clark gable carole lombard

From October 1941:

Carole Lombard was “burned up” today over radio movie gossip reports that 1. She was critically ill, And 2. That she was going to get a divorce from her husband, Clark Gable. 

She was perfectly well, said Miss Lombard, and neither she nor Mr. Gable had any intention of getting a divorce. They had just returned from a hunting trip to South Dakota. “We heard these reports on the radio of the car coming home,” said Miss Lombard. “But it was when we arrived and the calls began coming in that we got really angry.”

clark gable carole lombard

From November 1941:

Carole Lombard is a girl who keeps her promises. When she and Clark Gable were married she said that she would never make a film while Gable was on vacation–since she wanted to travel and hunt with him. Recently she was signed to star in the Lubitsch-directed film, “To Be or Not To Be.” But Gable is still on vacation–so she starts to work the day he starts work in his new film, “Somewhere I’ll Find You.”

clark gable

From February 1937:

Carole Lombard’s birthday present to Clark Gable was an automobile trailer to carry his saddle horse. Being practical, Carole sent the blueprints first for Clark to okay. The trailer will be constructed along deluxe lines and will hook onto the back of the star’s new station wagon.

clark gable carole lombard elizabeth peters plane crash

Now that Carole had been properly laid to rest, the focused shifted to the grieving widower.

Gable To Seek Solace in Work

Clark Gable, turned from a swashbuckling, carefree prankster into a depressed, grief-stricken recluse by the tragic death of Carole Lombard, will seek solace in work.

The fun-loving screen star was so anguished by loss of his wife that he wanted only to be alone. Shielded by studio executives, Gable has been so alone that friends became alarmed at his depressed brooding.

Gable hasn’t yet gone to his Encino ranch where he and Carole lived so fully and joyously. He’s in seclusion at a friend’s home. He has left it only twice since he brought Miss Lombard’s body home Wednesday morning–to attend funeral services for her and her mother, Mrs. Elizabeth K. Peters, that afternoon, and services for his friend and publicity man, Otto Winkler, yesterday.

He was waiting at the nearby Burbank airport to greet Carole Friday night when he received word of the crash which killed her, Mrs. Peters, Winkler and 19 other persons near Las Vegas, Nev. He flew to Las Vegas, was dissuaded from joining in the search for the bodies–then went into seclusion.

Friends argued that he should plunge into work.

“You’ve got to find something to occupy your time; something to do with your mind besides brood,” they told him.

Gable agreed to go ahead with the picture on which he had done one day’s work–“Somewhere I’ll Find You.” He didn’t set the date and the studio didn’t ask him to.

“We will wait until Gable feels he is mentally and physically able,” a spokesman said. “He has gone through a horrible ordeal.”

There’s not a parallel case of any star losing an equally famous wife or husband so tragically and soon going back to the lots.

Norma Shearer went into seclusion for a year after her producer husband, Irving Thalberg, died. She had threatened to retire.

Mary Astor was out of pictures several months after her husband, Director Kenneth Hawks, was killed in an airplane crash over the Pacific while filming a picture.

William Powell interrupted a picture to seek solace on a yacht cruise after his fiance, Jean Harlow, died in 1937. Five weeks later, he collapsed on the set. A physician said he was exhausted and overwrought with grief. Powell and the platinum blonde had been inseparable.

So had Gable and Miss Lombard.

Since the bodies had been removed, an investigation into the crash began.

Lombard Air Crash Probe Is Launched

Investigation into the crash of a TWA airliner in Nevada which brought fiery death to 22 persons, including Actress Carole Lombard and 15 army airmen, centered in Los Angeles today as the Civil Aeronautics Authority opened a hearing expected to last two weeks.

Witnesses to be called before the investigating committee include TWA officials, Nevada residents who witnessed the crash, representatives of the Las Vegas coroner’s office and army officers.

I’m going to end the series here, as after the 23rd the focus turns to investigating the plane crash and figuring out what’s next for a suddenly alone Clark Gable.

Hard to believe the world lost Carole 75 years ago, isn’t it? Rest in peace, angel.

carole lombard

clark gable carole lombard forest lawn

The morning of January 22 brought details from Carole and her mother’s brief funeral, held the day before.

