carole lombard

After they were married in 1939 and Carole Lombard had proficiently decorated and furnished their cozy Encino abode to suit her and her “moose” of a husband, Clark Gable, she set her sights on her next goal: motherhood. Unfortunately for the Gables, this was a wish that would remain unfulfilled.

The consensus these days seems to be that Carole had some sort of medical problem that prevented her from becoming pregnant. Nowadays, a doctor would have told her first and foremost that she needed to stop the chain-smoking and perhaps dial down the coffee and Coca-Cola chugging.

Clark fathered a daughter with Loretta Young and later on a son with his fifth wife Kay, so the claims that some friends of Carole’s made that he was the one with the fertility problem seem to be unfounded.

Since we’ll never know exactly why parenthood sadly eluded the Gables, let’s look at the pregnancy and miscarriage rumors that plagued the couple throughout their marriage.

August 3, 1939:

Enthused Over Son

Carole Lombard and Clark Gable are so enthused over the arrival of a six-pound baby son for the Walter Langs (Mrs. Lang was “Fieldsie” Carole’s long-time secretary and closest friend) that it is now no secret they’d like a little Gable themselves. The two paced the hospital corridors with the anxious father awaiting the birth of the baby–and when Carole first glimpsed it, she said, “Here’s your Auntie Carole, you beautiful little thing!”

The baby was Richard Lang, Clark and Carole’s godson, whom Clark eventually gave his Academy Award to because the child admired it.

August 5, 1939:

Carole Lombard, blonde screen star, had undergone an operation for acute appendicitis and is recovering satisfactorily, it was learned today.

The actress was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital by her film star husband, Clark Gable. She had been ill two days.

Dr. Norman Williams performed the operation and reported that Miss Lombard’s condition was excellent.

Miss Lombard when she became ill was in midst of production in a picture called “Vigil in the Night” in which she plays the role of a nurse.  RKO-Radio Studio said that production will be postponed until Miss Lombard recovers.

Many sources say that this was not an appendectomy and that in fact Carole had miscarried after horseback riding.

carole lombard baby

By November, the adoption rumors were circulating.

November 29, 1939:

Carole Lombard and Clark Gable are not going to adopt a baby–because they’ve decided in favor of the Gable brand.

Odd choice of words.

carole lombard babies

By 1940, reports circulated constantly about Carole and her various illnesses. Which seems strange since she was constantly pictured on her movie sets laughing and seemingly in the greatest of health, pictured hunting and fishing with Clark joyously. The rumors of Carole’s ill health had become so rampant that she felt compelled to give an interview to Screenland magazine proclaiming she was not sick and to stop worrying about her: “Help Kill Crazy Rumors About Me!”

Carole, all wrapped up in a white robe, was seated at her dressing table while the ever faithful Loretta fussed with her hair. She did look a bit peaked. Poor child. My heart simply overflowed with sympathy and I fought to keep the tears out of my eyes.

“Did you have a good rest, darling?” I asked softly and solicitously.

“Rest?” screamed Carole. “Are you crazy? Did you ever shoot quail? Do you know how fast they can dart over the mountains? And with me right after them with eight pounds of gun and three pounds of shells over my shoulder? Rest? I’ll have you know I walked ten miles a day, every day. Look at the blisters on my heels.”

“But, darling,” I said, so quietly and patiently, the way one speaks to a petulant invalid, “do you think you ought to do that? So much exercise isn’t good for your health, you know.”

“What’s wrong with you?” Carole demanded indignantly. “You can talk louder than that. There’s no one sleeping around here. Unless it’s Loretta.” (Loretta gave her dome a none too gentle whack with the hair brush). “And what, may I ask, is all this hooey about my health? When we got in from Mexico this morning I found a whole stack of letters from fans saying they were so worried about me. Several of them suggested specialists I should see, and different medicines which they guaranteed would cure me. I appreciate their interest. But I’m not sick. Maybe I’m a little goofy. I’ll even admit that maybe I’m a little dopey, at time. But I certainly am not sick. Why are people worried about me? Why are you giving me the Camille business? What’s it all about?”

