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carole lombard 01

79 years ago: Hi, (Olympic) bob!

Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.14 at 00:12
Current mood: artisticartistic


The snipe on the back of Paramount p1202-277 admitted that Carole Lombard was perhaps with a bow and arrow "for the Olympic games," but in early 1932 just about everyone in Los Angeles had Olympic fever. And why not? That summer's event represented the city's coming-out party, an opportunity to show it was indeed a world-class metropolis. And its best-known industry, the movies, joined in the enthusiasm.

In fact, Carole -- who by then had called L.A. home for more than 17 years -- was so excited, she either designed a commemorative hairstyle or let herself become its best-known proponent. And 79 years ago today, March 14, 1932, Lombard let the world know about it.

That morning, readers of the Los Angeles Times saw this item (thanks to William M. Drew for retrieving it):



Yes, Lombard was promoting something called "the Olympic bob," which she termed a sculptured headdress. But how is it done?

The story said "the hair should be about two inches above the shoulder line, a light fringe of bangs covering the forehead being slightly curled upward at the ends. The rest of the hair is severely combed back off the face and ears with one slight wave at a line parallel with the ears." The story added:

"Miss Lombard declared treatment of the ends of the hair is most important, the hair being curled on an iron so it clusters closely to the nape of the neck and extends up under the ear lobes."

I have no idea whether this became a popular 'do that summer (and how would it look in 2011? Perhaps one of our Lombard ladies should try it and report to us), but I do know that the Olympic bob was featured in several smaller newspapers in ensuing weeks and presumably was also shown in fan magazines of the time.

Moreover, we do know that Paramount's Eugene Robert Richee took the two views of the hair bob picture. Here's a better version of the first one:



The Heritage photo also has a snipe publicizing the Olympic look, noting that Lombard is wearing the style in her latest film, "Sinners In The Sun":



As coincidence would have it, this Richee image of Lombard is being auctioned at eBay. The seller initially labeled it "flapper era," but either did some additional research or was corrected by somebody, because it's now referred to "exquisite and beautiful" (right on both counts!). It sells for $9.99 under the "buy it now" option; if you'd like to put an Olympian Lombard on your wall, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/CAROLE-LOMBARD-Exquisite-Beautiful-HUGE-WALL-POSTER-/250788068585?pt=Art_Prints&hash=item3a64223ce9.

Two more things, the first for the baseball fans among us. If you have the MLB Network on your cable or satellite system, watch "MLB Tonight" at 7 p.m. (Eastern) to watch rare, high-quality footage of three of baseball's legendary stars. Here's the background, from Sports Illustrated baseball writer Tom Verducci:

Back in 1922, the Pathe Brothers Company of Paris developed 9.5 mm film, an inexpensive format that became popular in Europe. Two years later, somebody took a 9.5 mm film camera to Yankee Stadium, then scarcely more than a year old, and shot film of some of the greatest legends in baseball history, who could have been there taking part in some sort of exhibition game: Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Walter Johnson. The film may have been part of an instructional series that was distributed in Europe and then essentially forgotten for nearly a century.

MLB Productions recently acquired three minutes of this rare, high-quality footage. The fascinating up-close look of Ruth and Cobb hitting and Johnson pitching will be shown on "MLB Tonight" Monday at 7 p.m. on the MLB Network. (Disclosure: I work for MLB Network, though not in 9.5 mm.)

The rare film is captivating because it brings these baseball ghosts closer to life than almost anything else you might have seen: the uncoiling of Ruth's rotational power, which was innovative back then; a clear look at how Cobb awkwardly began his swing with his hands apart and brought them together as his bat came forward; and the unique slingshot style of Johnson, who, with his velocity and arm angle, must have been particularly frightening to right-handed hitters. Watching these greats, you understand how far (and how much better) the mechanics of the game have evolved.

The stars were not far from the top of their game when the film was made in 1924. Johnson, then 36, won the pitching Triple Crown; Ruth, 29, and still five years from wearing his famous number 3, nearly won the hitting Triple Crown; and Cobb, 37, hit .338 with 211 hits, the last of his nine 200-hit seasons.


Should be fascinating to see these three greats in film beyond the herky-jerky images so associated with baseball movies of that era.

Secondly, with most of America now on Daylight Saving Time, it seems appropriate to play this tune -- "(There Ought To Be A) Moonlight Saving Time," which was popular around 1930 and '31. Several versions of the song can be found on YouTube; even Maurice Chevalier recorded it. The one I've chosen is by the great Annette Hanshaw from May 1931, and it's simply a wonderful pop record.


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