Simple Funeral Rites Held for Carole Lombard

Actress is Buried With Other Movie Immortals in Memorial Park

Carole Lombard was with the other movie immortals in Forest Lawn Memorial Park today.

After a brief, simple service–in accordance with the wish expressed in her will–the bodies of Miss Lombard and her mother, Elizabeth K. Peters, were interred in the green acres where are buried Marie Dressler, Will Rogers, Jean Harlow, Douglas Fairbanks, Lon Chaney, Tom Mix and many another movie star.

The sealed coffins of Miss Lombard and her mother, killed in last Friday’s aerial tragedy in Nevada, were blanketed with gardenias in the memorial church. Whether by chance or on purse, the caskets formed a “V” in front of the pulpit, where the Rev. Gordon C. Chapman said a prayer, read a psalm and recited one of Miss Lombard’s favorite poems.

Crowds Kept Away

Grim or mouth and wearing dark glasses to cover his red-rimmed eyes, Miss Lombard’s husband, Clark Gable, sat in an ante-room during the ten-minute service late yesterday. None of the invited friends, numbering less than fifty and including Spencer Tracy, Fred MacMurray, Jack Benny, Myrna Loy and Miss Lombard’s first husband, William Powell, ever saw him.

Miss Lombard had suggest in her will that the services be very simple. And simple they were.

Police stopped sightseers at the bottom of the long road leading to the chapel on the top of a hill overlooking San Fernando Valley were Mr. and Mrs. Gable had enjoyed what they said were the happiest years of their lives.  Photographers remained outside the cemetery. A dozen members of the press came not only as newspapermen, but as friends and mourners.

No Music at Service

There was no music. Miss Lombard would not have wanted it. Floral tributes, including two large United States flags made of red and white carnations and blue cornflowers, lined the chapel. None of the bouquets bore cards.

The Rev. Mr. Chapman, pastor of the Westwood Community Methodist Church, said a prayer. He read the 23rd Psalm. Then he recited the poem of an unknown author.

With that Mr. Chapman said the benediction and the mourners filed by the caskets into the gray afternoon. Interment was private, with only the members of the families as witnesses. Gable decided with thanks an offer from the Army of a squad of soldiers to fire a salute over the grave in memory of Miss Lombard’s war work.

He left the cemetery at the sunset, alone in the backseat of a rented limousine. His fans and Miss Lombard’s, numbering by now perhaps 100 at the gates, glimpsed him hatless, with chin in hand, as the car purred away.

The luminaries they mentioned do lay in peace in Forest Lawn Glendale, with the exception of Douglas Fairbanks, who is actually buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.


Carole Lombard Buried Yesterday

Vivacious Carole Lombard, who loved life; welcomed it in its every aspect, was buried with brief, simple funeral services yesterday.

A prayer…a short eulogy…a poem…organ music..fewer than three score intimate friends in attendance.

That was all. That was the way the actress willed it. All except the eulogy. Friends insisted that the pastor, the Rev. Gordon C. Chapman of Westwood Hills Community Methodist Church, read a short tribute they had prepared. Clark Gable, Miss Lombard’s husband, consented.

Sharing in the simple services was Miss Lombard’s mother, Mrs. Elizabeth K. Peters. Mrs. Peters had been Carole’s almost constant companion from the time she was born in Fort Wayne, Ind., 32 years ago until they went to death together in a Transcontinental and Western Airliner crash near Las Vegas, Nev., last Friday night.

Otto Winkler, Gable’s publicity manager and close friend, another victim of the crash, will be buried late today.

Bodies of four others of the 22 crash victims were sent to relatives from Las Vegas yesterday. They were Mrs. Lois Hamilton, to Detroit; Captain Wayne Williams, pilot, to Kansas City; Co-pilot Morgan A. Gillette to Los Angeles for cremation and reshipment to Burlington, Vt., and hostess Alice Gets to Illinois.


You can see modern pictures of Forest Lawn Glendale here.


January 21 brought news of Carole’s funeral to be held later that day at Forest Lawn.


Carole Lombard Funeral at Forest Lawn

Private funeral services, with only intimate friends present, were arranged for 4:00pm today, in the Church of the Recessional, Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, for screen star Carole Lombard and her mother, Mrs. Elizabeth K. Peters.

