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The Real Life Romance of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard

Updated on October 13, 2015

What can I say about this pretty, funny and talented young woman that left us way too soon. Carole Lombard was a charming little gal from Indiana that would rather hang out with the film crew and cast than have a private dressing room. She was athletic and grew up playing sports with her brothers and was actually discovered when she was only twelve while playing baseball in the street.

She had dozens of small parts in mostly comedies and was starting to move up in the business when she had an automobile accident in 1926 which scarred the left side of her face. In those days, the belief was that anesthetics would make the scars worse and Carole chose to undergo the plastic surgery without an anesthetic. She was one tough cookie. Evidently, everything turned out very well.

Carole made a name for herself in some very clever screwball comedies with the likes of Clark Gable, William Powell, Fred MacMurray, Frederick March and James Stewart. The audiences went wild for her. She had this energy and personality along with this insatiable appetite to make you laugh and she did just that in most of her films. Funny thing is she did not really act funny; she simply was funny. That is a charming combination, beauty and humor.

She was the Girl Next Door to all that knew her and to all that watched her up there on the screen. Tom boyish, cute, lovable, flirty, funny and could charm the socks right off your feet! She became known for her lavish parties, her practical jokes, her salty language and her honest concern for everyone. When I first saw her in a film I had an instant crush.

So did a couple of her co-stars Clark Gable and William Powell and they both would marry her. First, William Powell in 1931 and they were married for two years. Three years following their divorce they would reunite for the film My Man Godfrey for which Carole would receive an Academy Award nomination.


Carole and Gable had met very early on in the original Ben Hur in the 1920s. They were extras and would connect a couple of more times in bit parts. Their first film as co-stars was No Man of Her Own in 1932. It was years later, however in 1939, the Greatest Year in Film History, before they would marry.

They were so in love and wanted nothing more than to be left alone to live their lives on their ranch in the San Fernando Valley. They appeared to have the perfect marriage. They were always laughing and cutting up with each other. Clark would act silly and do faces for pictures. They called each other Ma and Pa.

Carole Lombard and her mom were traveling on a war bond tour in January 1942. She had just spoken to a crowd in her home state of Indiana and boarded a plane with her mother and 20 others flying back to California. Her mom did not want to fly and they literally boarded the plane after a toss of a coin in which Carole won. They were flying an army troops plane. They hit the side of a mountain in Table Rock Mountain, Nevada on January 16, 1942. President Roosevelt would eventually award her posthumously with the Medal of Freedom as the first woman killed in the line of duty in WWII. Clark Gable was devastated.


I for one miss Carole Lombard's charismatic style unlike any other that was both charming and funny and always made you want to know this young woman. She could easily be your lover, your wife or your friend....and probably was all three to Clark Gable.

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    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Great hub, Discovery2020! I think she definitely had her own since of unique presence that made people like her. I think that's missing from a lot of actors then and especially now. I didn't know she was married to The Thin Man but I can see them clashing for sure. Interesting information, thanks for the read!

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      WILLIAM EVANS 5 years ago from TEXAS

      Thanks, Alecia. You are so far ahead of the game to have an appreciation for these greats of the 30's and 40's. You are simply beyond your years!

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      WILLIAM EVANS 5 years ago from TEXAS

      Girl, you continue to surprise me.....Thin Man....you shouldn't know about things like that! Wasn't he great in that series of films? Wish it had been with Lombard instead of Myrna however.

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      Healing Herbalist 5 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

      Love My Man Godfrey, and I never realized they were married. Love The Thin Man too!

      At the end of your hub, I had to wonder what she would have gone on to do. Great stuff.

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      WILLIAM EVANS 5 years ago from TEXAS

      Yes, William Powell was greatly underappreciated. Thanks, CLF.

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      B. Leibold 12 months ago

      Try Googling Carole Lombard and Russ Columbo. She was engaged to him and devastated by his death. The best read is a blog by Bill Cwiklo: 'Russ Columbo and Carole Lombard - a beautiful melody interrupted by tragedy.' William Powell once said that Carole loved being Mrs. Clark Gable, but he wasn't sure about her actual feelings for Gable himself. After reading about them all extensively, I believe she loved Gable, but considered Russ Columbo as the true love of her life. Maybe that's why she put up with Gable's philandering.

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      WILLIAM EVANS 12 months ago from TEXAS

      Thanks, BL. Will do..........

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