For the Christmas season of 1927, Carole Lombard, a relative newcomer to the Mack Sennett troupe, posed on the right in this holiday greeting. The girl on the left has yet to be identified, but the lady in the Santa suit (possibly the same outfit Carole would wear for Christmas publicity the following year) is an actress named Ruth Hiatt.
About 2 1/2 years older than Lombard, Hiatt is little-remembered today, probably because virtually all her work was in comedy shorts. She's best known for playing Mabel Smith in the long-running Smith series of Sennett two-reelers, and appeared with Lombard in Mack's four-reel production "The Girl From Everywhere." (She also can be seen in the famed Three Stooges hospital short "Men In Black" -- calling Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard! -- as a "whispering nurse.") Hiatt retired from films in 1941, and died in 1994.
What's also interesting about the photo is the huge amount of empty space surrounding the scene; couldn't it have been cropped considerably tighter? It was almost certainly taken on the Sennett lot, and perhaps the plan was to superimpose wording on it as part of a greeting card from the studio.
Anyway, a merry Christmas to you, and to help you in your celebration, how about a few other holiday-themed publicity photos from Lombard's time?
We'll start with two of Carole's close friends, first Gloria Swanson in Paramount publicity from the 1920s...
...followed by a lovely Christmas pic of Jean Harlow:
And speaking of Harlow, some wonderful news from Darrell Rooney, co-author of the must-read "Harlow In Hollywood":
"The 'Harlow at 100' exhibit at the Hollywood Museum is continuing till end of March/early April 2012 because it is so popular. Some items have been returned to lenders, but most are still there, with some new additions coming!"
To anyone who lives in or is visiting southern California in the next few months: Go see this exhibit, at the old Max Factor building just off Hollywood Boulevard.
Back to the stars, such as the amazingly youthful Loretta Young in all her teenage etherealness (is there such a word? For her, there should be):
Dolores Del Rio contributes her considerable Latino beauty to Christmas:
At some sites on the Web, the following holiday picture has been misidentified as Lombard; it's actually of the fine '30s actress Claire Trevor:
Someone who became friends with Lombard in the late '30s, Lucille Ball, from her early days:
Carole's Cocoanut Grove dance rival in the '20s, Joan Crawford, was the subject of many a Christmas picture, and it appears all that posing has turned her into a sleepy-time gal:
Anita Page, who worked with Crawford in "Our Dancing Daughters" and its two followups, "Our Modern Maidens" and "Our Blushing Brides," apparently got a lot under her MGM Christmas tree:
Don't think we can complete the "Dancing Daughters" trifecta? Guess again! Here's Dorothy Sebastian and friend looking wistfully into a toy store window:
Yes, Hollywood put its mark on Christmas back in the day, and has continued to do so over the years, as this 1958 shot of the fabled Capitol Records tower makes clear: