Celeb of the month: Carole Lombard

October 06, 2012

Because it's Carole's birthday today I thought it would be appropriate to write about her for my montly feature 'celeb of the month'.

Carole Lombard was born on the 6th of october in 1908. Carole was born Jane Alice Peters in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Carole Lombard was particularly noted for her roles in the screwball comedies of the 1930s. Carole was also the highest paid star in Hollywood in the late 1930s, with an earning of US$500,000 per year which was more than five times the salary of the United States president.

Carole made her film career debut at the age of 12. She was seen playing baseball in the street by by director Allan Dwan. He cast Carole as a tomboy in A Perfect Crime (1921). In the twenties she worked in several low-budget projects as Jane Peters, and later as Carole Lombard. In 1925 she was signed as a contract player with Fox Film Corporation (which merged with Daryl Zanuck's Twentieth Century Productions in 1935). 

In October 1930, Carole met William Powell. They had worked together in several films. Powell appreciated Carole's blunt personality and bawdy sense of humor. Powell and Lombard married on the 26th of June in 1931. However, William Powell was 16 years older than Carole, but Carole commented in fan magazines that she did not believe that the difference of age would present a problem. Friends of the actress thought otherwise; they felt they were ill-suited. Carole and William divorced in 1933, but the two always remained good friends and kept working together.

In 1934 Carole's career finally began to take off. It was that year when director Howard Hawks encountered Carole at a party and became enamored with her. He thought of her as the right person for his lastest project. Hawks hired Lombard for Twentieth Century alongside stage legend John Barrymore. Carole first felt intimidated by Barrymore, but the two soon developed a good working team.
In 1934, Carole carried on relationships with Gary Cooper and George Raft, aswell as screenwriter Robert Riskin. Lombard met and began a serious affair with crooner Russ Columbo, but he was killed in a shooting accident at the age of 26. Carole's most famous relationship came in 1936 with none other than Clark Gable.

Carole and Clark had worked together before in the film No Man Of Her Own (1932), but at that time Carole was still happily married with William Powell. Unbeknownst to eachother Clark and Carole have been working together as extra's in the silent film The Johnstown Flood (1926). At the time the two got reunited at the Mayfair Ball their romance began to take off. Clark Gable at that time was still married to oil heiress Ria Langham, and the affair was kept quiet.

The situation proved a major obstacle in Gable accepting the role as Rhett Butler (Gone With The Wind) as Louis B. Mayer gave Gable money to settle a divorce agreement with Langham, and marry Carole Lombard. Clark Gable divorced Langham on March 7, 1939 and proposed to Carole.

When the US entered World War II at the end of 1941, Lombard traveled to her home state of Indiana for a war bond rally with her mother, Bess Peters, and Clark Gable's press agent, Otto Winkler. Lombard was able to raise over $2 million in defense bonds in a single evening. Her party had initially been scheduled to return to Los Angeles by train, but Lombard was anxious to be home quicker and wanted to take a plane. Her mother and Winkler were both afraid of flying and insisted they follow their original travel plans. Lombard suggested they flip a coin; they agreed and Lombard won the toss.

In the early morning hours of January 16, 1942, Lombard, her mother, and Winkler boarded a Transcontinental and Western Air DC-3 airplane to return to California. After refueling in Las Vegas, TWA Flight 3 took off at 7:07 p.m. and approximately 23 minutes later, crashed into "Double Up Peak" near the 8,300 ft (2,500 m) level of Potosi Mountain, 32 statute miles (51 km) southwest of Las Vegas. All 22 aboard, including 15 army servicemen, were killed instantly.
Gable was flown to Las Vegas after learning of the tragedy to claim the bodies of his wife, mother-in-law, and Winkler, who aside from being his press agent had been a close friend. Lombard's funeral was held on January 21 atForest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. She was interred beside her mother under the name of Carole Lombard Gable. She died at the age of 33.

Happy birthday, Carole!

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  1. What a beautiful woman....and a terrible death...

  2. She was so beautiful and talented...


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