Carole Lombard died suddenly71 years ago today, at the age of 33, when her plane crashed into Table Rock Mountain near Las Vegas. Her husband, Clark Gable, was shattered. I have little doubt that the day that he stood at the base of the mountain, looking up at the burning wreckage and knowing his wife was up there, was the worst day of his life. But he was not alone in his grief–Carole was truly a person who was loved by all who knew her, even if the only way they knew her was on the screen.
I have posted this fan poem before, but it is so beautiful it is worth another read, from a letter to the editor of Photoplay magazine, April 1942:
Editor’s Note: It was heartwarming to read the number of letters received as tributes to Carole Lombard by Photoplay-Movie Mirror [magazine]. So sincere were they all, we found it difficult to choose this single one for publication:
She left a trail of laughter when she walked
Across this world which needs a laugh so much.
She did not care when pompous people talked
About her lack of dignity and such.
For while her work was make-believe, pretense
Could never touch her gallant, generous heart
And she was quick to help her flag’s defense
And glad to know that she could do her part.
She did not wear a uniform, it’s true,
But she died none the less for freedom’s sake.
You men shot down at Guam and Oahu,
Ghosts of the Philippines, Midway and Wake,
Admit another solider to your troop
For she should march through time with your brave group!
–Ruth Arundel Piercy, Oreland, PA
Scenes from a life:
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