This month, Clark Gable is doin’ what he does best as the fast talkin’ rogue, Myrna Loy is his lady and William Powell is his conscience in Manhattan Melodrama.

clark gable william powell myrna loy manhattan melodrama

Gable is Blackie Gallagher, a gambling, gun-slinging gangster, who remains best friends with his childhood pal, Jim Wade (Powell), an ambitious lawyer.  Blackie’s girl, Eleanor (Loy) grows tired of the shady side of life and soon falls in love with Jim and marries him. Jim is promoted to district attorney and starts a campaign to become New York’s next governor. When a blackmailer threatens Jim’s campaign, Blackie decides to handle the situation himself and kills the man. On trial, Jim has no choice but to prosecute Blackie and he is sentenced to death. The conviction helps Jim win the election, but on the day of Blackie’s execution, Eleanor pleads with Jim to pardon Blackie and reveals to him that Blackie killed the man to protect Jim. Jim rushes to the prison to commune Blackie’s sentence, but Blackie refuses to let Jim waver on his original decision. After Blackie is put to death, Jim resigns as governor and makes up with Eleanor at the fade out.

The cast of this film is wonderful–Clark and Myrna have great chemistry as always, and of course Myrna and Bill can’t be beat.The plot has been done 100 times before–two boys grow up as friends, one turns bad the other good yet they remain friends. Clark would in fact do it again just two years later when he played another bad Blackie in San Francisco. Spencer Tracy is the good childhood friend (a priest, no less) in that one.

clark gable myrna loy william powell manhattan melodrama

Myrna gets to slink around in gorgeous gowns and also be the prim and proper political wife–not to mention be volleyed between Clark and Bill–not bad for a day’s work.

clark gable myrna loy manhattan melodrama

Clark was tired of the bad gangster types at this point, but at least this one has some heart and actual characterization. He liked the cast and crew of the picture and he was only needed on set for 12 days total–not a bad work assignment.

Clark of course sacrifices himself on behalf of his good friend and guilt eats Bill alive. It’s a movie where everyone does the right thing in the end, but hey at least we were entertained in the meantime.

clark gable william powell manhattan melodrama

“If I can’t live the way I want, at least let me die when I want.”–Poor Clark gets the death chamber. And hey, apparently in 1934 you go from sentencing to death in a matter of weeks. Don’t even think he got his steak dinner!

clark gable william powell manhattan melodrama

Clark is quite good in this film–portraying Blackie’s rough and tumble qualities but letting his heart eek out here and there too. Bill is always good at being the straight and arrow.

This film is an interesting footnote in history for a couple of reasons:

One, this film sparks the beginning of a truly legendary film pairing–Myrna Loy and William Powell. They had never even met before until she opens the door of a car and falls into his lap. Their witty banter and easy chemistry prompted director Van Dyke to decide they were right for his next picture, The Thin Man. And thus started a beautiful teaming that spanned 14 films. Myrna remembered: “My first scene with Bill, a night shot on the back lot, happened before we’d even met. Woody [Van Dyke, the director] was apparently too busy for introductions. My instructions were to run out of a building, through a crowd, and into a strange car. When Woody called “Action,” I opened the car door, jumped in, and landed smack on William Powell’s lap. He looked up nonchalantly: “Miss Loy, I presume?” I said, “Mr. Powell?” And that’s how I met the man who would be my partner in fourteen films.”

clark gable myrna loy manhattan melodrama

Secondly, notorious bank robber John Dillinger was gunned down outside Chicago’s Biograph Theater after seeing this film on July 22, 1934. This event has been tied to the film forever. Myrna recalled: “Supposedly a Myrna Loy fan, he broke cover to see me. Personally, I suspect the theme of the picture rather than my fatal charms attracted him, but I’ve always felt guilty about it, anyway. They filled him full of holes, poor soul.”

Also it’s one of the first roles for a youngster named Mickey Rooney, who played Clark’s character as a child. His performance in this film led to a contract with MGM and the beginning of an illustrious career.

clark gable mickey rooney manhattan melodrama

Oh and lastly, it is worth noting that this is the only film in which you can find the former husband of Carole Lombard starring with the future husband of Carole Lombard!

clark gable myrna loy william powell manhattan melodrama

Manhattan Melodrama is available on DVD as part of the Myrna Loy and William Powell Collection.

