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Access classic Hollywood: Carole in "Photoplay"

There are many things I love about living in the Washington, D.C., area. Metrorail is arguably the nation's best mass transit system, making it easy to get around. If you're a sports fan, Washington is one of the few metropolitan area in the U.S. with teams in all six professional leagues (Major League Baseball, NHL, NBA, WNBA, NFL and Major League Soccer). And as the seat of federal government, there are all sorts of wonderful resources available.



One of them is the Library of Congress, of which the James Madison Building is shown above. This facility isn't as well known as the Thomas Jefferson Building on the other side of Independence Avenue, which has been around since 1897, but if you're a fan of movies, the Madison Building is invaluable. It hosts the Motion Picture & Television Reading Room -- and while checking the collection not long ago, I discovered that among the items on microfilm were copies of Photoplay, the most influential of movie fan magazines.



The above is the Photoplay issue of June 1934, marking the first time Carole Lombard appeared on the cover. (Incidentally, the story "Blondes Plus Curves Mean War" has no mention of Lombard in it, despite that glorious title. Darn.) But Carole had already appeared in the magazine a number of times -- and we'll periodically examine some of these stories and features.

Lombard's initial appearance may have been printed in the December 1927 issue, at a time when she was working for Mack Sennett. Appropriately, the two-page story had a Sennett angle, as the comedy impresario picked his 1928 beauties, most of whom were in his two-reel troupe. Lombard is in the upper right-hand corner:



None of the other four -- Marjorie King and Patsy Ruth Taylor on the left-hand page, Alma Bennett and Nola Yorba on the right -- appeared in more than a handful of films. (There's no IMDb listing for Taylor, who is not to be confused with Patsy Ruth Miller.) Bennett would work with Lombard in the 1928 short "The Campus Carmen," while Yorba, a former Miss California, had an uncredited role in "The Campus Vamp."

From a Lombard fan's perspective, what's most interesting about this is the copy that accompanies her picture:

"The sagacious Mack picks his girls to conform with the popular type. Carolle Lombard, for instance, belongs to the Garbo-Nissen-Gwen Lee school of dramatic art. Nordic but nice, as the story goes."

(The "Nissen" is Greta Nissen, a Norwegian emigre who had some success in silents in the mid- and late-twenties, but now is chiefly remembered for a film she didn't make..."Hell's Angels," where she was replaced by Jean Harlow when Howard Hughes decided to make it a sound film. Unlike Garbo and Nissen, Gwen Lee wasn't Scandinavian; she hailed from Hastings, Neb., and was popular in the late 1920s.)

The copy is yet another indication that before becoming Carole Lombard for good in 1930, the lady wasn't known only as Carol. This was one of several instances at Sennett where her first name was spelled "Carolle" (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/81372.html).

We'll have more Photoplay Lombard items in the near future...including two articles written before and after her marriage to William Powell.

Incidentally, if you'd like to learn more about the Motion Picture & Television Reading Room and the many research options it offers, go to http://www.loc.gov/rr/mopic/
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