Happiness Ahead for Clark and Carole
By Margaret Dixon Mann
Picture Play, August 1938
At Last! The Behind-the-Scenes story of the most talked of romance in Movieland. Gable and Lombard plan definitely for the future.
No Hollywood romance is being draped in crepe more thoroughly than the love story of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard.
From the cocktail gossipers to the philosophers of the press, one and all have assumed a shake-of-the-head attitude over the muddled heart affairs of the screen’s Number 1 Glamour Girl and the Number 1 Hero.
“How can it end happily when Ria Gable won’t give Clark a divorce?” is the main theme of the gossips.
“If it drags on much longer, hopelessly, it will kill the romance. Look how long-postponed marriage dates have dulled other big Hollywood love stories” is another popular philosophy of the chatterers, with intermingling themes of “Carole is too intelligent a girl—Clark adores her too much to bind her forever to a hopeless love—“ Even the press has politely queried: “Can it end happily?”—with an undercurrent that it probably won’t.
I think it not only can end happily—I think it will! And the very reasons that are argues so strongly against it are, to their intimate friends, the bonds that will eventually lead Clark and Carole to the altar in one of the truly great and real love stories of Hollywood.
Two years ago, I didn’t honestly believe that. I doubt if, two years ago, Clark and Carole dared hope for it in spite of the publicity about their constant appearances together. They were in live then, it is true. But it was a beglamorized loved. They were two of the most attractive people in Hollywood, drawn to each other through intense magnetism, their mutual love of laughter and fun. But in the back of each of their sophisticated minds, they must have believed there were too many obstacles in their way—obstacles which only the greatest devotion and sincerity could wear down.
It wasn’t only that Clark was still legally tied to Ria Gable, though that was an outstanding hurdle. But in addition, Clark and Carole realized that they were two intense egos, each burdened with the trials and temperamental complications of separate careers. They were sophisticates, far too intelligent not to take cognizance of the dangers along their path even though the road to matrimony had been clear.
Clark, in the beginning of his freedom, had cherished his bachelor status. Suddenly, cut away from the social rigmaroles of his married life, he was happy in his man’s world of stag hunting trips, the highball-and-fireside evenings that completely made up his masculine world.
Carole, too, was not sure in the beginning. She had just emerged from one matrimonial experience, her marriage with William Powell, and she was cynical about the possibility of happy marriage between two dynamic people with the demanding problem of separate screen careers. Along with her constant companion, and secretary, “Fieldsie,” she was a deeply content in her “bachelor girl” existence as Clark was in his masculine world.
For over a year, these doubts clouded their love story. It had to be that way. They were too individual, too mature in intelligence, too wrapped up in their careers to have completely avoided difficulties. Two blinding bolts of lightning can’t meet without something happening.
That was two years ago.
Today Carole and Clark have put their love to the test of companionship, deep sympathy and understanding and they have found it stronger than either of them. Their heads no longer in the clouds, Clark and Carole know now. In a quiet, deeply happy, strong knowledge they are aware that they have revolutionized each other’s lives to the extent that nothing else matters, not even their careers of the white blinding light of stardom.
Their intimates know that serenely and calmly, in the face of all obstacles and gossip, they are planning their future together as solidly founded as though they were not great stars of the movies, but just as any plain Mary and Tom might plan theirs.
Carole and Clark are planning to be married within two years—and heaven and high water cannot shake that firm conviction from their hearts. They’ve dropped glamour and false values from their love story as surely as though no curious spotlight was turned on them—and their hopes for the future are as real as those of the young folks next door to you, in marriage, a home on a farm and, yes, even children.
If that is hard to believe about the luxurious Lombard and the dynamic Gable it is only because the world and Hollywood have not yet truly estimated the change their love has brought into their lives and personalities.
In the first place, it has practically cut them off from all social contacts with the exception of a small intimate few who are deep in their affections—the witty Fieldsie, Walter Lang, the director, a famous newspaper columnist and her husband, Phil Berg—Clark’s agent—and his wife, Leila Hyams.
Clark and Carole have not been to a big Hollywood party in over a year. This in itself is an amazing change in Carole whose parties used to be the talk of the town. Remember the “hospital” gag party she hosted when she was married to William Powell? And her small bachelor girl’s house on Hollywood Boulevard was famous for the intimate little dinner gatherings with Carole moving through rooms like a gilded, restless queen? She loved to dance. She was usually among the ringsiders at the smart night spots.
But now the only entertainments she goes in for are those Saturday night poker games at her Bel Air home, or at Clark’s farm in the Valley. At midnight, Carole arrayed in slacks, will go out in the kitchen and make sandwiches for the gang. Or else, with Fieldsie and Walter Lang, they will get into Clark’s station wagon and drive into North Hollywood to see a three-months-old movie at the neighborhood theater. It is something to see Carole, the former glamorously groomed luxury girl, in a ringside seat at a soda fountain in a small town drugstore.
The change is just as marked in Clark. Restlessness and impatience used to drive him from Hollywood at every opportunity. He used to seek solace for his inner unhappiness by long hunting and fishing trips. And he still loves this life—if Carole is by his side. He’s even been known to postpone a hunting jaunt for nothing wilder than shopping for pots and pans with Carole for the farm.
When he does take off on his dawn fishing trips, Carole is usually by his side. They have found that just being together is the greatest happiness in either of their lives—and that no amount of fame and glitter can take the place of what they have found in simplicity and understanding.
It is no secret to their intimates that they are both planning to retire when their present contracts expire. Many stars have said they would. Clark and Carole mean it. Nothing else in their lives is as important as their future as just plain Mr. and Mrs. Gable, of the Valley.
How are they going to work out this happy ending when Ria Gable still gives no sign of divorcing Clark? The truth is that their friends believe that even this obstacle will be removed.
In the first place, it is believed that Ria will grant Clark his divorce within a year. She has always had the reputation of being a good scout. Perhaps, in the beginning, she didn’t believe the Gable-Lombard romance would be lasting. She is quoted as saying that Clark had never asked for a divorce.
But now Clark wants his freedom to marry Carole even more than he wants glory, fame, money. Those who know her best claim that when Ria realizes this she will no longer stand in his way. She met the same problem in her own life when her former husband, now a Washington attorney, granted her a divorce to marry Clark.
But if some unexpected complication should withhold her divorce action, then it would surprise no one who knows the depths of Clark’s feeling for Carole, to find him bringing suit legally to end a marriage that ended in spirit three years ago.
“Incompatibility” is still grounds for divorce in many states. It would not be difficult to prove that Clark and Ria were temperamentally incompatible since she was a woman who loved social life—and Clark has proved by his quiet life since their separation, that this was an unhappy mode of life for him—interfering with his career and depressing him mentally.
It is common gossip that Clark does not want to bring suit if he can help it. Old fashioned gallantry is responsible for his long wait in the hope that his wife will eventually take the first steps in divorce.
But even that won’t stand in the way if everything else fails. The gossips are right. It is true that “Clark loves Carole too much to bind her to a hopeless love”—and he means to have their happiness together.
Clark and Carole are not a “gossip” romance of Hollywood to be weakly blown by the currents of career talk, or any other obstacles. They are one of the real love stories ever to come out of a tinseled and glittery town and they mean to keep what they have found forever and ever—let the chips fall where they may.