“The Real Low-Down on Lombard” (Picture Play, January 1937)

Labeled “Glamour Girl Number One” insinuates Carole Lombard is the pivot for hectic doings, that clothes, beaus and fresh thrills monopolize her time. But this story proves she is the very opposite.

By: Ben Maddox

I’m tired of reading those half-truths about Carole Lombard. She is Hollywood’s most misinterpreted young modern. The nonsense which has always been so deliberately conjured up isn’t at all necessary, anyways. For colorful as the Lombard legend is, Carole herself actually can top it for interest.

You have never had a chance to know the real woman because her employers and gaga interviewers have created a part for her to play-off screen.

A steady build-up has gone on. Carole, finally, has definitely succeeded to the title of Glamour Girl Number One, the distinction formerly held in turn by the Misses Bow, Crawford, and Harlow.

Now it is Lombard who is acclaimed the movie colony’s pace-setter. She is the dazzling Hollywood lady in a lll her dashing, dizzy glory. Presumably hers is the gayest manner, the most ultra wardrobe. She reportedly throws the best parties and has the most sought-after boyfriend in America. Today she is the idol of the repressed. Of course you’ve heard how she refuses to build a dining room in her new mansion? A typical gesture, clarioned the columnists. Nothing so passé for Lombard!

It certainly has given the public something to talk about, this manufactured line. In spare moments you’ve always been able to wonder what on earth she was plotting next. Writers who feel duty bound to present red-hot romance angles have had a field day. Her civilized divorce has been elaborately analyzed. lately it’s Clark Gable’s devotion which has caused endless speculation.

“Aren’t they silly?” This is the comment Carole will make to you, as friend to friend, when the conversation turns to the carryings-on of her supposed self.

The most amazing fact about Lombard is that she isn’t fantastic at all. Furthermore, she hasn’t endeavored to be. “Personally I resent being tagged ‘glamour girl,'” she says. “It’s such an absurd, extravagant label. it implies so much that I’m not.”

As usual, she was being completely frank the afternoon I dropped into her dressing room. The irresistible quality about Carole’s honesty is that it begins abruptly at home. She isn’t hypocritical in her opinions; but, more important, she isn’t fooled about herself.

Her superlative trade-mark insinuates that she is the constant pivot for hectic doings, that she is as frivolous exponent of the superficial. Apparently clothes, beaus and fresh thrills monopolize her tie.

But, emphatically, this is not so. The Carole I know is almost the very opposite. She is practical, down -to-earth. She has the normal feminine fondness for chid, but she isn’t in the least fashion crazy. Men intrigue her; yet she isn’t capricious. Her heart obeys her brain. Instead of being impulsive, she’s exceedingly well-balanced and invariably considers the consequences first. Her horizon is anything but narrow.

This is the true reason why she has climbed in Hollywood. From the beginning she’s had not only a talent adn a willingness to concentrate, but a keen perspective, too. She’s been ever aware that she is in a business. The flattery which deludes so many favorites is accepted for its exact worth; Carole realizes she isn’t in an art where her whims can rule.

“I’m the incompatible wit this fall,” she declared, her wide blue eyes sparkling with gusto. “In another month or two I’d have had Dorothy Parker backed off the map. Only I’m through with comedies for a while.” She lounged more comfortably and added, “But maybe not; my humor has been so decidedly half-witted!”

“My reputation for daffiness has an obvious origin. In My Man Godfrey they had an utterly mad farce. I had to rattle on furiously, be the spirit of Park Avenue abandonment. As soon as I get a role I can guess what my new false face is to be. The type of picture charts the publicity program.”

Carole is currently ballyhooed as Hollywood’s style queen.

“I can’t imagine a duller fate than being the best dressed woman in reality,” she remarked pointedly. “When I want to do something I don’t pause to contemplate whether I’m exquisitely gowned. I want to live, not pose! My ambition is to be an excellent actress. So far as clothes go, all I try to do is be well-groomed. I don’t spend two thirds as much on my wardrobe as a number of the stars. I don’t believe in being lavish that way. I’d be a career in itself and there are too many other things to enjoy. Besides, I couldn’t afford it!”

Her flair for appearing strikingly smart is undeniable. But credit it to her ability to relax, to forget that she is probably stunning. In her own tastes she is conservative, leaning strongly to the tailored. She is wise to proper costs and secured full value by reutilizing materials and furs. The fashion halo was accidentally won when she had to do stories that were weak and in need of daring costumes to aid at the box office.

“I had to struggle for years to do comedy. But I don’t think I was at the top when I was merely an insipid ingénue, and I don’t agree that I’m so proficient in comedy as I can be in straight drama. It’s my goal, professionally. Otherwise I want a sane private life. That’s why I look at those so-called glamor yarns as more of a handicap than a help. Fun’s fun, in its place. I don’t always laugh, though.”

She hasn’t merrily skyrocketed, either. There have been many hurts for Carole, rebuffs that were overcome finally by her determination not to be licked. There was a near tragic automobile accident which threatened to disfigure the beauty which is an essential for the screen. There have been romantic disappointments, which she has taken with a smile when they weren’t casual.

When her family moved to Hollywood from Indiana, Carole was seven. She was entered in a girls’ school; then she went to Los Angeles High. But before she ever got a toehold in the studios she studied for three years at a local stage academy.

Branding her a playgirl is silly. She adores to joke. She is an absolute democrat, and would rather purposely high-hat a snob than fail to greet the humblest worker on the lot with a cheery quip. But there is nothing parasitic in her nature and she is earnest behind the devil-may-care mask she puts on occasionally. Carole has gayety, but not bravado.

I have seen her plan and scheme and fight for opportunities, just as the astute office worker does. What I admire most is her sportsmanship. She battles for her breaks with the studio executives; seh hasn’t advanced a single step by pushing another girl down. When I mentioned an actress who hasn’t had much luck recently Carole said, “She would have been grand in my Love Before Breakfast.”

I happened to speak of a visit with Paul Muni and she revealed herself as an anxious student of his superb technique.

You have read of her parties. She is, nevertheless, comparatively unsocial. She seldom goes to the Trocadero or the other night spots. “But when I do go out I try to be a welcome guest, and when I entertain I attempt to be original. Why not?”

Her new estate has been eulogized. No one asked Carole her motive for moving.

“I’d been in the old house for three-and-a-half years,” she explains when queried, “and suddenly the owner announced my rent was to be tripled. I thought that unreasonable, so I politely bid him goodbye.” She doesn’t care for big establishments and the little pseudo-farmhouse in which she now resides is far from being a manor. “There’s no dining room simply because the building was too small for one!”

Where Clark Gable is concerned, Carole is silent. She makes no statements. Life can’t be centered wholly on a job; she is human and no one senses it better than she does herself. When she marries again — and she’s not so independent as to fancy she doesn’t want a husband — it will be for always.