clark gable carole lombard

Since Clark and Carole were married 74 years ago this month, here’s one from November 1936:

London, of all places, has the cutest new betting game. They’re betting, over there, on whether or not certain film couples will marry! ! !

They’ve even got a set of standard odds, like this: even bet that Bob Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck will wed; 90 to 1 against George Brent taking the leap with Garbo; 5 to 1 that Clark Gable and Carole Lombard will; 10 to 1 that Bill Powell and Jean Harlow won’t; 5 to 3 that Ann Sothern becomes Mrs. Roger Pryor; 7 to 4 against the Jackie Coogan-Betty Grable merger; 20 to 1 against Tom Brown and Eleanore Whitney; 6 to 1 against Ginger Rogers saying her I-do’s with Jimmy Stewart; 4 to 3 that Gene Raymond and Jeanette MacDonald do it; 9 to 4 against Cary Grant and Mary Brian; 15 to 1 that George Raft finally does wed Virginia Pine despite hell, high water and Mrs. George Raft; and, finally, 100 to 1 that Ariel and Caliban never become Mr.-and-Mrs.


Let’s do a check to see what bets won:

Bob Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck did wed, but not until 1939.

George Brent never married Greta Garbo (I found that one quite random!)

Clark Gable and Carole Lombard were, of course, married in 1939.

Bill Powell and Jean Harlow never wed, as she died less than a year later.

Ann Sothern and Roger Pryor were married by the time this blurb went to press.

Jackie Coogan and Betty Grable were married in 1937.

Tom Brown and Eleanore Whitney were never married.

Ginger Rogers and Jimmy Stewart were never married (Imagine though!)

Gene Raymond and Jeanette MacDonald were married in 1937.

Cary Grant and Mary Brian were never married.

…and I don’t know who Caliban and Ariel are!

Oh and out of all the couples above who actually were married (besides Clark and Carole, who we all know how that ended, sadly), Jeanette MacDonald and Gene Raymond were the only ones who didn’t divorce.



The Mayfair Ball was annual event held every February by the exclusive Mayfair Club. It was the seen-and-be-seen event of the year, taking place in one of the posh Hollywood hotels. The event is best remembered by Clark Gable and Carole Lombard fans for being the birthplace of their spark, as they began flirting for the first time at the Mayfair Ball in 1936.

Well, it turns out that that wasn’t the first time Clark attended the ball. In 1932, he attended with Ria on his arm, and the magic of the night was descibed by Picture Play magazine:

Beauty, Fashion and Fame Assemble on That Night of Nights, The Mayfair Ball

Hollywood goes Mayfair–the first big social event of the year–in brillant fashion. There are more screen personalities in the Biltmore ballroom tonight than will be found together again in many a moon. Crowds gather in the lobby and about the street entrance hoping to catch a glimpse of the great ones. Place cards that make up a “Who’s Who in Hollywood” are laid on tables in the ballroom. Lights are subdued, waiters receive final instructions.

The music starts. The guests begin to arrive, groups of four and six and eight. Furs and velvets and satins; perfume and flowers and laughter. Excitement, thrill, glamour in the air. Applause from the crowds in the foyer. The great social event of the season is on.clark gable ria langham norma shearer dolores del rio joan crawford helen hayesL to R: Joan Bennett with Gene Markey, Irene Wate, Lillian Bond, Joan Blondell, Genevieve Tobin, Marion Nixon, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Joan Crawford, Clark Gable with wife Ria, Norma Shearer, Dolores del Rio, Helen Hayes, June Clyde, Ginger Rogers, Lilyan Tashman with Eddie Lowe.

Ah, to be a fly on the wall…

This is a pictorial layout that appeared in the August 9, 1938 issue of “PIC” magazine, which featured a divine shot of Carole Lombard on the cover:

carole lombard

Why are there so many divorces in Hollywood? The world’s greatest lovers have the world’s worst divorce record. Lasting marriages among stars are the exception. Divorce is the rule. Boy meets girl, boy wins girl, boy divorces girl is the headline career of most movie stars. And “Pardon me, but haven’t we married before” is no joke in Hollywood. Are stars different from other people” Do they need more than one wife or husband? Is Hollywood to blame for their marital failures? On the following pages, “PIC” analyses [sic] the reasons why some movie marriages are successful and most movie marriages fail.  Do YOU think Hollywood has a case against monogamy?