You can read more here and see pictures in the gallery.

carole lombard
Of course an interest in Clark Gable and his films often comes hand in hand with an interest in Carole Lombard and then her films.  I am asked sometimes to recommend Carole Lombard books and films. As far as books go, the definitive Carole Lombard biography has yet to be written. “Gable and Lombard” by Warren Harris is good on both of them (just avoid the horrible film of the same name). “Screwball” by Larry Swindell isn’t horrible but is not very appealing to Gable fans as Swindell does not bother to hide his personal dislike of Clark, for whatever reason. Also there is  a lot missing, probably because it was written over three decades ago and so much more has been uncovered. “The Hoosier Tornado” is boring and lacking interesting details.
 
As for films, here’s the top five Carole Lombard films I recommend, my personal opinion of course. And I’ve counted out No Man of Her Own, as most Gable fans would have seen that already!
 

In no particular order:

 frederic march carole lombard nothing sacred

Nothing Sacred (1937) Your one chance to see Carole in Technicolor and boy is she beautiful. Carole is Hazel Flagg, a small town girl who has received a death sentence from her local doctor, who says she’s riddled with radium poisoning. He recants his diagnosis, but not before a big city newspaperman (Frederic March) arrives to take her away from her small town life and give her a “last big hoorah” before her untimely demise, documenting all in the newspaper of course. This one is hilarious and a true classic.

 carole lombard william powell my man godfrey

My Man Godfrey (1936) Carole’s lone Academy Award-nominated performance, this one is a screwball standard. Carole is Irene Bullock, a spoiled and rather twitterbrianed socialite who takes in Godfrey, a homeless man (her first husband, William Powell), and makes him her family butler. It is a rather typical zany 1930’s plot, but with a great and hilarious script “Godfrey loves me! He put me in the shower!” . Carole’s full comedy chops are on display here. And despite being divorced for three years, Carole and Bill still have wonderful chemistry. A fantastic supporting cast with Alice Brady. Eugene Pallette, Mischa Auer and Gail Patrick.

 cary grant carole lombard

In Name Only (1939) Carole is single mom Julie, who falls In love with Alec (Cary Grant), who unbeknownst to her is still married to vindictive Maida (Kay Francis), whom he is not in love with. Maida does her best to thwart Julie and Alec’s romance. I like this film for many reasons: I adore Cary and him paired with Carole is just luscious; their chemistry is fantastic. You get to see Carole as a mother to a little girl and it is adorable and sweet. This film was in production the same time as Gone with the Wind and Carole went into the role soon after becoming Mrs. Gable. The story line of bitter wife refusing to divorce her husband so he can marry the woman he loves surely hit home for Carole. This one and Made For Each Other (1939) are pretty much equal on my list of fave Carole dramas.

carole lombard fred macmurray

Hands Across the Table (1935) I think this one is a favorite of many Carole fans. She is wonderfully paired with Fred MacMurray and as always their chemistry is wonderful. She is Regi, a manicurist who is looking for a rich man to marry so she can be saved from her day-to-day drudgery. Enter Ted, who comes from a prominent wealthy family. But…he’s broke. After he moves in for a few days, sparks ignite between the two despite the lack of funds. It’s a light and airy comedy; just what you’d want for a 1930’s romantic comedy.

carole527

Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941) Any film buff should see this, as it is your only opportunity to see Alfred Hitchcock direct a comedy. Not to mention it’s a delightful comedy with Carole and Robert Montgomery as sparring partners. They are the Smiths, a married couple who thrives on fighting and making up. But when he finds out that their marriage was never legal and doesn’t tell Ann, she refuses to remarry him, kicks him out and starts dating his business parter (Gene Raymond) just to spite him. It’s adorable, it’s sweet and I don’t know what it is about this film but Carole is just absolutely stunning in every frame.

 

Honorable Mentions:  To Be or Not To Be (1942)Made For Each Other (1939), True Confession (1937) and Twentieth Century (1934).

In a Nutshell: Men in White (1934)

clark gable myrna loy men in white

Directed by: Richard Boleslawski

Co-stars: Myrna Loy, Elizabeth Allan, Otto Kruger

Synopsis: Gable is George Ferguson, a young doctor working hard to prove himself at a New York hospital. He puts medicine and his patients before all else, much to the chagrin of his heiress fiancé, Laura (Loy). He soon learns that all work and no play lead him open to temptation and he falls for Barbara (Allan), a nurse, with devastating consequences.

