Lombard was born Jane Alice Peters on October 6, 1908, in
Fort Wayne, Indiana, the daughter of Elizabeth Knight and
Frederick C. Peters. She had two older brothers, Frederick
and Stuart, and enjoyed playing with them more than making
or valentines. A childhood friend remembered that "every
other afternoon this 5 year old blonde would come screeching
across the street, demanding a chance to play one of the ends
[in football]. She was always sent home again."
her parent's separation in 1914, her mother took the children
to live in California. All of Lombard's life, her mother,
"Bessie," remained her closest confidant. They died
together on the airplane in 1942.
left school after Junior High, and often participated in exhibition
ballroom dancing at the Coconut Grove in Hollywood. It was
here, in 1925, that a Fox Studio executive spotted her and
gave her a screen test. Her career had begun.
years later, she began to work for Mack Sennett, the "King
of Comedy." She made several two reel comedies with him,
and told interviewers that she enjoyed working with him. He
remembered her as a "scamp and a madcap."
leaving Sennett she appeared in various films for Pathe and
Paramount. One of them was Man of the
World, with William Powell. They married in 1931 and
were divorced 28 months later. Carole said later that "career
had little to do with the divorce. We were just two completely
incompatible people." They remained friends, starring
together in 1936 in the classic comedy My
had known Clark Gable since 1932, but their romantic attachment
began in 1936, when John Hay Whitney gave an elaborate costume
party in Hollywood. The invitations requested the guests appear
in something white. With her unfailing sense of humor, Carole
arrived at the party in a white ambulance and was carried
into the Whitney mansion on a stretcher. She and Gable renewed
their friendship at "The White Ball," becoming constant
companions until their marriage in 1939.
the summer of 1939, they settled on a 20 acre estate in the
Encino section of the San Fernando Valley. They loved the
outdoor life and shared times hunting and riding together.
Lombard was the ideal mate for Gable, a woman who could be
glamorous and lovely, but who also could be as companionable
as a pal.
the entrance of the United States into World War II in
1941, Gable was made chairman of the Hollywood Victory Committee.
In January 1942, he arranged for Lombard to embark on a bond
selling tour that would climax in Indianapolis on January
15. At that rally, she spoke publicly for the last time. "Before
I say good-bye to you all -- come on -- join me in a big cheer
-- V for Victory!"
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.
husband joined in the search for her body, and on January
18, brought her and her mother home for burial in Forest Lawn
Cemetary, Glendale, California.