I wonder if the author of this article would be surprised to find out that in that respect, Hollywood hasn’t changed one bit.

First they focus on the ones that didn’t work out:

ginger rogers lew ayres

Romance is Reno-bound when the husband starts slipping. An actress who is through can always become a glorified housewife, but a husband is helpless. There is nothing he can do. When giner and Lew Ayres eloped, she was a Pathe girl and he was the star Garbo asked for in her picture “The Kiss.” Then Ginger got the breaks in  a series of smash-hits and Lew was lost in thrillers. They separated. Now Lew is staging a comeback in Columbia’s “Holiday.” And their names are linked again!

Lew never was a big box office star again after the 1930’s (mostly due to him being an outspoken objector to World War II) but he contined working steadily in films and television until his death in 1994. He was married to Lola Lane before Ginger and married a flight attendant named Diana in 1964. They were married for thirty years and had one son.

Lew was the second marriage for Ginger as well,  and she went on to marry three more times. In her autobiography, I found she was the most wistful about Lew.

joan crawford douglas fairbanks jr

Hollywood divorces often result from an over-publicized love affair. Two stars are attracted. The studio creates a romance, and their marriage is over-dramatised. Doug [Fairbanks Jr] and Joan [Crawford]’s “ideal” love cooled in two years.

In 1939, Doug Jr. married socialite Mary Lee Eppling. They were married for nearly fifty years and had three daughters. He later married Vera Shelton in 1991 until his death in 2000.

joan crawford franchot tone

Movie marriages break up when one overshadows the other. Masculine egos are sensitive about being eclipsed. Does Franchot [Tone] resent being labelled “Joan’s husband”? Hollywood already hints at Reno.

And Reno was beckoning. By the spring of 1939, Franchot and Joan were kaputs. She went on to marry twice more, him three times more. He had two children with second wife Jean Wallace. Joan memorably adopted four children on her own.

carole lombard clark gable

Falling in love with their co-stars is fatal to marital ties. Carole and Clark fell in love while marking this picture “No Man of Her Own”–and both were married at the time, though Carole and Bill Powell had drifted apart, and Clark and Rita [sic] were drifting. The madcapt Gable-Lombard romance has since taken Hollywood by storm. All the world loves these two lovers. Will their story be a happily-ever-after one? Will the present Mrs. Gable give Clark his freedom? They were sure it was love at Jock Whitney’s gag party in 1936 when Carole had herself carried in on a stretcher. Clark knew he’d found a soul-mate as crazy as himself. And they’ve kept Hollywood howling ever since with their screwball antics.

Wrong-o, PIC magazine. They did not fall in love of the set of No Man of Her Own. They were just friendly co-workers. And, unfortuantely, we all know a happily ever after wasn’t in the cards for Clark Gable and Carole Lombard.

dolores del rio ricardo cortez

Many Hollywood husbands resent their wives’ love scenes–preferring a wife they can call their own. Making love for the millions is part of a star’s career. But hwo does a husband feel about it? Too many Don Juans to compete with, besides gum-chewing John and Joe Public sharing his wife’s most intimate emotions. Dolores del Rio and Ricardo Cortez show how it’s done. Who said Latins are lousy lovers?

Um, isn’t it just as hard for a wife to watch her husband in love scenes? Just sayin’.

ruth chatterton, george brent, ralph forbes

Hollywood has no inhibitions–no rules. Marriage and divorce are all in a day’s work. Conventions? Hollywood tosses its head with a shrug. Ruth Chatterton and her first and second husbands, Ralph Forbes and George Brent, were inseparable companions after the divorce. All three have since remarried.

