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CAROLE LOMBARD

By Chantel Theunissen

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1930s Carole Lombard Dixie Premium1936 Carreras Carole Lombard Tobacco CardCarole Lombard was born Alice Jane Peters on October 6, 1908, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The daughter of Elizabeth ‘Bessie’ Knight and Frederick C. Peters, she was always different than the other girls. While others her age were playing dress up, the future star preferred to rough it with her two older brothers on the football field. Her love of performing seems to have been there from the start. She relished the Friday night movies, and would regularly perform key scenes for her parents on Saturday mornings. When Carole was eight her parents divorced and her mother relocated with the kids to California. The plan was to stay there for just six months but, as Carole later recalled, "luckily the climate lived up to even more than mother had hoped for and here we are, permanent fixtures."

Carole thrived in the Los Angeles climate, blossoming into a beautiful, if petite, young lady. She became adept at many sports including volleyball, tennis, swimming, board-jumping and running. After being ‘discovered’ playing baseball in the street with the neighborhood kids, she was signed to do a one-picture contract at age 12. The film was called "A Perfect Crime" and the year was 1921. Carole loved the experience and tried for other acting jobs. When nothing materialized she returned back to ‘normal’ life, attending school and playing sports.

By age15 the acting bug just wouldn’t go away so Carole decided to quit school and join a theater troupe. She performed in a few sub-standard plays but was fortunate enough to be spotted by a 20th Century Fox talent scout. A screen test followed and she was quickly signed to a one picture contract. The film was "Hearts and Spurs" and Carole had the lead role. Slapstick comedies, westerns and budget melodramas followed but none of her roles allowed Carole to showcase her obvious natural talents. In 1926 the emerging star's stalled career threatened to come to a halt when she was seriously injured in a car accident. The left side of her face was permanently scarred. Fox now considered the actress damaged goods and terminated her contract. She was able to scratch out a living that year, however, as bit parts were always plentiful.

Carole Lombard in her PJ's gracing the cover of Cinema Magazine1930 Cinefilo with Carole Lombard cover. Notice she hasn't added the "e" to her first name as of yet.At this time the film industry was making the change from silent to talking movies. Many careers were being cut short by this transition, but Carole was undaunted by this new challenge. Her first talking role was in "High Voltage" with Pathe Studios.

Carole made several films for Pathe while under contract with them in the late '20's. In 1930 her star was on the rise and she managed to double her salary from $150 to $300 per week by signing with Paramount. It was a great career move. Paramount began grooming her to become one of their top stars. In October, 1930 she was paired with William Powell to do "Man of the World". The pair hit it off off-camera and eight months after they met they were married. Very quickly though, things went sour, and after just over two years they were divorced.

The 1934 flick "Twentieth Century" finally showed the world what a great actress Carole Lombard really was. The 23 year old's mix of comedy and sensuality was unrivaled and the role put her at the top of the Hollywood A-list. In 1936 Carole received her only Academy Award nomination for the screwball comedy "My Man Godfrey". By now she was one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood, raking in $35, 000 a week.

In 1936 Carole's personal life was thrust into the headlines when a four year acquaintance with a fellow actor by the name of Clark Gable began to turn steamy. The tabloids were kept in a frenzy until the mega-star duo tied the knot in the summer of 1939. The couple relished their fame but also loved to get away from all in the outdoors. When schedules permitted they would hunt and ride together over the Montana hills. They 1936 M23 Carole Lombard Philadelphia Supplementcalled each other ma and pa and appeared to have the ideal marriage. Meanwhile their careers were reaching stellar 1934 Salem's Carole Lombard Tobacco Cardproportions. As the 40's began, Gable basked in the glory of the "Gone With the Wind" saga. Then, in 1942 Carole starred in the landmark black comedy "To Be Or Not To Be" set in Nazi occupied Poland. The film was a hit, but she never got to see it’s release.

In January, 1942, just a few weeks after America's entry into WW2, Carole volunteered her time to go on a war bond selling tour. Moments before boarding TWA Flight #3 from Indiana to California she addressed her gathered fans: "Before I say good-bye to you all- come on- join me in a big cheer- V for Victory!".

The plane refueled in Las Vegas and then continued on it's way. 23 minutes into that last leg it crashed into a mountainside thirty miles south of Vegas. Carole Lombard, her mother and the other 21 people on board were all killed. It took two days to find the bodies, and on January 18th, a distraught Gable brought Carole and her mother home. They were buried in Forest Lawn Cemetary, Glendale, California. History remembers Carole Lombard as a great actress but also as the first woman killed in the line of duty in World War Two.
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Chantel Theunissen is a freelance writer and film student from New Zealand.  Carole Lombard is her third submission to The Movie Profiles & Premiums Newsletter.

Other Carole Lombard Pages:

Denny Jackson's Carole Lombard Page -- The Great Comedienne!!
Hands Across the Table -- Part of Cliff's Classic DVD Collection right here on things-and-other-stuff.com.
Lombard's Lair -- A concise bio, complete filmography, photo gallery, and various interactive features make this Carole Lombard sight a pleasant page to visit.