In recent years, we've noted Carole Lombard had a friend in 1930s actress Mary Carlisle, but didn't have any photographic proof even after the last surviving WAMPAS Baby Star (an award given to up-and-coming actresses by West Coast film marketers) died at age 104 early on Aug. 1.
Now, thanks to the picture above, we have proof -- and a mystery about the pic has just been answered.
Taken at Los Angeles' legendary Hotel Ambassador sometime in the 1930s, this shows Mary at left, with Carole and first husband William Powell. But who's between the two actresses? I couldn't figure it out, and neither could the person who posted it. But thanks to Jean Hunter, we have the answer; it's Russell Gleason, and the photo is from the February 1933 Modern Screen.
We have two more Lombard images. Well, the first one supposedly is. Judge for yourself.
Rolf Armstrong (1889-1960) was a noted portrait painter whose work regularly appeared in Photoplay and other film fan magazines. (He was also the uncle of actor Robert Armstrong, who made several films with Lombard.)
In 1934, he composed the above Lombard pastel portrait, titled "Mink Stole," for Modern Screen magazine, but it declined to use it. To be honest, its resemblance isn't all that obvious, perhaps the reason for its rejection; it arguably more closely resembles a 1920s star (Mae Murray?) than the '30s-ish Lombard.
Here it is, framed...
...in a close-up of Lombard's face which here more closely resembles her...
...and Armstrong's signature in the lower-right hand corner:
In 2011, "Mink Stole" was discovered after more than three-quarters of a century in storage and sold.
Armstrong's other movie star subjects included Constance Bennett (The New Movie Magazine, June 1931)...
...and Marion Davies (Photoplay, November 1921):
Finally, a photo from late 1927 in which the new, post-automobile accident Lombard introduces herself to the world. The Fox-era Carole, a starlet in westerns, wore a darker hue, but to distance the new Lombard -- now a Mack Sennett employee whose forte was comedy -- from her former persona, she made this sexy shot for noted photographer Edwin Bower Hesser, who often pictured Mary Pickford, one of Carole's idols.
Lombard was blonde as a child, but never this blonde... or this alluring, with bare shoulders and wearing a pearl necklace (and likely not much else). While we've run this shot before, seeing it in this context helps explain its importance in what we'd today call "rebranding."