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carole lombard 07

A pair of blonde legends (ay Chihuahua!)

Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.06 at 01:47
Current mood: amusedamused

Every now and then, I find a Carole Lombard photo I forgot I had in my online collection. (I know that's the case because the image hasn't been resized, and the border is still there.) Once such uncovered treasure is found, I copy and upgrade it, then present it to you.

An example is above -- a Paramount portrait from 1936, p1202-1344. I don't know who took it, nor do I have a snipe available that could explain what this was promoting (it's probably "The Princess Comes Across," her lone film at the studio in '36, though if it came out late in the year it might be to give advance notice for "Swing High, Swing Low"). Whatever, it's quite stunning...and in the size I initially found it in, a scale roughly twice as big as an 8 1/2" x 11" glossy, it was pretty obvious that Lombard wasn't wearing a bra at that session.

Some more treasure just came my way, compliments of Carole Sampeck and The Lombard Archive. It's new to me, and likely you too, as it shows Carole next to a blonde icon whose centenary we're celebrating this year.

Before you get your hopes up too high...no, it's not the long-sought pic of Lombard and Jean Harlow. (If Carole Sampeck had such a photo, she might be able to retire from the proceeds of that image alone.) Neither is it a photo of Lombard and her RKO buddy Lucille Ball (who in her earlier years was a blonde, though I think her hair shade had darkened by the time she met Carole), which also would be quite valuable.

No, this image shows Lombard with someone she's been seen with before; in fact, we ran that photo just the other day. We're referring to Ginger Rogers (speaking of RKO), and while this second image of Carole and Ginger is not in the greatest of condition, it is fun to look at. Without further ado, Misses Lombard and Rogers...and friend:

Can't quite make out the "friend"? Here's a closer look:

Hope my computer work clarified the image, but just in case you're still having trouble with it, said "friend" is a Chihuahua. And as Carole Sampeck remarked when she sent the picture, "Lest anyone think Paris Hilton started that whole Little-Dog-As-Accessory thing, here you go!" (If Ginger is reading this somewhere, kindly do not throw thunderbolts toward Ms. Sampeck for comparing you to Paris Hilton. She lives just east of Dallas, not far from Fort Worth where you grew up, and the Metroplex has suffered enough awful weather this week.)

Carole Sampeck later commented, "If you look closely, you will see that Ginger's Chihuahua has its own fur coat! You can see its front paws protruding from the little furry sleeves. This is too funny. Wonder what the fittings were like?" We can only guess -- and speaking of guessing, I have no idea what the little canine's name was. I checked a few Ginger Rogers blogs, and none of them listed a name; in fact, none of them apparently had anything about pets she may have owned over the years. Perhaps such information was in Ginger's autobiography, which I have yet to read (though I'm increasingly becoming a fan of hers). Some Internet searching did turn up that more than a few Chihuahuas are named for Ginger Rogers...perhaps because of the breed's frequent gingery color?

I wish I could provide more information about this photo, such as when and where it may have been taken, but Ms. Sampeck didn't know; she said Lombard "had it tucked away among her things for some reason. Jeannie [Jean Garceau, personal secretary for Lombard and Clark Gable] did not know anything about its backstory, though." Lombard, ardent pet lover that she was, probably couldn't resist the image of a dog with a fur coat (and not its fur!).

For all the many Ginger fans who are seeing this entry, a lovely picture of her sans dog:

And for all the dog lovers, a photo of Ms. Sampeck's best friend, the remarkable Bailey (isn't she adorable?):


lombardarchive at 2011-02-06 14:20 (UTC) (Link)
Sorry about the image quality, folks. My scanner has apparently bitten the dust, after years of faithful service.

Will get it replaced and re-scan so Vince can show you what is actually a really charming photo, particularly of the Chihuahua!


Carole S.
blumenversand at 2011-02-06 21:42 (UTC) (Link)


nice post, enjoyed reading it!
cinemafan2 at 2011-02-07 02:03 (UTC) (Link)

Paramount Portrait

Notice in the first portrait Carole is still wearing the cabochon sapphires that she famously collected. I believe some of these were gifts to her from Russ Columbo. See: http://carolelombard.org/gallery/displayimage.php?pid=2201&fullsize=1

After she married Clark Gable she never wore them in public. You only she her wearing cut stones. See: http://carolelombard.org/gallery/displayimage.php?pid=1535&fullsize=1 This was a conscious decision. In the end it would be nice to think that her loyalty was repaid in full by faithfulness from Gable. Sadly, we know that it was not. http://carolelombard.org/gallery/displayimage.php?pid=2516&fullsize=1

Edited at 2011-02-07 07:32 am (UTC)
lombardarchive at 2011-02-07 16:54 (UTC) (Link)

Actually Carole's collection of cabochons started with Bill Powell -- they were his stone of choice (most famously with the huge star sapphire he gave Jean Harlow during their courtship), as well as being extremely fashionable at the time among women of means. Carole purchased many of the pieces herself, and while it is certainly possible that Russ contributed to the collection, what we have seen indicates that Russ preferred giving slave bracelets (anklets), bracelets and rings.

Carole's switch to cut stones had nothing to do with loyalty to anyone directly -- she stopped wearing them simply because the collection was sold. She no longer owned the pieces. Of course Russell Birdwell got plenty of steam out of it, as usual. Plus, Carole was an astute-enough businesswoman to know that expensive, widely photographed jewelry did her absolutely no good sitting in a safe if/when she had reconfigured her taste, so she brought in a bit of cash while getting interesting press. I see no hidden messages here toward Russ or his memory, unless her wearing the pieces before they were sold also expressed loyalty to Bill Powell somehow, since the core of the collection had originated with him.

Cheers from no-longer-iced-in Dallas (until Wednesday, anyhow!)

Carole S.
(Anonymous) at 2011-02-07 18:57 (UTC) (Link)
Hi Carole,

I suspected that the collection started earlier with Bill Powell and I knew that she sold it after she got involved with Gable. Thanks for the confirmation. She did wear them for years after she divorced Powell. Interesting that she sold them after she got involved with Gable. I suspect that continuing to wear the stones would have been like wearing an engagement ring from a previous marriage or relationship.
cinemafan2 at 2011-02-08 00:43 (UTC) (Link)

Sale of Cabochons

Carole, I think we both agree that Lombard gave up a great deal to marry Gable. As Bill Powell told Larry Swindell, she definitely loved being "Mrs. Clark Gable."
cinemafan2 at 2011-02-08 02:46 (UTC) (Link)
You wrote: "Of course Russell Birdwell got plenty of steam out of it, as usual."

Could you explain that comment?
(Anonymous) at 2013-08-22 01:18 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Paramount Portrait

She was robbed of the gems on April 23, 1938. Miss Lombard reported a loss of $25,000 exclusively of jewels.
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