This article is one of many memorial pieces printed in April 1942, the first month after Carole Lombard’s January death that most of the magazines caught up to the news. It is written by someone named “Romayne,” who says they worked with Carole. Pretty sure that’s a pseudonym, but a touching piece nonetheless…
You said you were coming to our set to visit us next week. You said we’d have fun like we had before. So I looked forward to a lot of laughter. You said that Clark, Ruggles, you and I would have our pictures taken together and that we’d call that ‘little number our anniversary.’ That was last week. You said we’d celebrate too! We’d talk our heads off. I betcha money, this is what we’d have talked about—
Ten years ago a picture started and went brilliantly along all that first morning. Then the company “called lunch.” Now, there’s nothing startling about going to lunch. And we all returned from lunch. All except the leading lady. In a roundabout way we found that she thought the leading man was too much competition for her. While everybody was tearing their hair and saying they’d have to rewrite the story for somebody else, a girl was getting ready to come to the studio. She had just finished a picture and was fixing to go away on a little trip.
Everything was quaintly mournful as we proceeded to “shoot around the girl,” which means we did the scenes with all the other players. Then the producer arrived on the set with the girl who was going on her vacation. Listen, my friends, you should have been there! But you would probably have been knocked down, as I was, in the rush. I never saw people fall over each other faster. Arms waved and dialogue flew and the lights hung aimlessly from rafters. The boys were hailing Miss Carole Lombard. And believe me, Miss Carole Lombard was hailing them!
By three o’clock the lady wasn’t going on vacation anymore. It was suggested that she take the following day to get new clothes. “What’s the matter with trying on the dress ‘Whosis’ was going to wear, for the starter, so you won’t be held up?” she wanted to know. With a pin here and a stitch there, she turned around and said, “How do you like it?” At four that afternoon she was rehearsing and at four-thirty we got the first shot. I forgot to mention that somebody introduced her to the leading man—Mr. Clark Gable. Is it any wonder Carole has had a place in our hearts that NOBODY can replace?
And then we started to have fun. With a whirl of merry gags for which only Carole had the genius of creation. We called her “Bernhardt,” and with knowing amusement, she gave Clark a nickname, too. She had the prop man get the biggest ham she could find. On it we pasted a big picture of Clark. She presented it to him. “Here, Ham,” she said. “Lady, you mean, here’s a ham—don’t you?” he asked. “No. I mean—here—HAM!” He took it. That same day a large package was delivered to Miss Lombard on the set. She looked at Clark and said: “NOW—I REALLY smell HAM!” When she opened it, there was an old circus-size pair of shoes. He grinned. All the rest of the day Carole hobbled around the set in those shoes. There came a happy friendship that all of us were part of. That picture was the first establishment in her niche for comedy. She went up, up, up from them on.
Things were good and dull after we finished. She became a law of comparison to our group. Whenever we were getting ready to start another “opera” we’d say to each other of the feminine angle, “Do you think she’ll be anything like Lombard?” The question still goes.
“Ruggles” was Charles Ruggles, who directed Clark and Carole in their only onscreen teaming as well as Clark in the movie he was filming at the time of Carole’s death, Somewhere I’ll Find You. It’s rather funny that the name of the girl whom Carole replaced in the film is shrouded in secrecy here, as it is well known (even then, as press had already announced her casting) as Miriam Hopkins. The story of the ham and the circus-sized shoes are well known as well, but not any less adorable when told by someone who observed them firsthand!
It’s so funny that sometimes it has been said that these two didn’t get along at all on set. I think the pictures prove otherwise!
