vp19 (vp19) wrote in carole_and_co,

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Getting the message out

"No One Man" is among the Carole Lombard films I've yet to see, so I don't know who the man at the desk is that Carole and Ricardo Cortez want to do business with. He's probably a hotel clerk, or possibly a railroad stationmaster. In either case, his other duties might include work for Western Union, handling telegrams.

Today, sending messages via Western Union seems almost quaint; the company's current principal business is money transfers and bill payments. (Sam Goldwyn's famed quote to screenwriters, “If you want to send a message, use Western Union,” is an anachronism.) These days, messages are sent via smartphones, laptops and other methods of instant, portable communication. (For the recent Jean Harlow Blogathon, the charming site Via Margutta 51 imagined what the Harlow film "Red-Headed Woman" would have been like if Twitter had been around in 1932 -- check it out at http://via-51.blogspot.com/2011/03/read-headed-woman-twitter-version-part.html and http://via-51.blogspot.com/2011/03/red-headed-woman-twitter-version-end.html.)

We know Western Union was a part of Lombard's life; a few years ago, we noted a telegram Carole and Clark Gable sent to Hollywood columnist Jimmy Starr, wishing him and his family a happy holiday season:

Well, at least several other Lombard and Starr-related telegrams have surfaced, and you're going to see them.

One was sent by Lombard on June 28, 1935, giving best wishes on the wedding of Starr and his wife:

The other three weren't sent by Carole, but she is mentioned in the copy. The first is from May 13, 1937, and it looks to be about that a friend of Starr's married the nurse who helped in the recovery of Lombard's aunt in Palm Springs (what?):

On Dec. 18, 1939, someone wired Starr, noting that Santa Claus received more mentions than Gable, Lombard, Norma Shearer and "Gone With The Wind" the previous week, and wondering just who was St. Nick's press agent:

And finally, one from Jan. 21, 1942. It was sent by the Young & Rubicam advertising agency, noting that Jack Benny had returned to the top of the Crosley ratings and that he would be back on Sunday night's show after his absence the previous week out of respect for Lombard's passing:

All four of these telegrams are being auctioned at eBay. The one sent by Lombard is the most expensive of the bunch, with bids beginning at $49.99; it's at http://cgi.ebay.com/Western-Union-Telegram-Jimmy-Starr-Carole-Lombard-/330542200449?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4cf5d9b681. Next, with bids starting at $29.99 each, are the 1937 telegram (http://cgi.ebay.com/Western-Union-Telegram-Carole-Lombard-Jimmy-Starr-/360352080667?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item53e6a8631b) and the one from 1942 (http://cgi.ebay.com/Western-Union-Telegram-Carole-Lombard-Jack-Benny-/360352079245?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item53e6a85d8d). The lowest opening bid, $24.99, is for the 1939 Santa Claus wire (http://cgi.ebay.com/Western-Union-Telegram-Jimmy-Starr-Carole-Lombard-/360352084971?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item53e6a873eb). Bidding ends on all four items between 4:27 and 4:49 p.m. (Eastern) next Monday, and as of this writing, none have been bid on.

To close, an appropriate song from the "Iceman," Jerry Butler -- "Hey, Western Union Man." Chicago native Butler co-wrote this with Philadelphia music mavens Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, and it reached #16 on the Billboard pop charts and #1 on its R&B chart in November 1968. (Incidentally, Butler is still touring; he appeared at Washington's Blues Alley last month.) Enjoy some smooth Chicago-meets-Philly-style soul, even if you younger folks have no idea what he's singing about...


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