“It was on the radio,” I gulped. “And in all the newspapers: Your health is supposed to be completely wrecked. You’re run down, your nerves are shattered, you haven’t any red corpuscles, and you’re in the last stages of something. You’re dying, too, or something like that. Anyway, you have to retire from the screen for at least a year. You’re—“

“Oh, so I’m retiring from the screen, am I? Well that is news! You don’t think that rumor could have been started by some people who say ‘Vigil in the Night’ do you? No, it can’t be that bad. In fact I think it’s rather good. If I were going to retire from the screen because of bad pictures I should have retired after ‘Fools for Scandal.’ See this—“ she showed me a slip which had a message on it that Mr. Pasternak had called. “Well, that means that I am going to do a picture at Universal in a few months. As soon as Boyer is available. And maybe before that even I have to do the Norman Krasna story which David Selznick will produce. And I have just signed a new contract with RKO which calls for three pictures. So please stop worrying about me retiring from the screen. Or, maybe you aren’t.”


“If it means so much to you,” said Carole with one of those Lombard guffaws, “I’ll be big about it and admit that maybe I am just a teensy weensy bit off-color. Now—does that make you and the radio commentators and the newspaper columnists feel better? But I fey any of you to go through what I have been through for the past few months and not look a little pale. You, cutie-pie, would look bedraggled.  As you know, I had an acute attack of appendicitis last August and was rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. Three weeks later I reported to RKO for ‘Vigil in the Night,’ the Cronin story with Brian Aherne and Anne Shirley, who, by the way, is a grand actress. For seventy-eight days I worked from nine to six on that picture without one single day off, didn’t I, Loretta? And me fresh out of a hospital. The studio kept planning for me to have a collapse, but I fooled em. I didn’t miss a day.”

If the appendectomy was a tall tale, she was riding with it, anyway!

The Gables went on an extensive hunting and fishing trip after Clark finished filming Boom Town and Carole finished They Knew What They Wanted. After some intimate moments in the duck blind, Carole was sure she was pregnant and rushed to the doctor for a test upon their return. But it was negative.


clark gable carole lombard

Carole had slowed down her filming schedule in hopes she’d become pregnant–making only two films in 1940.When she still wasn’t expecting at the end of the year, the Gables crossed the country to John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. I’m guessing this was at Carole’s insistence. It was spun that Carole was having a “minor operation” and that Clark was being seen for an old shoulder injury.

January 1, 1941:

Movie actress Carole Lombard will undergo a minor operation tomorrow at John Hopkins Hospital.

She entered the hospital Monday with her husband, Clark Gable, who said at the time he would have an injured shoulder examined.  Miss Lombard said the operation was decided upon after a general physical checkup.

Dr. Richard W. Telinde, chief gynecologist at the hospital, will perform the operation, which was described as not serious.


From a Baltimore Sun article:

Gable…visited Baltimore in December 1940, when he and his third wife, screen actress Carole Lombard, whom he married in 1939, arrived at Johns Hopkins Hospital for a medical checkup.

Gable, injured when a wall toppled on him while he was filming “San Francisco,” complained of a dull ache in his shoulder.

Gable stood on the steps of the hospital’s administration building next to Lombard, who was dressed in a mink coat and black hat, talking with photographers and reporters.

“Please speed it up, I’m not feeling very well,” he said.

“We probably will have adjoining rooms in the Marburg building. The rest will be good for me, too,” Lombard said.

The treatment

Dr. B. Lucien Brun, surgeonin-chief and head of the oral surgical staff, later removed a tooth and part of the jaw in an hour-and-a-half operation that left the actor saying he felt “rotten.”

“Dr. Louis Hamman, who examined both Gable and his wife, Carole Lombard, said today he believed the decayed tooth root had been poisoning the actor’s system and affecting particularly shoulder muscles injured in the filming of ‘San Francisco,’ ” reported The Evening Sun.