Best Gable Quote: “What good’s a profession that can’t give you bread and butter after you’ve wasted ten years of your life at it?”

Fun Fact: On the set of this film, Clark began a two-year romance with his married co-star Elizabeth Allan.

My Verdict: I’ve always thought this must have been a better play than a film. The restraints on what they could portray on film were too tight on this tale of sex and abortion. It is rather hard to follow when the main plot points are only hinted at. The Art Deco hospital set is gorgeous (and a bit ridiculous) and Myrna Loy had never looked more beautiful. Clark is showing eeks of dramatic chops here and it works, although his constant costume of what looks like a white Frankenstein costume completely with clunky white shoes isn’t at all flattering!

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It’s on DVD.

Read more here

It was Movie of the Month in September 2011.

In a Nutshell: Manhattan Melodrama (1934)

clark gable myrna loy william powell manhattan melodrama

Directed by: W.S. Van Dyke

Co-stars: Myrna Loy, William Powell

Synopsis: Gable is Blackie Gallagher, a gambling, gun-slinging gangster, who remains best friends with his childhood pal, Jim Wade (Powell), an ambitious lawyer.  Blackie’s girl, Eleanor (Loy) grows tired of the shady side of life and soon falls in love with Jim and marries him. Jim is promoted to district attorney and starts a campaign to become New York’s next governor. When a blackmailer threatens Jim’s campaign, Blackie decides to handle the situation himself and kills the man. On trial, Jim has no choice but to prosecute Blackie and he is sentenced to death. The conviction helps Jim win the election, but on the day of Blackie’s execution, Eleanor pleads with Jim to pardon Blackie and reveals to him that Blackie killed the man to protect Jim. Jim rushes to the prison to commune Blackie’s sentence, but Blackie refuses to let Jim waver on his original decision. After Blackie is put to death, Jim resigns as governor and makes up with Eleanor at the fade out.

Best Gable Quote: “If I can’t live the way I want, at least let me die when I want.”

Fun Fact: The first film that costarred Myrna Loy and William Powell. They hadn’t even met before they began filming their first scene. Director W.S. “Woody” Van Dyke noticed their onscreen chemistry and requested them both to star in his next feature, The Thin Man. They would go on to become one of classic film’s most popular onscreen duos, starring in fourteen films together.

My Verdict: The cast makes this one. Carole Lombard’s past husband and future husband are good sparring partners. Willam Powell is perfect as the straight-laced politician and of course Clark is at home as the gamblin’ shootin’ rogue. Myrna Loy is gorgeous and gives a fine performance as the woman caught between two men, one good for her and one not. The film is a nice mix of gangster, drama and romance.

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It’s on DVD.

Read more here.

Ratings

shirley temple christmas

In the January 1935 issue of Hollywood magazine, they printed “Santa’s book” of good and bad points for film stars. So who’s getting what they wanted for Christmas and who is getting coal?

CLARK GABLE

Good Points: For giving is It Happened One Night. Being always thoughtful of others. When a friend had no place to keep her dog, he gave it a home on his ranch.

Bad Points: Balks at picture assignments with women stars. Drives studio frantic by disappearing between pictures, when he is wanted for story conferences.

Gifts: More dogs to take care of

 

CAROLE LOMBARD

Good Points: Proved she could act in Twentieth Century. Came back to start Repeal like a good trouper, though still suffering from the shock of Russ Colombo’s death.

Bad Points: Still cusses when excited. But improving. Gets mad at stupid producers who want her to make stupid pictures, and makes one now and then in spite of herself. Put your foot down, Carole!

Gifts: A real vacation

JOAN CRAWFORD

Good Points: Kept her head and won respect by not rushing into another marriage. Has stuck by her career. Left off that extra splash of lipstick this year. Always gives us good pictures.

Bad Points: Suspicion that she has gone a bit coo-coo on cars. That big white limousine, and now that all white, satin upholstered roadster. Joan! How could you? And that horn can be be heard fully three miles!

Gifts: A plain Ford

JEAN HARLOW

Good Points: Well, you finally finished that book, Jean! I like you to stick to things that way. Add good point; not letting personal problems sour her. Made her mother happy with beautiful room in new home. Lifted Bill Powell out of the dumps.

