vp19 (vp19) wrote in carole_and_co,

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Carole, Thelma and roads not taken

Carole Lombard and Thelma Todd were both beautiful blondes blessed with wonderful comedic ability, and accidents caused both of them to leave us much too soon. And while their career paths rarely crossed during their too-brief lifetimes, it's certainly possible to envision circumstances where one might have followed in the other's path. We've previously discussed how things might have been if Todd had went in Lombard's direction; now, let's flip things the other way.

That's Lombard during her days at Mack Sennett, when she was part of their "bathing beauties" troupe appearing in many two-reelers. She learned a lot about comedic timing during her tenure there, but truth be told, Sennett had seen better days; his influence was waning even before sound had come on the scene.

In contrast, Sennett's principal rival in the short comedy field, Hal Roach, was going strong thanks to the likes of Laurel & Hardy, Charley Chase and others. Todd appeared in both acts' films, and soon was starring in a series of her own.

Had Sennett been as well off as Roach, might he have tried to do with Lombard what Roach did with Todd? It's known that Mack respected Carole's skills, beauty and commercial potential, and with sufficient resources (and vision), he might have designed a series for her. That wouldn't have ensured Lombard would have accepted such a deal, though she was certainly fond of Sennett.

Or imagine Lombard, not Todd, portraying the "Margaret Dumont with sex appeal" role in "Monkey Business" or "Horse Feathers." Heck, Paramount might have saved some money, since in 1931 and '32, it already had Carole under contract. Of course, at that time, Lombard was not deemed a comedic actress by the studio (despite her earlier work with Sennett); heck, it could be argued Paramount didn't deem her anything yet.

We bring this up because we are approaching the 75th anniversary of the still-unsolved death of Todd, and the "Daily Mirror" blog of the Los Angeles Times is looking back on the tragic incident and the newspaper's ensuing coverage. It's worth checking out for any Todd fan (she will be among the artists spotlighted in Turner Classic Movies' January tribute to Roach). To see the Times Todd series, go to http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/thedailymirror/thelma-todd-1/.

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