“What About Carole Lombard?” (Screenland, June 1931)

You know she’s beautiful — but what’s she really like, this blonde who is Bill Powell’s best girl? Meet her here

By: Betty Boone

She looks New Yorkish.

She talks slightly Bostonish.

She acts (on the screen, mind you) very Londonish.

The geographical phenomena in question is Carole Lombard, blonde, svelte and smart-cracking.

She was immured in Hollywood at the age of seven and by some miracle escaped the fate of a screen child prodigy.

She has divided the ensuing years between school, an apprenticeship in the Mack Sennett Seminary of Hurling Pies and Non-Swimming Bathing Beauties, an ingénueship on the Fox lot, a similar vessel at the Pathé studios, and at the given moment is answering Paramount’s prayer for a beautiful actress who can also act.

The Lombard family hails from Fort Wayne, Indiana, whence they came to Hollywood four strong — mother, two brothers and Little Sister.

The brothers deserve a chapter in any story about Carole, because they seem to be responsible for little sister’s utter lack of feminine complexities such as nerves, affectations and moods.

Freddie, the elder by six years, and “Tutti” (for Stuart) previous by three years, decided at a nearly age to make their sister into a model A-1 female relative, with ultra-gratifying results.

Whining, tattling, and crying were among the early luxuries denied Little Sister. She didn’t miss them much, however, because she didn’t know that other girls cared to enjoy them.

Carole trained easily, it seems, because she was included in all such masculine excursions as baseball games, riding jaunts, tennis and golf and even sailing. By the time she had reached a gangling sixteen the brothers showed little or no disinclination to accompanying her to numerous dances and theatre parties.

A few moths before the issuance of a diploma from the Los Angels high school, Carole decided that she was tired of it all. The urge to do great and stupendous things sent her thoughts to the nearest studio.

She expected parental and fraternal objections. She rehearsed her impassioned plea carefully before the family conclave. She was surprised and not a little disappointed when her mother placidly assured her that no interference would be forthcoming from her, and the brothers “ribbed” her nonchalantly about her career.

Now, the Lombard mere is just about 100 years ahead of her time in the job of mothering. She does not believe in that sacred thing called parental rights. She is satisfied with the sincere friendship and love that her children offer her, and refuses to block with advice, tears, or commands any course they care to follow.

Her platform of “I do not choose to interfere” is the scandal, so I’m told, of all the Lombard relatives, and nourishing gossip for the neighborhood sewing clique.

“You simply couldn’t go wrong with a mother like mine,” Carole told me one day when the subject of progeny versus parentage was food for discussion. “I think the ‘life of the Lombards’ is the real reason for my shying from the matrimonial leap.

“Our house is usually ringing with laughter. My brothers are wits in their own right and they do a good deal of practicing about the house. Freddie and Tutti always bring home a few friends apiece for dinner, and those added few of mine makes the Lombard mansion a little like a madhouse. But I love it. I am afraid that when I leave home for one of my own I’ll be gnawed with homesickness and loneliness.”

Due to brotherly interest, no doubt, Carole goes about the business of being a motion picture player with a masculine deliberation that is amazing in one so blonde, so blue-eyed and so fragile.

She studies the intricacies of make-up, coiffures, diets, exercises, gestures, voice pitches, clothes and mannerisms as methodically and thoroughly as an income tax collector.

She believes that a flawless figure and plu-perfect grooming are far more essential on the screen than mere beauty. And I, for one, say the Lombard girl is right.

Carole has trained her figure into a symmetry of liquid lines that nettles fifty percent of Hollywood’s feminine population. She does not diet, but she does believe in sensible eating and plenty of outdoor exercise.

Her hobbies are interior decoration and perfumes. She is reluctant to admit the latter interest, since ninety percent of the film colony claims the same avocation.

“I really love perfumes, “Carole said on one occasion when she returned from Mexico with twenty bottles of rare scents. “I don’t buy the stuff for the bottles to be used as decorations on my dressing room table. I open every bottle the moment I get it home and use it until I tire of it. I change perfumes on average of once a week, returning to old favorites or new possibilities, and the stimulating effect of this variety of aromas is quite pleasant.”

At this writing, Carole’s home is the ultimate in Colonial furnishings, drapes and things. It will remain Colonial until she can afford to sell out the entire house and start from the ground up creating a new and exciting domicile.

When she has finished her last scene in Up Pops the Devil, she will make a speed-limit trip to Los Angeles’ largest furniture establishment and, aided with an army of rug-men, chair-men, table-men, drapery-men and lamp-men will “do over” the house in French Provincial style.

To the suggestion that clothes should be a added to her list of hobbies, Carole is scornful.

“Clothes a hobby?” she echoes incredulously. “Clothes should be a business, a very serious business to every woman, whether she likes it or not.”

“Shopping is never a pleasure for me. Keeping one’s mental balance in a sea of eager saleswomen calls for every ounce of sales resistance and poise.”

Having won sartorial laurels right along with Kay Francis, Lilyan Tashman and Norma Shearer, with no obvious effort, Carole admits that no woman is smart by virtue of talent or bank account, but by grueling toil and exhaustive study.

The fact that she now is riding on the crest of a very well behaved wave has not stirred Carole’s equilibrium. Her contract with Paramount is just six months old, and she has been assured that stellar roles are in the very near offing.

Carole says that she always knew she’d make good. You see, she’s not inhibited by inferior complexes. Even when she was lying in a hospital after a severe motor accident, and doctors were indefinite when asked about her return to the screen, Carole never doubted her destiny for a moment. When a numerologist advised her to final the “e” to her name she did that calmly, too.

Freddie and Tutti still “rib” her for being an actress, but they are terribly proud of her.