To remember Carole

No one needs a reason to remember Carole.  Or to dedicate a post in her honor.  But I do so today because it happens to be the anniversary of her death (January 16, 1942).  And because there’s fun to share.

Although Carole Lombard left this world in a tragic way and far sooner that she should have, I can’t be sad thinking about her even on a day like today.  She was such a bright star with an outstanding flair for comedy that she evokes nothing but smiles and fond remembrances.  And so – here are a few…

“She was so alive, modern, frank, and natural that she stands out like a beacon on a lightship in this odd place called Hollywood.” – Barbara Stanwyck

Carole in 1928
Carole in 1928

Now, a few words on a silent film in which Carole appeared in 1928, one of the several slapstick comedies she did for Mack Sennett that year, The Campus Carmen directed by Alf Goulding.  While Carole is top-billed in a few of the copies of the film I saw online and third-billed in others, the latter is actually the role she plays in the movie – a relatively minor one with Daphne Pollard playing the main role.  Still, the movie is a hoot.

The premise is simple – the students of Sunnyside Girls School receive permission to put on a production of “Carmen” and they’re all really excited about it.  “Some of the girls slept in dormitories – but most of ’em wore pajamas.”  (I know!  That makes no sense!)

Carole hears Tillie returning
Carole hears Tillie returning

Anyway – as the movie opens the group is having a massive pillow fight.  Well, except for Fanny, a large girl who’s enjoying some chocolates – “she’s nature’s gift to the candy industry.”  Oh, and Tillie Tooler (Pollard) who’d left the sleeping quarters to take a shower.  “Tillie wanted to sing in “Carmen” and probably would.”  When Carole hears Tillie coming back toward the dormitory she quickly plans for the group to surprise her with a paddling of pillows.  However, instead of Tillie walking into the surprise attack it’s the Dean of the school who walks in.  The Dean, “just a vinegar bottle in the pantry of life,” is good and truly walloped, which results in their “Carmen” being called off.

BUT, when we next see the troupe it’s backstage on opening night!  It turns out that the students are able to hire a hall and put on their production after all.  Then we see the sorriest production of “Carmen” ever.  But I laughed at many parts of this – even when I didn’t want to because the gags are so silly.  There really is nothing special about The Campus Carmen, yet watching it was a well-spent 16+ minutes.


And now for a special treat – Carole on the radio, starring in two fantastic adaptations alongside a few other greats.

First, the Gulf Screen Guild Theater production, “Tailored By Toni” starring Carole, Spring Byington, Edward Everett Horton, and James Stewart with host, George Murphy from March 12, 1939.


And also from Gulf Screen Guild Theater, “The Awful Truth” starring Carole alongside Robert Young and Ralph Bellamy: (Click on the following image)


“I’ve lived by a man’s code designed to fit a man’s world, yet at the same time I never forget that a woman’s first job is to choose the right shade of lipstick.”

The Little Tramp turns 100

“A tramp, a gentleman, a poet, a dreamer, a lonely fellow, always hopeful of romance and adventure.” – Charlie Chaplin

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the first appearance of Charlie Chaplin‘s Little Tramp when the Keystone Comedy, Kid Auto Races at Venice was released.  The day was January 7, 1914 and the character would become Chaplin’s best-known onscreen alter ego.

The Little Tramp makes his debut in Kid Auto Races at Venice
The Little Tramp makes his debut in Kid Auto Races at Venice

Charlie Chaplin had been traveling the country with a pantomime troupe when Mack Sennett signed him to make pictures for his Keystone Studios, which was by that point, in 1913, becoming known for its short slapstick comedy movies.  Chaplin’s first role at Keystone was as a swindler for which he wore a mustache and monocle, but his performance wasn’t received as well as expected.  Still, Sennett gave him another chance by casting him in Kid Auto Races at Venice.

In preparation for filming, Chaplin reportedly combed through the Keystone costume closets to create the now-famous look of the Little Tramp. “Pants baggy, coat tight…hat small, shoes large,” as he later described it in his autobiography. To disguise the character’s age, he added a brush-like mustache over his lip. “I had no idea of the character,” he wrote, “but the clothes and the makeup made me feel the person he was.”

Kid Auto Races at Venice was a big hit and Chaplin as The Little Tramp was a sensation.  100 years later he remains one of the most recognizable figures in film, if not media, history.

I listened to a Mary Pickford interview some time ago during which she discusses Chaplin and The Little Tramp at length.  She said she wished the actor/director would have continued to present the role on film for the rest of his career.  She felt, as I do (imagine that!), that The Little Tramp is as important a character as film has ever seen, representing those who don’t normally have a voice.  Through the images of this wonderfully relatable character, Chaplin was able to make us laugh, break our hearts and make valuable social commentary.

I always say that my love of the classics continually reminds me of how average I am.  Here again is another example of that – I’ve been a fan of Chaplin’s Little Tramp since the first time I saw him, just like the rest of the world.  The image of The Tramp that always comes to mind is that wonderfully bitter sweet sight of him walking away at the end of what seems to me are many of his films.  Walking off into the sunset to encounter other hardships and other joys, like us all in all our lives.  There’s something so wonderfully simple, yet extraordinarily profound in that one image as are his silent words in so many instances.  Like ones he spoke in my all-time favorite of his films, City Lights

“Tomorrow the birds will sing.”

No matter what…they always do as Charlie Chaplin (as himself) once said…“Nothing is permanent in this wicked world – not even our troubles” – The Little Tramp reminds us of that.

Except the Little Tramp himself is permanent.  100 years old and still a wonder.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.