Want to see some rare Carole Lombard photos? Happy to oblige. Here are some I uncovered in vintage scrapbooks.

If you follow the site on Facebook, you may have seen some of these already, but who wouldn’t want a second look at the divine Miss Lombard? And sorry about the watermarks, but don’t blame me, blame the people who steal photos that cost me money from my website and don’t give me any credit!

How about this amazing color shot?

carole lombard color

 

Having some fun on the set of her film “Vigil in the Night.”

carole lombard vigil in the night

Hey, she even got a goofy look out of Charles Laughton while filming “They Knew What They Wanted.” Doesn’t she look modern in this photo? You could plop her down in 2016 and she wouldn’t look at all out of place!

carole lombard charles laughton

Calling her “Pappy.” The location was Napa Valley for filming of “They Knew What They Wanted.”

carole lombard clark gable

Having a blast playing backgammon with Cary Grant and Kay Francis on the set of “In Name Only.”

carole lombard kay francis cary grant

One of those in the series of Carole dumping roses on Robert Montgomery, publicity for “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.”

carole lombard robert montgomery

Carole and Robert kiss up to “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” director Alfred Hitchcock.

robert montgomery alfred hitchcock carole lombard

There are a lot of great publicity photos for Carole’s 1937 film “True Confession.” Here’s a great one:

carole lombard una merkel fred macmurray

 

Carole and her husband Clark Gable (maybe you’ve heard of him?) enjoying some oysters at the Brown Derby.

clark gable carole lombard brown derby

And finally, the fashionable pair caught out and about:

clark gable carole lombard

More to come!

clark gable charles laughton

A reporter discusses actors and actresses with Charles Laughton, April 1935:

“One thing certainly prejudices me [against stars], and that’s personality. If I meet a star and dislike him very much indeed, I always try to say the best I can about his pictures, just in case I;m tempted to be unfair.” 

“Yes, I can understand that,” said Laughton. “And who do you dislike?”

I told him. 

He nodded.”Yes, he’s pretty nasty, I agree. I hope you don’t feel that way about Clark Gable?”

I gasped. Clark Gable is one of my secret weaknesses. that made me cautious.

“I like him,” I said mildly,”but I don’t admire him as an actor.”

“Nonsense,” said Laughton enthusiastically. “He’s a grand actor, probably the best leading man in Hollywood. Just think of him in ‘It Happened One Night.’ I went five times to see how he did it, and even then I didn’t know.”

“But wasn’t that Frank Capra’s direction?”

“No, it wasn’t Capra, or he would have pulled off the same trick with Warner Baxter in ‘Strictly Confidential,’ and he didn’t. He didn’t quite manage it with Claudette Colbert either. She was good, but you could see the wheels go round. But not with Gable. I tell you he’s a great actor–he’s saved more pictures from flopping than any star in Hollywood. I’m quite excited to think that I’m going back to work with him now.”

“In ‘Mutiny on the Bounty?'” I asked.

“Yes, with Robert Montgomery too. I’m looking forward to it tremendously.”

___

Interesting coming from Laughton, isn’t it? And Robert Montgomery was switched out for Franchot Tone by the time the film started rolling.

clark gable mutiny on the bounty

This piece from 1935 was written by a reporter sent to the Catalina Island set of Mutiny on the Bounty.

Oh, to be the lone female reporter hunting down the scoop to the location shoot of the latest Clark Gable picture! Sounds glamorous, right? Apparently not…

If you’re going from Hollywood, you ride the film boat from San Pedro wharf direct to the Isthmus, some ten miles across Channel. The boat makes it once a day carrying passengers and supplies. And so, surrounded by eight twenty-gallon gasoline tanks, four cartons of strawberries, two dead sharks, (to be used for Bounty atmosphere), and six milk cans, I started my great expedition.

The sky was clear. The stars were shining. The sea was choppy and rough; but by sticking my head out of the side and missing the strong gasoline odor, I managed to keep the stomach quiet. (I am told Mr. Franchot Tone, making the same trip the night previous, was not so fortunate! On Mr. Gable’s trip, he yelled for more speed!) At 12:30am, we sighted land and the huge camp, “City of Men,” wherein were parked the hardy crew of actors and technicians, et al, for MGM’s “Mutiny on the Bounty.” There was a cottage reserved for me, and I fell instantly into its waiting bed.

