carole lombard

As part of Carole Lombard month, here’s the start of a news clipping series on Carole Lombard.

I have done these news clippings posts before, on fourth wife Sylvia Ashley and fifth wife Kay Williams. Carole is, of course, more difficult to accumulate clippings on just because of the sheer volume of them–thousands and thousands a year! But I thought it would be interesting to follow her around in 1936, the year that she and Clark started officially dating.

The year started with a lot of press for her film “Hands Across the Table” and…

carole lombard fred macmurray hands across the table

January 1, 1936:

Carole Lombard admits a fondness for practical jokes. Also for oranges, modern furniture, sapphires, and parties. Doesn’t like details, people who attempt to exploit her, fish, or street cars.

Same date:

Carole Lombard has taken up singing so seriously that she has quit smoking. She takes three lessons weekly from Nina Koshetz, mother of Marina Shubert.

January 4:

The rumors of a break between Carole Lombard and her heart are not right. Hotter than Miami Beach, as a matter of record.

No idea what they mean by that.

January 5:

“I like to dream–one meets much nicer people that way.” –Carole Lombard

Another Lombardism: “The paper says that scientists have at last determined how to tell the difference between male and female oysters. Well, it only means more trouble for the oysters.”

January 14:

If you think it is a cinch to be a star’s secretary, “Fieldsie,” Carole Lombard’s pal, had to wrap up nearly 500 Christmas presents–all of her own, of Carole’s, of Bob Riskin’s and of Walter Langs. Incidentally, Bill Powell’s present to the ex-bride was a handmade lace luncheon set that is really something. 

Fieldsie was married to Walter Lang. Carole was dating Bob Riskin at this time.

And here comes the Mayfair Ball–infamous for being where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard struck up a flirtation: (If you want the full lowdown on the Mayfair Ball, read this article.)

carole lombard cesar romero mayfair ball 1936

January 27:

Annual Mayfair Ball Is Spectacular Party

As white mists rolled in from the Pacific with the wee small hours this morning, there came to an end one of Hollywood’s most spectacular parties–the Mayfair Ball.

Carole Lombard, Hollywood’s ace party producer, was honorary hostess.

“All women wear white” was this fashion and frivolity queen’s first edict.

She looked like a veritable fairy queen in gown made of row upon row of white bridal veiling festooned with handmade chiffon flowers.

Irene Dunne’s Grecian gown was of white crepe in fine sunray pleating worn in a golden girdle. Sally Eilers, too, chose a Grecian gown of white crepe. 

Dolored Del Rio wore white angel-skin satin.

Jeannette MacDonald, a member of the William Seiter (Marian Nixon party), was gowned, not in white, but in pastel orchid.

Joan Blondell chose white mousseline de sole made with a pin tucked bodice and a ruched cape which rose to her chin and fell backward below her waist in a daring decolletage.

Joan Bennett favored the fringed idea in a Paris model.

Here’s a tale I’d never heard from that night:

January 28:

Gable, Talbot In “Fight For Fun”

Clark Gable and Lyle Talbot today insisted they were “real pals” despite reports that they had been on the verge of a fist fight at a film colony party.

Widespread rumors that they had almost clashed at a social affair given by Carole Lombard led Talbot to declare, “We were only joking.” Gable joined him in the denial, declaring he was “amazed” at the report.

According to the widely circulated story, Talbot began “ribbing” the screen’s romantic star early in the evening last Saturday and by midnight Gable became annoyed.

Gable reportedly made some remark which caused Talbot to turn red and begin peeling his coat off. Mutual friends stepped between the two so quickly, it was said, that very few realized what had happened.

Talbot then left with Lina Basquette, actress, while Gable retreated to a corner in silence.

“Whoever says we were in earnest is crazy,” Talbot said later, “Clark and I are the best of friends. We were only joking.”

carole lombard mayfair ball 1936

Mentioned again in this blurb, conveniently with a blurb about Carole right beneath:

February 3:

The lowdown on that near-fight between Lyle Talbot and Gable was what is commonly known as “stew stuff.”… Gable’s companion was Eadie Adams….Carole Lombard confided to a friend that she won’t marry Robert Riskin.

February 18:

Carole Lombard’s divine sense of humor never deserts her. Reams were written that she had left the Mayfair party with Clark Gable before the dance even started. So Carole thought she might as well make the story a good one. She bought an old, dilapidated, fenderless automobile, had it painted white with huge hearts and monogrammed with Clark’s initials, and delivered it to the fashionable hotel where he lives bright and early Valentines morning. Yes, and her card was on the steering wheel!

