Carole Lombard

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Carole Lombard

Carole Lombard (October 6, 1908 - January 16, 1942) was an American actress. She was born Jane Alice Peters in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

She made her film debut at the age of twelve when she was spotted playing baseball in the street by director Allan Dwan, who cast her as a tom-boy in A Perfect Crime (1921). In the 1920s she worked in several low-budget productions. In some of her early movies she was credited as Jane Peters, and then as Carol Lombard. In 1925 she was signed as a contract player with 20th Century Fox. She also worked for Mack Sennett and Path้ Pictures. She became a well known actress and managed to make a smooth transition to sound films, starting with High Voltage (1929). In 1930 she began working for Paramount Pictures.

In October 1930 she met William Powell and then eight months later they were married on the day of June 26, 1931. Carole age 23 and William age 39 were married for 23 months but divorced in 1933. They stayed friends and film partners.

Carole Lombard became one of Hollywood's top comedy actresses in the 1930s. In comedies like Twentieth Century (1934) by Howard Hawks, My Man Godfrey (1936) by Gregory La Cava, for which she received an Academy Award for Best Actress nomination, and Nothing Sacred (1937) by William A. Wellman, she proved a marvellous comedic talent, and a rare class.

In the middle 1930s Carole Lombard started an affair with Clark Gable. Between the two actors there was a sincere and passionate sentiment. After their marriage in 1939, they bought and lived in a ranch in San Fernando Valley. They nick named each other Ma and Pa and were role modeled as the ideal marriage.

When at the end of 1941 the US entered World War II, Carole went home to Indiana for a war bond rally. At four AM, Friday, January 16, 1942, Lombard and her mother boarded the plane home to California. After refueling in Las Vegas, the plane took off on a clear night, and twenty three minutes later crashed into a mountain side thirty miles southwest of Las Vegas. All of the 23 passengers aboard were killed. Just before boarding the plane in Indiana, she addressed her fans, saying "Before I say goodbye to you all, come on and join me in a big cheer! V for Victory!" President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who admired her patriotism, declared her the first woman killed in the line of duty during the war and posthumously awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Liberty ship SS Lombard was named for her, and Gable attended its launching on January 15 1944.

Her final film, To Be or Not to Be, directed by Ernst Lubitsch and co-starring Jack Benny - a witty satire about the Nazism and the War -, was in post-production at the time of her death. In this movie she gave what many regard as her best perfomance, at the same time ironic and intense. The film's producers decided to cut part of the film in which her character asks, "What can happen in a plane?"

She is interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. Although Gable remarried, he was buried next to her.


"Carol Lombard" (as she was then known), in the 1920s.
"Carol Lombard" (as she was then known), in the 1920s.


Carol Lombard was a second generation Baha'i who formally declared her membership of the Baha'i Faith in 1938.1

  1. The Baha'i World 1940-1944 pp.635. Baha'i Publishing Trust, Wilmette

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