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Great Hollywood Romances: Clark Gable & Carole Lombard



Claim to Fame: He had rugged good looks and a devilish grin and radiated a dangerous sexuality. His nickname was The King (the result of a 1938 newspaper poll), and he sealed the title by playing Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind. She was a blonde, screwball heroine (My Man Godfrey) who played giddy and glamorous with gusto and had a formidable reputation for swearing. When they wed in 1939 (his third, her second) it was a match made in Hollywood heaven.

Why They Matter: The movie king and comedy queen were the real thing. Soul mates who settled down to domesticity in a restored rural farmhouse, they called each other Ma and Pa, raised chickens and went hunting together. (They also kept making movies.) But tragedy struck in 1942, just three years into their marriage. Lombard, on tour to sell war bonds, died in a mountain plane crash near Las Vegas at age 33. A distraught Gable had to be restrained from scaling the peak to retrieve her body.

Postscript: Gable never recovered from Lombard’s death, turning to drink for comfort. He married twice more, but when he died of a heart attack after completing his 67th movie, The Misfits, his then wife, Kay, had him buried next to Lombard in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Love Note: When they quarreled, Lombard would sometimes send Gable live doves as peace offerings.