No, we don't mean the 1987 movie -- filmed at the famed John Wanamaker department store in center city Philadelphia -- about a mannequin who somehow comes to life. (My blogosphere buddy Ken Levine, best known as a TV writer for the likes of "Frasier," "Cheers" and "M*A*S*H," helped write its lesser-known sequel.) Nor are we referring to a 1937 Joan Crawford MGM vehicle by that name; at that time, the term also described a live fashion model, an occupation Carole Lombard had in the 1932 Paramount movie "Sinners in the Sun."
So what's this about? A Lombard fashion mannequin. Did you know something like this existed? I certainly didn't, until Facebook friend Brian Anderson discovered it at eBay. Here it is, before clothing...perhaps the closest we'll ever get to an actual nude of Carole (that probably disappoints some of you):
No arms (Venus de Lombard?). It's a wall mannequin, described as life-size at 5-foot-6, although since accounts of Carole's height vary (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/25477.html), it may actually be slightly larger than life. This apparently was made sometime in the 1930s -- why it was made remains a mystery, Perhaps it was designed to show off replica movie star fashions, popular in department stores at the time (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/135629.html, http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/445941.html).
Some close-up images of the mannequin Carole:
As you can see, there's a bit of a blemish with her face, a la the real-life Lombard's 1926 auto accident. There's a small chunk missing from an eyelid. Other imperfections: some crazing on the upper body, some damage and loss of plaster from the rear. The seller also notes "the wire hanger is in need of being replaced." (Was Crawford right after all? Sorry, couldn't resist.)
On the whole, it's in damn good shape for something at least eight decades old; the hair and face paint are indeed "remarkable." Credit the seller, who has dressed the ersatz Carole in fur stole and vintage evening gowns for many years. It came equipped with painted-on shoes, too:
Bidding starts at $950, or you can "buy it now" for $1,235. And "now" is the key word here -- the auction closes at 10:48 p.m. (Eastern). Look it over, but hurry, at http://www.ebay.com/itm/282649221064.
This is among the most unusual Lombard memorabilia rarities I've ever come across, and I hope it finds a loving home.