For those of you unfamiliar with Latin, or should I say Latin phrases that have nonetheless entered the English lexicon, that's "Let the buyer beware!" And today this saying concerns Carole Lombard, clad in a lovely outfit that suggests the heyday of Rome -- well, it concerns Carole Lombard memorabilia.
Someone recently purchased an item on eBay that is said to be a radio script from 1941 autographed by Lombard, paying $27.51 for it. Here's what it looks like:
The second I saw it, several bells rang in my head:
* Dec. 22, 1941? It was indeed a Monday -- 15 days after Pearl Harbor, less than a month before Lombard's fatal airplane accident -- but there are no documented broadcasts from that day on which Carole appeared. "Lux Radio Theater" aired that evening, presenting "Remember The Night"; Fred MacMurray reprised his film role that night, and pinch-hitting for Barbara Stanwyck was not Lombard, but...Jean Arthur. Two star guests appeared on the show, but they were Bob Hope (Carole's co-star in her last "Lux" appearance, on "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" in June of '41) and Rita Hayworth.
* I simply see "RADIO SCRIPT," something that looks too generic to be true. What show was this from?
* And the autograph conjured memories for me, and not pleasant ones. It looks suspiciously similar to an autographed train ticket Lombard allegedly signed in December 1936, an autograph we concluded was bogus in December 2007 (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/55847.html):
Carole Sampeck of The Lombard Archive, who confirmed the signature on the rail ticket was not authentic, shared my suspicion of the radio show autograph, calling it "Good detective work ... absolutely on-target deduction." She added:
"Too ridiculous. Can't these scoundrels find something better to do with their time? This bull---- makes me angry (as a collector) and frustrated (as a long-time autograph dealer).
This makes me upset that I didn't catch this item before the auction ended, but I never saw it. For some reason, intentional or otherwise, it was never listed with the other Lombard items at eBay before bidding on it closed at just after 2 p.m. (Eastern) on Thursday.
But as bad as this ripoff was, it could have been substantially worse. While it was sold for $27.51 after two bids were made, the seller also had a "buy it now" option of...$185. Sheesh, indeed.
But just to clarify things, here are several examples of what an actual Carole Lombard signature looks like:
As was said on "Hill Street Blues," be careful out there.