Log In

Carole Lombard Edit Profile

also known as Jane Alice Peters

Actress

Carole Lombard was an American actress.

Background

Lombard, Carole was born on October 6, 1908 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, United States. Daughter of Frederic and Elizabeth (Knight) Peters.

Education

Educated at Virgil Junior High School.

Career

Her film debut was in 1921 when Allan Dwan spotted her playing baseball in the street and gave her a tomboy part in A Perfect Crime. Bv 1925 Fox had her under contract and she made Marriage in Transit (25, R. William Neill) and Hearts and Spurs (25, W. S. Van Dvke) before a motor accident caused the cancellation of the contract. In 1927, she joined Mack Sennett and made several two-reelers for him. Small parts in The Peifect Crime (28, Bert Glennon) and Raoul Walshs Me, Gangster (28) led to a contract with Pathe which involved High Voltage (28, Howard Higgin), her first all-talking picture; Racketeer (29, Higgin), and Gregory La Cava’s Big Neics (29).

After Safety in Numbers (30, Victor Sehertzinger), and The Arizona Kid (30, Allred Santell), she was put under seven-year contract by Paramount where she established herself as a romantic comedienne: Fast and Loose (30, Fred Newmeyer); It Pays to Advertise (31, Frank Tuttle); Man of the World (31. Richard Wallace)—the latter with William Powell, whom she married. She felt, with some justice, that Paramount did not fully appreciate her, and she made several films as little more than glamorous decoration: Up Pops the Devil (31, Edward Sutherland); I Take This Woman (31, Marion Gering); and No One Man (32, Lloyd Corrigan). She was loaned out on several occasions to Columbia, but was good at her own studio, opposite Clark Cable, in No Man of Her Own (32, Wesley Buggies) and with Charles Laughton in White Woman (33, Stuart Walker). Having played opposite George Raft in Bolero (34, Buggies), she really proved herself, grappling with John Barrymore in Hawks’s Twentieth Century (34)—one o( the comic masterpieces ol the American cinema and the first of Hawks’s double-edged sexual battles.

After We’re Not Dressing (34, Norman Taurog) and Hathawav’s Now and Forever (34), she was again loaned to Columbia and to MGM: Lady by Choice (34, David Burton) and The Gay Bride (34, Jack Conwav). After Bumba (35, Gering), another Raft vehicle, she embarked on the most fruitful period of her career: Hands Across the Table (35, Mitchell Leisen); Love Before Breakfast (36, Walter Lang); My Man Godfrey (36, La Cava); The Princess Comes Across (36, William K. Howard); Swing High, Swing Low (37, Leisen), her most flawlessly romantic picture; and Nothing Sacred (37, Wellman), this made for Selznick, and her most gloriously cynical.

After Fools for Scandal (38, Mervyn Le Roy) for Warners, she made Made for Each Other (39, John Cromwell) and In Name Only (39, Cromwell), the first for Selznick, and both emphasizing emotional strain rather than comedy. George Stevens’s Vigil in the Night (40) and Garson Kanins They Knew What They Wanted (40) made greater demands on her as a serious actress than she could match.

In 1941, she made Mr. and Mrs. Smith, for Hitchcock, an underrated film, and a hint of how well she and Hitch might have worked together. Her last film was arguably her best, Lubitseh’s To Be or Not to Be (42), a black comedy about ham actors defrauding Nazi enquiry. The audacity of that film owes a lot to Carole Lombard’s nerve, just as its sense of real danger, feeling, and romance grows out of her personality. Wit, glamour, and emotion came together in her adroit reply to a Gestapo invitation: “I’d like to present the Polish case in a more suitable dress. She died in a plane crash in 1942, while on a war bond tour, was an emotional shock for millions. We live now with blunt, indolent actresses who would be shamed by a retrospective of Carole Lombard movies.

Personality

Although she died when only thirty- four, she had made forty-two talking pictures, four of which are among the best comedies America has produced: Twentieth Century (34, Howard I lawks); My Man Godfrey (36, Gregory La Cava); Nothing Sacred (37, William Wellman); and To Be or Not to Be (42, Ernst Lubitsch). In these, and many other films, she is still as enchanting and witty as any Hollywood actress. That brusque blonde superiority, the offhand hints of sexuality, and the exposure of feelings beneath screwball comedy made Lombard something of a legend in her own time. The tragically early death, and the way it interrupted a happy marriage to Clark Gable, ensured her reputation as someone slightly more than human. But, in truth, her range was narrow; she was far better just being herself than trying to act.

Connections

Married William Powell, June 26, 1931 (divorced 1933). Married second, Clark Gable, March 29, 1939.

father:
Frederic Peters

mother:
Elizabeth (Knight) Peters

spouses:
William Powell

Clark Gable