At 5:30 the next morning—it seemed middle of the night—a siren blew. Well, go to the fire. But no, it was just the first call for breakfast. Another siren blew at six; and at 6:30, I found myself at breakfast in the camp’s main dining hall with an extremely sleepy-eyed Clark Gable, a silent Charles Laughton, and a very charmingly pleasant Director Frank Lloyd. (You know, of course, that most men are really not fit to speak to in the morning until they’ve had their coffee, and I would say that Mr. Laughton and Mr. Gable, charming as their manners were later on the day, would be no exception to this rule. Mr. Lloyd, by the time I arrived at the table, had had his coffee!)

Incidentally, forgetting the rule, I remarked brightly to Mr. Gable that it looked like a fine day, and after a terrific effort, he brought forth a smile and a mumble: Yes, it might be, but he hoped it wasn’t windy. Mr. Laughton merely remarked bitterly that if he got any more sunburned, he couldn’t work anymore. After the first few sips of coffee, they looked much brighter, and by the time we fell into another water-taxi—it was the same I had ridden the evening previous, only now it was headed for sea—the conversation was a little more stimulating, although far from brilliant.

Incidentally, would you like to know what they ate for breakfast, these film idols? Well, Mr. Gable, I must report, is a sissy eater. He had a glass of lime juice and two cups of coffee. No scrambled eggs or sausages for him. Not even a bit of dry toast. I thought he looked longingly at Charlie Laughton’s well-filled plate, but I couldn’t be sure until he told me later—goodness, bit then; he hardly mumbled a word then—that he had to watch his diet. Clark Gable watching his diet!

“I haven’t eaten a boiled potato in years,” he told me. “And I love ‘em. I come from a family of big men. Fatness is a family trait. I had a grand old uncle with a stomach like John L. Sullivan’s and six double chins. Well, I resemble him in features, but I don’t try the double chins. So it’s no beans or potatoes or any of the hearty foods I like, For Gable.”

It’s interesting, these comments about what Clark eats. I have read many accounts that say he didn’t eat breakfast except for coffee. But this here about him having not eaten potatoes in years…I am rather skeptical of that. Clark loved food, loved to eat. Often when filming he would watch what he ate but when he got time off he ate whatever he wanted. I’ve also heard he was not a morning person (yeah don’t blame him there).

The Bounty, anchored off the Isthmus every night, had already started out to sea under power of its auxiliary motor, and we caught up with it some three miles distant and clambered up its side. The deck of the Bounty, as I viewed it for the first time, was a sight never to be forgotten. As you know, the ship is a replica of the famous old vessel which sailed from England to Tahiti back in 1700. It is ninety feet long, has a twenty-four foot bean, and carried three masts, the mizzen, fore mast, and main mast. It is what is known technically as a square-rigger and in the early morning calm, its sails were still to be furled.

Sprawling on the deck, standing, sitting, or lounging against boxes, was the all-male cast, a picturesque sight in stripped sailor pants, bare feet, and colored ‘kerchiefs around their heads. The real crew, regular San Pedro seamen, were, much to their disgust, in the same garb as the cast. They had to be so costumed for atmosphere; but later in the day when close-ups were in order, they made a quick change to their grease-smudged blue jeans and flannel shirts and square-toed shoes.

The first scene on tap was that in the story where the sailors, after being becalmed for days, catch a whiff of wind. Clark, as Fletcher Christian, excitedly runs the length of the deck, and Mr. Laughton, as Captain Bligh, follows him.

The first I knew work was under way came with a sharp call from Director Lloyd: “Have we a captain on board? Get your hat off, Mr. Laughton, and let’s get going!” For Mr. Laughton, still wary of the beating rays of the sun, was lolling in what shadow he could find, a lovely white 1935 duck hat pulled securely over his face.

Over and over, they took that scene. And then close-ups. And then some shots of Donald Crisp as Seaman Burkett, fighting with hungry, snarling shipmates over the catch of a shark. It was, surprisingly, much as if you were watching movies made within the four walls of a studio stage, save for the background of the tall masts of the old square-rigger with its flopping sails and the blue Pacific.

