During Hollywood’s Golden Age, being a star entailed more than just acting: leading men and women had to sing, dance, play it straight, play the clown — in short, they had to know how to entertain.
LIFE photographer Leonard McCombe was a fly on the wall that year as stars from Paul Newman and Zsa Zsa Gabor to Kirk Douglas and Mae West dropped in to rehearse for the big event in 1938. As it turned out, however, only a handful of McCombe’s marvelous photos were ever published. Until now.
The result? Sheer showbiz magic.