After Ralph and George, Ruth was married to a fellow named Barry for nearly twenty years. Ralph had two marriages after Ruth, both ending in divorce. I read somewhere that him and Ruth were such close friends that his third wedding took place in Ruth’s living room! George seemed to have a thing for actresses but didn’t have much luck with any of them! He had a tumultous affair with co-star Bette Davis, and his marriages to Constance Worth and Ann Sheridan both lasted less than a year. He had better luck with model Janet Michaels; they were married over 25 years (until her death) and had two children.

greta garbo john gilbert

They can’t stop playing Great Lovers off the screen. Play-acting is the thing. Stars love wisely, but too many! After making passionate love on the screen to many of the world’s handsomest mena nd women, they keep right on acting in private life. And one love is not stimulating enough. The love lives of these public romancers are sometimes as unreal and fantastic as their screen roles. Above is the Garbo-Gilbert technique or “What Every Young Star Should Know.” The loves of John Gilbert are legendary, for in real life he was just as great a heartbreaker. Leatrice Joy, Ina Claire, and Virginia Bruce were “among those married” to him. Even Garbo, the aloof, melted in his fiery embrace.

John Gilbert died in 1936 and had had four wives. Greta Garbo never married–her one chance was with John, whom she notoriously left at the altar.

Now it moves on to marriages they are sure will work out:

james cagney mrs cagney

Stars can and do stay married in Hollywood–when the wife’s biggest role is being a good housewife, and her career is making her husband happy. Jimmy Cagney and his wife were sweethearts for 15 years–and still are! No question who’s boss here, and no conflicting careers. The Pat O’Briens and Bob Youngs are other happily one careered households.

james cagney

His heart is in his home when it’s a happy one. So scenes like this don’t keep Mrs. Cagney awake nights. For she has time to make Jimmy’s home a restful refuge after a hard day’s work at the studio. Hollywood’s hectic pace takes its toll in ragged nerves. Domestic marriages are a movie star’s (and producer’s) prayer!

Despite the cringe-worthy sexism written here, the Cagneys did have what it took to make a marriage last and were married from 1922 until his death in 1986. Pat O’Brien and his wife were married for 52 years, until his death. Robert Young and his wife–sixty years, until his death.  I think the key here is that all of these women knew their husbands BEFORE they were stars.

irene dunne francis griffin

There’s sure to be a happy ending when the husband has no movie ties and can laugh at Hollywood’s foibles. And there’s no vying for the best write-ups when your husband is a dentist! Dr. Griffin is proud of Irene [Dunne]’s work.

irene dunne

An actor would smoulder with jealousy, but not a professional man. Dr. Griffin enjoys watching his lovely wife act. Men of letters and science feel superior to movie glitter. But an actor takes it all very seriously.

Irene and her dentist husband, Dr. Francis Griffin, were married in 1928, before she became a star. They were married 37 years, until his death, and adopted one daughter.

eddie cantor

Children often keep the stars together. No rift rumors between Eddie [Cantor] and Ida. Here are four of the five little Cantor girls. Crooner Crosby’s luck runs to little Bings–four of them now–all with lusty lungs!

Eddie and Ida were married from 1914 until his death in 1962.  Bing Crosby and wife Dixie were married for over twenty years, until her death. Crosby later married Kathryn and had three more children; they were also married twenty years.

clara bow rex bell

Movie marriages last when both are on the downswing. Falling stars are ready to settle down, and “get away from it all.” Clara Bow, the “It” girl, now lives on a ranch with handsome Rex Bell and two brand new babies.

Clara and Rex were married thirty years, until his death in 1962,  and had two sons.

helen hayes charles macarthur

A marriage will last when both are born and bred in the theatre, and can take fame or failure in their stride. Helen Hayes and Charles McArthur are famous for their “Act of God” baby and successful marriage.

helen hayes

Does playwright Charles MacArthur object to seeing his wistful little wife cling to other manly shoulders? Not if she does a good job of it! Charlie studies her love scenes with the eye of a critic and playwright.

Helen and Charles were married from 1928 until his death in 1956. They had one daughter, Mary, who died at age 19 in 1949 of polio.  Their adopted son, James, is in the picture with them…not sure why he is an “Act of God” baby. And not sure why Mary is mentioned.

I have to admit that I was a little surprised that this magazine correctly guessed the marriages that did indeed work out. Usually they are quick to hop on the hot new romance and proclaim it everlasting from conception…and then say they knew it wouldn’t work out when it didn’t. Only wish Clark and Carole could have appeared in such an article in 1958 about their lasting Hollywood marriage…

Some of my favorite finds when I am scouring through old fan magazines are candids of random stars together. “I never knew that Blank ever even met Blank!” I often think, particularly now during “awards show season”, how the generations to come won’t feel similar joy, since there are thousands of pictures taken at every red carpet event, awards show and party and so thus the surprise of seeing stars posing together has dwindled.

