"It was a beautiful clear night and you could see for miles. It hardly seemed minutes before the plane faded away over the Charleston range when I saw a flash and then big tongues of flame rising from the mountainside. The plane cracked in two like a piece of kindling wood."
Shock spread throughout the nation. War time America! Exactly when every man, woman and resource of hope, inspiration, sustenance, empowerment, humor and joy was so desperately needed on the homefront and in the campaigns....an element SIMPLY CEASED TO BE, IN THE SPAN OF A MOMENT.
January 16, 1942, Carole Lombard, accompanied by her beloved mother, was returning home to California from a successful World War II Bond Drive Rally in Indiana at the behest of then President Roosevelt. Some say "by the toss of a coin", heads or tails, homeward bound by train or plane was determined. That's it then...determined by a simple gesture and perhaps exactly as Lombard had wished it to be... in a plane, along with fate to accompany them, they knew their last entombment of life.
As they boarded the Transcontinental and Western Airlines DC-3 airplane that would take them home, Caroles' final words to the admiring fans and crowds wishing her well and adieu were a reflection of her ever selfless dedication to her country in a time of dire need..
"Before I say goodbye to you all, come on and join me in a big cheer! V for Victory!" And the crowd blushed, cheered, applauded and bade their, indeed all of Americas' legend... goodbye.
After refueling in Las Vegas, TWA Flight 3 took off and 23 minutes later, crashed into "Double Up Peak" near the 8,300-foot (2500 m) level of Mount Potosi, 32 miles (52 km) southwest of Las Vegas. All aboard, 19 passengers and three crew, were killed.
The Great Carole Lombard had died.
Shocked silence and devastation reverberated world wide in the wake of news announcing Carole Lombard's death. Fans, admirers, family and friends retreated into a somnabulant pose as they mourned the loss of their heroin, their legend and the girl next door.
Gone forever to mortals, was one of the most amazing Actresses America had ever possessed. While her life was, fleeting, her stardom remains enduring and enchanting, with the bittersweet melody of the essence and epitome of a tragic ending. Carole's was a story that never made a full play unto the end...literally, some still say, by the flip of a coin.
In a world where mere written words fail emotion and are lacking inexplicably in the most part, what I actually mean to say here, communicate, or divulge, I find it best to share the aura of the woman, Carole. But remember, gentle readers? This is presented through the myopic vision of one who dearly admires her legend, is a sentimental and soft hearted sort identifying with her on so many levels. Knowing full well that there are those among us who yet inhabit today and can recollect or verify vague and indeed vivid memories of Carole Lombard far better than I, please bear with me as I am merely and only able to study her from history, and share with you, gentle readers, gleanings. In sharing, I will spare "many the's minutia" and particulars which made up her life in total, naturally. I hope to inspire, within your very hearts, a totally new emotion, the thrill of revelation and unveiling of an Iconic Legend who once inspired thousands...this woman, and unforgettable character of altogether Carole Lombard....an American Legend.
But yes...where did Carol begin? Tell us more...
Known by names such as The Profane Angel and The Hoosier Tornado, the blue eyed, blond haired 5' 5 1/2 inch petite powerhouse, Carol, had easily established her career, and found herself lauded and in possession of a background and resume which allowed her commanding of and receiving the highest salary in show business. Oh the hey day and business of show business!
There's more...more than acting....there was her private personna too...
Carole was known as the consummate Hollywood hostess and party girl! Oh mother, true that! She, together with her personal secretary whom she called "Fieldsy", ran full head long, heart and soul, into creating and re-creating unforgettable life like, legendary moments of pleasure, hi-jinx and escape. Lavish parties, and soirees with all the hoopla to realistic gala events were the ticket! The sublime in full, everyone clamored and aspired to be a chosen guest! Ahhhh, the thrill of the chase...I know it well!
Carole, too had a heart as full, as rich and round as the proverbial Harvest moon! While she was known for her blue and raw language, Lombard was never one to forget someone in need. She was compassionate, tenderhearted, charitable and giving in numerous ways.
