74 years ago this month, lovebirds Clark Gable and Carole Lombard were among the throngs of celebrities attending the world premiere of MGM’s Marie Antoinette at the Carthay Circle Theater in Hollywood (no longer standing, sadly.)
The film has been on MGM’s drawing table for years; a pet project of producer Irving Thalberg, who died in 1936 before a camera ever rolled on the project. His wife, Norma Shearer, was set to be the star of the picture. After her husband’s death, the project was shelved while Norma grieved and was ill with pneumonia. The film finally started production in December 1937 and was a lavish affair, with a $1.8 million budget–practically unheard of at that time, most of it spent on the elaborate costumes, wigs and sets. The budget was so bloated that originally the film was to be shot in Technicolor but that idea had to be scrapped to save money. Norma has her critics as an actress, but Marie Antoinette really is her finest work. It was her personal favorite of all of her films and would often be the only one she would be willing to discuss with people when she was in failing mental health late in her life.
MGM made sure the premiere of this prestige picture was a grand event, with a virtual who’s who of Hollywood attending. Such as:
Norma was truly the queen of the night and, having recently ended a short fling with Jimmy Stewart, her co-star Tyrone Power was her escort.
Clark and Carole looked fabulous. I love Carole’s tightly curled ‘do and massive corsage!
TCM has the newsreel of the premiere (which is also on the film’s DVD):
Afterwards, everyone went over the infamous Hollywood nightspot the Trocadero for the after party. Spotted:
It is at this after party at “the Troc” that this picture of Clark and Carole was taken, one of my favorites. Think they are having a good time?
Looks like their table was the fun one!
I have a feeling that party went well into the night…