Here are some shots of Clark with other Tinseltown folk…

clark gable robert taylor

with Robert Taylor

george burns gracie allen clark gable

with George Burns and Gracie Allen

clark gable errol flynn

with Errol Flynn

clark gable judy garland

with Judy Garland

clark gable margaret o'brien

with Margaret O'Brien

mickey rooney clark gable

with Mickey Rooney

marlene dietrich clark gable

with Marlene Dietrich

paulette goddard clark gable

with Paulette Goddard

jack lemmon clark gable

with Jack Lemmon

marilyn maxwell clark gable

with Marilyn Maxwell

roy rogers clark gable

with Roy Rogers

clark gable ann dvorak

with Ann Dvorak

clark gable susan peters

with Susan Peters

clark gable elizabeth taylor

with Elizabeth Taylor

clark gable ginger rogers

with Ginger Rogers

clark gable ann sheridan

with Ann Sheridan

clark gable shirley temple

with Shirley Temple

clark gable jayne mansfield

with Jayne Mansfield

clark gable marie dressler

with Marie Dressler

clark gable katharine hepburn

with Katharine Hepburn

clark gable james stewart

with Jimmy Stewart


nancy davis clark gable

with Nancy Davis

gary cooper clark gable

with Gary Cooper

clark gable bette davis

with Bette Davis

clark gable spencer tracy robert taylor william powell

with Spencer Tracy, Robert Taylor and William Powell

See more in the gallery.

Hollywood Boulevard

The infamous Hollywood Boulevard is about what you would expect: a mix of the old and the new, with buildings like Grauman’s Chinese and the El Capitan Theater sharing sidewalk space with the Kodak Theater and an H&M. The streets filled with hundreds of fans, milling the street taking photos, and hundreds of vendors harrassing you at every turn to buy their stuff or take their tour.

An obvious place to start here is Grauman’s Chinese Theater. They do offer tours inside this historic theater, but we did not take one. Instead, we milled around outside and compared our hands to celebrities.

Grauman's Chinese Theater

Grauman's Chinese Theater

Here is Clark Gable, whom I must say had very big hands. His fingers went way past mine and his feet dwarfed mine (and I have big feet!)

Clark Gable Grauman's Chinese Theater

Clark leaving his mark

Clark Gable Grauman's Chinese Theater

Clark Gable Grauman's Chinese Theater

Clark Gable Grauman's Chinese Theater

Not only did he leave his prints on January 20, 1937, but Clark attended several premieres at Grauman’s, from Grand Hotel in 1932 to A Star is Born in 1954.

Clark and Carole Lombard attended the Greek War Relief Benefit here in 1941.I wish I could tell whose prints they are standing on!

Clark Gable and Carole Lombard

I took a few shots of some more prints (click to enlarge):

Myrna Loy and William Powell

William Powell Myrna Loy

Norma Shearer

Norma Shearer

Loretta Young

Loretta Young

Jean Harlow

Jean Harlow

Jimmy Stewart

Jimmy Stewart

Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford

Cary Grant

Cary Grant

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers

Across the street is the El Capitan Theater, which opened in 1926 and was a live theater for over a decade before becoming a movie theater, which it still is today. Clark performed there in the late 1920’s.

El Capitan Theater

El Capitan Theater

Also nearby is the Pig n Whistle, a famous restaurant dating back to 1927. Clark surely enjoyed a snack or two here, no?

Pig n Whistle

You can usually tell tourists on Hollywood Blvd because they are all walking with their heads down, exclaiming over the names beneath their feet. I was surprised at the variety of people that had stars. Everyone from the Muppets to little known 30’s stars like Madge Evans.  The majority of these we found just by walking with our heads down. Carole Lombard and Jean Harlow have primo spots, right across the street from Grauman’s.

Click to enlarge:

Where is Clark, you ask? Good question. The answer would be way down on Vine Street, just past the famous intersection of Hollywood and Vine.