My attention concentrated on Clark—(what female’s wouldn’t?). I found him putting extraordinary vigor and power into his scenes; and then between shots, he was alike a great big kid. For the most part, he acted more like an ingratiating, irresponsible small boy than a great big he-man. Always between scenes he was forever playing, and more excited about the possible chance of potting a live shark with his revolver, which he had brought along, than the scene to be shot. Once I thought Director Lloyd was going to have to reprimand him seriously for his romping. Someone had yelled, “There’s your shark, Clark,” and forgetting his scene, he had grabbed his gun and rushed to take aim. The cameras were set, the lighting was right, and Lloyd wanted action. He yelled, “Take your places!” Everyone but Clark was ready. Lloyd yelled again, “Come on, Clark, let the shark go.” Looking very much like a disappointed small boy called to supper from playing pirates, Clark came back to work.

Laughton was a great surprise to me. I thought, why, I don’t know, that he would be extremely British and stand-offish and very dignified. He was completely the opposite. Much more adult in his actions than Clark, he too relaxed between scenes, but by sitting and chatting of everything with prop boy or actor or—yours truly.

I was fascinated to watch him go into a scene. In a second, with a twist of the shoulder, a flicker of an eyelid, he goes into character, is completely the sinister, stern English sea captain. His stride down the deck carried more power and more authority than I thought possible in a little man. The way he planted his feet on the deck, the way he carried his shoulders, changed him instantly from a pleasant person into that ominous captain whose every move exuded cruel power.

Clark would get in quite a tussle with the animal rights people over trying to shoot a shark nowadays!  I do love these accounts of filming on the ship; it was rare in 1935 for an entire production to film on location like that.

After dinner with only roast beef, roast veal, fried potatoes, two kinds of vegetables, soup, salad, apple pie, ice cream, and coffee—you have no appetite at all on the sea!—everybody boarded water-taxis once more and went off to Avalon where there is a real motion picture theatre, to see the rushes run. And if I still entertained any notions about Mr. Charles Laughton being sedate and prim, I lost them then. There was a little delay getting the theatre lights turned on and out of the darkness from the stage came the sound of a tap dance. As the lights blazed, there was Mr. Laughton, enjoying himself hugely as he executed a soft-shoe number all by himself. When the gang yelled their approval, he bowed and recited the Gettysburg address.

The next day, “The City of Men” on the Isthmus lost its official classification. The Joan Crawford company, making “I Live My Life,” moved into camp for scenes on some old Greek ruins constructed high on a hill overlooking the bay. Women arrived in numbers, and I lost my ranking as “the only female.” And so I went home.

I do love this account of Charles Laughton! And interesting that Joan Crawford and crew arrived–Joan, the wife of Bounty star Franchot Tone and former flame of Clark’s. Clark apparently went over to visit Joan at those Greek ruins. There is photographic proof!

clark gable joan crawford mutiny on the bounty

You can read the article in its entirety in The Article Archive.

 

Our trip to Forest Lawn: Hollywood Hills was a quick one. Founded in 1906, it is younger and smaller than its big Glendale cousin (blog on Glendale this week!) but is still gorgeous in its own right. The best part of the cemetery is the view; you could see for miles from the top of the hill.

Our main objective here was the legendary Bette Davis, who was not at all hard to find. I left her a bouquet (dedicated from some dear friends of mine); she had already been given several flowers and also a big lipstick print.

Clark Gable and Bette Davis

Clark Gable and Bette Davis

 

She’s entombed with her mother Ruth and sister Barbara.

Right around the corner from her, in a wall in the outdoor mausoleum is a modest marker for renowed actor Charles Laughton. Charles was the tyrannical Captain Bligh to Clark’s mutinous Fletcher Christian in Mutiny on the Bounty, and starred with Carole in White Woman (1933) and They Knew What They Wanted (1941). Carole reportedly nicknamed him Cuddles, but apparently neither she nor Clark cared for him very much personally.

Clark Gable, Carole Lombard and Charles Laughton

Clark Gable, Carole Lombard and Charles Laughton

Not too far from there is George Raft. George was known to have Mob connections and was quite the womanizer. Him and Carole were rumored to have had a thing or two while filming Bolero (1934) and Rumba (1935) together. George also dated Norma Shearer and, briefly, Clark’s ex-wife Ria Langham shortly after their divorce.

