By Monday, the reports were grim indeed.
Dental Records Needed to Identify Remains of Carole Lombard
Gable Grim But Brave During Long Ordeal
Tentative arrangements were made today to return the shattered body of Film Star Carole Lombard, killed with her mother and 20 others in an airliner crash Friday night, to Hollywood tonight in custody of her grieving husband, Clark Gable
Plans called for the body to be placed on the Union Pacific, Los Angeles Limited leaving Las Vegas at 9:20pm and arriving Los Angeles at 8:30am tomorrow. Definite arrangements were delayed pending positive identification of the body of Miss Lombard’s mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Peters.
Studio associates of Gable said that if the bodies of Miss Lombard and her mother are taken to Hollywood tonight, funeral services probably will be held there Wednesday. Gable, grim-faced and haggard, remained in seclusion in a Las Vegas hotel.
Only by using dental charts, flown to Las Vegas from Hollywood, could authorities identify the crushed, burned body of the blonde actress. Mountain climbers and soldiers recovered it Sunday from a snowbank beneath the torn wing of the Transcontinental and Western Airlines plane, which smashed into the steep cliff of a mountain peak.
Miss Lombard’s body and eight others, still unidentified, were wrapped in brown army blankets and raised with ropes up the face of the 400 foot cliff. They were carried by horses to the mountain community of Goodsprings and taken down the mountainside in army ambulances.
Gable remained in seclusion at the El Rancho Vegas hotel last night and did not attend the inquest held to clear the way for the return of his wife’s body to Hollywood.
Almost frantic Saturday while the search was in progress, Gable recovered his composure Sunday and remained quietly at his hotel. he spoke infrequently, only to his associates and only about decisions necessary to prepare for the return of the body and for funeral plans. His face was pale except for dark circles under his eyes.
Gable, “Pappy” to Miss Lombard, had made two fruitless attempts to join the searching parties Saturday before he returned to the hotel. When the news came, he was sitting, with Don McElwaine of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio, who received a note from the searchers.
“Bad news?” asked Gable quietly.
“I’m afraid it looks hopeless,” McElwaine replied.
“Oh, God,” Gable moaned, and dropped his head into his hands.
With him at the hotel were McElwaine; Howard Strickling, MGM publicity director, Eddie Mannix, general manager of the MGM studio; and Ralph Wheelwright, assistant MGM publicity director.
A coroner’s jury held the inquest in connection with Miss Lombard’s death, in the rice-strewn basement of Justice of the Peace Manlon Brown, the “marryin’ justice” of Las Vegas. The jury reported that the actress died “of injuries received in the crash of a TWA airliner en route from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, near ‘Double or Nothing’ mountain.”
The name of the peak added an ironic note to the actress’ death. Miss Lombard and her agent, Otto Winkler, who also was a victim of the crash, flipped a coin to decide whether they should make their defense bond selling trip to the Middle West by plane or rail.
Remains Taken to Hollywood
Life called upon Clark Gable today for a scene more dramatic and poignant than any he ever played in pictures.
Accompanied by a party of close friends, he headed a funeral cortege carrying back to Hollywood the crushed remains of his beautiful wife, screen star Carole Lombard.
Among those with Gable were Spencer Tracy, Mr. and Mrs. D.W. Griffith, Mr. and Mrs. Nate Wolffe ( Miss Lombard’s agent) and William Collier, Jr.
Funeral services are to be held at a date yet to be determined, at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, where lie the remains of such other movie greats as Will Rogers, Marie Dressler and Jean Harlow.
Legal formalities for the removal of Miss Lombard’s body from Nevada to California were completed last night at an inquest held before a three-man coroner’s jury.
After hearing witnesses the jury ruled that the star “came to her death as a result of injuries sustained in the crash of a TWA liner enroute from Las Vegas to Los Angeles near Double or Nothing mountain.”
Identification of Miss Lombard’s body was made by Eddie Mannix, vice president and general manager of MGM Studio, through wisps of her blonde curls which escaped the flames and through dental records from Hollywood.
Earlier in the day icy Double or Nothing mountain, also known as Doubleup mountain, 35 miles south of Las Vegas, reluctantly gave up the bodies of nine of the 22 persons who died in the crash. The body of another woman, beside the screen star’s, and the remains of seven of the 15 soldiers aboard the ship were recovered after great difficulty by a posse of some 50 soldiers and civilians.
The bodies had to be hoisted up a 400-foot cliff to a ledge above the wreckage. There they were placed on sturdy mountain ponies and carried out of the steep and rugged Potosi mountains.
The body of the other woman was believed st first to have been that of Miss Lombard’s mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Peters, but there was some doubt of this today. It is now thought that it might be that of Mrs. Lois Hamilton, wife of an army officer.
Government and TWA officials who investigated the wreck expressed a belief that the pilot did not see the peak he was about to strike. They said that the plane apparently was cruising at full speed when it struck. the nose of the plane was so deeply buried in solid rock that efforts to pry it out were futile.
John Collings, TWA’s superintendent of operations, described the ship as “the most completely obliterated crashed plane I have ever seen.”