What's more, Carole Lombard publicly professed her affection for him on the air...multiple times.
Who could this Lothario be? What man could inspire such a response from Carole?
Truth be told, he wasn't a man at all. Heck, he wasn't even human. He was...
...Charlie McCarthy, the dummy of ventriloquist Edgar Bergen, they had rocketed to fame thanks to numerous radio appearances. (The concept of a ventriloquist on radio seems a bit absurd, but Charlie's winning personality transcended it.) In 1937, Bergen and McCarthy became regulars on the "Chase & Sanborn Hour," a top variety show on NBC, and Lombard was among an array of film stars who were frequent guests.
Charlie's character had an eye for the ladies...and they eyed him right back, delighting both adults and children. Radio Mirror thought it would have some fun with the idea, and so ran the following story in its November 1937 issue:
On the page before the story began was a portrait of Edgar and Charlie:
Here are the particulars on Charlie's first encounter with Carole:
Later in the story, Charlie comes clean about working with Carole:
Lombard appeared five times with Bergen and McCarthy, although only one of those broadcasts survives. I'm hoping some radio historian has some or all of the other four scripts (might Edgar's daughter Candice know where they could be?).
I should also note that one of the infamous "Tijuana bibles" (underground booklets placing stars in outlandish, erotic predicaments) apparently featured Lombard and McCarthy in a, well, somewhat compromising situation. (Wonder if there was a joke about "morning wood"?) I'm not sure when that was issued in relation to Carole's appearances with Charlie, but it's proof that for a while, she was associated with him.
This issue of Radio Mirror came out near the end of September, but on Dec. 12, Charlie's appearances with actresses apparently crossed the line. Mae West guest-starred, and did a Garden of Eden skit with the dummy that apparently went a bit too far for some listeners. (I'm guessing Mae, who invariably created her own dialogue, wrote the script.) West was banned from network radio until 1950.
Lombard poses near a car in our latest LiveJournal header, Paramount p1202-322.