Carole Lombard Biography

Carole Lombard

A spirited superstar whose life was cut tragically short. She lost out to Vivien Leigh for the Scarlett O'Hara role but married Gable.

Born Jane Alice Peters in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Carole Lombard grew up to be one of the most successful comedy actresses of her era, and married the screen legend, Clark Gable.

After the divorce of her parents when she was eight, Lombard's mother took the family to Los Angeles. Lombard was spotted by a film director playing baseball in the street with some local boys, and signed a contract at the age of twelve to perform in 'A Perfect Crime'.

After this, Lombard returned to school, but left aged fifteen to join a theatre troupe.
In 1925, she was signed by Twentieth Century Fox, where her first film was 'Hearts and Spurs', in which she took the lead role.

A car accident in 1926 left Lombard with scarring on her face, and because of this Fox cancelled her contract. However, she continued to make films, and made the transition from silent movies to 'talkies' well.

Her first film with sound was titled 'High Voltage'. Lombard starred with William Powell in the 1931 film 'Man Of The World', and the couple subsequently married. The marriage was short-lived, however, ending in divorce in 1933.

In 'No Man Of Her Own', released in 1932, Carole Lombard was to star for the first and only time with Clark Gable, whom she married seven years later.

She only enjoyed small successes in the early 1930s and continued to be cast in second-rate films until her career took off in 1934. Director Howard Hanks encountered Lombard at a party and thought her saucy personality was just right for his next film 'Twentieth Century'. She appeared in this film with stage legend John Barrymore, of whom she was intimidated at first before they developed a good friendship.

This film catapulted her into the limelight and she also starred in 'Bolero' in the same year, for which she turned down a role in 'It Happened One Night' starring Gable.

Her reputation as a comedy actress was established in the 1935 film 'Hands Across the Table', while 1936 proved to be a big year for the actress. She earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her role in 'My Man Godfrey', which also starred her ex-husband Powell.

Graham Greene once wrote: "Platinum blonde, with a heart-shaped face, delicate, impish features and a figure made to be swathed in silver lame, she wriggled expressively through such classics of hysteria as Twentieth Century and My Man Godfrey," about the actress.

In 1937, she made her only film in Technicolor called 'Nothing Sacred'.

Lombard moved to Paramount, and at the peak of her career, was reportedly earning $35,000 per week, making her one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood. She made some appearances in dramatic films but the public didn't take well to this. Her second-last film, made in 1941, was called 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith' (recently remade starring Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt), although Lombard did not live to see its release. This marked her return to comedy.

1941 saw America join World War II, and this prompted Lombard to return home to Indiana for a war bond rally. On the return journey to California, the plane carrying Lombard, her mother and 20 other passengers crashed, killing all those on board, including 33-year-old Lombard.

In 1942, her last film 'To Be or Not To Be' was released and this proved to be her most successful film.

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