..if by chance you don’t know it—here’s a little look into that which made her world the more perfect place to live…Carole didn’t know a darn thing about guns and fishing poles. But she learned. And with the vital determination that was hers, she learned RIGHT! She was the glamour girl who liked comfort—dim lights, warm places, and a clean face. So, she put her hair in pigtails—her legs in trousers, a gun on her shoulder and went places with her man in their station wagon. That was her big time. You’ve probably heard about their home in the valley. It was designed by the Gables and “Brownie,” the art director at the studio who has done most of the sets for Clark’s pictures. Clark and Carole knew every flower that was planted and together they watched them grow. When their trees were in bloom we made jam from the fruit of their garden. Carole laughed when I told her we marked it “Plum-Jam-Gable.” One day they went out and found a little calf running around. “I refuse to have anything to do with you,” Carole said to him, “so when we stew you I won’t feel guilty.” But one look into her face made you know that he’d never make stew for the Gables. Maybe you don’t know that Mrs. Gable knew how to run her house. And the recipes she used to give were no good for a girl who was trying to reduce.
Everything they did was a special occasion. The nights they took themselves away from their fire and went to the local movie house she’d sparkle and say: “Pappy and I are going to the movies!” They’d go on picnics and there’d always be little surprises for each other. And we’d scream when she’d tell the combinations they ate. “It would poison ordinary people—but we’re crazy—so nothing hurts us!”
And such a disposition. That’s what made her so beautiful. Her thoughtfulness was ever talked about. Months before Christmas she’d start making lists to buy presents for those she loved. She always shopped herself—always knew what everybody needed. Her room would be piled high to the ceiling. She remembered the things that should be remembered. She wrote every note herself—answered every letter. There was never anything half-way about Carole.
I know many of the people with whom she had business dealings. They worshipped her. Nothing was ever wrong—everything was just right.
She was friend to the little fellow. “They’re the ones who make pictures,” she’d often say.
Sometimes you’d think these stories of generous, gracious, loyal friend Lombard were made up—but what stops you from believing that is that the stories are so frequent. “There was never anything half-way about Carole.” I love that.
Clark called a day after you left and asked: “What time do we start our picture in the morning?” “Eight o’clock.” “Holy cats,” he yelled, “that’s the middle of the night—I haven’t worked for four months—maybe I won’t be able to make it!” That tickled me. At seven-thirty your Clark was there. And he started the picture—was in the very first shot—with twenty-one kids from nine years down. They pulled at his coat and yelled “Bang, bang” in his ears and they interrupted his dialogue. He worked. He was swell. You know he would be! The next day, Friday, all day long we talked about you, Clark, Ruggles and I. I asked him how all your pets were. He laughed, “Wait till ‘Maw’ finds out that the two dogs and the cat slept with me last night.” I knew you’d get a bang out of that. He called the air office every hour to see if you’d be on time. He was planning such funny jokes for your homecoming.
Friday afternoon, just before we stopped shooting, the boys pulled a gag on Clark. He was to enter the scene carrying a Gladstone bag. The boys loaded it with five dozen books. Ruggles said: “Okay, Clark, just come in and throw the bag across the room.” Clark put his hand down to grab the case. We were all watching. “Holy smokes!” he shouted, “I’m nailed to the floor!” I knew you’d get a kick out of that, too.
You know, Clark is a sweetheart, Carole, dear. After ten years of great success, he’s just like he was—only nicer. That’s because he knows you.
Outside they’re yelling something about a beautiful girl killed in a crash. She was coming home from a mission of mercy. Her mother too.
You were coming to visit us next week…
Now, about Clark. He couldn’t be with people who loved you both more. Besides that, he’s with all the boys who have been around him since he first started here at MGM. They will dog his tracks to help him through.
We’ll cry. We’ll cry lots. None of will want the other to know how much. And then we’ll be laughing again because we’ll be talking about those crazy, dear moments you let us share with you. You are blessed with all the fullness of a complete life, for to know you is to love you. There is no one in all this world who can ever take your place. So, you’ll be with us, I betcha money.
Wherever you are at this moment, darling, the place is good. And those therein are made brighter with your laughter.
You can read the article in its entirety in The Article Archive.
Quotes from Rhett Butler, Part 2:
“Would you satisfy my curiosity on a point which has bothered me for some time?….Tell me, Scarlett, do you never shrink from marrying men you don’t love?”
