by Shannonn Kelly
09:36AM, EST October 06, 2012
Today would have been the 104th birthday of actress Carole Lombard, a feisty, foul-mouthed, sexy screwball. She was 2nd cousin to the legendary screwball comedy director Howard Hawks, who said of Lombard, “Marvelous girl. Crazy as a bedbug” –so maybe, there’s something in the genes.
Making 78 pictures before her untimely death at 33, Lombard was known for her bawdiness – - her favorite phrase being, “I don’t give a fuck.” She was also known for starring in probably some of the best comedies ever produced during Hollywood’s ‘Golden Age‘.
Born Jane Alice Peters in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1908, Lombard was discovered playing baseball in the street by silent-era movie director Allan Dwan, who was actually born in Toronto, Canada, April 03, 1885.
Dwan cast her in the movie ‘A Perfect Crime‘ where she played the tomboy sister of a young hoodlum. She was only 12 years old. From 1921-1928 she made a series of 35 short and feature films often uncredited or without the “e” at the end of Carole until she made her first all-talking film ‘High Voltage‘ in 1928 with director Howard Higgin. In 1930, the “e” in Carole finally stuck in a Robin Hood-type bandit film called, ‘The Arizona Kid‘.
After ‘The Arizona Kid’, Lombard was put on contract to Paramount Studios for 7 years, where she became their leading romantic comedienne. She starred in ‘Fast and Loose‘, It Pays To Advertise‘, ‘Man of The World‘ and ‘Ladies’ Man‘. She met actor William Powell in ‘Man of the World’ and after Ladies’ Man they got married June 26, 1931. She was 22. He was 39.
They divorced in 1933, but remained good friends and worked together very well, most notably in one of my favorites, ‘My Man Godfrey‘ in which Lombard received her first and only Oscar nomination.
According to Wikipedia.org:
Lombard’s most famous relationship came in 1936 when she became involved with Clark Gable. They had worked together previously in 1932′s No Man of Her Own, but at the time, Lombard was still happily married to Powell. Unbeknownst to each other they had worked as extras on a silent film, Fox’s 1926 epic The Johnstown Flood. When Gable and Lombard reunited at the Mayfair Ball, of which Lombard was hostess, their romance began to take off. Gable was married at the time to oil heiress Ria Langham, and the affair was kept quiet. The situation proved a major obstacle in Gable accepting the role of Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind, as MGM head Louis B. Mayer sweetened the deal for a reluctant Gable by giving him money to settle a divorce agreement with Langham and marry Lombard. Gable divorced Langham on March 7, 1939 and proposed to Lombard at the Brown Derby.
On March 29, 1939, during a break in production on Gone with the Wind, Gable and Lombard drove out to Kingman, Arizona and were married in a ceremony with only Gable’s press agent, Otto Winkler, in attendance. They bought a ranch previously owned by director Raoul Walsh in Encino, California
Some Interesting Factoids I Know:
- Following her divorce from Powell in 1934, Lombard moved into a house on Hollywood Boulevard where she became known for her parties with unconventional themes. Click Here for a picture of Lombard’s ‘party home’
- Lombard was 2nd generation Bahá’í Faith
- Lombard had a little dachshund named “Commissioner” that ignored 2nd and beloved husband Clark Gable completely
- After her death in 1942, the dog would not leave Gable’s side
- After her death, a WWI Liberty ship was named in her honor
- Her good looks combined with her constant use of profanity made many dub her the “Profane Angel”
- Lombard’s favorite movie, of those she made, is 1937′s ‘Nothing Sacred‘, directed by Oscar winner William A. Wellman (‘A Star Is Born‘, 1937)
From 1935 to her last and some say greatest film before her death, ‘To Be Or Not To Be‘ in 1942 for German director Ernst Lubitsch was Carole Lombard’s most productive and rewarding period of her entire career.
Her untimely death was a shock for her happily married husband Clark Gable who absolutely adored her and for millions of fans around the world.
On January 16, 1942, Lombard was a passenger on Trans-World Airlines Flight 3 with her mother and press agent Otto Winkler. She was on her way home from a successful war bond selling tour when the flight’s DC-3 airliner crashed into a mountain near Las Vegas, Nevada, killing all 22 passengers aboard, including 15 servicemen en route to training in California.
After Lombard’s death, Gable went back to the ranch where they lived and carried out Lombard’s funeral wishes as requested in her will and then a month later went back to work 20 pounds lighter. He was devastated. The movie was with Lana Turner and called, ‘Somewhere I’ll Find You’. Gable continued to act in 27 more films but colleagues say he was, “Never the same”. His heart sank a bit after the death of Carole Lombard.
I admire many actresses and actors for their works especially from the 20′s-60s. Many of these talented people don’t come up in conversation anymore and that’s sad. Given the lack of great young actresses today and because it is Carole Lombard’s birthday, I felt I should share my admiration for her work with my readers. I hope you watch the movie I chose for you below.
I’d love to hear what you think of the film and the actress. Comments are always welcome…
Stars: Carole Lombard and Fredric March, with a supporting cast including Walter Connolly, Charles Winninger, Margaret Hamilton, Hattie McDaniel, Frank Fay and Max Rosenbloom
Music: Oscar Levant, with additional music by Alfred Newman (Randy Newman’s uncle) and Max Steiner and a swing number by the Raymond Scott Quintette
Plot: New York newspaper reporter Wally Cook (Fredric March) tries to pass off an ordinary African-American as an African nobleman hosting a charity event. His boss finds out about the ruse and demotes Cook to writing obituaries. He begs his boss for another chance. So he gets sent to Warsaw, Vermont, to interview Hazel Flagg (Carole Lombard), a woman supposedly dying of radium poisoning. He invites her to New York as the guest of the Morning Star newspaper. The newspaper uses her story to increase its circulation. She receives a ticker tape parade and the key to the city, and becomes an inspiration to many and then things go terribly off kilter after that. The film was shot in Technicolor by W. Howard Greene.