Bad Points: O, hum, with 115 pounds distributed like that, what are Jean’s bad points? Hasn’t sent the editor a copy of “Today is Tonight,” her first book. Maybe he’ll find one in his stocking!

Gifts: A letter from every fan

SHIRLEY TEMPLE

Good Points: Refuses to be spoiled by compliments. Is Mrs. Santa Claus’ favorite actress. Can now spell her name and count. Invited all Hollywood (almost) to her birthday party.

Bad Points: Shirley, you mustn’t ask for so much gum–I heard you! After all, Mama isn’t made of gum! But I guess you’ve been a very good girl.

Gifts: Carton of gum

MARLENE DIETRICH

Good Points: When her studio make-up woman gave a little house-warming, Marlene came to the party and brought a gift. Keeps democratic; always lunches at Paramount cafe with common horde.

Bad Points: Caused great anguish and disappointment on return from Europe with trunks and trunks of gorgeous clothes–and then refused to appear in them, though all Hollywood waited in expectation, The meanie!

Gifts: Another director

BING CROSBY

Good Points: Now there is a fine lad; hope he continues to be a good boy, and gives us more like She Loves Me Not. Add two more good points–the twins. (Give Mrs. Crosby some credit there).

Bad Points: Got put in the doghouse during the making of We’re Not Dressing for keeping Director Taurog out all night. He and Carole Lombard tied a rope to the still man’s camera and hoisted it to the roof. Makes Paramount worry by putting on weight.

Gifts: Triplets!

WILLIAM POWELL

Good Points: The Thin Man–worth a dozen good marks. Got our favorite child, Jean Harlow, out of the dumps. Built a new home with a swimming pool for his nine-year-old boy.

Bad Points: Can’t find any black marks to chalk down against Bill. He has a good word for everybody, and everybody has a good word for him.

Gifts: Monogrammed hankies and scarf.

CLAUDETTE COLBERT

Good Points: For earning and keeping the admiration of all fans. Because her form has nothing but good points. For giving is her share of It Happened One Night.

Bad Points: Hates to take stills and is always trying to get out of it. Takes too many people’s advice and worries too much about meaningless criticisms if trivial matters.

Gifts: That long planned trip to Europe

GEORGE RAFT

Good Points: For never forgetting a friend.

Bad Points: That fist fight at the Brown Derby.

Gift: A night club

GARY COOPER

Good Points: Settling down to being a good husband. Never kicks about a picture role. Let Shirley steal one picture and gave her a present for it!

Bad Points: Has terrible memory or else a convienent forgetter. Spoiled one scene by putting on wrong tie and forgetting where the right one had been tossed.

Gift: A rifle

GRETA GARBO

Good Points: For just being the most fascinating star in pictures. For doing The Painted Veil. For creeping out of her shell a bit.

Bad Points: That inhuman hermit complex. Refusing to sign a new contract and keeping Metro and all her fans in suspense.

Gifts: A husband

 

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.

 

clark gable gone with the wind

From May 1937:

You wouldn’t think that Willie Powell’s walking out on a production called “The Emperor’s Candlesticks” would have an influence on Clark Gable’s playing the role of Rhett Butler in “Gone with the Wind” now, would you? But that’s Hollywood for you. It did have–for Willie has a mind of his own, and one of the very best in the acting profession it is too, and he realized that another not-so-hot to follow “Mrs. Cheyney” would endanger all that terrific advance his career has made since his lucky accident of being cast in the original “Thin Man.”

Hence he went on his own sit-down strike in the desert (a type of strike that appeals mightily to our Mr. Powell, he being no boy athlete). Desperate Metro discovered at Selznick just the story they wanted for him and for Jean Harlow. The story, tentatively titled “The World’s Our Oyster,” was all ready to shoot. Selznick terrifically obliging. Did MGM want the story? Why of course they could buy it. It was just a cup of movie sugar over the neighborly back fence of picturedom. They were of course getting their rival company out of a hole. What, they said, about Clark Gable being loaned to them for Rhett Butler. Not that they were asking for anything in return, you understand, but still…

And thus unless something goes more than ordinarily screwy, Clark–Rhett will be.

