carole lombard

Since it’s time for another Gone with the Wednesday and it’s the end of Carole Lombard month, let’s combine the two!

Carole Lombard was a warm-blooded female in the 1930’s, which means she read Gone with the Wind and dreamed of playing Scarlett.

Carole was so enamored with the idea that she appealed to everyone’s first choice for Rhett Butler—Clark Gable, naturally. Before they were romantically involved, she reportedly sent him a copy of the book with a note that said, “Let’s do it! Carole.” Clark promptly called her up for a date, thinking it was a proposition of a different sort. When it turned out not to be, that copy of GWTW found itself in his bathroom, unread for years.

Carole didn’t get the role of Scarlett of course (wasn’t even screentested–although wouldn’t that have been something to see!) but she did win the real life role of Mrs. Rhett Butler–not a bad consolation prize. She was greeted as such when she arrived to the set of  her film Mr. and Mrs. Smith:

clark gable carole lombard

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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.

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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).

carole lombard

From November 1936:

Guess who really has gone Garbo on us in a big way? It’s none other than our own party-loving Carole Lombard, who hasn’t been seen out publicly in many a day. What’s more, Carole doesn’t want one single word printed about her romance with Clark Gable.  Her close friends say it is still going on and much more serious than Carole wants the world to believe. And it was only yesterday that wild horses couldn’t have kept Carole home for an evening. It must be love.

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clark gable vivien leigh gone with the wind

As we head towards the end of the year, there’s more Gone with the Wind-related events happening!

Ruth’s Journey, an authorized prequel of sorts to GWTW that focuses on Mammy’s life (Yes, apparently her name was Ruth?!) has been released. It was written by Donald McCaig, who also wrote Rhett Butler’s People a few years ago. This new book doesn’t seem to sit well with diehard GWTW fans. I haven’t read it yet (frankly don’t know if I will at all) but Kendra over at vivandlarry.com did.

The Scarlett Letters: The Making of the Film Gone with the Wind has just been released as well. It’s by John Wiley Jr., who examines the making of GWTW through the eyes of its author, Margaret Mitchell, via her letters. I’m not sure how much new information is here since Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind Letters has been around for decades, but it looks promising nonetheless.

 The Making of Gone with the Wind event at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas is going on right now! Ending January 4, this is a rare opportunity to see such rarities as the actual curtain dress worn by Vivien Leigh, David Selznick’s memos, rare wardrobe and makeup stills, on the set photographs and much much more. I am extremely jealous of anyone getting to attend! Unfortunately I just can’t make a trek to Texas before January. If you can’t make it like me, you can at least buy the event catalog!

And always check out GWTW Showtimes to see if GWTW is playing on a screen near you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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clark gable carole lombard
Back in the days before internet, before the “IT” couple of the moment is photographed everywhere from airports to grocery stores and gas stations,  it wasn’t exactly easy to pinpoint the when, why and where of celebrity romances. Gable and Lombard were no different. As any Clark Gable and Carole Lombard fan knows, the much-publicized place of their first romantic spark was the Mayfair Ball in February 1936.
 
But is that true? Were there romantic sparks before then?
clark gable carole lombard no man of her own
 
I have come across some people who claim that Clark and Carole had something going on during the filming of No Man of Her Own and off and on since that time. I don’t believe that. When No Man of Her Own was filmed, Carole was seemingly happily married to William Powell and Clark, while not exactly happily married to second wife Ria Langham, was carrying on a dalliance with British actress Elizabeth Allan, as well as his ongoing affair with Joan Crawford. It seems Clark and Carole were friendly on set and there existed neither hostility nor romance.
 
In the ensuing years, Clark had an infamous fling with Loretta Young on the set of Call of the Wild, which we know now resulted in the birth of Clark’s only daughter, Judy Lewis. While still juggling Joan and Elizabeth, he was quite the man about town. Meanwhile, Carole divorced William Powell (though they maintained good terms) and counted Cesar Romero, George Raft, and screenwriter Robert Riskin among her suitors. She was in  a relationship with Russ Colombo until he was killed in a freak gun accident in 1934.
 
So it seems these two were occupied elsewhere before 1936.  Or were they? Well at the very least they did see each other socially in between No Man and 1936:
Carole Lombard, Clark Gable 1933

Carole Lombard and Clark Gable hanging out in 1933.

Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Ricardo Cortez and Carole Lombard at a party, May 26, 1935

Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Ricardo Cortez and Carole Lombard at a party, May 26, 1935

 

At a party on February 24, 1936, Clark and Carole amongst stars--but not standing together

At a party on February 24, 1936, Clark and Carole amongst stars–but not standing together

One thing that always raised eyebrows over the years were these candid pictures, of Clark and Claudette Colbert, dressed in It Happened One Night costumes and pictured with IHON director Frank Capra, and none other than Carole Lombard. Carole visiting the set of IHON in 1934! Why else would she but a secret romance!
clark gable carole lombard frank capra claudette colbertclark gable carole lombard claudette colbert frank capra
Well, no, in actuality the pictures were taken backstage at an Actors Fund Benefit in January 1937. More on that here.
The one item that still raises the questions is this bracelet.
clark gable carole lombard bracelet Carole gave it to Clark and it is inscribed with his initials on the front and “I love you, CL” on the back. It was auctioned off by Christie’s New York in 2006 (for $7,800) and in the auction description it says “Clark Gable and Carole Lombard began their love affair in the mid-1930s but their relationship was kept a secret as Gable was still married to his second wife, Ria. Gable was finally divorced from Ria on March 7, 1939, and on March 29, 1939, Gable and Lombard were married. Photographs of Gable wearing this bracelet engraved from Lombard bear witness to the length of their love affair as he is seen wearing this bracelet as early as 1934″. Hmmm.
 The picture that accompanies the auction is one of Clark on the set of Love on the Run, wearing the bracelet as he goes over the script with a script girl (who I always see mis-credited as Myrna Loy).
clark gable love on the run bracelet
You can also spot it in promotional stills for the film:
clark gable joan crawford love on the run
I have this photo marked as being from 1936 and there’s the bracelet:
clark gable
 Love on the Run began production in the spring of 1936, and while that seems like a short period of time to be dating before you give someone engraved gold jewelry, Clark and Carole were at least dating by this time. 
Adding fuel to the fire is a comment Carole made once after they were married, saying that they had been together for five years before they said their vows. Five?? Maybe just a mistake?
Maybe we’ll never know definitively, but the evidence does point to 1936 being the starting point.

An incredibly sweet, yet sad, footnote to this is that Clark continued to wear the bracelet for years after Carole died.

In 1943:

clark gable

In 1946:

margaret o'brien clark gable

 

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baby clark gable

A brief little post here on our trip to Dennison.

 Dennison, Ohio is a little town of about 3,000 people about 23 miles from Cadiz. Our sole purpose for visiting was the Immaculate Conception Church.

clark gable baptism dennison

 Clark Gable’s mother, Adeline, was a devout Catholic. She was very ill after his birth and had psychotic episodes and seizures. In one of her lucid moments, she pleaded for her only child to be baptized Catholic. There was no Catholic church in the little town of Cadiz at that time, so a neighbor named John Conway and his wife took baby Clark to the closest church—Immaculate Conception in Dennison. He was baptized there on July 31, 1901. Father Patrick M. Heery officiated, and at first balked at baptizing the infant without his parents and was irritated that little Clark had gone nearly six months without being baptized. He apologized for his complaints when he was apprised of the situation.

clark gable dennison baptism

 Built in 1871, it is still a beautiful church. Across the street is the Catholic elementary school, and we could hear children reciting Bible verses through the windows as we walked by!

clark gable baptism dennison clark gable baptism dennison

clark gable baptism dennison clark gable baptism dennison clark gable baptism dennison clark gable baptism dennison


clark gable baptism dennison

It was a weekday and no one was in to open the doors for us, and so I only have pictures of the outside.

 
Next up: Hopedale, where Clark spent his childhood!
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clark gable carole lombard color

I have done Carole Lombard Month the past five years and I know how past posts get lost in the shuffle, so here is a round-up of past items about Carole Lombard:

Clark Gable and Carole Lombard

Photos: Clark Gable and Carole Lombard on a Picnic

On Valentine’s Day, Clark Gable Drives Carole Lombard Crazy!

Carole Lombard Behaving Like a Mugg!

Culver City Welcomes Mrs. Rhett Butler

1938: Clark Gable and Carole Lombard Attend the Marie Antoinette Premiere

A Photographer’s View on Gone with the Wind and Carole Lombard

Hollywood: Carole Lombard Lived Here

Ahoy to the USS Carole Lombard

Property of Carole Lombard

Clark and Carole at the Races

Photos: At Home with Clark and Carole

Photogenic Clark and Carole

Carole Goes Bang! Bang!