The bodies, recovered from the Nevada mountain top where a commercial airliner carried 22 persons to their deaths last Friday night, were taken from a train at Pomona this morning and transported by hearse to the cemetery. Carole Lombard’s husband, Clark Gable, issued a statement, saying: “Miss Lombard and her mother, in their respective wills, requested private burial at Forest Lawn.”

The Rev. George C. Chapman, pastor of the Westwood Hills Community Methodist Church, will conduct the brief service.

Haggard, dispirited Clark Gable brought the bodies of his wife, his mother-in-law, and closest friend–victims of a Nevada air crash–back to southern California today.

The matinee idol, wearing dark glasses, slipped from a westbound Union Pacific train at Pomona, 30 miles east of [Los Angeles], this morning while waiting attendants unloaded the coffins containing the flame-seared, battered bodies of actress Carole Lombard, Mrs. Elizabeth K. Peters and Otto Winkler, publicity agent for MGM studio.


Carole Lombard To be Buried Near Graves of Filmdom’s Immortals

The body of Carole Lombard is being brought home today for private funeral services and burial near those of Will Rogers, Marie Dressler, Jean Harlow and other motion picture stars.


Lombard Rites to Be Held Late Today

The crushed body of Carole Lombard, screen star who met death with 21 other occupants of a TWA plane which crashed in flames on a Nevada mountain peak, was brought to Hollywood today for funeral and burial services.

Clark Gable, actor-husband of the film favorite, accompanied the body back to the film city.

The funeral cortege left Las Vegas, Nev., Tuesday night shortly after the bodies of Miss Lombard’s mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Knight Peters, and Otto Winkler, publicity agent, who also perished in the disaster, were identified and a brief inquest was conducted.

Joint funeral services for Miss Lombard and her mother will be held late today at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale. Studio spokesmen said that simplicity will be the keynote of the final rites, with only some two score close friends in attendance.

In the meantime it was announced that the government’s official inquiry into the tragedy will open in Los Angeles Friday morning.



clark gable they met in bombay carole lombard

From July 1941:

Because Clark Gable and Carole Lombard interested themselves in his career, tall handsome Reed Hadley, who hails from Texas via New York theatre and radio acting stopovers, appears to be safely launched in Hollywood.

Young Hadley first attracted Miss Lombard’s attention when he appeared with her on a national radio broadcast. Gable met him at that time also. Both were impressed with young Hadley’s appearance and talents. 

Gable subsequently suggested to Director Clarence Brown that Hadley be tested for the role of a young British officer in “They Met in Bombay” at MGM. Gable and Rosalind Russell are co-starring in the picture and a requirement of the officer part was that it be filled by a man whose uniform could be donned by Gable.

Hadley, who has that stature, was signed for the part without the formality of a test, after being interviewed by Director Brown.

carole lombard

By Monday, the reports were grim indeed.

Dental Records Needed to Identify Remains of Carole Lombard

Gable Grim But Brave During Long Ordeal

Tentative arrangements were made today to return the shattered body of Film Star Carole Lombard, killed with her mother and 20 others in an airliner crash Friday night, to Hollywood tonight in custody of her grieving husband, Clark Gable

Plans called for the body to be placed on the Union Pacific, Los Angeles Limited leaving Las Vegas at 9:20pm and arriving Los Angeles at 8:30am tomorrow. Definite arrangements were delayed pending positive identification of the body of Miss Lombard’s mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Peters.

Studio associates of Gable said that if the bodies of Miss Lombard and her mother are taken to Hollywood tonight, funeral services probably will be held there Wednesday. Gable, grim-faced and haggard, remained in seclusion in a Las Vegas hotel.

Only by using dental charts, flown to Las Vegas from Hollywood, could authorities identify the crushed, burned body of the blonde actress. Mountain climbers and soldiers recovered it Sunday from a  snowbank beneath the torn wing of the Transcontinental and Western Airlines plane, which smashed into the steep cliff of a mountain peak.

Miss Lombard’s body and eight others, still unidentified, were wrapped in brown army blankets and raised with ropes up the face of the 400 foot cliff. They were carried by horses to the mountain community of Goodsprings and taken down the mountainside in army ambulances.

Gable remained in seclusion at the El Rancho Vegas hotel last night and did not attend the inquest held to clear the way for the return of his wife’s body to Hollywood.

