gingerrogerss

Clark Gable and Carole Lombard met during the filming of No Man of Her Own in 1932. Both at the time didn’t have any sparks outside the camera. But later that would change on February 7,1936, both attended a party at Jock Whitney’s house, to celebrate screenwriter Donald Ogden Stewart’s wife’s recent release from a sanitarium, jokingly called “The Nervous Breakdown Party”. Things did not start out well as Carole, as a joke, arrived in an ambulance. Attendants carried her on a stretcher and placed it in the middle of the room. Everyone gasped and gathered around. She jumped up, howling with laughter. Clark, there with Merle Oberon, was not amused and found the joke in poor taste. Clark and Carole got into a fight that ended with her stomping away from him, furiously proclaiming that he was a stuff shirt. Near the end of the party, Carole challenged Clark to a game of tennis. There they played, both in evening clothes, playing tennis until it was too dark to see (Carole beat him 8-0). Merle, irritated by being ignored, had someone else take her home and Clark didn’t even notice.

A couple months later, at the annual Mayfair Ball, Clark and Carole shared a dance. Holding her close,Clark realized she wasn’t wearing any undergarments. Taking this as a green light, he suggested they leave the party and go back to his hotel together. Carole laughed and said, “Who do you think you are, Clark Gable?” This angered him and he left the party. The next morning he awoke to the sounds of birds cooing in his bedroom. Carole had convinced a hotel worker to put them in there while he slept. Tied to one of the birds was a note that said, “How about it? Carole” From that point on, they became inseparable. For the next three years, they were one of Hollywood’s most glamorous couples. They attended the Academy Awards together, premieres and were the number one topic of the press. Carole grew anxious for marriage. She wanted the title and she wanted children. Biding her time waiting for Clark’s wife Ria to get a divorce, Carole went house shopping. She and Clark jumped at the chance to own director Raoul Walsh’s twenty acre ranch in Encino. It was everything they had wanted. Carole wrote a check for $50,000 and the house was theirs. Renovations began and the couple waited until the day they could occupy the house as husband and wife. (x)

“That’s what she used to call me - pa, and I called her ma,” he said softly. He started to smoke a cigarette, carefully cupping his hand around the glowing end. And he started to talk about his wife, Carole Lombard. He said that for the past hour, as we silently tramped the beach, he had been reliving wonderful times with her. He told me about their first duck shoot, early in the morning, the fog too thick to see the ducks, although you could hear them. Carole asked what they could do about it - just sit here in the blind until it clears, Clark told her. She said she had just thought of something they could do while they were waiting - we made love, Clark said, which ain’t easy in a duck blind.

He made a funny little sound - I thought he was chortling over the incident - but in the moonlight I could see his tears. He continued to weep as he told me about the evening that Carole, dressed in a smashing white evening gown, had jumped fully clothed into a fishpond, and he told me about the dogs they had given each other, the silly picnics Carole arranged, the Sundays business, all the while making little observations about films and Hollywood life that I didn’t really understand, but what I did understand was the enormous love Gable had had for this woman. In a sense, it was unreal that Clark Gable was sitting there on the wet sand weeping over the loss of his movie star wife, but the pressures of [the army] had pushed him close to the edge.

“They think I don’t know,” he said, “but I do - what they have found of her - I know….decapitated, and the rest of her burned to nothing.” He fished inside his shirt and brought out two chains, one that held his dog tag, the other a small locket that he opened. It contained a fragment of jeweled metal. He said that that was the only thing of hers that hadn’t burned-the fragment was from a diamond and ruby clip he had given to her.

For the rest of our tour he talked about various hunting and fishing trips, but didn’t mention Carole Lombard again. That was the last time I saw him. - A.E. Hotchner