Carole Lombard: Early Years in Slapstick

Today is the birthday of the great screen light comedienne Carole Lombard (1908-1942). As impossible as it may seem to disassociate your mental image of her from that ethereal voice, the fact remains that young Jane Alice Peters got her start as a child in silent pictures, acting in films for Allan Dwan and Raoul Walsh and others before becoming one of Mack Sennett’s Bathing Beauties in 1928, even starring in one film The Campus Vamp a.k.a The Campus Carmen. Here it is!:

The following year, Lombard began appearing in talkies and the better known phase of her career, and films like Twentieth Century (1934), My Man Godfrey (1936), Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941) and To Be or Not to Be (1942). At one point she was the highest paid star in Hollywood. From 1931 to 1933 she was married to William Powell. In 1939 she wed Clark Gable. She died in a plane crash in 1942 while selling war bonds. She was only 33 years old.

For more on silent and slapstick comedy films please check out my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from etc etc etc


  1. “The Campus Vamp” and “The Campus Carmen” are two different films; “Vamp” was released Nov. 25, 1928, while “Carmen” came out some two months earlier, on Sept. 23. Incidentally, portions of “Vamp” were used in the 1985 film “Maxie,” where Glenn Close portrays a woman possessed by the spirit of a 1920s flapper…played by Lombard! (


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