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Like mother, like daughter (playing an icon)




There's a correlation among the four photos at the top of today's entry. A Hollywood icon (Carole Lombard, upper left), next to a woman who portrayed her on screen (Jill Clayburgh in the 1976 film "Gable And Lombard"). The lady at lower left is, of course, Mary Pickford, and on the lower right is actress Lily Rabe, who was recently hired to play Pickford in a biopic set to begin production in 2013.

Now, here's the twist: Rabe is Clayburgh's daughter. Rabe, who turns 30 in June, has had success on the New York stage (most recently in "The Merchant Of Venice"), has made some TV appearances (including guesting on three of Dick Wolf's New York-based "Law & Order" series) and also acted in films (of which the best-known may be "Mona Lisa Smile").

The yet-to-be-titled film will be adapted from Eileen Whitfield's biography, "Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood." It's being produced by a group known as Poverty Row Entertainment, headed by Julie Pacino (yep, Al's daughter) and Jennifer DeLia, who will direct the film. Compared to the big-studio "Gable And Lombard," an attempt to cash in on the 1930s nostalgia craze of the mid-seventies, this will be art-house fare all the way, and we hope it should thus be able to tell Pickford's story of her stardom as an artist and success as a businesswoman without resorting to Hollywood cliches. (Josh Fagin will adapt the book.) For those of us who love Hollywood history, and want to clear the many misconceptions about Pickford (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/488815.html), this film is welcome news.

Pacino and DeLia have yet to cast other roles, including Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith, who along with Pickford founded United Artists in 1919. (Might Josh Brolin, son of James Brolin, who played Clark Gable in "Gable And Lombard," be available? Just mischievous thinking on my part.)

According to DeLia, “Meeting Lily really sealed the deal as not only did she already know a lot about Pickford but also, we were instantly able to visually place Lily in that time, right into Mary’s shoes.”

One presumes Rabe (whose father is noted playwright David Rabe) has seen her mother's performance as Lombard -- but Lily may be unaware of Carole's ties to Pickford. She had a small, unbilled part in Mary's 1927 comedy "My Best Girl" (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/33953.html), and in 1937 said of Pickford, “Take business -– that’s supposed to be a man’s province. Yet I can name you the most outstanding success in the business life of the movies and that person is a woman: Mary Pickford. You can’t match her. She’s supreme in every department." That Pickford is to be portrayed by the daughter of someone who portrayed her would probably delight Lombard.

The only regret is that Clayburgh won't be here to see this; she died of leukemia in November 2010.

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