Before leaving Baltimore for Hollywood, the celebrated couple visited Gov. and Mrs. Herbert R. O’Conor for a tour of the State House and the Naval Academy.

As they left the State House, they posed for pictures. “Miss Lombard then stopped and played with Bobby, the Governor’s 4-year-old son who was airing his new bull pup on the lawn,” reported The Sun.

They also visited Children’s Hospital, where they autographed the body cast of 11-year-old Agnes Valentine, a Frederick County resident who was recuperating in the hospital.

A few days later, a huge package arrived from Hollywood for the little patients at Children’s Hospital.

Inside was 68 pounds of chocolate candy and a note: “For the children, from Carole and Clark.”

We’ll never know what the diagnosis was or what her operation was exactly. Back in those days, fertility testing was not near as extensive as it is today and there were no options such as IVF.  There were also many things that Carole would have probably been told by her doctor about conceiving that we know nowadays are completely false. Like I said above, the ill effects of cigarettes, alcohol and caffeine were unknown then, for starters. At this point, the lack of positive news was causing Carole quite a great deal of stress and causing friction in the Gable marriage. By all accounts though, they weren’t told the situation was hopeless and by summer, the rumors were rampant again that a little Gable was on the way:

clark gable carole lombard

From May 1941:

The staff at New York Hospital is agog over Carole Lombard’s reservation. A baby Gable, they say.

New York Hospital? Odd.

From June 1941:

There have also been reports that C. Gable and Carole Lombard are expecting. The forthright Carole says, “I’m sorry it isn’t true. And when it is I’ll be the first to know about it and I’ll be the first to tell about it.”

From July 1941:

My, how that Carole Lombard baby rumor does persist, despite Carole’s vehement denials!

From August 1941:

A little bird (stork?) tells me that a little Gable is expected next spring.

From August 1941:

“It’s not true, I’m afraid,” Carole Lombard tells me about the news of an impending little Gable.

I often see it mentioned that Carole suffered two miscarriages. It is a safe bet that the second occurred in summer-fall 1941. It’s rather funny how the blurbs of the Gables expecting were quickly swept under the rug a short time later, either with no comment or a swift denial by Lombard.

In December 1941, the United States was swept into World War II and there were more important things to worry about than a little Gable on the way. I’ve heard some people say that Carole was pregnant when she died; I sincerely doubt that. If she’d known she was pregnant, no way she’d take on such an arduous trip, especially after two miscarriages. I’ve heard the romantic tale that she found out she was pregnant while on the bond tour and took the plane home because she wanted to tell Clark in person. Rubbish. This was 1942, she couldn’t pick up a pregnancy test at a drug store.

Unfortunately for us all, the world was not graced with a sassy little Lombard-Gable with blonde ringlets, big blue eyes and big ears!

clark gable carole lombard

Clark and Carole with a little girl in Atlanta for the premiere of Gone with the Wind


carole lombard to be or not to be

From January 1942:

Mittens will soon be coming of age. 

One of the smartest innovations in accessories will be seen on the screen, when Carole Lombard wears mittens with sophisticated street clothes. 

The ever-original Irene has designed several woolen costumes for the glamorous star to wear in Ernst Lubitsch’s “To Be or Not to Be” and, in colors to match, simple little mitts of very fine knitted wool.

clark gable carole lombard

Much to the surprise of her friends, when Carole Lombard fell in love with Clark Gable she traded in her high heels and fur coats for rubber boots and shotguns. There was the glamorous movie star Carole Lombard, wading through swamps and crouching in duck blinds.

Here are the Gables in their very finest:

ccarole259 clark gable carole lombard clark gable carole lombard clark gable carole lombard clark gable carole lombard clark gable carole lombardclark gable carole lombard

The screenshots from the infamous “duck dance” home video are adorable (if you ignore the poor dead ducks hanging around them):

clark gable carole lombard clark gable carole lombard clark gable carole lombard clark gable carole lombard clark gable carole lombard


And…my favorite:

clark gable carole lombard


clark gable carole lombard

Here is a short little article that appeared in the February 1942 edition of Screen Guide magazine. Sadly, by the time this issue hit newsstands, the spirited subject of the article would be dead.