Hollywood and Vine

Hollywood and Vine

Clark’s star is here in front of….a Trader Joe’s. Which I found rather depressing. But I guess better that than a seedy tattoo parlor like many of the other ones were. And at least there were no prostitutes standing on it or homeless people sleeping on it….

Clark Gable Hollywood Walk of Fame

The one day when it was raining and we were soaked to the bone, we spent a while roaming the Hollywood Museum, which is housed in the original Art Deco Max Factor building. The building in itself was a sight to behold. Every star you could name used to grace these rooms for beauty treatments; even Clark’s second wife Ria visited weekly. There were so many things; it was a challenge to take it all in.

The lobby:

Hollywood Museum Jean Harlow exhibit

Rows and rows of pictures…

Hollywood Museum

This picture of Clark and Carole lunching at the Paramount commissary had a peculiar caption:

Hollywood Museum Clark Gable Carole Lombard

Hollywood Museum

“Woman of Her Soon”? Did someone read them the title over the telephone and they misunderstood? That’s No Man of Her Own, folks…

The “Blondes” Room–where Carole would have gone. They had rooms for “Brunettes” “Brownettes” and “Redheads” too.

Hollywood Museum

The most intriguing part of the museum for me was the Jean Harlow exhibit:

Hollywood Museum Jean Harlow exhibit

Hollywood Museum Jean Harlow exhibit

Hollywood Museum Jean Harlow exhibit

Hollywood Museum Jean Harlow exhibit

Hollywood Museum Jean Harlow exhibit

Hollywood Museum Jean Harlow exhibit

Hollywood Museum Jean Harlow exhibit

There wasn’t much Clark in the museum; a few pictures here and there and an autograph or two. They also had an entire floor devoted to Lucille Ball.

Historic Hollywood High School (okay, it’s actually on nearby Sunset Blvd…) featuring a huge mural as a tribute to its previous students.

Hollywood High School

Hollywood High School

Carole Lombard attended here, but did not graduate, dropping out to pursue her dramatic dreams. Alumni include Judy Garland, Fay Wray, Lana Turner and many more.

Today marks the 100th birthday of Hollywood legend Ginger Rogers. Truly a triple threat, Ginger could dance, sing and actually act, when given the oppurtunity. Best known for hoofin’ it alongside Fred Astaire in ten films, she also won a Best Actress Oscar in 1941 for a wonderful film, Kitty Foyle.

Ginger wasn’t much tabloid fodder; her image in Hollywood was squeaky clean. She loved dogs, riding her bike, playing tennis and she never drank–in fact she was probably the only Hollywood star to have an ice cream fountain installed in her home, rather than a wet bar! Despite that, she and Clark were tied for marriages–at five apiece. She also famously dated Howard Hughes and Jimmy Stewart.

Well, she never starred with Clark onscreen, but they did do a delightful radio show together on October 1, 1939 titled “Imperfect Lady.” It’s a silly little plot about battling Hollywood screenwriters who end up falling in love. Clark and Ginger did have chemistry though, and it is truly a shame that they never starred together onscreen–I think it really would have worked. I have heard many a classic Hollywood fan say they don’t listen to radio shows because “they are boring” and, to me, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Where else will you catch little candid moments and stars paired together that never were otherwise?

Ginger Rogers, Clark Gable & Carole Lombard at a Red Cross Relief show on February 2, 1937

Case in point, after their performance of “Imperfect Lady”, the host of the Gulf Screen Guild Theater tells Clark and Ginger (and costar Margaret Lindsay) that they must answer one trivia question correctly or else they will have to perform a “forfeit”. Both miss their questions, and their “forfeits” are quite hilarious! Clark’s? To spell the word “maliciousness” and whistle at every vowel!

Listen here: ImperfectLadyEnd

You can hear the entire radio show here.

Happy centennial, Ginger!

The Los Angeles premiere of Gone with the Wind was 71 years ago this very evening.  Jean Garceau, Clark and Carole’s faithful secretary, attended the event with them. Here is how she described it:

The theater was decorated inside and out in keeping with the background and theme of the film. Huge searchlights probed the sky, bands played, streets were roped off and uniformed attendants held back the crowds as the police permitted only those cars with passes to draw up in front of the theater.

