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After struggling to find her niche in Hollywood, Carole Lombard came into her own in the mid-1930s first as the queen of screwball comedy, and then as romantic partner to the star dubbed The King of Hollywood, Clark Gable. When the US entered World War II, to the chagrin of her stoic husband, Lombard immediately volunteered their services to FDR, and the actress ended up spearheading the first of many Hollywood whistle stop tours to sell bar bonds. Hurrying back from that tour, Lombard died in an awful plane crash, leaving a guilt- and grief-ridden Gable behind. In the traumatic aftermath of his beloved wife’s death, Gable — the epitome of Hollywood's idea of unimpeachable masculinity -- had a physical and emotional breakdown. In his despair, the 41 year-old Gable had strings pulled so that he could join the army to fight against Hitler -- a huge Gable fan who reportedly became desperate to capture the actor while he was flying combat missions over Germany.
My main sources for this episode were Robert Matzen’s book on Lombard’s life and the investigation into her death, Fireball: Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3; Garson Kanin’s memoir Hollywood, which includes a wonderful chapter on Lombard; City of Nets by Otto Friedrich; and the Gable biography Long Live the King by Lyn Tornabene. I was not able to find copies of two books by Warren Harris, Gable and Lombard and Clark Gable: A Biography (and actually, at the Hollywood branch of the LA Public Library, the librarian told me both had been stolen). And I didn’t realize until after I finished the episode that there was a biopic about the pair made in 1976, starring James Brolin and Jill Clayburgh. You can watch it on Amazon Instant Video; I can’t tell you whether or not you should.
This episode includes an audio clip from Nothing Sacred (1937), directed by William Wellman.
Preludes for Piano No. 1 by George Gershwin
Little Room by The White Stripes
All of My Tears by Spirituaized
Motoroller Scalatron by Stereolab
Faster Does It by Kevin MacLeod
Gagool by Kevin MacLeod
Out of the Skies, Under the Earth by Chris Zabriskie
Prelude No. 21 by Chris Zabriskie
Off to Osaka by Kevin MacLeod
Dances and Dames by Kevin MacLeod
Transparent by Peter Rudenko
Most At Home in Motels by Joan of Arc
Rock My Boat (Roger O’Donnell mix) by DNTEL
Rock My Boat by DNTEL
Cylinder One by Chris Zabriskie
Gymnopedie No. 3 by Eric Satie, performed by Kevin MacLeod
For Better or Worse by Kai Engel
I’d Die Without You by PM Dawn