Carole as Her Own Critic

The 13 Most Fascinating Women in John Barrymore’s Life

Monogamy: Hollywood’s Problem

Articles in the Article Archive:

Is Carole Lombard in Love At Last?Liberty, November, 1936
A Heart to Heart Letter to Carole Lombard and Clark Gable Screen Guide, November 1936
The Evolution of a Wow| Movie Mirror, December 1936
She Gets Away with Murder | Photoplay, 1937
The Utterly Balmy Home Life of Carole Lombard | Motion Picture, February 1937
How Will the Gable-Lombard Romance End?| Hollywood, June 1937
Clark Gable’s Romantic Plight | Photoplay, September 1937
Can the Gable-Lombard Love Story Have a Happy Ending? | Photoplay, May 1938
Hollywood Diary | The Family Circle, May 20, 1938
What’s Become of the Good Scout? |Modern Screen, August 1938
Happiness Ahead for Clark and Carole | Picture Play, August 1938
Why is Carole Lombard Hiding Out from Hollywood? | Screenbook, October 1938
Lombard–as She Sees Herself | Motion Picture, November 1938
Hollywood’s Unmarried Husbands and WivesPhotoplay, January 1939
Hollywood’s Goofy Gal Goes Glamorous Screen Book, February 1939
Will Clark Gable Ever Marry Carole Lombard? | Motion Picture, February 1939
Lombard Unlimited | Radio Mirror, April 1939
Blonde Beauty Grows Up | Photoplay, May 1939
Do Hollywood Women Spoil Their Men? | Photoplay, May 1939
Can the Gable-Lombard Romance Last? | Modern Screen, May 1939
How to Get Your Own Clark Gable | Movie Mirror, June 1939
Best Wishes, Carole Lombard Gable | Photoplay, June 1939
Will Carole Lombard’s Marriage End Her Career?| Motion Picture, July 1939
Our Home, Our Work–And Children | Movie Mirror, November 1939
Subject: Lombard | Photoplay, January 1940
Mr. and Mrs. Clark Gable | Ladies Home Journal, May 1940
Two Happy People Part 1 | Movie and Radio Guide, May 1940
Two Happy People Part 2 | Movie and Radio Guide, May 1940
Two Happy People Part 3 | Movie and Radio Guide, May 1940
Two Happy People Part 4Movie and Radio Guide, May 1940
→ Help Kill Crazy Rumors About Me! Says Carole Lombard (Mrs. Clark Gable)|  Screenland, May 1940
How Clark Gable and Carole Lombard Live| Photoplay, June 1940
At Home with the Gables | Modern Screen, August 1940
Carole Lombard | Movie Stars Parade, Autumn 1940
It Looked Good for a Laugh at the Time | Silver Screen, January 1941
Hollywood’s No.1 Menace | Movie Mirror, February 1941
She Knew What She Wanted | Screen Life, March 1941
The Gags of the Gables–Like Crazy! | Photoplay, April 1941
Goodbye, Carole | Modern Screen, April 1942
What the Loss of Carole Lombard Means to Clark Gable | Photoplay, April 1942
A Letter to Heaven | Screenland, April 1942
Carole Lombard’s Life Story Part 1 | (excerpt),1942
Carole Lombard’s Life Story Part 2 | (excerpt), 1942

Also there’s the main Carole Lombard page in the Info section and of course lots of pictures in the gallery!

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clark gable carole lombard

From September 1937:

Carole Lombard tells this one on herself. It seems that during the Los Angeles run of “Idiot’s Delight,” Clark Gable took Carole to see Lynn Fountanne and Alfred Lunt in this latest of their plays. Upon being introduced to Carole backstage after the play, Miss Fontanne asked Carole, quite naively: “Are you English?” Whereupon Carole replied she was not. “Oh,” said Miss Fontanne, “are you in pictures then?” Carole smiled in her best Gracie Allen fashion and replied, “Yes–I’m just around–” And we’d give a pretty penny to learn what Miss Fontanne’s reaction was when she found out to whom she’d been speaking!

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clark gable mountain lion

Carole Lombard was known for her menagerie of animals. Her home in Bel-Air was affectionately referred to as “the Farm,” because of its diverse residents: a rooster, cats, dogs, doves and ducks. In early 1937, Clark Gable had some time between films and set off on a hunting trip to Arizona. This was before they were married thus it was inappropriate for Carole to accompany him, so she flippantly requested he bring her back “a wildcat or two.” Little did she know that Clark would take her seriously…

He returned from his trip with a seventy-five pound mountain lion cub, complete with sharp claws and teeth and a personality to match. You can read the story of how he caught him here. Carole was rather flabbergasted by the gift and promptly encouraged Clark to donate the cat to MGM’s backlot zoo, which he did, no doubt in exchange for posing for some photos with the ill-mannered feline for MGM publicity.