“Hermit” is a word that conjured up pictures of wizened characters with long white beards, living solitary lives in caves or tree-tops. Carole Lombard is blonde and beautiful; her “cave” is a 22-acre ranch in San Fernando Valley; and far from being alone, Carole is married to Clark Gable.

But when you consider the sort of person Carole used to be, her present life does seem like complete seclusion. She used to make headlines on cinema pages by cutting a fancy figure in Hollywood Cafe Society. Today columnists in search of a Lombard item have to cook up rumors that she’s separating from her husband, having a baby or adopting one. She used to give lavish, unusual parties; once she took all the furniture out of the house and made the guests sit on huge, fluffy cushions. Now the Gables give small house parties for a few close friends. Instead of nightclubbing with the rest of the glitterbugs, she goes on hunting trips with her husband.

She hasn’t just drifted into this way of living; when she married Clark Gable, she decided to make their home the center of her life. She managed to carry out her decision without being obvious. Still a willing talker, she’s ready to converse on any subject from checkers to life insurance. But once you start probing into private matters she practically lapses into double talk. Neither her career nor Gable’s has suffered because of their “hideaway” habits, though her marriage was Carole’s first consideration. After all, if Clark Gable was included in the bargain, several million women would eagerly adopt a hermit’s life.

Hollywood would miss it’s resident hermit.

Here is the final portion of Frederick Othman’s series on Carole Lombard, published on January 21, 1942. In this segment we learn she buried shrunken skulls in her yard!

clark gable carole lombard ranch

Carole Lombard and Gable Gave Up ‘Flossy’ Dwelling

Happy Film Couple Lived in Simple Home Without Swimming Pool or Guest Rooms

When Carole Lombard married Clark Gable in 1939, there was no whoop-de-do. They drove to Kingman, Ariz., in the coupe of their good friend and press agent, Otto Winkler, said their vows, and came home again.

Then they held a reception at Carole’s house. The only guests were their old friends, the newspaper reporters. Everybody had a big time, host and hostess included, and that was all there was to the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. G. Nearly all, anyhow.

Carole tried to sell the house, but there were no takers. According to her the folks were a little leery about the human heads buried in the backyard. She wasn’t spoofing, either. They were genuine shrunken heads from the wilds of South America, presented her by an admiring explorer. She buried ’em under the petunias after he left.

Rented Big House

Eventually she rented the place to Director Alfred Hitchcock. Not until he signed the lease did she tell him about the skulls under his bedroom window.

Mr. and Mrs. G., meantime, had moved into a home of their own, like no other movie star’s house. Their combined income approached $1,000,000 a year and they could have had solid gold door knobs and a Roman bath if they’d wanted it. They didn’t.

“You get enough of that flossy business on the sound stages.” Carole explained in showing visitors around the establishment, which wasn’t any larger nor any fancier than yours or mine.

They had no swimming pool, because Miss Lombard said pools were good only for breeding mosquitoes. They had one bedroom, because she said what was the use of house guests, anyhow? they did have an elegant front porch, though, for sitting down purposes, and a living room furnished with some of the biggest, softest couches ever seen in these parts.

Carole liked to jump on ’em.

She liked company, too, so long as the company went home at bedtime. She served scotch and soda in glasses the size of mason jars, while she drank soda pop and figured out ways the amuse the man she called “Pappy.”

Theirs was a genuinely happy marriage. This was proven by the fact that the radio oracles constantly were announcing their impending divorce.

Miss Lombard, ever reticent, lamented the fact that it was not in the cards for her to be a mother. Her childlessness was her second real sorrow. The World War was the other. She could not understand why men insisted on shooting each other.