Almost frantic Saturday while the search was in progress, Gable recovered his composure Sunday and remained quietly at his hotel. he spoke infrequently, only to his associates and only about decisions necessary to prepare for the return of the body and for funeral plans. His face was pale except for dark circles under his eyes.

Gable, “Pappy” to Miss Lombard, had made two fruitless attempts to join the searching parties Saturday before he returned to the hotel. When the news came, he was sitting, with Don McElwaine of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio, who received a note from the searchers.

“Bad news?” asked Gable quietly.

“I’m afraid it looks hopeless,” McElwaine replied.

“Oh, God,” Gable moaned, and dropped his head into his hands.

With him at the hotel were McElwaine; Howard Strickling, MGM publicity director, Eddie Mannix, general manager of the MGM studio; and Ralph Wheelwright, assistant MGM publicity director.

A coroner’s jury held the inquest in connection with Miss Lombard’s death, in the rice-strewn basement of Justice of the Peace Manlon Brown, the “marryin’ justice” of Las Vegas. The jury reported that the actress died “of injuries received in the crash of a TWA airliner en route from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, near ‘Double or Nothing’ mountain.”

The name of the peak added an ironic note to the actress’ death. Miss Lombard and her agent, Otto Winkler, who also was a victim of the crash, flipped a coin to decide whether they should make their defense bond selling trip to the Middle West by plane or rail.

Remains Taken to Hollywood

Life called upon Clark Gable today for a scene more dramatic and poignant than any he ever played in pictures.

Accompanied by a party of close friends, he headed a funeral cortege carrying back to Hollywood the crushed remains of his beautiful wife, screen star Carole Lombard.

Among those with Gable were Spencer Tracy, Mr. and Mrs. D.W. Griffith, Mr. and Mrs. Nate Wolffe ( Miss Lombard’s agent) and William Collier, Jr.

Funeral services are to be held at a date yet to be determined, at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, where lie the remains of such other movie greats as Will Rogers, Marie Dressler and Jean Harlow.

Legal formalities for the removal of Miss Lombard’s body from Nevada to California were completed last night at an inquest held before a three-man coroner’s jury.

After hearing witnesses the jury ruled that the star “came to her death as a result of injuries sustained in the crash of a TWA liner enroute from Las Vegas to Los Angeles near Double or Nothing mountain.”

Identification of Miss Lombard’s body was made by Eddie Mannix, vice president and general manager of MGM Studio, through wisps of her blonde curls which escaped the flames and through dental records from Hollywood.

Earlier in the day icy Double or Nothing mountain, also known as Doubleup mountain, 35 miles south of Las Vegas, reluctantly gave up the bodies of nine of the 22 persons who died in the crash. The body of another woman, beside the screen star’s, and the remains of seven of the 15 soldiers aboard the ship were recovered after great difficulty by a posse of some 50 soldiers and civilians.

The bodies had to be hoisted up a 400-foot cliff to a ledge above the wreckage. There they were placed on sturdy mountain ponies and carried out of the steep and rugged Potosi mountains.

The body of the other woman was believed st first to have been that of Miss Lombard’s mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Peters, but there was some doubt of this today. It is now thought that it might be that of Mrs. Lois Hamilton, wife of an army officer.

Government and TWA officials who investigated the wreck expressed a belief that the pilot did not see the peak he was about to strike. They said that the plane apparently was cruising at full speed when it struck. the nose of the plane was so deeply buried in solid rock that efforts to pry it out were futile.

John Collings, TWA’s superintendent of operations, described the ship as “the most completely obliterated crashed plane I have ever seen.”


carole lombard plane crash

By the time Americans received their Sunday morning papers on January 18, the headlines changed from Carole Lombard being “feared” dead to being a confirmed casualty.

carole lombard mother elizabeth peters plane crash


Carole Lombard Among 22 Killed in Air Crash

Blonde, carefree screen actress Carole Lombard, her mother and 20 other occupants of a luxurious TWA skysleeper crashed to flaming death last night on 8,5000-foot Table mountain.

Searchers on horseback reached the scene today, nearly 18 hours later, and found the shattered wreckage, with bodies scattered for hundreds of yards up the mountain’s face/

Because 15 army ferry pilots were aboard, army guards were sent to the scene to take charge. A patrol also barred the highway into the mountains to sightseers.