AND, THEN..THERE WAS LOVE...AND MOTHER WAS THERE LOVE!
Carole, oh that tiny, beautiful doll swooped, felled, disarmed and conquered only one of the most powerful actors in Hollywood, William Powell. The two met and fell in love and in doing so gave much to the heart of one to the other. Despite the chasm of age difference between the two and the fact that Powell's reserved, authentically worldly and at times blaise personality was very much at odds with that of Lombard's own, they married in 1931. That marriage would last until 1933 when they divorced. Yet, in spite of their differences, and a tribute to Carole's character, they remained devoted friends.
It was said that Lombard had met not only the greatest love of her life in Russ Columbo, "The Romeo of Song", "The Singing Valentino"...a crooner but she met a man she felt "motherly towards"...hmmm, oddly enough. The two, it is said, planned to marry, but as to the quote,..."best laid plans of mice and men" go awry, their union never met fruition. Columbo was the victim of a shooting tragedy, which legend maintains, may or may not have, accidentally ended his life. Was it Columbo's death, that had somehow transcendentally immersed Lombard into a quieter life, void of the multitude of raucous parties and frivolity, in the main, thereafter? Indeed life seemed to take a much slower place, overall, for Carole Lombard.
While Carole continued with her acting career making film upon film from madcap to romance, kisses that filled the night and wit that lit the day... something else was on the horizon.
READ ALL ABOUT IT! HOT, STEAMY, THE FOCUS AND WAG OF HOLLYWOOD GOSSIP'S TAIL!
Lombard's most reknowned romantic relationship came in 1936 at "The White MayFair Ball" when she became involved with actor Clark Gable! THE CLARK GABLE! Doves, Model Ts, Cougars, frenzy and tease ensued. Romance, devastation, debonair, looks, and charm all in a mustache and the man! With the legendary movie, Gone With The Wind in full swing and production, Clark Gable proposed to Carole Lombard, some accounts reveal, in a telephone booth at the Brown Derby. If that, indeed was the case...hubba, what a call that must have been and I'd suppose the lines nearly sizzzzzzzzzled...! In March 1939 the couple were married.
AT LONG LAST, Gable had found, the love of his life in Carole. Together, they fled the limelight in sacred love and bought privacy, ecstasy and seclusion in a charming ranch in Encino, California. Let the bliss move onward! They lovingly referred to one another as "Ma" and "Pa" but in life, together, they had no child born of the union. During their years at the ranch, they lived the life of suspended happiness on the ranch, one unto the other.
Some interesting quotes from Carole Lombard, which may speak volumes and a plethora of meanings to your own hearts, gentle readers...
"I've lived by a man's code designed to fit a man's world, yet at the same time I never forget that a woman's first job is to choose the right shade of lipstick."
Of the concept of God: "I don't seem to get solemn about it, and some people might not understand. That's why I never talk about it. I think it's all here -- in the mountains and the desert. I don't think God is a softie, either. In the end, it's better if people are forced back into -- well -- into being right, before they're too far gone. I think your temple is your everyday living."
"I think marriage is dangerous. The idea of two people trying to possess each other is wrong. I don't think the flare of love lasts. Your mind rather than your emotions must answer for the success of matrimony. It must be friendship -- a calm companionship which can last through the years."
And back to the beginning where we began with the end...
After Lombard's death, Gable was devastated along with all of America. No force on the face of this earth could lift Gable from the depths of horror and hell he felt at the loss of the love of his life. Inconsolable and feeling guilt for her death, in part, he turned his thwarted passion to service in the country at War and to that which end, Lombard, in part, lost her life.
Times pass and life moves onward, as GOD and nature will have it...and today,
Today, Lombard is interred at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. The name on her crypt marker is "Carole Lombard Gable". Clark Gable is interred next to her in everlasting immortality.
President Roosevelt awarded Carole Lombard with a medal as "The first woman to be killed in action, in defense of her country, in its war against the Axis Powers". I think too, Mr. President had it right when he said..."She is and always will be a star, one we shall never forget nor cease to be grateful to."