Think of Carole Lombard's photos for Pathe in the late 1920s, and the initial name that comes up is William E. Thomas, the studio's primary photographer. The first man to take many images of Lombard, his portraits ran the gamut from demure to racy, and he almost certainly aided her knowledge of lighting, angles and other tips of the photo trade.
But Thomas wasn't the only Pathe photographer of Carole during this period. Preston Duncan took a few portraits of her, and today I discovered someone else who performed such honors while Lombard was a Pathe player. His name was Kenneth Alexander, and a photo of her from 1929 now is being auctioned at eBay. Here's the photo:
Pretty stunning, isn't it? In her appearance, there's a hint of the more sophisticated Lombard that was to come in the 1930s. Some stuff on the back provides more information:
It's marked "10/22/29," probably referring to the day it arrived or was stored in the Photoplay library. Since no other dates or markings are listed, I'm guessing the magazine never got around to using it.
The picture measures 11" x 14" on double weight semigloss paper stock; the seller adds, "This vintage photograph is in near very fine condition with only minimal edge wear and minor stains to margins as seen. Just stupendous." (For that matter, so is she.)
Before giving you the specifics regarding the auction, here are two more examples of Alexander's work. One is of Lombard and was auctioned last December:
The other, also from 1929, is of Constance Bennett, the newly-hired blonde rival to both Carole and Pathe pal Diane Ellis:
It's been alleged, but never confirmed, that Bennett successfully managed to get fellow blondes Lombard and Ellis dismissed from the studio, perhaps fearing competition. If that's the case, Carole managed some karmic revenge -- all three of her Pathe talking features have survived, while Bennett's first two films for the studio, "Rich People" and "This Thing Called Love," are lost.
As of this writing, one bid has been made on this item, for a mere $4.95. But given the rarity of this image, not to mention its superb oversized condition, don't expect it to remain there for long. In fact, since the auction isn't scheduled to end until 9:33 p.m. (Eastern) Sept. 21 -- a week from Sunday -- don't be surprised if the winning bid is in triple figures. If that likelihood doesn't daunt you, enter a bid or learn more by visiting http://www.ebay.com/itm/LARGE-VINTAGE-1929-CAROLE-LOMBARD-GLAMOUR-PORTRAIT-PHOTOGRAPH-KENNETH-ALEXANDER-/231311984341?pt=Art_Photo_Images&hash=item35db44c6d5.
Finally, today marked the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, and as he has done annually, modern-day renaissance man Ken Levine (longtime sitcom writer/director, baseball announcer and one-time Top 40 disc jockey -- three things I always wished I could be) paid tribute at his award-winning blog to two of the victims of that horrible day, people he knew well: David Angell, co-creator of "Wings" and "Frasier" as well as a writer on "Cheers," and his wife, Lynn, who was active in helping children. I urge you to read this moving piece at http://kenlevine.blogspot.com/2014/09/911-and-david-lynn-angell.html.
Our latest Lombard LiveJournal header has Carole as a vision in white for Paramount p1202-525.