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carole lombard color 00

Colorful memories of the city she loved

Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.12 at 09:10
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

It was 69 years ago this morning that Carole Lombard unknowingly left the city she loved for the last time, boarding an eastbound train from Los Angeles Union Station for Chicago. There, she would get instructions from the Treasury Department before going to Indianapolis, capital of her home state of Indiana, for a war bond rally. (As fate would have it, the name of the train she took was Union Pacific's "City of Los Angeles.")

To commemorate this anniversary, we thought we'd provide some images of Los Angeles as it existed during Carole's lifetime...in color, just as she would have viewed them with her own eyes. (Many of these photographs were taken using Kodachrome color film, a process that recently breathed its last when the final rolls were developed at the remaining lab handling the format.) Unlike many of her star brethren, she had grown up in the city (arriving with her mother and brothers in the fall of 1914, not long after turning six), and so for Lombard Los Angeles was more than merely a movie factory town, though she certainly loved the business.

First, some shots we've run before, of Hollywood Boulevard from April 1931, screen grabs from a tourist's film in two-strip Technicolor:

Note the sign at the far left of the second photo with the reference to "KFWB"; that radio station, founded by Warners as the call letters would indicate, naturally had offices at the building that housed one of its theaters.

The remaining images really don't have anything to do with the movie side of Los Angeles, but provide a feel for the city before World War II. First, from 1938, LA's new Chinatown at night; the old district nearby had been razed in order to build the new Union Station, which would open the following May:

We next travel to June 1940, and two photographs of Elysian Park, then as now a place where Angelenos savor nature. The tree is a jacaranda, the automobile a Lincoln Zephyr. (These are part of a large online collection of vintage color photos at Indiana University.)

Next, also from the IU archives and taken in June 1940, a photo of a riot of colorful pink geraniums on Sunset Boulevard in Santa Monica:

Now it's a year later, in 1941, and we see the bustle of West Los Angeles (top) and Westwood Village, areas Carole had some familiarity with:

Finally, photos that were taken some years later, but certainly evoke the past. First, a rare color image of the interior of the entrance to the old Los Angeles subway line, taken in June 1955, days before the trains stopped serving the Subway Terminal Building for good, replaced by buses. (And they called it progress.) See it and weep:

The tunnel to downtown, constructed with such fanfare in 1925, would carry passengers for not even three decades; by the time of its demise, several lines, including the one that ran along Hollywood Boulevard (from which those 1931 images were likely taken), had been converted to buses, and the last train line serving the station went to Glendale and Burbank. (Some other lines had their downtown terminus at the Pacific Electric building a few blocks away, with their service finally ending in April 1961.) One of those last trains from the Subway Terminal Building is shown below:

We'll close by noting the passing of singer Margaret Whiting at age 86. Whiting, whose father Richard was a noted composer (among his works were songs for Lombard's first film at Paramount, 1930's "Safety In Numbers"), was among the first stars for the Capitol label (Johnny Mercer, one of its founders, had collaborated with her father). Here's Margaret's best-known recording, "Moonlight In Vermont," done with Billy Butterfield's orchestra in 1944:


diamondandruby at 2011-01-12 22:10 (UTC) (Link)


I enjoyed seeing the photos of Los Angeles very much. Thank you!
tennisgirl1956 at 2011-01-13 12:56 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Photos

Love the olden photos. The color is fabulous! It's fun to see what Carole was seeing when she was here. :)
(Anonymous) at 2011-01-16 04:44 (UTC) (Link)


Is there a website address where I can see more vintage color photos like these? I love the old cars... Los Angeles must have been very beautiful in those days. Thanks.
ms_lori_soleil at 2011-02-05 03:12 (UTC) (Link)

Beautiful blog

Stumbled across your blog. Love it.
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