vp19 (vp19) wrote in carole_and_co,

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Is it...her?

Among several nice websites devoted to Carole Lombard is one called "Carole Lombard Fans" at the "Golden Age Of Hollywood" group (http://goldenageofhollywood.ning.com/group/carolelombardgroup). It currently has 74 members, and there's occasional discussion of Carole and her career.

Recently there's been a bit of controversy on the site, pertaining to this picture:

What's the debate about? Simply put, some are wondering whether this photo is actually of her. Sample some of the comments:

"I think this is a mockup. Carole had gorgeous legs, and those do NOT look like hers.. It allmost looks like her head was attached to a photo of Mae West. I know I've seen that body shot somewhere before."

"I never thought I would ever see a bad photo of Carole Lombard, but that's a bad photo."

"I agree, it totally doesn't look like her body! And her face looks strange. Her expression is very stoic for her, especially in a costume like that."

That last comment was from the person who found the picture, and added in self-defense, "I swear I didn't Photoshop it! Trust me, I'm not that talented!"

The background, from post of the person who showed the picture:

"Here's a weird photo of Carole I just found. It was in a British magazine from 1937, showing pictures of Clark and Carole and talking about their romance. (Oddly, in an article about their romance, they only showed one picture of them together.)

"Anyway, this picture looks to be from the early 1930's, I am guessing right after her platinum blonde period since her hair looks darker. I hardly recognized Carole. She looks kind of plump and something about her face is just...off."

I knew I had seen the photo, so I tracked it down. It may well have appeared in a British magazine in '37, but that year it also appeared in a new U.S. magazine named Look -- specifically the May 11 issue (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/93954.html), which had a long, photo-filled feature on Lombard and Clark Gable:

There's the photo, in the lower right-hand corner. The caption reads: "She Won a Prize in This Costume. Costume parties are Carole's especial delight. She also likes Bing Crosby's singing, Garbo's acting, lilies, gardenias and champagne." (That caption was also cited by the person who put up the photo, leading one to believe it came from Look and not a British publication.)

But I've also come across a similar shot of Lombard in that costume, albeit a different pose (she's leaning against a table). Unfortunately, I can't link to it, but I can tell you it's from an Italian magazine called Cinema Illustrazione, dated Jan. 28, 1933. And that date might corroborate with another comment at "Carole Lombard Fans":

"I agree it doesn't look like the usual amazing photos of Carole but it is her. I have a number of these candids from this event showing her with W. Powell and all the shots, maybe because they are just candids from a party, don't do her justice."

Of course, Lombard and William Powell were married at the beginning of 1933. As for the party, one guesses this might have been one of William Randolph Hearst's famed costume parties, either at San Simeon or Marion Davies' gargantuan beach house in Santa Monica; Carole was a good friend of Hearst and Davies and was a regular at such events.

But why do some believe this photo wasn't Lombard? That "legs" comment may have something to do with it -- though I don't think they look that bad. However, the strappy shoes she's wearing, evoking an 1890s look, certainly don't flatter the legs. (Was Lombard trying to mimic Mae West, who had been signed by Paramount in 1932? Possibly, although West hadn't really hit her stride as 1933 began.) And the thick tights she's wearing don't help much, either. (You can understand why dancers such as Ann Miller, who wanted to show off the shapeliness of their legs, welcomed the arrival of pantyhose.)

But it's definitely Lombard, even if her appearance seems a bit unusual. And I hope she liked the prize she won.

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