On another day in Hollywood heaven, Clark Gable was golfing with good pal Jean Harlow. Just after Harlow shot from the fourth tee, a piercing sound, loud as a thunderclap, jolted them:
"I know who that is," Clark said, snapping his fingers and rematerializing in front of Carole Lombard, whose stern visage and still-open mouth confirmed it indeed was her who'd done the screaming.
"What's going on here?" he asked.
"This," Carole coolly replied, turning her laptop around so Gable could see the screen:
The usually affable Lombard was seething. "How dare they! Condos? As if SoCal needed more condos!"
"Hey, you know this area as well as I do, and you should realize that nothing here lasts forever."
She shook her head. "It's the history, Clark, the fuc--"
Gable interjected. "Hold your tongue. The last time you blurted one of those words, you spent a weekend in purgatory, and that was no fun for either of us." He paused. "Yes, I realize there's plenty of history there. I still think about that burning of Atlanta Selznick created on the lot -- what a sight."
"All well and good," Lombard said, "but you don't get it. I spent a lot more time on that lot -- pun unintentional -- than you did. In 1929, while you still were on the stage seeking your big break, I was performing there when Pathe owned it, in films like 'Big News' with Robert Armstrong, who later made a not-so-little thing on those grounds named 'King Kong' when RKO ran the place."
"Then I returned a few years later, when it was the Selznick International studio, and had that Technicolor hit 'Nothing Sacred.' Boy, I'd like to get in the ring with whomever's planning to shut that place down, and unlike what I did with Fredric March, I wouldn't pull my punches!"
In a calmer mood, she added, "I understand the front building -- the one that Thomas Ince designed to resemble Mount Vernon -- is protected as a historic site. But the soundstages aren't."
Gable chuckled. "I'm guessing the building from where you handled publicity for Selznick for a week isn't, either."
Lombard laughed. "Well...it should be -- gave me something to do before James Stewart and I started work on 'Made For Each Other.' It was, as some of the younger folks around here now say, a gas!"
Clark nodded agreement. "And I recall in '56 when your old pal Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, needing space for their TV productions, bought the studio -- and RKO over on Melrose -- from Howard Hughes." The mention of his name caused a second's worth of tenseness in Carole's shoulders.
"See? There's so much in the way of entertainment history on those acres, and they wish to eliminate it? That's so ridiculous," an insistent Lombard said. "At least MGM's old studio up Washington Boulevard has been preserved, even though most of the back lot is gone and it's now Columbia property. Harry Cohn never lets Louis B. Mayer off the hook over it."
"It'd be nice if they would change their mind and retain the property as is," Gable said. "There's always a need in this town for soundstages -- movies, TV, that new stuff they call videogames..."
"Maybe we should haunt them," Carole said with a grin. "Frankly, I could use a break from haunting our old penthouse suite at the Roosevelt. And we could get some folks to join us, like Connie Bennett, who spent some time there and knows a thing or two about playing a ghost. Or Orson Welles -- 'Who knows what evil lurks within the hearts of developers? The Shadow knows...heh-heh-heh-heh..."
Then Lombard went back to her computer, did some online searching, and saw this from the Los Angeles Times:
Reading a few paragraphs further down, she noticed this:
Carole smiled at Gable. "It appears Culver Studios will continue to operate as a studio space," she said. "To borrow a phrase used by one of my new friends, Gilda Radner...never mind."
Lombard literally milks some publicity in our latest LiveJournal header, Paramount p1202-370.