vp19 (vp19) wrote in carole_and_co,

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Carole comes out smokin'

Carole Lombard's personality and appeal is so timeless that it's sometimes hard to remember that she was in fact a person of her own time, shaped by the era's societal mores. The sheet music above is indicative. The song, "Two Cigarettes In The Dark," a lament upon discovering a lover's affair, was created for a Broadway show in 1934 and became a significant hit; Bing Crosby and others recorded it.

At the time, decades before the Surgeon General's report, smoking was commonplace. It was considered harmless, in some ways perceived as sophisticated. Tobacco companies advertised heavily in newspapers, magazines and the relatively new medium of radio; active ballplayers and film stars endorsed brands. Even Carole Lombard:

In the 1920s, women became targets of cigarette advertising, as companies promoted their product as an effective weight control aid. "Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet" was a popular slogan, and one wonders whether Carole initially took up smoking for this reason, or if she was simply doing it to be fashionable. If Lombard had known then what we now know about the effects of tobacco, perhaps she would never have taken up the habit.

Cigarettes were so pervasive in society then that they were even shown in Carole Lombard's publicity stills, and no one gave their presence a second thought. For example, take this picture below. Without the cigarette, it's a pretty decent shot. With it, to our eyes, it appears ludicrous:

Here are a few more stills of Lombard with tobacco, most not as blatantly absurd as the preceding:

Yes, those were indeed different times.
Tags: advertising, cigarettes, publicity stills

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