This article from 1937 is taking a guess on how the fairly new but highly publicized Clark Gable and Carole Lombard romance would end. Sadly, I don’t think anybody would have ever guessed how it did end just a few years later. At this point, though, a lot of people were still eyeing the romance as another flash in the pan Hollywood union. And of course at this point Clark was still married to Ria and it really seemed as though that divorce was never coming! Carole was wise during this period. She knew that Clark was still married and while her and Clark were pictured together at Hollywood events, she tiptoed lightly on the subject of her romance with interviewers. Although Clark hadn’t lived with Ria for some time, it would indeed be tacky for her to boast about their budding romance and make grand marriage plans when the man in question still legally called another woman his wife.
Carole’s cue is to keep silent. She, as usual, is being a perfect gentlewoman by going so far as to refuse to discuss either romance or marriage, even in an abstract way. She tells those who beg, plead and cajole:
“Skip the marriage question. My entire attention, for the next three years, is going to be devoted to my job—making pictures—and nothing else.”
And, in that statement, is a partial answer, if not a final one, to the question as to how her romance with Gable will end.
Smart girl. The magazines took this, and Clark’s declarations that he was not seeking a divorce (something he had to say as to not tick off Ria), that led them to assume that Clark and Carole wouldn’t last.
They’ve had a lot of fun.
There was that time they were out driving in the San Fernando Valley and got mixed up in a parade in Van Nuys. Yes, they rode right along in the parade, and had a grand and glorious time. There are those horseback rides in that same San Fernando Valley, where Carole has a ranch run by Japanese.
This last Christmas was a pretty gay time. Carole was working Swing High, Swing Low, with a very good friend directing—Mitchell Leisen, who has helped her considerably in her career. Leisen and Gable are very good friends. One night, when all three were out together, Leisen said:
“There’s one thing I’ve always wanted—a horse.”
The next day there arrived on the set a hobby horse, gift from Clark and Carole to “Mitch,” as the clever director is known in Hollywood.
Just another gag—
Two weeks before Carole married William Powell, she told her closest friends:
“I think he’s marvelous, but I don’t think I should marry him.”
Powell was free. She was free. She acted on impulse and married him.
She cannot become impulsive and marry Clark Gable. She has, in addition to legal restriction, imposed upon herself the ruling:
“I am going to think only of my career for the next three years.”
Those who know Carole say that in these things lie the answer to that question everyone is asking. Her attitude toward Powell was a carefree one, a friendly sort of thing, punctuated by a great deal of fun. And it was soon washed up. In just two years. Quickly, smoothly. (When they were co-starred in My Man Godfrey they were good friends, worked well together, but were very businesslike at all times.)
Her attitude toward Gable contains many of the same elements, intimates aver. Love’s a lot of fun, life’s a lot of fun, and let’s be gay.
“Their friendship is too light to endure,” the wise ones in Hollywood sat today. “It’s going to be die before they ever contemplate marriage.”
Yes, Clark and Carole have their fun. Carole is wild about “Rhythm Girl,” the mare Gable gave her. She and Clark go on picnics with Gail Patrick and Bob Cobb, with other friends. But it’s all very casual, very discreet, and very dignified.
Carole is clowning.
Can she clown for three years more?
Hollywood emphatically says she can’t. The prediction, coming from the inside circles, is that there’ll be a lasting and sincere friendship which will never culminate with “I do.”
It’s so funny to me how they are simply not taking any part of their relationship seriously and trying to act like it’s not because Clark is still married. If Clark was legally free, I doubt this article would even exist at all; there would be nothing but “When will they marry?” articles, not ones predicting their inevitable end. The article also suggests that Carole is still in love with the late Russ Columbo, which seems ridiculous. Clark wasn’t the first guy out the gate after Russ died. Carole had a fling with George Raft, went out with Cesar Romero, and was fairly serious with Robert Riskin–all before Clark came along. And I believe that anyone who knew Carole would never say she would be sitting around moping and not wanting to move forward with her life. Not her style.
You can read the article in its entirety in The Article Archive.
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