One can only speculate about the parts she might have played. Dead at 33, she’d already starred in several films which have gone on to become classics.
Carole Lombard is almost as exciting a star today as she was 70 years ago. That is, her movies are as much a pleasure to watch as they undoubtedly were when they first came out.
Her signature films include My Man Godfrey, To Be or Not to Be, Twentieth Century and Nothing Sacred.
Her enduring appeal has, of course, much to do with her droll, comic approach to her best roles and her sexy likability onscreen. She also had the dubious advantage of dying early while wed to Hollywood’s biggest male star (see below).
Her fairytale marriage to fellow superstar Clark Gable is legendary.
She was Gable’s third wife while he was her second husband. (Her husband No. 1 was William Powell.) She and Gable preferred country living and purchased a 20-acres spread in Encino in the San Fernando Valley. Property was fronted by a white-brick-and-frame Colonial. A homey place with a room set aside for Gable’s collection of rifles.
Their marriage lasted from 1939 until her death in 1942. Clark Gable wasn’t that much older than his bride. She was born in 1908 in Fort Wayne, Ind.; Gable was born seven years earlier in Cadiz, Ohio.
Lombard had been appearing in a series of successful War Bonds rallies in the Midwest when her return flight back to California ended when the airliner slammed into the side of a mountain in Nevada. Lombard, her mother and some 20 other passengers were killed. Gable was devastated.
Both she and Gable had had “pasts.” Translation: In the very much traditional classic Hollywood tradition, they got around a bit.
In response to one of our an earlier Lombard postings, an informed reader, identified simply as Vincent, contributed the following:
Not many are aware of it, but apparently one of (Howard) Hughes’ bedroom conquests was Carole Lombard, around 1929; in fact, it’s believed she lost her virginity to him. In “Screwball,” Lombard biographer Larry Swindell wrote as such, but had to dance around it a bit, describing Hughes but not mentioning him by name.
Vincent also contributed this:
George (Raft) and Carole Lombard (one of many actresses he was intimate with; Lombard reportedly told close friends that Raft was, in the bedroom sense, the best lover she ever had) made two dance films together: “Bolero” (a big hit for Paramount in early 1934, including a scene where Carole dances in lingerie and stockings!) and the less successful “Rumba” a year later.
As we said, Lombard conveyed an effortless sexiness onscreen. She coulda had a truly outstanding career. But there was Gable.