Died in the Service

But that was before the United States joined in the fray. Once that happened, Miss Lombard forgot her idealism. She forgot everything–even life itself, as it developed–in her effort to help win the war. She quit the comforts of her home for the gloom of the sound stages, simply to earn more money so she could pay more taxes. When she was invited to Indianapolis to sell defense bonds, she whooped as only Lombard could whoop, and headed east. She peddled $2,000,000 worth of bonds and flew home–and you know the rest of the story.

The Treasury Department said she died in the service of her country. And so she did. There isn’t any more for us to say.


Continuing from yesterday’s post, here is part two of United Press Hollywood Correspondent Frederick Othman’s series on Carole Lombard, published January 20, 1942.

carole lombard

Miss Lombard: Actress Liked to Pay Taxes

Insisted on Huge Salary Because U.S. Took 75 Per Cent

It will be a long time before Hollywood stops recalling and chuckling over the escapades of Carole Lombard, the girl who admitted she was crazy as a fox.

She was scatter-brained–on purpose. She developed a vocabulary that would make a sailor blush–and for good reason. She was Hollywood’s leading screwball–and it made her $400,000 a year.

Miss Lombard had been the lush and curvesome heroine of many a torrid drama when, in 1936, she co-starred with her ex-husband, William Powell, in “My Man Godfrey.” This was the first of the screwball movies, which have emerged from Hollywood in a never-ending flood.

Hated Stiffness

The picture made a fortune for its producers and it made Carole one of the brightest stars in the movies. Only trouble was, all the fans figured she was the same kind of girl she was in the picture. And if that was what they wanted, figured Miss L., she’d give it to ’em in good measure. Her scheme worked all around. She never did have any respect for the pompous gentlemen at the heads of studios and and in her new character of wide-eyed wench she could get by with things of which other actresses dare not dream. For instance:

One studio chieftain functioned at an ornate desk at the end of a room only two sizes smaller than Grand Central Terminal in New York. He liked to glower at trembling actors as they progressed across his polished floor and finally reached his desk in a state of near collapse. First time Miss Lombard entered his sanctum, there he was, glowering.

“Hmmmm,” she said, looking slowly around the vast room and finally at the producer. “Hello, Mussolini. Guess I’m in the wrong office.”

Took Everything

She walked out. The master mind had to rush out after her, himself on the mental defensive. She got what she wanted from him. Producers were the gentlemen she didn’t much like.

“Way back in the early days of picture making,” she once explained, “they took all the money and gave the actors nothing.Then came the Guild and bitter competition among the studios and the performers wages went up, like mine did, to crazy levels.

“Then the government came in and took most of it in taxes and that was all right by me. I’d rather my money went to feed a hungry man any day, than into the bank account of some picture maker that didn’t need it.”

Paid Taxes

This conservation led later to the memorable interview in which she announced that she liked to pay 75 per cent of her salary in income taxes. As she put it:

“It is  a pleasure to ride around the country on its fine roads, to see its magnificent schools and its fine post offices. It is a pleasure to know that I helped pay for them.”

This was lese majeste in Hollywood, where the favorite sport inside and out, was denouncing the Bureau of Internal Revenue. She was falsifying her feelings, sneered many another actor, just to get her name in the papers. The rest of the country didn’t think so. She was inundated with congratulatory messages from plain citizens who felt as she felt.

Today–thanks to Lombard–actors don’t grouse about their taxes.

Yet, soon after Miss Lombard told this writer about her tax philosophy, she was at the shop of an obscure printer, dickering with him to set up in type and make one copy of the standard, actor-agent contract, with revisions of her own devising.

More Tricks

When time came to sign a new deal with Myron Selznick, her agent, she put her signature to her own forms. So did Selznick, without looking, and without question. Next day she dropped him a note suggesting maybe he should have read the contract. Instead of calling for her to pay him ten percent of her earnings, the contract said he’d have to pay her ten percent of his income for the rest of his life.

This was a lot of effort for a laugh, but laughs to her were the most precious thing she could find. And laughs she got in Clark Gable’s long courtship. For more than three years they were inseparable. Then, when his wife divorced him after a series of unpleasant court episodes, they were married.