Meanwhile, the chatter about Hollywood’s most interesting production to be goes on apace and most of it is untrue. The freelance publicity agents have discovered a fine way to get their clients’ names in the papers. They say so-and-so have been tested for “Gone with the Wind.” Actually only one person for the entire cast yet faced the testing cameras. Not a soul has yet been decided upon except Gable. The boys in the Selznick publicity bureau sit back relaxed and let the eager outsiders get “Gone with the Wind” into print. When the time comes, about the middle of May, for authentic announcements they’ll step in and not before.

jean harlow
75 years ago today, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard attended the funeral of 26 year old Jean Harlow. Jean was a dear friend  of Clark’s. They starred together in The Secret SixRed Dust, Hold Your Man, China Seas, Wife vs. Secretary and Saratoga. He loved her lack of pretense and how casual and free spirited she was. While everyone else called her “The Baby,” he called her “Sis.” Theirs was not a romantic relationship; he was like her protective older brother. They were filming Saratoga together when, after weeks of looking bloated and feeling fatigued, she collapsed on the set. She died just a few days later.
Clark Gable and Carole Lombard attend Jean Harlow's funeral
Carole Lombard never co-starred with Jean, sadly, but she was very fond of her. At the time of her death, Jean was dating William Powell, Carole’s ex-husband. In fact, the two couples had double-dated to the Academy Awards just a few months prior.
The studio decided to scrap Saratoga altogether but fans and theater owners pressured MGM to release The Baby’s last film. Various stand-ins were used for Jean and her voice, and many of her lines were given to supporting players. Clark said that working with the stand-in was like “holding a ghost.” Saratoga became one of the highest grossing films of the year.
Clark Gable and Carole Lombard attending Jean Harlow's funeral

Clark Gable and Carole Lombard attending Jean Harlow's funeral

A moment of silence was observed at 9:00am at all the Hollywood studios on the morning of the funeral–June 9, 1937.  The funeral service was held at Forest Lawn Glendale, in the Wee Kirk o’Heather Chapel and Louis B. Mayer made sure it was a grand event. Fans clamoured at the gates of the cemetary and photographers scaled fences. The lawn was covered in flowers that had overflowed from inside the chapel. Clark served as  a pallbearer and usher and Carole saved him a seat. All of Hollywood turned out to say goodbye to Jean, with 250 mourners packing into the small chapel. Jeanette MacDonald sang Jean’s favorite song, “Indian Love Call” and dueted with Nelson Eddy on “Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life.”
jean harlow funeral

Wee Kirk o Heather Chapel, day of Jean Harlow's funeral

forest lawn wee kirk o heather

Wee Kirk o Heather today

wee kirk o heather wee kirk o heather
The grand spectacle of Jean’s funeral led Carole Lombard to tell Clark to make sure that when her time came it was not an elaborate circus. Clark obeyed her wishes.
Jean’s elaborate marble crypt in the Sanctuary of Benediction inside the Great Mausoluem, Forest Lawn Glendale cost William Powell a reported $25,000.
jean harlow forest lawnjean harlow forest lawn
It is gorgeous, with a bench and its own stained glass skylight. There are three spaces in the crypt, Jean’s is simply marked “Our Baby.”
jean harlow forest lawn
Her neighbor was Irving Thalberg and she was just a few yards away from her co-star in Dinner at Eight, Marie Dressler. In the years that followed, the hallway completely filled up, with Red Skelton, Norma Shearer and Sid Grauman joining. William Powell’s parents were also entombed in this hallway. Jean’s mother,”Mama Jean,” occupies one of the other spaces in the crypt, but the third is empty–forever. Many speculate that Powell intended that space for himself. If so, it didn’t come to fruition, for he is buried in Cathedral City next to his son and his widow.
sanctuary of benediction forest lawn jean harlow
jean harlow forest lawn
It’s amazing how Jean died at such a young age, so early in her career, but yet she resonates with so many people. Marilyn Monroe, Mamie Van Doren and Carole Landis, famous blondes in their own right, all named her as an influence.  She was young, sweet and caring–completely the anti-diva, and was at the beginning of a new page in her career when her life was suddenly whisked away. Jean is truly a reminder that life is short and to make the most of every day.
I have no doubt that Clark was thinking of Jean when he later said:
“That’s what’s so strange about life. The brave ones don’t make it.”
clark gable jean harlow
Rest in peace, Sis.
*Pics of present-day Forest Lawn Glendale taken by me, October 2011.

