It's one of the most popular pictures of Carole Lombard, and you've probably never seen it look quite this good before. That's because it's also one of the most difficult images of her to find, a holy grail of sorts.
Seen on the rear dust jacket of "Screwball," the 1975 Larry Swindell biography of Lombard, it's proven virtually impossible to track down; even Swindell has no idea what happened to the photo that was used on the dust jacket. Last July, a copy of the photo emerged from the archive of the Chicago Tribune, but it had been used for publication and featured crop marks (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/323736.html).
But good news -- a relatively untouched copy of the photo was found, put up for auction and was won by our good friend Carole Sampeck of The Lombard Archive. She cleaned up the few edit marks, was nice enough to share it with me, and I in turn am delighted to share it with you. Enjoy that image of Lombard, so full of joy. (It was likely taken near the Encino ranch in 1940, and was used as a publicity photo at RKO for "Mr. & Mrs. Smith.")
Another friend of "Carole & Co." is Tally Haugen, who has provided many images to this community -- and she's come up with one more. It's from 1937 or thereabouts, and features Carole with three of her canine companions:
I know that the dachshund Lombard is holding is Commissioner, and that the Pekingese cuddled up against her lower leg is Pushface. But who's the third dog? According to Tally, "Carole had two cocker spaniels, Dudley and Smokey, so I'd guess that's Smokey." (One presumes Dudley had fur of a different shade.)
It's a charming picture for any dog lover, and if you'd like an 8" x 10" print of it for your very own, you can. It's being sold for $8.75, and the good news is that the seller currently has 10 copies available (if you'd like to buy multiple copies for friends). Go to http://cgi.ebay.com/CAROLE-LOMBARD-8X10-Photo-Dog-Lover-ER439-/280643423590?pt=Art_Photo_Images&hash=item4157a6cd66 to learn more.
We know that Lombard was a good friend of Marion Davies, who along with William Randolph Hearst adored dachshunds -- at one point, the San Simeon ranch that was the publisher's principal residence was home to 75 dachshunds. A few were given to friends who requested them (and whom Hearst and Davies believed would be trustworthy owners); might Commissioner have had a Hearst Castle lineage? (Sampeck says no, that Carole got the dog from a local fire chief, hence its name.)
I bring up Davies because Sampeck supplied me with another photo, a version of one we ran in January to mark the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's inauguration -- an event Marion attended (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/374767.html). We wondered just where Davies was at the inauguration, and Sampeck believes she's found it:
Horace Brown, Davies' husband, and Marion are directly above their names, according to Sampeck:
"...the specific fellow in the top hat is recognizably Horace Brown. I believe the small woman to the right of him in the image is Marion. There is another female on his other side, but she is much too large a person to be MD. The lady's eyebrows are the high arches Marion favored, and there is substantial luggage below her eyes as well, which dovetails with MD's appearance in the last year or two of her life. I'm fairly confident of my thinking on this -- plus Horace would have been a gentleman and let his wife sit closer to the action so she could see it better, I think."
Davies, a substantial contributor in both money and resources to the JFK campaign (she let him take over her Beverly Hills mansion as a headquarters while the 1960 Democratic convention was being held at the Los Angeles Sports Arena), was a few rows behind the outgoing president, Dwight Eisenhower, and the incoming first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy (a one-time photographer for the old Washington Times-Herald).