Well, at least this is one of those pranks that there is actually photographic proof of!

clark gable mountain lion

 

 

 

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clark gable vivien leigh gone with the wind
The reason for me traveling to Ohio was twofold: One, to follow in Clark’s footsteps around the state and visit where he was born and where he lived before departing the Buckeye state for good in 1920. Two, to attend the Clark Gable Foundation’s 75thAnniversary of Gone with the Wind event.
cadiz clark gable

Store window in Cadiz

 
We arrived on Thursday, October 2. A lot of people fly into Pittsburgh when they go to Cadiz, because the little town is so close to the Pennsylvania line. We flew into Akron though, because we decided to stay in New Philadelphia, which is 30 miles north of Cadiz. We arrived Thursday night and discovered by our quick trip to Walmart to buy cereal bars and water that we were in Amish country. I didn’t know before this that Amish people could go to Walmart. But they can, as the place was full of them! We don’t have any Amish people in Georgia so there’s something new I learned!
 
Friday we set out on our many Clark Gable adventures, traveling around Dennison, Hopedale and Cadiz.
 
Friday night was the dinner at the Cadiz Country Club, which I can’t imagine anybody being able to find without a GPS. It was literally in the middle of forests and farmland. On our way back out, we had to stop the car abruptly so we didn’t hit five deer crossing the street!
clark gable cadiz gone with the wind
 
The dinner was nice, with Mickey Kuhn (child Beau) and Patrick Curtis (toddler Beau) speaking and members of the board of the Clark Gable Foundation thanking everyone. I hadn’t had much contact with the Clark Gable Foundation before (and I should, we are on the same team here!) and they are all so nice and hospitable.
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Mickey Kuhn

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Patrick Curtis

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Cadiz Country Club

 
The dinner included a “mystery play” where you have to guess who committed murder. A bit strange but it was catered to the Gone with the Wind crowd by involving a manuscript being found that was supposedly Margaret Mitchell’s sequel to Gone with the Wind.
 
Funny story about that night—my friend and I had some time to kill before the dinner and so we camped out at McDonald’s (the newest restaurant in Cadiz, we learned) for a while, having Cokes and checking emails, etc.  When we went to leave,  a gentleman called out from his car, “Excuse me ladies! I’m lost….” We were all ready to say we weren’t natives and would be lost ourselves without our trusty GPS until he said, “I’m trying to find the Cadiz Country Club for a Gone with the Wind dinner…”  We told him to follow us and with that we made a new friend. We introduced him to Mickey and Patrick when we arrived and sat with him at dinner and he was the sweetest man. A big fan of Clark, we talked Gable movies and he admitted to growing a Gable mustache in his youth to try and look more like him. A shout out to Rex, a great new friend we made!
 
Saturday we woke up and it was sleeting! Luckily for us that day’s events took place inside and just 10 minutes from our hotel, at the Kent State University Performing Arts Center.  The events that day included an open forum with Mickey and Patrick, an auction of Gone with the Wind memorabilia (proceeds to benefit the museum), and a showing of the film on the big screen.
I am a bad reporter on the forum because I didn’t go. My friend and I man Mickey and Patrick’s tables for the autograph signing—selling their pictures, etc. So we had to stay behind to sell their wares while they were in the forum. I did hear from several people afterwards that it was a great time and many people who have seen Mickey and Patrick before heard stories they’d never heard before. Mickey and Patrick agreed, saying it was a lively crowd full of great questions.
 

clark gable cadiz gone with the wind

Items for sale

clark gable cadiz gone with the wind

Items for sale

clark gable cadiz gone with the wind

Items for sale

The auction was next. I don’t buy a lot of things—I don’t like unnecessary clutter—but upon perusing the tables of auction items I saw something I wanted. And I won! An autographed first edition of Judy Lewis’ book Uncommon Knowledge. My previous copy was a tattered used paperback so I am so thrilled to own this pristine signed copy! Plus I got a signed photo of Judy—bonus! Very excited!
judy lewis uncommon knowledge loretta young judy lewis
 
They sold a lot of Clark Gable memorabilia—everything from vintage magazines with him on the cover to a Rhett doll I found rather creepy.
clark gable cadiz gone with the wind

Auction

clark gable cadiz gone with the wind

Auction

clark gable cadiz gone with the wind

Auction

 
After that was the film showing and there was a very good crowd. Mickey and Patrick introduced the film and included a recorded introduction by Olivia de Havilland.
mickey kuhn patrick curtis

Mickey Kuhn and Patrick Curtis introduce Gone with the Wind (sorry, backstage shot)

 
All in all a great event! Always a pleasure to see the fellow GWTW fans I encounter at the events and Mickey and Patrick are such sweethearts.
More on my trip to Ohio coming up!
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