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Carole Lombard and Her Protégées

'Carole and her protégées... she’s crawling with them!'

I have found that during my time as a self-proclaimed Lombard historian, that Carole has proved to have one of the kindest hearts.

Carole's first endeavor into being a sponsor for somebody was a little boy by the name of Alex. Alex had journeyed all the way from South Carolina to the land of Hollywood with a dream of becoming a star in the films. When he first arrived, he had a job carrying around George Raft's make-up tray; when Carole ran into him waltzing around the lot one day, she found a solid love for his high-pitched Southern dialect and humour. She would boast to everybody about how funny he was, how much he had made her laugh and how he should be in the movies.

Carole adopted him as her very own assistant; she would send him on errands to the front office so "these movie moguls can see for themselves what a riot he is." And every morning, Carole would receive a knock on her door from little Alex and in with his unique voice that Carole loved so much, he would ask, "You don't suppose I could get you something this morning, do you, Miss Lombard?" and when Carole would respond to him, he would joke around, trip up over himself and fall into the furniture. Carole found a very big love for this little boy and would respond to his questions and comments in her very own version of his accent.

Alex got a few small parts in different films in Hollywood, though I have never been able to figure out who this little boy who caught Carole's heart was.

A little while later, Carole spotted an un-named wardrobe girl working at the studio, Carole helped her to open her very own dress shop. A similar situation when Carole's butler, Phil, confessed to Carole one day that he would love to travel the world one day—a few short months after she heard that there was a notable well-to-do family looking for a servant to take with them on a trip around the world; though this meant she would be losing her favourite butler, she graciously encouraged him to go, even helped to make arrangements.

In 1937, Carole got her first, proper protégée when she was introduced to Margaret Tallichet. Margaret won a beauty contest in her home state of Texas and moved out to Hollywood to pursue a career in film, but wound up working in the publicity department of the Paramount Studios as a stenographer and secretary. When Margaret was escorting Boyd Martin, a reporter for the Courier-Journal, to Carole for an interview, Carole couldn't help but stare at Margaret. I suppose she saw potential in such a beautiful and young actress. Carole got 'Tally' as she called her, a part-time contract working as an actress, and for the other part, in the publicity department. She arranged for Margaret to work with the Paramount acting coach, had her own hairdresser, Loretta Francell cut and style Tally's hair.

Margaret, c. late 1930s.

She made telephone calls to several different people, including her publicist, Russell Birdwell which gained her enough exposure. Her first small, walk-on role in A Star is Born (1937) and her biggest film achievement was when she starred next to Peter Lorre in Stranger on the Third Floor (1940). Margaret met William Wyler, director at Goldwyn in 1938, and three weeks later, they got married; and what a long marriage it was, lasting until Mr. Wyler died in 1981. Miss. Tallichet starred in a few other films and retired in 1941.

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