Legendary actress, Carole Lombard, was born Jane Alice Peters on Oct 6, 1908 in Fort Wayne, IN. Lombard died at the age of 33 on Jan 16, 1942 in Table Rock Mountain, NV and was laid to rest in Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale) Cemetery in Glendale, CA.
Carole Lombard was born Jane Alice Peter's on October 6th, 1908 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In her earliest years, Lombard lived a life of wealth and privilege as both her parents came from well-to-do families. By all accounts, she was a happy child who enjoyed roughhousing, playing sports, and competing with her two older brothers. Her parents, however, had a strained and difficult relationship that would culminate in their permanent separation, although never divorce, in 1914. Lombard then relocated to Los Angeles with her mother and two siblings. Her father would continue to support them financially from afar.
Lombard's energetic, tomboy-ish nature made her a popular student and natural athlete. She played on multiple sports teams while in school, winning awards in tennis, volleyball, and swimming. In 1921, while playing baseball with some friends, director Allan Dwan took notice of the young tomboy and approached her to play a similar type in his next film. Her small role in the melodramatic A Perfect Crime, marked Lombard's film debut at the age of 12. She found the work enjoyable and continued to pursue acting, taking dance and theatre classes while in High School. Although given multiple screen-tests, she would not be seen on screen for the next four years.
In 1924, after years of near-misses, Lombard was finally signed to a contract with Fox Film Corporation. Soon after she quite school to concentrate her acting career full-time. Her first film for Fox was the melodramatic comedy Marriage in Transit. She then transitioned into B-movie Westerns such as Heart and Spurs and Durand of the Bad Lands. Although she received mostly positive reviews from the critics for her work, Fox remained unsure of the 16-year old appeal as a leading lady and did not renew her contract. She was absent from the screen for a year before famed comedy director Mack Sennett offered her a screen-test and subsequent contract.
Between 1927 and 1929, Lombard appeared in over 15 Sennetts short comedies, learning to hone her innate sense of slap-stick comedy that would later become her trademark. Soon after, Pathe Studios began casting her as a supporting character in feature films such as 1928's Ned McCobbs's Daughter. She was generally positively reviewed. Pathe then decided to test young actress appeal, casting her as the lead in her first talkie, High Voltage. The film was successful and Lombard made the successful transition from silent films to sound with no difficulty. Her next film was the Gregory La Cava 1929 comedy Big News. It was hit with both the critics and audiences. Her next film was the crime drama The Racketeer. Once again, it was a hit and Lombard was well reviewed.
In 1930, Lombard was signed to Paramount Studios. Her first two films for company, Safety in Numbers and Fast and Loose were hits. The next year she starred five pictures. In two of the films, Man of the World and Ladies Man, she starred with Leading Man William Powell. The two soon became romantically involved then married. Her final two releases of the year Up Pops the Devil I and I Take This Woman were success, with many critics praising Lombard's comedic talent. In 1932, she again starred in five feature films. Although No One Man and Sinners in the Sun were not very successful, she did received great reviews for her the romantic-drama Virtue. She next starred with future husband, Clark Gable, in No Man of Her Own. She kept up her brutal professional pace, yet again starring in five films in 1933 including her only horror film Supernatural.
In 1934, Lombard career soared. She starred in no less than six films, causing her to turn down the lead role in It Happened One Night due to her busy schedule. Her film, Bolero was a hit, demonstrating her superior comedic skill. Her next film Were Not Dressing was also a hit. Her next film Twentieth Century would be the one that would launch Lombard into Stardom. In the film, Lombard plays a Hollywood starlet who is relentlessly pursued by her former stage mentor, hoping she can help save his now fledgling career. The film was massive success; audiences flocked to see the lighting fast dialoged and critics hailed Lombard's performance as the best of career. With the success of her next two films, Now and Forever and Lady By Choice, it became clear that Lombard was officially one of the biggest stars in Hollywood.
In 1935 Lombard appeared in two films. The first was opposite the dancing drama, Rumba, opposite George Raft. She returned to her comedic strengths in Hands Across the Table, with leading man Fred MacMurray. The film was a hit. The pairing of Lombard and MacMurray proved so successful they would star together three films together including 1936's The Princess Comes Across. For her next film, she was loaned to Universal Studios for the screwball comedy, My Man Godfrey. The film paired Lombard with her now ex-husband, William Powell, who played the titular role. Although divorce, the two remained good friends, with Powell stating he would only star in the film if Lombard was cast opposite him. The films features Lombard as eccentric heiress who hires a vagrant man, Godfrey, as butler, and then proceeds to fall in love with him. The film was a massive hit, a perfect blend of escapism and fantasy for hardened depression-era public. Audiences flocked to see it and critics couldn't print enough praises. The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards including a Best Leading Actress nomination for Lombard.
With the success of My Man Godfrey, Lombard was one of most popular and well paid actress in Hollywood, earning over 500,000 dollars a year. Her next film, Swing High, Swing Low, once again starring opposite MacMurray, was a hit and in 1937, Lombard had her first role written with her in mind, William A. Wellman's Nothing Sacred. In the film, Lombard's plays a Hazel Flagg, a woman who exploits her misdiagnoses terminal illness to her advantage. The film remains one of the quintessential examples of screwball comedy and is Lombard's personal favorite. Although the next year Lombard had one of her few box office failures, the forgettable Fools for Scandal. The next year Lombard decided to try her hand out at drama, with the surprising dark Made for Each opposite James Stewart and war romance In Name Only opposite Cary Grant. That year she also found profound happiness in her personal life by marrying the King of Hollywood, Clark Gable.
Final Roles and Death
In 1940, she starred in yet another drama, this time in George Steven's Vigil in the Night. The film was not successful, as audiences wanted Lombard in another comedy. Their wishes were met with only of Alfred Hitchcock's few comedies Mr. & Mrs. Smith. In 1942,Lombard starred in her final role, Ernst Lubitsch's To Be or Not to Be. In the film, Lombard plays an actress on Nazi Occupied Poland who must aid the resistance in tracking down a German Spy. The film was released two months after her death. While flying back to Hollywood after a War Bond rally, the plane containing Lombard, her mother, and 15 military men crashed into the Potosi Mountain. On January 16th, Carole Lombard, and rest of passengers, died instantly as a result of the plane crash. She was 33 years old.(Source: article by Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub).
HONORS and AWARDS:.
Although Lombard was nominated for one Oscar, she never won a competitive Academy Award.
|1936||Best Actress||My Man Godfrey (1936)||Irene Bullock||Nominated|
She was honored with one star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of Motion Pictures.
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Hazel Flagg: It's kind of startling to be brought to life twice - and each time in Warsaw!
Diana Harrison: Thank you very much. It's so easy for a woman to make a fool of herself; I'm surprised I haven't done it before.
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