No Hollywood whoop-de-do, nor orchid-lined church for Gable. She married Gable in Yuma, Ariz., with Otto Winkler, the press agent who died with her and her mother in the plane crash, as the only Hollywood guest.

When Mr. and Mrs. Gable returned to Hollywood, they held a reception for their friends, the gentlemen of the press. There were no other guests.

Tomorrow–Life of the Lombard-Gable rancho–her private life and private convictions.

They were married in Kingman, not Yuma.

Part Three tomorrow….


carole lombard

Over the next three days, I’ll be sharing the three-part series United Press Hollywood correspondent Frederick Othman wrote after Carole Lombard’s death in January 1942.

This first piece was syndicated in newspapers across the country on January 19, 1942.

Carole’s Off-Screen Fun Equaled Screwball Roles

Writer Friend Describes Pranks, Career of Actress; Carole Also Had Serious Side

Of the press corps in the movie capital, none knew Carole Lombard better than Frederick C. Othman, United Press Hollywood correspondent. He reported her professional career, and, in addition, was a close friend. Therefore, he is particularly qualified to write of her life and her personality.

The first of his three dispatches on Carole Lombard follows:

It is difficult even now to realize that the Lombard laughter never will be heard again, that the Lombard jokes have ended, that the beautiful and gay Carole is gone.

She was the only strictly honest glamour girl in Hollywood, and certainly, the only one who said what she thought when she thought it. She was the girl who opposed a war on principle, who once threatened to chain Clark Gable to a barn door if he tried to enlist, but, when her country became involved in war, became one of the most indefatigable war workers in Hollywood.

And she died in the service of her country. She had gone to Indianapolis to aid in the campaign to sell defense bonds, sold $2,000,000 worth, and died in the airplane that was returning her home from that tour of duty on the home front.

Sacrificed Home for Country

The greatest thing she sacrificed was her home to which she had retired while her movie career was at its height. She returned to the screen in order to pay the huge taxes on he huge income she could earn and thus aid her country’s war effort.

Carole Lombard had two sides, and this serious idealistic side was the one her public didn’t know. The one it did know–the gay, laughing blond girl impelled by high spirits into endless impish pranks, was just as much a part of her. Indeed, her sense of fun off the screen, in her private life, equaled the sense of fun so evident in her last movies.

Once at a Hollywood party, the guests played follow-the-leader and Miss Lombard was the leader. Her boss, a leader of the industry, a gentleman of millions and of dignity, she felt was too stiff and grand.

She spoke to a servant and then began leading the guests on a merry chase through the big house. She led them at last to a bathroom where a filled tub awaited her. She waded through it, and, of course, those who followed, including the magnate, had to do likewise.

“You should have seen him,” she was exclaiming for weeks afterward, “when he found he had to put his pretty pants in the drink.”

She rode around her studio on a motor scooter. If anybody carried a packet of sneeze powder, she told him where to distribute it,

Montgomery Subject of Pranks

Robert Montgomery learned something of her pranks in the 1940 presidential campaign. he was one of Wendell Willkie’s most ardent supporters in Hollywood. At the time he was co-starring with Miss Lombard in a movie. Every night, before he could start home from the studio, he had to scrape the Roosevelt stickers from the windows and windshield of his car with a razor blade. Otherwise, he couldn’t have seen where he was driving. He will learn from this that Miss Lombard was the culprit.

No one around her escaped these pranks, not even Clark Gable. He had finished a picture in which he had a role of which he was particularly fond. He probably showed it a little too much. Any rate, a package, impressively wrapped, was delivered to him. Inside was a ham, done up in a blue ribbon.

When he had finished his part in “Parnell,” one of the worst movies of all time, she showered him with congratulatory messages from an airplane.

She was born in Fort Wayne, Ind., in 1908 and her mother brought her here while she still was a child. She served two apprenticeships–the first in an exclusive finishing school for young ladies, at the behest of her mother; the second in Mack Sennett’s academy for hurling custard pies and wearing a bathing suit with grace and spirit, but only after she had talked her family into letting her be an actress.

