day from the Associated Press attests:

"Seriously ill for the last two weeks as the result of a nervous breakdown, Carole Lombard, screen actress and wife of William Powell, actor, was reported out of danger today.

"Announcement she had passed the crisis in her illness was the first news given the public that she had been ill.

"Miss Lombard denied she was having differences with Paramount studio over her next picture. She said the story provided for her, 'Hot Saturday,' was being altered to conform with her wishes."


Lombard supposedly wasn't entirely sold on "Hot Saturday," and ultimately, Nancy Carroll -- a major star at the start of the decade whose career was beginning to decline -- was given the female lead instead, opposite a young Cary Grant, with Randolph Scott in a supporting role.

So if Lombard was genuinely ill -- and we're not doubting her -- she should have recuperated, taking it easy for a while (below is a still from "Love Before Breakfast")...



...and getting some medical care -- maybe even from a doppelganger nurse (yep, that's Carole from "Vigil In The Night"):

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