The term "pin-up" is rarely applied to Carole Lombard, though the picture above makes it clear that, in terms of sex appeal, she had what it took for the task. Then again, pin-ups came to the fore during World War II, and Lombard left us only 40 days after Pearl Harbor.
Even if Carole had lived, it's rather doubtful she would have been a candidate. She was approaching her mid-thirties, focusing on having a baby with Clark Gable while also continuing her career. The actresses most associated with the wartime pin-up phenomenon -- Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth and Jane Russell -- were at least eight years younger than Lombard. And while Carole had no objections to showing off her legs in dresses or casual wear, she had stopped posing in swimsuits about the time she turned 30.
(Incidentally, does anyone know the p1202 number for the photo above? It's impossible to read in the lower right-hand corner.)
These four portraits are part of a fine book I picked up not long ago called "Va-Va-Voom! Classic Hollywood Pin-Ups," by Chris Chang.
The book, which uses photos from the esteemed John Kobal collection, looks at Hollywood glamour photography dating back to silent days, with pictures ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous (e.g., "holiday" art for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas). It also looks at the phenomenon from a feminist perspective, and features a foreword by Mamie Van Doren, whose first direct exposure to Hollywood glamour may have come as a 10-year-old girl, when she saw Lombard and Gable arrive at the Sioux Falls airport for a hunting trip in October 1941.
"Va-Va-Voom!" should not be confused with a book with an almost identical name (which has Mamie on its cover)...
This "Va Va Voom!" (no hyphens) -- written by Steve Sullivan -- is also a worthwhile book, though it generally limits itself to post-World War II bombshells, not all of whom were Hollywood actresses. Its turf includes the likes of Bettie Page, June Wilkinson, Tempest Storm and Betty Brosmer.
One of the actresses featured in the Sullivan book has been profiled here at "Carole & Co." (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/188038.html). We are referring to that still stunningly statuesque Lombard fan, Julie Newmar:
Julie, at 77 a beautiful woman in so many ways (for proof, visit http://julienewmar.com/ and http://www.JulieNewmarWrites.com), has often cited Lombard and Hayworth as her idols; in fact, she has said that were her life story to be filmed, she would want Carole to play her. (Hey, if you can alter the space-time continuum to allow that to happen, you can also magically make Lombard at least half a foot taller and somewhat more voluptuous in order to portray Newmar!) Oh, and a memo to Anne Hathaway: study Julie's work as Catwoman on the "Batman" TV series -- forget the campy elements and focus on how Newmar approached her signature role -- to get an idea how the character should be played (taking nothing away from Michelle Pfeiffer, who did a fine job as well).
Newmar, no stranger to pin-ups herself, will be one of the guests tonight at the opening reception for an exhibition, "Poster Peepshow: The Art Of The Pin Up," at the Nucleus Art Gallery in Alhambra, Calif. Art from both vintage and contemporary artists will be on display (the show will run through Feb. 28). The reception is from 7 to 11 p.m., and while admission is free, it is limited to age 18 and up (ID required). If you're in southern California, by all means go to see some fascinating artwork and meet an engaging lady. (And if you do see Julie, tell her the folks at "Carole & Co." wish her well.) For more on the event, visit http://www.gallerynucleus.com/gallery/exhibition/263.