A long flower-decked canopy extended to the sidewalk and a master of ceremonies stood there to welcome the stars, announce their names over a loudspeaker and guide them towards a battery of microphones and cameras where they paused to extend their greetings as camera flashbulbs popped and fans shrieked their approval. Then they proceeded down the canopied walk into the theater.

When [my husband Russ] and I arrived, I was a step ahead of him after we left our car. The flashbulbs were blinding and I lost him in the crowd, partly because my long velvet cape billowed out so far he couldn’t reach me and partly because I was trying to avoid the cameras. We didn’t find each other until we reached the entrance, which seemed an interminably long time for me. For months afterward, Russ accused me of “going Hollywood” and trying to shake him so I could “make an entrance.”

Clark and Carole’s car was right behind us. Irene had designed a princess-like gold lame evening gown ad cape for Carole and she was breathtakingly lovely in it. Pandemonium broke loose in the stands when the fans caught sight of the Gables, and they were mobbed by cameramen. They posed with Marion Davis and Raoul Walsh.

Father Gable, Edna and Pinkie were there too, but Father Gable, who refused to ever wear a tuxedo, preferred to arrive quietly and occupy the seats Clark had reserved for them without being identified. Gone with the Wind was the only premiere Clark’s father ever attended.

It was an unforgettable evening. Every star in Hollywood was there and I’ve never seen a more glittering array of gowns and jewels, for everyone comes to “see and be seen.” Russ and I felt very elegant.

Of course I thought the picture was wonderful and Clark was superb. But there was so much going on that I actually enjoyed the picture more when I went back later to see if for the second time.

The premiere was THE premiere of the year and all of classic Hollywood’s elite attended.

Of course, here’s Clark and Carole. Carole’s gown and wrap were described as “stippled gold”.

Clark Gable, Carole Lombard

Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier. Her ensemble was described as “a white ermine coat over  [fuchsia] sequin-sprinkled souffle with its matching veil and sequined bag.”

Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier

Ginger Rogers, on the arm of GWTW costume designer Walter Plunkett. He also designed Ginger’s ensemble, which was described as “a very smart tunic gown of palest blue and silver lame, exactly matched by the turban which serves to conceal her currently dark hair. Her wrap is silver fox.”  Fun fact: By the time the pictures were printed, everyone knew, but Ginger had dyed her hair brown for the first time for her role in The Primrose Path and wore the turban so nobody would know until that film’s premiere.Ginger Rogers, Walter Plunkett

Cesar Romero and Joan Crawford. She also sported a white ermine wrap. Her dress was “flowing white crepe, tightly belted with heavy embroidery of gold beads to match the neckline.”cesar romero, joan crawford

Norma Shearer and George Raft. Yet another white ermine wrap (I am sensing a trend!)  Her dress was described as “blue appliqued satin.”

George Raft, Norma Shearer

Lana Turner, flaunting “a lynx coat which is very nearly as stunning as her tricky feather bird. The latter’s an anchor for the hood of Lana’s Gladys Parker gown.”Lana Turner

Margaret Sullavan and husband Leland Hayward. She is wearing “a broadcloth coat with [a] quaint elbow caplet and baby pillow muff–all banded in sealskin.”Margaret Sullavan, Leland Hayward

Tyrone Power and wife Annabella. She is wearing “a basque-waisted, full-skirted frock of brocaded satin damask under a white fox jacket.”Tyrone Power, Annabella

Mr. and Mrs. Gary Cooper. She is wearing a “shaggy ostrich jacket and blazing diamond earrings”.Gary Cooper


From February 1937:

This is the thing that keeps Hollywood the town of enchanting contradiction and makes it the most unexplainable spot in the world.

Take one particular Tuesday evening in Hollywood, for instance.

At the Cocoanut Grove:

Lights, music, champagne, movie stars, a Joan Bennett surprise party, a director and a blonde actress breaking their hearts for a love they can’t have.

On a Laurel Canyon hillside:

A barbecue, Carole Lombard and Clark Gable, Gary Cooper and Sandra, his wife, hot sizzling steaks, stars overhead, old-time songs, new-time stories and mustard.

In the overflow meeting for a religious lecture:

Director Frank Capra, Ginger Rogers and her mother, Sid Grauman, Mary Pickford and Buddy Rogers.