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Blending fact, fiction and really good plumbing



We've occasionally run images of fan magazine covers featuring Carole Lombard, but rarely have we discussed the product inside. That's changing with this entry, where you'll get a feel for what types of stories these publications ran.

The above cover is from the May 1934 issue of a magazine called Silver Screen, and if you picked up a copy on a newsstand because Carole was on the cover, you were rewarded with a story inside, "Carole Gets Her Own Way":



To save you the pain of squinting, the story runs in its entirety below. As you'll no doubt discover, this wasn't hard-hitting journalism (Carole herself is never quoted); in fact, this piece often plays fast and loose (Lombard film title pun intentional) with the facts, as we'll discuss below.
_________________________________

Carole Gets Her Own Way

By Dave Keene

Carole Lombard Finds That Fate Is Kind to Blondes.


Struggle, determination, push and perseverance are seldom descriptive of fragile blonde ladies.

Such sturdy qualities are usually attributed to worthy sisters with jutting chins. And jut, my observing fans, is exactly what Carole Lombard’s chin does do, even if you haven’t noticed it.

People seem to stop analyzing Carole when they get to her eyes. They are round and blue, truly magnificent orbs.

Carole’s chin, which has had so much to do with her success in pictures, was handed down to her by an ancestor, who beat his way through the wilderness, from Maryland to Indiana, and helped open the new west to civilization. He was one of the founders of a settlement that was called Fort Wayne, in honor of the blockhouse that offered protection from marauding Indians.

Into a Fort Wayne embellished with trolley cars, cafeterias and really good plumbing, Carole was born on an autumn morning in early October. Two brothers, Stuart and Fred, preceded her by a few years, but they decided that they rather liked their little sister, and at four she became a full fledged member of their closed corporation for life.

When Carole was seven, her mother took her three charges off to Los Angeles, where, she believed she could make their genteel poverty look more genteel and less meagre.

It was not until Carole was in high school and had her first shingle that she really felt the pinch of an undernourished income.

With her first invitation to a party, the clothes question loomed largely and darkly in Carole’s horizon. Being an alert and very determined youngster of thirteen, she soon learned to do wonders with a yard of fifty-cent material. By the time she was sixteen, she was considered one of the most popular girls in the Los Angeles younger set, and by far the best groomed, although few knew that every outfit she wore was designed, cut and stitched with her own hands.

At no time was she ashamed of the family fortunes, or rather lack of them, but she resented the stinting, saving and scheming that was necessary every time she stepped over the threshold of a shop.

To live graciously became her mania and fixation. The desire to be surrounded by casual luxury, free from the worry of rent day and petty economics drive her finally from the classroom to the Mack Sennett studios.

Her only dramatic ventures had been a little dabbling in dramatic art with Miss Miriam Nolks, and a few amateur appearances in school plays. Sennett, however, did not hire her for his slapstick comedies because she could act. His practiced eye noted that beneath a mop of blonde hair, the girl had an intelligent as well as a pretty face, that her figure was superb and that she was in the mood to take a dozen custard pies, where such pastry is usually taken, for the sake of a career and the money she was determined to have.

She was assigned to a dressing-room previously occupied by Mabel Normand and Gloria Swanson, and given a dozen or so flimsy bathing suits.

While Carole was busy dodging pies all day at the studio, she spent her evenings evading the disapproval of her mother and the ire of two brothers, who decided that for once the kid sister had gone completely out of hand.

“Back to geometry you must go!” they shrieked at her nightly, while Carole moistened the run in her only good pair of silk stockings and refused to be shaken out of a dignified silence.

When she finally received an offer from Fox to do a lead in “Me, Gangster,” the family ceased their schoolroom campaign and decided to let little sister have her way about that movie nonsense.

“It wasn’t long before she had the pleasure of a sisterly, “I told you so,” backed up by a contract with Pathe. She played leads for this company in “Power,” “Ned McCobb’s Daughter,” “Show Folks,” “High Voltage,” “Big News” and “The Racketeer.”

After this dizzy start right up to the middle of the ladder, things seemed to fizzle out as they do so mysteriously in Hollywood. Pathe merged with another studio and Carole was not cast in a new picture for weeks.

Came option time, but Carole was not discouraged or panicky. She packed up a few trunks and set out for New York, with the stage and new fields to conquer in mind. Before she had unpacked her first trunk, she was cast in the lead of “Fast and Loose,” a Paramount picture produced at the Astoria studios.

When this picture was released, exhibitors sent letters to the studio powers demanding more of the Lombard blonde. The tumult and the shouting developed into another contract and Carole returned to Hollywood and settled down to a grind of work that would wear down a healthy stevedore.

The first Lombard picture under the Paramount colors was “Man of the World,” and William Powell was the star of the piece.

The rest is history, which you should know or be ashamed if you don’t.

By the time Carole had eight pictures to her credit, she took time out to become Mrs. William Powell and honor the event with a trip to Honolulu.

She is divorced now, but not embittered, and her friendship with her ex-husband has kept the columnists in news for the past six months. No name has been linked with hers romantically since the Reno business, and it looks as though it were Carol’s intention to keep love in the background for a while.

At this writing Carole is doing two pictures at one time, “We’re Not Dressing,” with Bing Crosby, and “Twentieth Century.” She is also presiding at a series of the smartest little dinners in Hollywood, in her emerald green and salmon-pink dining room. She is seen at every smart function, and often dances until morning at the Cocoanut Grove. She looks radiantly happy, although she changes her escorts often enough to dispel comment. She orders not many but superb clothes and starts new vogues almost every time she dines publicly.

She is a 1934 model blonde, one with a firm, square chin, who knows what she wants from life and goes about getting it systematically.
_________________________________

* Note the exact year of her birth (1908) is not revealed, nor is her birth name of Jane Alice Peters.

* While Carole and her family may not have been rolling in dough during their first years in Los Angeles, they were hardly the destitute bunch this portrayal makes them out to be. Bess Peters received a goodly amount of support from her husband back in the Midwest, and over the years she and her three children resided in several of L.A.'s better neighborhoods.

* Carole's small part in the 1921 film "A Perfect Crime" isn't mentioned, and neither are her mid-1920s films at Fox such as "Marriage In Transit." The 1926 automobile accident that nearly derailed her career is also ignored.

* The thought that Carole was "evading the disapproval of her mother and the ire of two brothers" by participating in movies is absurd. They were always supportive of her acting career.

* The reason "things seemed to fizzle out" at Pathe -- the arrival of Constance Bennett, whose influence was enough to get potential blonde rivals Lombard and Diane Ellis jettisoned from the studio -- is never mentioned. (In the spring of 1934, Bennett was still a bigger star than Lombard, and Silver Screen probably didn't want to risk offending her.)

* When Lombard went to New York, it was specifically to act in "Fast And Loose," not to appear on the stage. And by this time, she had not only made one film at Paramount, "Safety In Numbers," but had signed a contract with the studio. Moreover, Miriam Hopkins, not Lombard, was the female lead in "Fast And Loose."



* Carole didn't make "We're Not Dressing" and "Twentieth Century" simultaneously, although they were issued two weeks apart.

In short, you needed lots of grains of salt to accept this story. On the other hand, imagine if TMZ.com had been around in 1934...
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