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Carole models fashion, with Boots

In mid-December 1932, International News Service (a wire service owned by William Randolph Hearst, although its clients included many non-Hearst newspapers) sent out a photo to its fashion editor subscribers that combined two movie publicity stills to emphasize the clinging nature of the latest styles. Here's the photo:



And here's the caption on the back, which we'll run verbatim:

Dame Fashion's new "line" of attack

"New York...and woe be unto the mere male who comes within sight of these two beautiful new modes -- both designed to slay the other sex with their elegance. The 'line' is the important item in the new creations, as witness the clinging effect of the gown which Carole Lombard (left) is wearing. High neckline, sleeves and backless decolletage are interesting points. The frock is of white satin trimmed with sable.

"The same clinging lines characterize the gown worn by Boots Mallory at right. The fabric is a heavy pebble crepe in rust color. The large bows, providing the modish shoulder effect, are of chiffon velvet in a matching shade of rust. The jeweled bracelets are vari-colored."




Okay, you're wondering, so
1. Who is this Boots Mallory, and
2. What relationship does she have with Lombard?

Answering #2 first, aside from this picture, not much; in fact, it's likely they never met. And when this photo arrived in offices, chances are fashion editors had no idea who Boots Mallory was, either. That's because her first movie, "Handle With Care," wouldn't open until Christmas Day.

Mallory, born in New Orleans in October 1913 (her Internet Movie Database listing doesn't indicate whether "Boots" was a nickname), was at this time a Fox starlet who would never quite pan out at the declining studio. Her best known movie there might be the partially lost 1933 "Hello, Sister," the last film directed by Erich von Stroheim, where she was third-billed; Fox dismissed von Stroheim late in production and reshot nearly all the footage. It was Mallory's third and final film for Fox (its merger with Darryl Zanuck's Twentieth Century studio wouldn't come for another two years).

Mallory continued making movies, but for companies lower and lower on the Hollywood totem pole. One, "The Wolf Dog," starred Rin Tin Tin Jr.; another, 1934's "Sing Sing Nights," was written by one Harry Stephen Keeler, whom an IMDb reviewer labeled "the Ed Wood of detective movies."

Mallory's 10th and final film was at least a step up, the 1938 Laurel & Hardy vehicle "Swiss Miss," but she plays a dancer and is uncredited. That was it for her movie career; she died on Dec. 1, 1958 of chronic throat disease.

But in that picture above at least, she's Carole Lombard's equal.
Tags: boots mallory, publicity stills
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