Pending on the spot investigations by army and coroner’s officers, there was no indication how or when the bodies would be brought out. A grueling, 11-mile hike to Goodsprings, at the base of the mountain, would be necessary to bring the victims to hearses/

Undersheriff Glenn Jones reported from Jean, Nev., that the big 21-passenger craft apparently hut at full speed. Many of the victims were burned beyond recognition.

Thus ended the idyllic marriage of the actress and Clark Gable, idol of thousands of moviegoers. When the word came, a distraught Gable was on his way into the mountains to join personally in the search.

For hours he had paced a hotel room, refusing to be consoled by friends. Soon after noon he announced he could wait no longer. he and Sheriff M.E. Ward headed into the mountains.

his face was drawn and lined. Dark glasses hid bloodshot eyes. Accompanying him were Howard Strickling, publicity chief at his studio, MGM, and A.T.G. Steffes, Los Angeles attorney.

Gable, who learned of the crash as he waited for his wife to return from an eastern defense bond selling trip, had flown here early today from Hollywood.

It took hardened trackers more than six hours on horseback to force their way through the rugged, trackless Potosi mountains. Their search was slowed by terrain which made progress afoot impossible.

Army guards, led to the scene by Major Herbert Anderson, commanding the army’s gunnery school here, took charge.

The search had been underway since soon after 7 o’clock (PST) last night, when miners in an isolated canyon reported hearing an explosive crash and a pilot of another airline had spotted the blazing pyre.

Aboard the west bound craft, which left Las Vegas at 7:07pm, were three civilian passengers beside Miss Lombard, 15 soldiers attached to the army ferry command, and three crew members.

With Miss Lombard were her mother, Mrs. Elizabeth K. Peters, and Otto Winkler, MGM publicity man and close friend of the Gables. Winkler drove the couple to Kingman, Ariz., to be married two years ago.

The air corps ferry command at Long beach, Calif., said the soldiers were returning to the coast for new assignments. All boarded the plane at Albuquerque, N.M., where four civilians left the plane to make room for the military party.

Miss Lombard, 32, one of the most popular and successful actresses in Hollywood, was returning from a defense bond sales trip to Indianapolis. The former Jane Peters of Fort Wayne, Ind., had sold nearly $2,500,000 worth of bonds Thursday.

Hollywood friends heard that the plane trip was her idea, opposed both by her mother and Winkler. She had gone east by train. Gable, chairman of an actor’s committee in charge of bond sales personal appearances, himself had assigned her.

From scanty reports reaching here, the big 21-passenger Douglas-built liner apparently crashed in snow at an elevation of about 8,000 feet on Table mountain.

Neither TWA, army nor civilian aeronautics authorities would comment on the cause of the probably explosion.

A veteran pilot, Capt. Wayne Williams, 41, was in charge. He had logged 12,000 hours and 1,500,000 miles in the air. his co-pilot was Morgan A. Gillette, 25. Alice Getz, 25, was stewardess.

clark gable carole lombard elizabeth peters plane crash

Witness Tells of Scene in Mountains Where Plane Made Fatal Crash

by G.C. “Buck” Blaine

I got within one half mile of the TWA plane wreckage with my horse.

The snow was up to the animal’s belly and she could go no farther. So I tried her to a tree and started climbing the red rock. It was straight up about 50 feet.

It appeared that the plane had needed either 250 or 275 feet more altitude to clear the mountain. the nose had hit the precipice and had skidded around in a narrow ravine until the tail had also hit the cliff. The occupants were thrown out the left hand side of the plane and were scattered for 150 feet.

Recognizable were the bodies of a lieutenat, a sergeant, an enlisted man, a TWA employee and a woman. The plane had burned and molten aluminim had dropped over the rocks for 25 to 30 feet.

Luggage and other equipment were strewn for 500 to 600 feet. The snow is about three feet deep on the north side of the mountain where the plane is located.

It will be necessary to carry the bodies 1/2 or two miles on sleds, or for the possemen to carry them until they can reach the point where they can leave horses. From there it will be about two miles to the place where the cars can be left.

The location of the wreckage is in the saddle of an almost precipitous mountain. Rescuers must zig-zag to make a path so that officials can walk up to the scene. It probably will take from daylight until noon tomorrow to beat a path and reach the bodies.