We know Carole Lombard (with Clark Gable) was at the Dec. 26, 1938 premiere of the Earl Carroll Theatre on Sunset Boulevard, and we know she was among the celebrities whose oversized signatures were on concrete slabs that hung from the theater wall...
...but did you ever wonder which other celebrities were similarly honored over the three decades those slabs were hung there?
Well, now we can provide a fairly complete list, thanks to a photo said to be from the late 1950s. This panoramic view of the "wall of stars" shows more than 100 acts:
The wall can be divided into "sections" in rows of three. We'll list each section from left to right, descending. (Some whose names weren't initially identifiable from this image were identified through other photos.)
First section: Paulette Goddard, Robert Young, Reginald Owen; Jack Benny, Mary Livingstone, Allan Jones; Joan Bennett, Edward G. Robinson, Miriam Hopkins; Don Ameche, Binnie Barnes, Charles Laughton; Rosalind Russell, Bob Hope, Olivia de Havilland; Myrna Loy, Nelson Eddy, Barbara Stanwyck; Charles Boyer, Ginger Rogers, Mickey Rooney; Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Cary Grant.
Second section: Andy Devine, Ann Sothern, Jeffrey Lynn; Eric Blore, Fannie Brice, Alan Mowbray; Jean Hersholt, ZaSu Pitts, Lew Ayres; Elsa Lanchester, Eddie Cantor, Louella Parsons; Brian Aherne, John Wayne, Dick Powell; Jimmy Durante, Abbott and Costello, June Allyson.
Third section: Leatrice Joy, Joe E. Brown, Montagu Love; Reginald Gardiner, unknown, Basil Rathbone; Margaret Lindsay, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Gracie Allen; Ray Milland, Joan Blondell, unknown; George Brent, Wallace Beery, Marx Brothers; Ginny Simms, Judy Canova, Red Skelton; Greer Garson, Johnnie Ray, Sammy Davis Jr.
Fourth section: Connie Boswell, Warren William, Maureen O'Sullivan; Arleen Whalen, Ralph Bellamy, Melvyn Douglas; George Burns, Conrad Nagel, Beryl Wallace; Preston Foster, Cecil B. DeMille, Claude Rains; Walter Pidgeon, Ritz Brothers, unknown; unknown, Carmen Miranda, Joan Davis; George Gobel, Van Johnson, Betty Grable; Marilyn Maxwell, Hedy Lamarr, unknown.
Fifth section: Franklin Pangborn, Gene Autry, Rita Hayworth; unknown, Robert Montgomery, Rudy Vallee; Ralph Morgan, Edward Arnold, Frank Morgan; Amos 'n' Andy, Herbert Marshall, Jane Withers; Errol Flynn, Jimmy Wallington, Boris Karloff; Frances Langford, George Murphy, Charlie Ruggles; Ingrid Bergman, blank, Frank Sinatra.
This 1966 photo of the Turtles in front of the building, then known as the Hullabaloo club, shows a change near the bottom. Bergman has been moved down a row, and joining Sinatra are Louis Prima and Keely Smith; she recorded some duets with Frank in the late '50s:
(BTW, Jimmy Wallington acted in several movies in the late '30s and early '40s, but was better known as a radio announcer.)
Sixth section: Hedda Hopper, Louis Hayward, Kenny Baker, Eleanor Powell, Robert Taylor, William Powell, Carole Lombard, Ronald Colman.
But as the late-night TV adman says, wait -- there's more! Here are all the signees of the bottom three rows of that section:
Fascinating stuff. And for those of you who don't know, the slabs were removed and presumably sold in the late 1960s when the site became a rock venue (where the Doors cut a memorable live album); let's hope that Carole's slab and all the others have loving homes. For the past few decades, the former Carroll Theatre has been a studio for Nickelodeon, the children's channel.
Note that in the large photo, Frank Sinatra's slab is adjacent to Lombard's -- probably a coincidence, but it does provide me a link to a terrific new album unofficially dedicated to Sinatra's artistry. It's by, of all people, Bob Dylan, someone whom you wouldn't associate with Frank ("Like A Rolling Stone" is nearing its 50th anniversary!), but as it turns out someone who's been an avid fan of his for years. The album is entitled "Shadows In The Night" (no, not "Strangers In The Night"; the thought of Dylan covering that is something even Bob might deem cringeworthy), and focuses on Sinatra the balladeer, with somewhat obscure songs that Rod Stewart and others who mine the Great American Songbook probably wouldn't dare touch. Most of the 10 tracks originated from Sinatra's Columbia and Capitol era (four of them were done on Frank's 1957 album "Where Are You?"), such as this wonderful reworking of a late 1940s standard, "Full Moon And Empty Arms." Rest assured Dylan doesn't try to sing like the late '40s Sinatra, but nevertheless puts his own imprint on this song, with tasteful backing from his band. Remember, Bob began as a folksinger (a storyteller), so why shouldn't he appreciate pop music's premier storyteller? Haven't yet heard any official reaction from the Sinatra family, but I'm guessing Nancy Sinatra, a Top 40 contemporary of Dylan's, probably loves it.