Carole Lombard and George Raft

Carole Lombard and George Raft

george raft

Cool fact about Forest Lawn: Hollywood Hills is that during the silent era its massive fields were used as a filming location. Battle scenes for D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation
(1915) were filmed here.

Carole Lombard with director Garson Kanin

From December 1940:

I knew something had been wrong with Hollywood these past few months. But I couldn’t put my finger on it. There didn’t seem to be any snap and pep in the place. Why there were days when everythings was as silent as the tomb. And just about as cheery. Now I know what was the matter and I am delighted to report that everything is inder control again. It was Missy Lombard–that charming screwball who has more humor in her little finger than an executive has in his entire writing department. Carole, the dope, went serious on us. No squeals and screams, no “simply out of this world,” no funny wires, no side-splitting gags, no colorful adjectives. Mercy, it was dull.

But it’s all right now. Carole’s a gay girl again. And up to her old tricks, thank goodness. Seems as if the chief cameraman on the picture Carole has just completed–“They Knew What They Wanted”, with Charles Laughton (Carole calls him “Cuddles”)–is a very earnest young man named Harry Stradling, who takes his job, as all jobs should be taken, seriously. Unlike most cameramen, Mr. Stradling is a great stickler for realism. When the scene calls for flowers or fruit, there must be real flowers and fruits, and not something whipped up in the property department. And when Mr. Stradling photographs a tree, by golly, it has to be a real tree. Well, he was simply in seventh heaven when the company was on location in Napa, California, for there were trees, wonderful trees, all over the countryside. But when the company returned to the studio on Gower Street, Mr. Stradling had a little trouble. He walked on the set one morning and found Carole and Laughton all ready to do a big dramatic scene under a tree–but what tree! Like all studio trees it was made of plaster and wires, with paper leaves.

Mr. Stradling demanded a real tree. The studio informed him that real trees drooped under the hot klieg lights, and an artificial tree was more satisfactory. Mr. Stradling, who will doubtless grow up to be Frank Capra, insisted on realism. In the meantime, Miss Lombard was frothing at the mouth. The scene was being held up, and the longer it was held up the less time she would have to go fishing with her old man (Gable to you). First, she bit her nails, then she stamped her foot, then she recited Joyce Kilmer’s “Trees” until everybody nearly went crazy.

At long last, a real tree was brought into the studio in a bucket as big as a swimming pool, filled with moist earth, etc., and at a longer last Mr. Stradling, with the soul of an artist, was ready to shoot the scene. Lights had to be dimmed to keep the tree from wilting, little men had to chase around with hose, and such a fuss went on that Miss Lombard confidentally confided in Mr. Laughton that it seemed they were co-starring with a tree. Well, anyway, the day the picture was finished Mr. Stradling was enjoying a late morning sleep, when there was a terrific rapping on his front door. On the street below was a truck almost a block long, and on it, from one of the best nurseries in town, a tree as big as all outdoors. “A present for you,” said the driver, “from Miss Lombard. What’ll I do with it?” Mr. Stradling lives in an apartment. The tree has become a definite problem. Carole is laughing her head off.

Garson Kanin, Carole Lombard and Charles Laughton

A brief photo-essay from Life Magazine, September 1940:

This episode in the making of a movie is a dramatic moment rarely, if ever, photographed before. The movie is RKO’s version of They Knew What They Wanted, from the play that won Sidney Howard a Pulitzer Prize in 1925. The characters are director Garson Kanin, Actors Carole Lombard and Charles Laughton. For two months they have worked like beavers on what they beleive is to be a great movie script. They have had the usual quarrels. On location at Napa, Calif., 550 miles from home, they have run into the usual location troubles: bad weather, delays, throngs of bothersome autograph hounds.

Now the filming is over. Director Kanin has spent three hectic days editing, cutting and piecing together a first working print. Then, to show the result, he calls into the small projection room at RKO his stars and LIFE’s Hollywood photorapher Peter Stackpole. Laughton arrives with his usual sloppy clothes and uncombed hair. Ordinarily an uncommunative individual, he is strangely excited, declares volubly that, to him, They Knew What They Wanted is the most significant film of the decade. Finally Carole, who rarely attends her own previews, comes and the show begins.

