May 19, 2022 2:37 am

Carole Lombard, the actress who had it all and tragically lost it… because of a curse?

Before the immediacy of the Internet, before that factory of idols with feet of clay that are social networks, before television and its meddling in the homes and heads of viewers. Before all this, that figure who achieved an identification with her admirers to the point of copying her hairstyles, her gestures, or living their lives through her was a privileged being. carol lombard she was one of them, she had it all and tragically lost it before she could enjoy it.

His arrival at the cinema he did not obey either the obsession of frustrated parents (he lived with his recently separated mother and his two older brothers), nor the dream of seeing his name on the marquees, rather It was a game that started when I was little. She was not yet 13 years old and the little girl had already participated as an extra in several silent films and still presented herself with her birth name, Jane Peters.

It was only at the age of 15, after winning a beauty contest at her high school, that she decided to bet fully on show business. he dropped out of school and decided he had to build a star identity. As her name seemed too common, she adopted Carole (the name of a schoolmate) and the surname of a family friend, debuting in Marriage In Transit (1925) as Carole Lombard.

Jane (or Carole) felt for the first time that her life had a destiny, 20th Century Fox had offered her an exclusive contract and she was happy. But two years had not passed since his professional start when fate gave him the first wake-up call, with an accident that almost cost him his life.

Carole Lombard suffered an accident when she was young and miraculously saved her life, although she had to undergo several surgeries because her face was disfigured

On her way back from a party with her boyfriend at the time, the car they were traveling in collided and Lombard smashed his face and body through the vehicle’s windshield. His life was miraculously saved, but he was left disfigured. Over time, and thanks to several surgeries, he was able to recover, although he did have a scar on the left side of his face, which he hid with makeup and studied poses for the rest of his life.

While she was recovering, Fox decided to terminate her contract and Paramount took the opportunity to add her to its all-star cast. In 1930, at the age of 21, he signed a seven-year contract with the studios. They were not wrong because his aura immediately conquered the spectators, becoming one of the most convening actresses of the time. Paramount producer, Andrew Craddock Lyles, stated: “It was amazing how quickly her popularity grew, people loved her, the studio loved her. When he started he was earning $300 a week, five years later he was earning $35,000.” It is equivalent to half a million dollars today.

Carole Lombard was 22 years old when she fell in love with William Powell, who was around 40. They were very different, but love was stronger and they got married, although two years later they divorced
Carole Lombard was 22 years old when she fell in love with William Powell, who was around 40. They were very different, but love was stronger and they got married, although two years later they divorcedArchive Photos – Moviepix

Parallel to the success, love also arrived for Carole. met the actor William Powell during the filming of Man of the World (1931) and that same year they coincided in Ladies’ Man. At first glance they didn’t hit it off at all. she was 22 years old and had an exuberant personality; he was in his 40s and much more withdrawn. The relationship was almost that of father and daughter, so much so that the marriage lasted barely two years and the couple divorced in 1933.

If Carole Lombard was a referent of the cinema of the 30s, the singer Russ Columbo it was the equivalent in the music environment. Therefore, when the press of the time published that the two had begun to have an affair, the fans went crazy. However in 1934, when the couple had already publicly whitewashed their love, a new tragedy reminded him that he was not born to be happy.

Carole Lombard and Clark Gable, a love that was born on the film sets
Carole Lombard and Clark Gable, a love that was born on the film sets

Columbo was close friends with Lansing Brown, Jr., a photographer and collector of antique weapons. On September 2, 1934, the artist went to visit him and Lansing enthusiastically began to show him some of his pieces. It was never clear what happened that night, but the official version stated that one of the guns accidentally went off and the projectile hit the singer’s left eye. Columbo was immediately transferred to the Hospital Good Samaritan Los Angeles, but died hours later. Lombard was despondent at the news, dueled shorter than her friends recommended, and quickly returned to work. He did not meet a partner until several years later, when his last great love would come into his life.

At the urging of her ex William Powell, Lombard starred opposite him in 1936, The stubborn Irene (My Man Godfrey), which not only opened the doors of comedy for him but also gave him his first and only Oscar nomination. Again his professional star ascended, unstoppable towards the firmament. Carole had smiled again. In those years he was also about to star in gone With the Wind (Gone with the wind). The interpreter had already worked with Clark Gable four years earlier in No Man of Her Own, with very good results. But as is known, the role of Scarlett O’Hara ended up in the hands of Vivien Leigh and although Lombard did not lack work, he always had the thorn of not having been able to star in that classic film.