“And to think you could have had my millions if you’d just waited a bit longer. How fickle is woman.”
“What a woman!”
“You’re like the thief who isn’t the least bit sorry he stole, but is terribly, terribly sorry he’s going to jail.”
“You’ve been married to a boy and an old man. Why not marry one the right age, with a way with women?”
“Forgive me for startling you with the impetuosity of my sentiments, my dear Scarlett–I mean, my dear Mrs. Kennedy. But it cannot have escaped your notice that for some time past the friendship I have felt for you has ripened into a deeper feeling. A feeling more beautiful, more pure, more sacred. Dare I name it? Can it be love? ”
“This is an honorable proposal of marriage made at what I consider a most opportune moment. I can’t go all my life waiting to catch you between husbands!”
“I want you to faint. This is what you were meant for. None of the fools you’ve ever know have kissed you like this, have they? Not your Charles, or your Frank, or your stupid Ashley. ”
“I’m very drunk and I intend on getting drunker before this evening’s over.”
“You have her duds ready or I warn you…I have always thought a good lashing with a buggy whip would benefit you immensely!”
“It seems we’ve been at cross purposes, doesn’t it? But it’s no use now. As long as there was Bonnie, there was a chance that we might be happy. I liked to think that Bonnie was you, a little girl again, before the war, and poverty had done things to you. She was so like you, and I could pet her, and spoil her, as I wanted to spoil you. But when she went, she took everything.”
“Take my hankerchief. Never at any crisis in your life have I known you to have a handkerchief.”
“Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
A very happy birthday to the third Mrs. Clark Gable, the love of his life, Carole Lombard!
It isn’t her birthday without this audio of Clark singing “Happy Birthday” to her:
Hard to believe Miss Lombard would be 106 if she was still with us today.
I’ve just returned from my trip to Ohio and I’ll be working on my blog posts from my trip, plus new Carole stuff so stay tuned!
Well, folks, it’s that time of year again–Carole Lombard Month here on DearMrGable.com!
October brings with it Carole’s birthday and a month of Carole-ful joy on the site–articles, photos and Gossip Fridays all about the love of Clark Gable’s life! I have been doing this for several years and fans of the site seem to love it more and more each year.
Two other things worth mentioning:
1. I have created a link to the “Nutshell Reviews” of each of Clark’s films that I did earlier in the year. It’s now included in the top menu.
2. I am headed off to the great state of Ohio–aka the birthplace of Clark Gable himself–this weekend! I am going to be tracing Clark’s footsteps around the state and so plenty of blog posts will be forthcoming. In the meantime you can follow what I am up to in Ohio by liking the site Facebook page–I will be updating it live!
Lots of work going on around here this month…
Over the years, I’ve chatted with Gone with the Wind fans about their favorite quotes. Many of them come from the spirited and somewhat heartless Scarlett, many from hilarious Mammy, even some from Melanie and Ashley. But, hands down, more people say that Rhett has all the best lines.
All year long, I have been posting some of them on the website’s Facebook page. And here are some highlights (Part 1):
“I think it’s hard winning a war with words, gentlemen.”
“Whewww…Has the war started?”
“And you miss, are no lady…I consider it a compliment. Ladies have never held any stole with me.”
“I believe in Rhett Butler; he’s the only cause I know. The rest doesn’t mean much to me.”
“With enough courage you can do without a reputation.”
“You little hypocrite. You don’t mind my knowing about them, just my talking about them.”
“No, I don’t think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly. That’s what’s wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.”
“I’m not asking you to forgive me. I’ll never understand or forgive myself. And if a bullet gets me, so help me, I’ll laugh at myself for being an idiot. There’s one thing I do know… and that is that I love you, Scarlett. In spite of you and me and the whole silly world going to pieces around us, I love you. Because we’re alike. Bad lots, both of us. Selfish and shrewd. But able to look things in the eyes as we call them by their right names. Scarlett! Look at me! I’ve loved you more than I’ve ever loved any woman and I’ve waited for you longer than I’ve ever waited for any woman.”