Yes, she did…but not because she was encouraging unfounded rumors.

And here comes the infamous “Nervous Breakdown Party” where Clark and Carole butted heads then kissed and made up:

February 19:

Mrs. Donald Ogden Stewart could easily have had a relapse after the shock of having 60 people in full evening dress surprise her at a noon-day luncheon in her honor at the Jock Whitney home; the conspirators, Clark Gable, Jock Whitney, Aksel Wichfeld and Clifton Webb, chose noon because Bee has been so ill; one of the funniest aftermaths was seeing Kay Francis in full regalia playing tennis; Carole Lombard in court costume of white with feathers in her hair, creating a sensation when she arrived in an ambulance, worn out, she said, with so many parties; Bee Stewart, not to be outdone, sent home for her evening clothes and changed in the ambulance; Donald Ogden Stewart couldn’t have been more pleased at the success of the party which originated a week ago and was a real surprise.

February 29:

Carole Lombard, blonde screen star, today was downed by an attack of influenza and will be unable to portray her sophisticated self before the camera for at least a week. The actress was ordered to bed by her physician, Dr. Harry W. Martin, who said she had been registering a high fever but would be able to work if she rested until next week.

Here come those Clark and Carole sightings…

March 4:

Yes, it has been printed here and other places that Carole Lombard has been going out with Clark Gable since her break with Bob Riskin. But it can’t be an official romance, even supposing they wanted it to be, because Clark isn’t free yet. Anyway, Carole went to the Santa Anita ball at the Ambassador with J. Walter Rubin, the director.

March 22:

Clark Gable is now escorting the lovely Carole Lombard! Even so he refuses to be photographed with any of the fairer sex–that is, off screen!

Lots of press for her new picture with Preston Foster, “Love Before Breakfast.”

clakr gable preston foster love before breakfast

April 1:

Carole Lombard has changed her mind about moving. Houses are just too hard to find.

Ooops, already changed her mind…

April 9:

House-hunting stars are squawking that rents are sky-high and homes are hard to lease at any price in the districts favored by the celebrities of Hollywood. Carole Lombard and her secretary, Fieldsie, told me the went over the Beverly Hills and Bel Air district with a fine-toothed comb before they were able to make a deal on an eight-room house. “My rent at my old place was to have doubled in August,” said Carole. “Anywhere we looked it was the same. Ordinary houses were offered to us at $250 a month. If there was a swimming pool or a tennis court, the price was anywhere from $500 to $800 a month. It’s absurd.”

$500-$800 a month to rent a house in Hollywood? Sign us up! Except, adjusted for inflation, that is more like $8,000 to $14,000 a month. YIKES, never mind! For more on Carole’s homes, see here.

Here comes the first picture of Clark and Carole out together:

clark gable carole lombard 1936

April 22:

Hollywood says it’s romance, this keeping-company-of-an-evening of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, screen stars. Yes or no, the two are keeping company, and though seldom seen in public, the photographers found them at the midget auto races in Hollywood.

April 23:

The Carole Lombard-Clark Gable business will bear watching. They see each other all the time. Both being whimsical that way, they travel about in the once dilapidated flivver which she gave Clark for a valentine present and which he spent $300 having fixed up.

Same date:

Frequent appearances together at Hollywood resorts has lent credence to reports that Carole Lombard, former wife of William Powell, and Clark Gable are planning to middle-aisle it. Their romance started when Miss Lombard presented Gable with a dilapidated automobile as a valentine joke.

Barely seen out together and already the press has them getting married!

April 24:

Every time Clark Gable goes out in public, it’s a case of fox and hounds, so the star not only is using the ancient flivver that Carole Lombard gave him, but has just had his big car repainted for the second time in four months. It’s now an unobtrusive gray.

April 26:

The town’s still talking about the premiere of “The Great Ziegfeld,” at the Carthay Circle. The police controlled the crowds who turned out to see the stream of stars arrive in top hat and ermine–that is–until Robert Taylor came along–and then there was no controlling the women. Handsome young Bob proved the most popular man of the hour, both with the young and the old. And while the whole celluloid village attended the MGM musical miracle, the star, William Powell,w as kept working that night on a scene in his new picture over at Universal, acting the part of a coal heaver. His ex-wifie, Carole Lombard, cast opposite him, begged off for the night so she might attend the premiere escorted by Clark Gable.

The picture they were filming was, of course, the excellent “My Man Godfrey.”

We’ll start in May for our next installment.