Photographer Stackpole sits on the floor midway between screen and people. He tells them to ignore him, and they do. What follows is recorded in these pictures. To the photographer’s amazement the two veteran stars laugh, twist their hands, act as if they were seeing, for the first time, their earliest screen tests.

Carole buries her head and cries, "My God! Is that me?" when she first sees herself as a waitress in an Italian spaghetti joint

During love scene between herself and William Gargan, Carole can not sit still, leans over and gives an imitation of it with Charles Laughton. In the movie Laughton plays an Italian farmer who proposes to Carole in a letter containing a photograph of his handsome hired man, played by Gargan.

Self-critical Carole dislikes her acting in the scene where Laughton, anxious to impress the waitress whom he has inveighed by correspondence into marrying him, climbs a roof, falls down and breaks both legs. Says Carole of this scene: "Boy, did I stink that one up!" But Kanin and Laughton reassure her.

All grow tense as they watch the big fight scene near the end of the movie. Here the Italian farmer, learning that his bride is bearing a child by the hired man, beats his rival savagely over the head. Throughout preview Laughton unconsciously imitates with hands and grimaces his own figure on the screen.

 All dolled up and out on the town for a worthy cause!

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There’s Clark and Carole looking quite dashing, posing in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater. The occaison? An all-star radio broadcast for Greek War Relief that was held seventy years ago today–January 8, 1941.

I love  all-star events like this because the pictures answer the questions of “Did so- and-so ever meet so-and-so?”

For instance, the event was only one of two instances that I know of that Carole is pictured with Myrna Loy (and that’s Melvyn Douglas and Tyrone Power with them too):

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Carole, Myrna and Tyrone share a secret:greek8The dashing duo with Dick Powell, Frank Morgan, Ann Rutherford and Shirley Temple:

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Doesn’t Clark looked thrilled by whatever story Samuel Goldwyn is telling?

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Being friendly with a guy who reportedly neither one of them liked, Charles Laughton:

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The star-studded crowd backstage:

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Here’s hosts Jack Benny and Bob Hope:

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Melvyn Douglas, Jack Benny and Robert Taylor with Barbara Stanwyck:

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Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck with Lewis Stone:

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Ronald Colman and Shirley Temple:

 ronaldcolmanshirleytemple

From Photoplay magazine:

Again we say there is no community anywhere or any group or people so ready and willing at all times to give of their precious time and talent to a worthy cause as the people of Hollywood.

The gigantic radio program organized by Mr. Samuel Goldwyn for Greek Relief and broadcast to Greece and England had practically every star in the business participating, from Shirley Temple to Charles Laughton. Bob Hope and Jack Benny, as co-partners in emceeing, kept the performers in stitches—Bob with lighthearted quips, Benny with his heavyhearted worry.

Myrna Loy was the belle of the ball throughout rehearsals and little Shirley Temple was so popular she and Ronald Colman were compelled to lock themselves in a dressing room to rehearse in peace. But [our photographer] is resourcefulness itself. He merely climbed up to the transom and clicked away.

Big bad George Raft, who scares millions on the screen, got the willies when he learned he was to be tossed like a badminton cock between Benny and Hope in a skit, He couldn’t even go on the air, he was so frightened. 

It was Mickey Rooney who nearly threw the troupe into a fit. Mickey, who had been rehearsing for the Charlie McCarthy-Edgar Bergen show over at NBC, got caught in the traffic jam outside the Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard and arrived backstage just two minutes before he went on the air in a Hardy skit.

 Considering the hours and days of rehearsals and the writing and technical talent that lay behind the broadcast, we’d say Hollywood had done its bit once again—and done it magnanimously.

__________

You can see the photos from the event in the gallery.

I’ve started organizing the gallery better—it bothered me especially that the candids section was a hodge podge of years and events thrown together in random order. So the random candids have been separated into two year groups, 1930-1944, and 1945-1960.  Those pics are slowly but surely being put in a somewhat-choronological order as well. Certain events have been given their own album–one for the 1935 Academy Awards, for Clark and Kay in Italy in 1959,  for Clark’s handprint ceremony at Grauman’s in 1937 and the Greek Benefit.

I’ve also been adding captions where they are missing and deleting and re-uploading some pics that need better quality or where the watermark screws up the picture. If you know of any in particular, please comment on it in the gallery and I’ll fix it if I can.