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.

clark gable carole lombard

Is Carole Lombard in love at last? What a question for this article in 1936 to ask! At this point, their romance was new and one of the most exciting topics in Tinsel Town. This article basically recaps Carole’s romantic exploits. After the demise of her marriage to Bill Powell:

All Powell would say was, “For Carole and me there simply was no married life.”

Their story that there had been no quarrel was accepted by Hollywood as true—and their conduct after Carole returned abundantly confirmed it. Divorce seemed to make little or no difference to the friendly relations between them. The very first night after her return, Gloria Swanson gave a dinner for them, then the Barthelmesses, then the Clive Brooks. They were seen tete-a-tete at the Derby, the Grove, the Colony, and the Culver Club. They went to the premiere of Dinner at Eight. When Ronnie Colman came home from the Goldwyn wars, Carole gave him a party—such a party!—and borrowed Bill’s house to give it in.

Of course the pace couldn’t last. The studios were calling. Bill went into his routine. Carole went into her dance’ it was Bolero, with George Raft. Presently the gossips went to work.

Carole’s bungalow dressing room on the Paramount lot is right next door to Gary Cooper’s. Here is a social center for Paramount players. Everybody is always dropping in—but the fan writers make a good deal of the fact that tall Gary was among the droppers.

Cooper was, at that time, at the peak of his romance with Countess di Frasso. Everybody knew that. When someone ran to Bill Powell, he laughed: “A romance with Gary? Don’t be crazy!”

Then the gossips switched, first to George Raft—who, it turned out, was concerned only because he couldn’t have his own favorite cameraman and was forced to take Carole’s—and later to Gene Raymond. But Carole squelched all these rumors with: “I do not believe that screen stars should marry.”

Soon, however, she had fallen under the spell of Russ Colombo’s golden voice and ebony eyelashes. When he met his tragic death, she put on black.

“Russ and I loved each other,” she explained. “Eventually, I believe, we would have married. How soon I don’t know. His love for me was the kind that comes rarely to any woman. I never expected to have such worship, such idolatry, such sweetness from any man.”

But she promptly consoled herself with Bob Riskin, champion screen writer. He was not only seen everywhere with Carole, but was said to do his most inspired writing in the patio of her new house. All she would say was: “I have always attached myself to interesting minds, to people who stimulate me mentally and spiritually.”

It can’t be that Bob’s mental stimulus died. He wrote Mr. Deeds Goes to Town after he was superseded in Carole’s affections. So it must have been something spiritual that the brawny Mr. Gable supplied.

Carole was not one of the many actresses of her era who bed-hopped. She chose her companions carefully and wasn’t prone to scandal. Bob Riskin seems to me to be the most serious of the bunch between Bill and Clark. Apparently what broke them up was that Bob didn’t ever want to have children and Carole did. I just finished reading Fay Wray’s autobiography, On the Other Hand. Fay married Bob in 1942 and bore him two children (so I guess he changed his mind). She commented in  the book that Bob kept a gold watch chain with Carole’s profile on it.

Now, Gable had seen Carole before. They had played together in No Man of Her Own. But that was when they were both married and working hard at it. Now Clark was separated from Rhea, Carole divorced from Bill. All afternoon they were inseparable. They have been ever since.

Will it last?

With Carole, yes. Whatever she may been before, there is no doubt about her being in love at last.

There was a little flurry when Carole and her delightful ex went to Universal to play in My Man Godfrey. Jean Harlow, who had moved into the blonde vacancy in Bill’s life, was said to be not a bit keen about it. How Clark felt, nobody knows.

But after it was all over Bill went back to Jean, and Carole—well, it can’t be said that she had really left Clark, but she is certainly with him now.

Whether she will be with him a year from now, five years from now, depends largely on whether she is willing to fit into his life.

I know Clark Gable. He won’t keep up this social whirl long. And now he is running around with the partyingest girl in the cinema capital.

Bill Powell followed the Lombard pace for two years.

How long will Gable follow it?

Will he follow it to the altar?

This is all quite true–Clark couldn’t keep up the social life long–and he didn’t. And Carole was quite willing and able to fit into Clark’s life.  As in most anything she set out to do, Carole’s determination got her just what she wanted–the man she wanted–for life.

You can read the article in its entirety in The Article Archive.

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.