In December 2007, I ran across this photo taken at Paramount in 1930 in which Carole Lombard, through a card she was holding, wished people a merry Christmas and happy new year -- in German (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/58884.html). At the time, I wondered, "Did Carole do similar holiday duties with cards in other languages?"
The answer is yes.
Here's Lombard, presumably at the same photo shoot, holding another card:
The question now is -- what language is this? I initially guessed Polish, as it was a large European country (and U.S. cities such as Chicago had, and still have, sizable Polish enclaves). If not, I thought, it might be Czech or Hungarian -- and according to Tally, who had removed the watermark from the original photo, it is indeed Hungarian. (This probably won Carole some fans in New Brunswick, N.J., which had, and may still have, a substantial Hungarian population.) Whatever, this was more difficult to detect than French, Spanish, Italian or German, the dominant languages on the Continent (remember, England is geographically separate). If someone can translate the message, it would be greatly appreciated.
This photo is Paramount PGP-18293 (the German photo is PGP-18294). It's a linen-backed, double-weight 8" x 10", and you can purchase it via eBay for $69.99. (The seller showed the back of the photo, which is unfortunately blank.) If this item interests you, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/CAROLE-LOMBARD-1930s-LINEN-BACK-Original-8X10-Photo-/150506024017?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item230adbac51.
Now, we wonder whether Lombard did likewise in any other languages. (Perhaps Paramount used ethnic-specific stars for some countries, such as Claudette Colbert for France, and Carole was merely assigned what was left.)
Another barrier of sorts has been the subject of much Internet speculation over the past day or two:
One rarely associates "Back To The Future" (the trilogy of which has just been issued on Blu-Ray) with Charlie Chaplin; heck, Sir Charles had been gone for nearly eight years when the first "Back To The Future" (produced by Steven Spielberg, but directed by Robert Zemeckis) hit the screens a quarter-century ago. But now, possible time travel is being linked to the premiere of a Chaplin film.
In case you haven't heard about it, a man in Belfast, Northern Ireland is claiming that he saw -- in footage of the 1928 premiere of "The Circus" at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard that is among the extras of a Chaplin DVD box set -- someone dressed as a woman (although from the build, it could be a man in drag) walking down the street, talking into something that may, or may not, be a cell phone.
(Mind you, no cellular towers were built for at least another four decades, so how would the device work? Then again, if someone found a way to journey from the future back to 1928, figuring out how to employ a mobile phone in that bygone time would likely be a piece of cake.)
Here's the video in question, which is currently probably the most scrutinized piece of footage since the Zapruder film:
Whether or not we ever discover what this is all about, it leads to a fun hypothetical question: If time travel were possible, and you had the opportunity to go back in time and meet Carole Lombard, what period in her life would you choose? (For our purposes, the time just before she boarded her fatal flight isn't on the table; we're not trying to play God here and change the course of history, however much we might want to.)
Limiting the time frame to between 1925 (when she became an actress for good) and 1941, what year would you choose to go back to? You've got:
* The teenage Lombard at Fox prior to her automobile accident;
* The "Carol of the curves" working for Mack Sennett;
* The Pathe starlet, first in silents, then embryonic talkies;
* Her first year as part of Paramount's stable of stars;
* Her two-year marriage to William Powell;
* Her post-divorce rise to stardom and ill-fated romance with Russ Columbo;
* Her Hollywood Boulevard party-giving period;
* The 1936-37 career apex and start of a romance with Clark Gable;
* Her shift to drama and marriage to Gable;
* Her 1939-41 period on the Encino ranch.
That's effectively 10 different Lombards to choose from. Which of those periods would you find most interesting? Think about it, then supply an answer. Eventually, we'll begin searching for a flux capacitor inside a DeLorean.