Carole Lombard’s Life Story
by Louella Parsons, February 1942
“He had my number so fast—it was terrifying. He told me at the Whitney party what I was—a screwy, neurotic, miserable little fool! And he was right! I‟ve never been anything else! I’ve never had dignity or inside poise—or—or—what it takes! I just fooled people. But I couldn’t fool him—and I knew it. And so I hated him. And—oh well—loved him, too.”
Gable left on one of his hunting trips about a week after that. And called Carole Lombard before he left, to say goodbye. She was very crisp and casual.
“Bring me,” she said, in the course of conversation, “a wildcat or two—“
So he did. But you know about that, of course. He brought her two live wildcats, but one of them broke its collar and got away. The other, leashed and chained, was respectfully presented to Carole Lombard by the great Gable himself.
Which was the beginning of a very different state of affairs…
It was, of course, a state pleasing to nobody except the two most concerned. For surely never in the history of Hollywood were studios more upset than they were at the beginning of the Gable-Lombard affair! It didn’t, you see, fit into anyone‟s plans, Clark, separated though he was from rhea, was still legally her spouse. And Clark was a nation‟s idol. And nations don‟t like their married idols, under any conditions at all, being seen with Other Women….
Yes, it was bad office—for Carole, too! And the studios fought tooth and nail! But it was sheer folly, from still other points of view. And Carole‟s friends fought against it almost as hard as the studios.
“He may never be free—it may never work out—Carole, for heaven‟s sake, don‟t let yourself love him so!”
Those were the things we said, all of us, countless times. And might as well have said them to the empty air……
Well, everyone knows how long it went on. „Til even their studios stopped complaining. And in sheer resignation, stopped trying to cover it up. And magazine writers knocked off reams of material entitled: “How Will It End?” and “How Long Will It Last?”
It lasted—that particular stage of courtship and waiting—until March 29, 1939.
On that evening before that Great Day, Clark Gable went to a florist and bought a corsage composed of two pink roses and a spray of lily of the valley. He also bought two boutonnieres—one for himself and one for Otto Winkler, his best man.
At eight forty-five the next morning, Clark and Carole and Otto set out, across the desert to a town in Arizona that Clark had picked out months ago., when he was hunting and fishing in that country. A nice quiet little town, with nothing Hollywood about it. A town with a First Methodist Church that looked like a church. The name of the town was Kingman. The minister‟s name was the Reverend Kenneth Engle.
It all took less than half an hour. A speechlessly excited girl named Viola Olson was the clerk in the courthouse. She gave them their license and acted as witness, Mrs. Engle was the bridesmaid. And Otto, of course, was the best man.
It happened three years ago. Directly afterwards Clark and Carole and Clark‟s dogs and his horses, and Carole‟s rooster Edmund, and Carole‟s cat Josephine, and Carole‟s Pekingese Pushface and Carole‟s dog Smokey (a gift from Gable) moved together to a ranch near Van Nuys, in the San Fernando Valley. Clark had bought it for Carole. It was homey and it was small—without even a guest room. But there was an awful lot of ground around it, and an awful lot of animals and growing things, on that ground. They liked things that way…
They lived there for three years, so quietly and happily that the most cynical and empty-headed people in Hollywood were compelled to eat every word they‟d ever said about “screwball” Carole Lombard—or about Hollywood marriages in general. As newspaper copy, they were flops, And in one of the last published articles about Carole she was actually called “Gable‟s hermit wife.”
That statement was, needless to say, an exaggeration! The Gables never stopped seeing their friends. They just stopped leading that curious thing knows as a Hollywood social life. That thing with Carole Lombard had once led so busily and flamboyantly.