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Fort Wayne, Indiana
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Fort Wayne, Indiana

Carole Lombard was an American film actress who starred in screwball comedies in the 1930s and was recognized for her lively and frequently odd roles. She began her career at an early age and quickly rose to become one of the finest American female screen legends of classic Hollywood movies. She made her debut appearance in a film when she was only twelve years old. Despite the fact that her role was little and the film was a failure, it piqued her interest in acting, and at the age of sixteen, she was working as an actress for $75 per week. Within thirteen years, she had risen to become Hollywood’s highest-paid actress. Although the move from the silent era to the talkies aided her in establishing herself, it was primarily her talent and hard work that propelled her to the top. She was a wonderful human being as well, and she was pleased that the taxes she paid contributed to the betterment of her country. She maintained tight ties with her family and friends as well. Her sole regret was that she was unable to have children.

Childhood and Adolescence

Carole Lombard was born Jane Alice Peters in Fort Wayne, Indiana on October 6, 1908. Frederick Christian Peters and Elizabeth Jayne “Bessie” (Knight) Peters, her parents, both came from an affluent household. Frederick Charles and John Stuart Peters, the third of her parents’ three children, were her older brothers.

Due to a poor relationship between her parents, Elizabeth Peters relocated to Los Angeles in October 1914, bringing her three children with her. Her parents did not divorce, and her father continued to support them financially, making their lives fairly pleasant.

Jane Alice was accepted to Virgil Junior High School and later Fairfax High School in Los Angeles. She was a tomboyish athlete who loved athletics. She competed in athletics, tennis, volleyball, and baseball on a regular basis and won numerous awards. She also enjoyed swimming and watching movies.

Allan Dwan, a film director, noticed her playing baseball on the street with some local kids when she was twelve years old. He knew she was the one he was looking for right away. Jane took up the role of Monte Blue’s sister in ‘A Perfect Crime,’ after being encouraged by her mother (1921).

It didn’t really matter that the part was brief and the movie was a flop. She’s now enrolled in acting and dancing classes. She also began auditioning for movie roles while on tour with a theatre company. Initially, she was able to land minor parts in a number of low-budget films.

When a Fox Pictures producer noticed her during a Charleston dancing competition at the legendary Coconut Grove nightclub in 1924, she got her big break. Soon after, she got a deal with Fox Pictures under the name ‘Carol Lombard.’ She added the extra ‘e’ to her initial name for good luck later, in 1930.

Career of Carole Lombard

Carole dropped out of school in 1924 to work as a ‘bit player’ in low-budget Westerns and adventure films for $75 a week. Her first film debut as a Fox actress was in ‘Gold Heels’ (1924), followed by uncredited roles in two more films.
She appreciated other elements of filming, such as mingling on set, wardrobe fittings, and picture shoots, but she was underwhelmed by the roles she was given. Finally, in March 1925, she earned her big break in the Fox play ‘Marriage in Transit,’ directed by Grace Lutz, which received positive reviews.

She went on to star in two additional films, ‘Hearts and Spurs’ and ‘Durand of the Bad Lands,’ both released in 1925. Unfortunately, she was engaged in a car accident in the same year, which left her with a scar on her face. As a result, her contract with Fox was terminated.

She had plastic surgery on her face after realizing that the scar could jeopardize her acting career. It made the scar less obvious, and she learned to disguise what was still visible with makeup. She was, however, unemployed for a year following the incident.

Mack Sennett, the Canadian-born director-actor noted for his slapstick comedies, offered Carole a contract in 1927. She then acted in fifteen short films directed by Sennett between September 1927 and March 1929.

Meanwhile, Sennett’s distributor, Pathe Exchange, recognized her brilliance and began casting her in increasingly serious roles. Reviewers praised her supporting appearances in films like ‘Show Folks’ and ‘Ned McCobb’s Daughter,’ both released in 1928.

Carole also made a brief comeback to the Fox in 1928 to play Blonde Rosie in ‘Me, Gangster.’ She had her first success in this picture, which relieved the strain on her to succeed.

Meanwhile, in the world of cinema, a quiet revolution had occurred: the silent age had given way to talkies. Many movie stars who were unable to adapt to the change began to lose their jobs as a result. Carole, on the other hand, became popular due to her husky and sexy voice.

Her debut feature-length talkie film, ‘High Voltage,’ was released in 1929. ‘Big News’ and ‘The Racketeers,’ both released in 1929, were critical and commercial successes for her. The flicks gave her the chance to “show that she has the substance to go over,” according to the critics.

