vp19 (vp19) wrote in carole_and_co,

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In the cards for Carole

In the past, we've noted how Carole Lombard's image, as well as those of other stars, was used by tobacco companies as premiums, such as the exquisite Garbaty card from Germany in 1936 seen above (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/205341.html). Today, we're going to examine some other European tobacco cards, these made in England, thanks to the fine collectibles site http://www.things-and-other-stuff.com.

In 1936, the R.J. Hill tobacco company issued a set of 35 actress cards called "Cinema Celebrities" that was largely based upon a 1933 "Stage And Cinema Beauties" set from the Godfrey Phillips firm. Things-and-other-stuff would lead you to believe it was an exact copy, but that's not the case; the '33 set contains the likes of Dolores Costello, Evelyn Knapp and Marian Marsh, none of whom are on the '36 checklist. (Clara Bow, who hadn't made a movie in three years and had effectively retired, is listed in '36.) And while there are some duplicate images, such as Constance Bennett ('33 on left, '36 on right)...

...that certainly can't be said for the '33 and '36 images of Myrna Loy, whose screen persona had dramatically changed over those three years -- but then look at the copy on the back of her '36 card:

"Myrna Loy is not an Oriental, as popularly supposed, but an American." Honestly, did anyone in 1936, other than those waking up from a Rip Van Winkle-type sleep, still believe that? And look at the Loy films cited -- no "Manhattan Melodrama," no "The Thin Man," no "Topaze," but "The King Of The Khyber Rifles," "Cameo Kirby" and "Renegades"...1929, 1930 and 1930, respectively. ("Khyber Rifles" was the British title for "The Black Watch," John Ford's first talking picture.) In short, that's almost certainly lifted word-for-word from the '33 card. (Also, while Myrna's dancing career did begin at a Sid Grauman picture palace, it was the Egyptian, not the Chinese.)

Okay, you ask, what about Lombard? Well, it turns out she wasn't in the '33 Godfrey Phillips "Stage And Cinema Beauties" set, but she was in the 1934 edition. I couldn't track that one down, but that same year, Godfrey Phillips put her on a card in another series, "Stars Of The Screen." (British tobacco companies issued all sorts of cards, not just of actors, but of flags, flowers and fish, to name a few.) For the record, here's what that card looked like:

As for Carole's '36 card for Hill, it may well have been a direct copy of her '34 "Beauties" card:

The pose is definitely Lombard circa 1932 or '33; furthermore, the listing of films here -- the most recent being "Bolero" -- leads one to believe that this is lifted from the '34 card. (Two other things of note: While it notes she was a Mack Sennett bathing beauty, it adds that "she hated comedy." What? Also note this card lists her as 5-foot-6, compared to her 5-foot-2 stature on the '34 Godfrey Phillips "Stars Of The Screen" card. Was Jane "Alice" Peters getting larger or smaller?)

Movie star cards are fascinating items from the golden age of Hollywood. You can find out more about the Hill set, and possibly purchase cards from the collection, at http://www.things-and-other-stuff.com/movie-collectibles/1936-rj-hill-tobacco-cards/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+thingsandotherstuff+%28Immortal+Ephemera%29. There's also a site that has checklists and more for this hobby, http://www.moviecard.com.

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