The casting of the film Victor Fleming gathered the companions. Gable, who had been attracted to her from the beginning, insisted, insisted and insisted until he got a first date. Since then they have not been separated again. That at that time the star was married to Maria Franklin was just a detail, that was the golden age of Hollywood.

In 1939, a month after signing the divorce, Clark Gable married Lombard. It was the dream of the fans of both, two of the most relevant film personalities of the time had sealed their love “until death do them part”. A set phrase, which would become a chilling prediction just three years later.

In addition to his charisma, his talent and his beauty, Lombard had another quality that fascinated his compatriots: his foolproof nationalism. “I don’t mind paying a percentage of my salary for taxes because I feel very lucky to be an American.” Thanks to the free press that had had that statement, the president Franklin D. Roosevelt he had adopted her among his Hollywood favourites. Several times they were seen together, which further increased the patriotic heart of the actress.

In 1941, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States decided to become fully involved in World War II, which had been raging since September 1939. As part of the financing of military operations, the government created war bonds and asked for to many well-known figures who collaborated with the sale; including, of course, Carole and Clark. While he decided to stay out of it to prevent the action from having an impact on his career, his wife enthusiastically accepted. On January 12, 1942, Lombard and his mother Elizabeth took a train from Los Angeles, with different stops and final destination Indianapolis, to continue with the promotional campaign. Upon arrival they were received with all honors and after a heartfelt speech before a huge audience, the star managed to sell the equivalent of two and a half million dollars.

Finished the commitment and against everything planned, on January 16 the actress decided to return home by plane. His mother strongly disagreed because she had a bad feeling. They chose to leave the decision to chance and a coin decided that they would return by air. A technical problem caused the plane to crash in the mountains near Las Vegas. There were no survivors. At 33, Carole Lombard had died.

Carole Lombard's mother was sure her daughter was cursed
Carole Lombard’s mother was sure her daughter was cursed

If she had a return ticket on the same train that had taken her, why had Lombard been so insistent on flying back? This question kept public opinion awake for a long time. The pain of the star’s death was surrounded by a halo of mystery related to his fateful decision.

Among the strongest hypotheses were the jealousy of the star with her husband. At the time, Clark Gable had just finished filming Somewhere I’ll Find You, beside Lana Turner. And behind the scenes there was talk of a manifest interest of the young actress for him, something that kept Lombard awake. According to some media of the time, the interest in returning home as soon as possible was to take care that this game of seduction did not go too far. Others, on the other hand, cited fatigue and the need to prepare a new project after the satisfaction that had been filming To be or not to be (To Be or Not to Be) from Ernest Lubitsch, film that did not get to see released. It is the only one available in Argentina (on the platform) for those who want to discover their talent.

More difficult to explain is the curse that weighs on the star and its tragic disappearance. Lombard’s mother, Elizabeth Knight, was a student of numerology and believed that the number three was synonymous with bad luck. His insistence on not getting on the plane that afternoon was directly related to that. The device was a DC 3, the flight was number 3, the passengers were 3, the actress was 33 years old and they crashed 33 miles from Las Vegas.

A more plausible explanation points to the driver Wayne Williams as largely responsible for what happened. As it was later learned, the captain had a history of making poor decisions, risky maneuvers, and frequently leaving his post to talk with the passengers, leaving all the responsibility on the co-pilot. From the position in which his body was found, everything seems to indicate that Williams was not in the cabin at the time of the incident.

After the death of his wife, Clark Gable left the cinema and joined the army, President Roosevelt awarded Lombard a medal for being “the first woman to die in service” of World War II. And for the first time all the Hollywood studios closed their doors in mourning and two years later the United States Navy named a ship with his name.

The president sent the actor a telegram, which became a summary of Carole Lombard’s passage through the lives of those who knew her: “Mrs. Roosevelt and I are deeply distressed. Carole was our friend. She brought great joy to all who knew her personally, as well as the millions who knew her only as a great artist. He selflessly gave his time and talents to serve his government, both in peace and in war. He loved his country. He is and always will be a star. We will always be grateful to him.”

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