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Carole the pinch-hitting columnist



Carole Lombard loved playing baseball in her tomboy youth (she's shown recreating her past in a scene from the Mack Sennett short "The Campus Vamp"), so pinch-hitting was a familiar concept to her. And during the 1930s, she did precisely that -- but with a typewriter, not a bat.

We've previously noted Carole wrote guest columns for the newspaper industry's leading entertainment columnist, Walter Winchell (https://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/377843.html; https://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/377939.html), but it turns out he wasn't the only columnist she filled in for.




That columnist was named Mollie Merrick. While she was nowhere as well-known among the Hollywood columnist corps as Louella Parsons or Hedda Hopper, or even those on the second tier such as Jimmie Fidler, her long-running column, distributed via the North American Newspaper Alliance, had millions of readers. (Above are two early columns of hers, one from November 1928 on Russian emigres who worked as extras and the other a profile of "Frankenstein" in September 1931, while it was midway through production.) Merrick wrote from the 1920s into the 1950s, when she handled publicity for Marilyn Monroe.

Lombard, who had good rapport with nearly every press person in the industry, became either a personal or professional friend of Merrick (perhaps both). The columnist had several guests fill in for her -- whether they actually wrote the pieces or had a "ghost" do it for them is uncertain -- and Lombard did such duty at least three times.

The first instance came on Dec. 21, 1933, and among the papers running it was the Minneapolis Tribune:



Here, Lombard emphasizes how important it is for an actor to be true to themselves, citing an actor she had known for five years who didn't realize how phony he was until word of a friend's injury jolted him back to reality. (Who was this actor? It's fun to guess, but we'll never know.) Here's the entire page, highlighted by a huge Paramount ad for the Charlotte Henry "Alice In Wonderland":



Next up is a column from Dec. 7, 1935 that ran in the Boston Globe. It undoubtedly had local interest, as Carole discusses a study where many Harvard men were rejecting most debutantes for romance, but tells young women how to land the man of their dreams...even if they have to settle for undergrads from Boston College or Tufts.



The page showed that Lombard's latest film, "Hands Across The Table," was playing at several theaters...including one at Harvard Square:



Finally, we turn to the Detroit Free Press of May 19, 1936, where Carole's comments get a banner headline:



What is that recipe? Let's take a closer look:



Some intriguing observations, few of them surprising to anyone familiar with Lombard. (And Carole cites Nietzsche!) "Make every moment count. Don't waste a second. ... But temper your fun with common sense."

I think it safe to say this pinch-hitter knocked it out of the park.

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