There have been many noteworthy Hollywood love affairs throughout the years, but few as memorable nor as tragic as that of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard.
Gable, “The King”, was an indisputable heartthrob in 1936, the year he met Lombard at a Hollywood party. At 35, he was married to his second wife when he became smitten with the striking Lombard, who was seven years his junior and divorced from actor William Powell. The chemistry between the two was mutual and grew even stronger once Gable was divorced.
Often described as devilishly handsome (in the 1938 film, Broadway Melody, a 14 year old Judy Garland memorably crooned the song, You Made Me Love You to a framed photo of Gable,) he was the man every woman wanted to be with and every man wanted to be. He was a man’s man. For her part, Lombard, blonde and leggy, starred in numerous screwball comedies and had that unique combination of sexiness and a wicked sense of humor. It’s been said that she swore like a sailor and was known to play practical jokes whenever she had the opportunity. By all accounts she was adored by film crews.
In January 1942, while returning from a tour to sell war bonds, the TWA DC-3 in which Lombard had been flying, crashed into Mt. Potosi, Nevada. She and Gable had not yet been married three years when her plane went down.
When Clark Gable arrived on the scene, he had to be physically restrained from climbing the snowcapped mountain in an attempt to rescue his wife. His efforts would have been fruitless since all twenty-two passengers abroad, including Lombard’s mother, had died in the crash.
Gable sat on a stool at the nearby Pioneer Saloon, in Goodsprings, drinking whiskey and smoking cigar after cigar as he waited to hear the fate of his wife. On a recent trip to Las Vegas, I visited the saloon, which was built in 1913, and is the oldest in So. Nevada. I looked at photos on display as I walked through a “memory room” that has been created to honor Gable and Lombard.
Friends claimed that Clark Gable was never the same after suffering this loss and in fact, when he died of a heart attack in 1961, his fifth wife had him buried in Los Angeles’ Forest Lawn, next to Carole Lombard, the love of his life.
Some love affairs are based in myth and some become the prototype to which others aspire. Gable and Lombard’s love affair was the latter.
Ready to take a short quiz? Can you correctly match up the famous relationships below? Scroll down for the answers when you’re done.
THE MEN THE WOMEN
1. Bogart a. Woodward
2. Reynolds b. Tandy
3. Wayne c. McGraw
4. Russell d. Gardner
5. Cronyn e. Hepburn
6. Pitt f. Radner
7. Smith g. Bacall
8. Arnaz h. Jolie
9. Sinatra i. Taylor
10. McQueen j. Davis
11. Tracy k. Russell
12. Newman l. Hawn
13. Merrill m.Pinkett
14. Wilder n. Field
15. Burton o. Ball
Hope everyone enjoys a great weekend (I'll be working hard on editing the second draft of my latest novel.) Whatever you do have fun and stay safe.
And thanks for reading Rhodes Less Traveled (by the way, if you haven't already signed up to follow my blogs, please do.) Vivian