If you're an American of a certain age, chances are you remember Look magazine, from which a 1962 cover is shown above. Perhaps your family received it in the mail every other week (as opposed to its chief rival, Life, which was a weekly). It was a lively publication, and often featured some intriguing photojournalism. (Before going into movies, future director Stanley Kubrick was a Look photographer.)
And in its early years, it had at least two fascinating pieces on Carole Lombard.
First, though, some background on the magazine: Look began publication in early 1937, several months after Life's debut. Look's founders were brothers John and Gardner "Mike" Cowles Jr.; the latter was executive editor of the Des Moines Register, a respected morning daily whose circulation and influence then covered the entire state of Iowa, and its afternoon sibling, the Des Moines Tribune.
One would think that Time executive Henry Luce, who founded Life (not to be confused with the humor magazine that folded earlier in the 1930s), would have resented the newcomer. Not the case. He and Gardner Cowles decided the publications had different goals and clienteles -- Life was more news-oriented, Look more committed to features.
So in January 1937, Look hit the newsstands with an issue dated for February:
Like Life, Look became an immediate success. So much so, in fact, that by April, it changed from publishing monthly to once every two weeks. (For more on the two magazines, visit http://www.magazines.things-and-other-stuff.com/life-magazine.html.)
In its early days, Look ran long photo-oriented features on Hollywood stars such as Greta Garbo, Jean Harlow (a few months before her death in June) and Marlene Dietrich. So for the May 11 issue, it was no surprise that the magazine decided to do a similar piece on Carole Lombard and Clark Gable, who by now were linked romantically.
What makes this particularly interesting from a Lombard perspective is that, as in several of its other movie-star profiles, Look found some older pictures, revealing a sexier side of her that had been more or less suppressed since enforcement of the Hays Code nearly three years earlier. Also note that this article lists Lombard as being 5-foot-5 1/2, the second-tallest description of her height (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/25477.html) and having a 4 1/2 B shoe size. However, a caveat: earlier in the article, she was listed as being 27, a year younger than her actual age.
It also looked at Gable's wives, wondering if Carole would become No. 3. (Since wife No. 2, Ria Langham, had separated from Gable in 1935, a year before his romance with Lombard began, Carole never suffered any public wrath over being a "homewrecker," unlike Elizabeth Taylor some two decades later.) There was also a then-and-now photo display of Gable.
One guesses Lombard was more amused than angry at seeing some of those racy old pictures displayed in a national magazine. And if she was indeed angry, it simmered down by the fall of 1938, when she collaborated with Look on a feature. That'll come tomorrow as part 2.