“Here’s a soldier of the South who loves you, Scarlett. Wants to feel your arms around him, wants to carry the memory of your kisses into battle with him. Never mind about loving me, you’re a woman sending a soldier to his death with a beautiful memory. Scarlett, kiss me, kiss me… once… ”
Part2 coming next Wednesday!
This month, Clark is a tough cattle baron and Ava Gardner is a sassy newspaperwoman in 1800’s Texas in Lone Star (1952).
In this semi-factual historical western, Gable is Devereaux Burke, a cattle baron enlisted by President Andrew Jackson (Barrymore) in 1845 to help convince Texas to become part of the United States. Gable encounters newspaperwoman Martha Ronda (Gardner) and her beau, Senator Thomas Craden (Crawford) who want Texas to become its own republic. Devereaux and Martha soon fall in love despite their differing opinions and he prepares for a final showdown with Craden.
This is definitely not Clark’s best Western….by a long shot. I daresay it’s his worst one. It tanked at the box office, with critics citing the lack of interest 1950’s audience had with a Western centering around Texas’ battle for independence.
What saves it from being entirely passable is his always reliable snap-crackle-pop chemistry with the lovely Ava Gardner. That chemistry is alive and poppin’ here, although one wonders why these two stars are wasted here with this mediocre plot and plodding script.
In fact, the best scenes of the film are the small little moments between Clark and Ava. I do like his line: “It’s convenient to have a woman you can take for granted. Not very exciting but convenient. I’ve never been that lucky.”
The brooding Broderick Crawford is the one-dimensional villain here, and he was as uninterested in the process as the rest of them. Director Sherman recalled that they all realized the film was awful during production, but being their assignment, got through it anyway without much gusto. Broderick Crawford was in a drunken stupor throughout filming and Gable and Gardner were just “showing up, reading lines and going home.”
The film has all the Clark Gable elements—he’s the rogue, wise crackin’ womanizer, full of wit and flirty lines, he punches a few guys out and wins the girl. But it all wasn’t cohesive here.
Clark was not in the best of spirits when filming began, as he had recently asked his fourth wife, Sylvia Ashley, for a divorce. His ranch home as in upheaval as she moved out and he began some construction to undo changes she had made. The stress of the situation caused him to drink more than usual and his head was not completely in the game on this one. Studio memos noted that “Gable doesn’t look like Gable anymore.”
This film marks the last screen appearance of the legendary Lionel Barrymore, who was wheelchair bound by this time due to arthritis and an injured hip. Clark and director Vincent Sherman convinced him to take the small role of President Andrew Jackson.
From May 1950:
For the first time in his life, glamour king Clark Gable attended a fashion show—and willingly yet. It was the big Adrian to- do which he has every year for the husbands of the gals he gowns and Mr. G. docilely escorted his bride to the shindig.
Gone with the Wind had an absolutely stellar cast, and as I have discussed with many a fellow film fan, it is a great launching pad for anyone to delve into classic films. You can start with any of the four leads–Leigh, Gable, de Havilland, Howard–and start diving into their films and you are awash with classic film fabulousness.
And for many of these players, it wasn’t their first time sharing the screen. Let’s see who Clark Gable met up with elsewhere:
Clark and Laura Hope Crews (Aunt Pittypat) also co-starred in Idiot’s Delight (1939), which they made just prior to GWTW.
In A Free Soul (1931), (SPOILER ALERT) Leslie Howard (Ashley) ends up killing Clark, all for the love of Norma Shearer.
Ward Bond (Yankee Captain) was uncredited as a bus driver in It Happened One Night (1934).
Thomas Mitchell (Gerald O’Hara) and Clark were pals in real life, and he was Clark’s sidekick in Adventure (1945).
Harry Davenport (Dr. Meade) also played a doctor in Adventure (1945). (Random fact: he was yet again a doctor in the Carole Lombard film Made For Each Other (1939)!)
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