Was Horse Opry Queen

The rest of her years she retained an uncanny accuracy in hurling a pie and was willing to demonstrate. But professionally, her career as a bathing queen and pie thrower was not long.She graduated to the horse opry, and became the screen sweetie of such mighty males as Buck Jones and Tom Mix.

“But they never would let me get in the fight,” she would lament, recalling those days. “I had to simper at the hero and scream with terror when the heavy came after me. they never would let me get in there and give the villain a good kick in the bustle.”

Miss Lombard was paid $75 a week as a horse opry queen. But her reign didn’t last long for she came in demand in all the studios as a kind of blond rival to Clara Bow. Those were the years when the Brooklyn bonfire was at her height. Miss Lombard wore skin tight dresses, which revealed every curve, and when she danced for the cameras, she used so much energy she seemed to quiver all over. She was gay always then. She hot all the hot spots; went to all the parties.

Started Screwball Comedies

In 1931, in the midst of this phase of her career, she married William Powell–you know, “The Thin Man”–and, when another phase was beginning, divorced him four years later. It wasn’t until them, when they no longer were man and wife, that she co-starred with him in a movie that represented a new type comedy. It gave the indistry new pep and increased Carole’s check to $400,000 a year. The picture was “My Man Godfrey.” It was the first of the screwball comedies.

Tomorrow: How to become a screwball, and, more importantly, how to make it pay.



A few errors in this piece. The ham was given to Clark by Carole as a joke at the end of shooting their lone joint feature, No Man of Her Own.  I also think calling Parnell “one of the worst movies of all time” is a bit of a stretch! She was only married to William Powell for a little over two years.

Part Two coming up tomorrow….


clark gable carole lombard

From January 1939:

Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, making their first public appearance since Mrs. Maria Gable announced she planned to sue for divorce, attended a preview last night, smiling broadly as they pushed through the throngs outside the theater. Miss Lombard clung tightly to Gable’s arm as the crowd pressed in. The preview was “Idiot’s Delight,” starring Gable and Norma Shearer.

carole lombard

Carole Lombard, that zany blonde actress who happened to marry Clark Gable and was arguably the love of his life, was born 108 years ago today in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Here’s some newspaper blurbs from her birthday over the years her and Clark were together:


Carole Lombard had a birthday.

Firecrackers exploded under her chair.

There was a rubber spider in her makeup box.

Carole ate cotton-stuffed candy.

Carole struck a match–it exploded.

Carole lit a match –it exploded.

Carole sat down–the chair collapsed. 

Carole shook the salt shaker–it contained sugar.

Carole’s wondering if it isn’t a pretty high price to pay to maintain her reputation as moviedom’s leading practical joker.


On Carole Lombard’s birthday she had to report to work for “Vigil in the Night,” so Clark Gable, for a rib, had the Western Union’s singing operators call her every half hour.


I’m told Clark Gable spent a month’s salary on those new diamond earrings you’ll see hanging from Carole Lombard’s lovely lobes. Only the best for his bride on her birthday!


When bigger and better pranks are played in Hollywood, you can be sure of one thing–Gable and Lombard will play ’em. When Lombard’s birthday rolled around, Gable had made an enormous cake carefully iced on top–“To Ma–on her 75th Birthday”. When Carole cut the cake, imagine her surprise to hear coming from the cake’s innards a conversation between Clark and a friend.

“Now Clark, the gag is for you to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Carole.”

“What? Me sing? Nothing doing,” said Gable’s voice. “Next thing you know the studio will have me in singing films.”

“Well,” came back the friend’s voice, “you could do worse. Remember ‘Parnell.’”

Whereupon Clark sang Happy Birthday to Carole, who was so touched she offered to get him a job with Western Union, if he wanted it.

Of course it was a concealed record playing inside. Carole is keeping the record.

And here is that recording:

      1. HappyBirthdayDearMa


Happy Birthday Ma!

carole lombard