The news broke just after 10 p.m. (Eastern) Saturday, and Carole Lombard got the word right from the source.
"I beat Myrna, 187-166, you say? I win the 'Funny Ladies' division?...Yessss!...And next up for me is Crawford, starting really late Sunday or really early Monday? I'll be ready. Thanks for the news."
The top-seeded Lombard's victory over number-three Myrna Loy, part of the Silents/1930s bracket of the 2012 Favorite Classic Movie Actress Tourney, was her second tense win in as many weeks (she'd previously edged Jean Arthur by two votes), and her exultation was evident once she put down the phone.
After the triumph, she spoke to reporters.
"I knew Myrna would give it everything she's got. She's got a lot of fans -- hey, that poll Ed Sullivan conducted named her 'queen of Hollywood,' after all -- and I'm simply glad I was able to outlast her."
"Are you excited facing Joan Crawford in the Silents/'30s semis, given your history with her?"
"Ah yes, history," Lombard said in a mock W.C. Fields sneer she immediately dropped. "For those of you who don't know, he's referring to what's called 'back in the day,' when Joanie and I used to spend our Friday nights in dance contests over at the Cocoanut Grove. All I can say is, you should've been there."
"She beat you in most of those dance contests, didn't she?" The woman who asked the question must have struck a nerve, as the usually upbeat Lombard gave her a cool stare.
"Joan won her share, I won mine, but let her just try to beat me on the tennis court."
A man who'd been handed a sheet of paper spoke up. "Carole, speaking of tennis, I understand one of the other good players in Hollywood, Ginger Rogers, has upset defending '30s champ Irene Dunne, 264-214, in the finals of the 'Singers/Dancers' division. Any comments, and do you feel bad you won't get a chance to avenge your loss to Irene last year?"
Carole smiled. "Pardon the cliche, but I'm now focusing on beating Crawford, just as Ginger's mind is probably on Greta Garbo in the other semifinal."
"What factors do you attribute your victories to?"
"I'm blessed with an awful lot of devoted fans, and I have a pretty good campaign director, too -- have you seen some of the banners he's designed on my behalf? -- though he's a bit off-the-wall at times. About 10 days ago, he showed me this toy and suggested we build a campaign around it with a slogan, 'Shake things up with Lombard!' I told him the idea was crazy, so he sent the toy to someone else in the campaign business. I forget its precise name, but it was red and had something to do with etchings."
Lombard stood up and excused herself. "I have an appointment with the broadcast media, so I've got to be going. Thanks for dropping by my headquarters."
With that, the press dispersed, although the paper from that reporter was later found on the floor, and it also listed the latest results from the other brackets, along with typical snide reporter remarks.
1940s -- "Funny Ladies/Girls Next Door": #2 Lucille Ball 97, #1 Rosalind Russell 91 -- on Roz's home turf
"Singers/Dancers": #1 Judy Garland 94, #2 Rita Hayworth 69 -- Judy wasn't letting Rita over her rainbow!
1950s -- "Funny Ladies/Girls Next Door": #5 Janet Leigh 83, #2 Marilyn Monroe 49 -- Monroe should've learned from Godfrey and put her in the shower!!
"Singers/Dancers": #2 Debbie Reynolds 71, #1 Doris Day 69 -- "Tammy" beats "Secret Love." Go fig.
1960s -- "Funny Ladies/Girls Next Door": #1 Natalie Wood 65, #2 Jane Fonda 59 -- I guess folks would rather have splendor in the grass than go barefoot in the park!
"Singers/Dancers": #3 Ann-Margret 70, #1 Julie Andrews 56 -- If only Julie had made a film with Elvis...
Loy dropped by to offer Carole congratulations, but Lombard had left. Asked for her reaction to the battle, Myrna said nothing, but...
We also have the other brackets' semifinal pairings:
1940s: Gene Tierney vs. Judy Garland; Bette Davis vs. Lucille Ball
1950s: Grace Kelly vs. Debbie Reynolds; Elizabeth Taylor vs. Janet Leigh
1960s: Jean Simmons vs. Ann-Margret; Catherine Deneuve vs. Natalie Wood
It promises to be fun, as we're down to the "sweet 16" and get closer to crowning a new champion.