She returned to the Fox in 1930 to star in the film ‘The Arizona Kid.’ It was a box office success, and she was given third billing. With a $350-per-week contract, Paramount Pictures moved fast to sign her. The pay was progressively increased to $3,500 per week by 1936.In the meanwhile, she starred in two Paramount films in 1930: ‘Safety in Numbers’ and ‘Fast and Loose.’ Carol Lombard became Carole Lombard for the first time when the corporation added a ‘e’ to her first name while crediting the latter. Carole enjoyed it and decided to keep it that way.

Carole then starred in five films in 1931. ‘Man of the World’ and ‘Ladies’ Man’ were two of them, in which she co-starred with her future husband William Powell. ‘Up Pops the Devil’ and ‘I Take This Woman’ were two more notable works from this year in which she was allowed to demonstrate her abilities.

She also acted in five films in 1932. Her third feature, ‘Virtue,’ was favorably reviewed despite the fact that her first two failed at the box office. Two more hit films followed, ‘No More Orchids’ and ‘No Man of Her Own.’

‘No Man of Her Own’ was a critical and economic success, with many critics agreeing that her portrayal of Ann Holt was her best to that point. Clark Gable, the emerging Hollywood star who she eventually married, was her co-star in the film.

Lombard also starred in five films in 1933. Carole Lombard’s career, on the other hand, reached a pinnacle in 1934. She participated in six films this year, beginning with ‘Bolero,’ a pre-code musical drama that did well at the box office.

‘We’re Not Dressing,’ in which Lombard featured opposite Bing Crosby, was another box office success. However, it was her third picture, ‘Twentieth Century,’ released in 1934, that established her as a great star.
‘Rumba’ was a box office disappointment for her in 1935, but she made up for it with her next feature, ‘Hand Across the Table.’ It is said to be Lombard’s best film.

‘Love Before Breakfast,’ her debut picture, was released in 1936. Her next film, ‘The Princess Comes Across,’ had positive reviews, but it was her third feature of the year, ‘My Man Godfrey,’ that was a box office smash and won her an Academy Award nomination.

Lombardo was the most popular actress in Hollywood by 1937, as well as the best paid, with a salary of $450,000. ‘Swing High, Swing Low’ kicked off the year, followed by ‘Nothing Sacred’ and ‘True Confession,’ both of which did well and received critical acclaim.

She had been tied by a contract with the Paramount until 1938, when she began working independently. She only made one picture this year, ‘Fools for Scandal.’

She then went on to star in two films in 1939, ‘Made for Each Other’ and ‘In Name Only.’ She was particularly taken with the story of ‘In Name Only,’ and personally negotiated a $150,000 fee for the part.

In 1940, she made the films ‘Vigil in the Night’ and ‘They Knew What They Wanted.’ She had hoped for an Oscar nomination for the former. Although her performance was appreciated, the film’s melancholy tone turned off the audience. As a result, she was passed over for the award.

She returned to comedies after three years, recognizing that she was best suited for them. However, time ran out quickly, and she only had time to produce two more films before dying in an airplane crash: ‘Mr. & Mrs. Smith’ in 1941 and ‘To Be or Not to Be’ in 1942.

Major Works of Carole Lombard

‘Big News,’ released in 1929, was her first major film, giving her the opportunity to demonstrate her talent, which she did admirably. But it was her 1934 picture ‘Twentieth Century’ that catapulted her to fame.
‘My Man Godfrey,’ however, was the most important film of her career, released in 1936. It was not only a smash hit, but it also won her her lone Academy Award nomination in her career.

Personal History and Legacy

Carole Lombard, then twenty-two years old, married William Powell, then thirty-eight, on June 6, 1931. Aside from their age gap, they were polar opposites in terms of disposition. As a result, their marriage fell apart, and they divorced in August of 1933. They remained friends, however, until his death.

She began a romance with Clark Gable shortly after her divorce. They were unable to marry because Gable’s wife refused to grant divorce. On March 7, 1939, the divorce was formalized, and they married on March 29, 1939. She had no children from any of her marriages.

Carole traveled to Indiana in 1942 to sell war bonds. Bessie Peters, her mother, and Otto Winker, her Press Assistant, accompanied her on this journey. She sold two million dollar bonds there. The plane crashed onto “Double Up Peak” of Potosi Mountain, outside Las Vegas, on the way back on January 16, 1942. Carole Lombard was among the passengers who died instantly.

Lombard was named 23rd on the American Film Institute’s list of the 25 greatest American female screen legends of classic Hollywood cinema in 1999, despite the fact that she had garnered no awards.

She also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, located at 6930 Hollywood Boulevard. Carole Lombard Memorial Bridge is located near her childhood home in Fort Wayne, which has been listed as a historic site.

Carole Lombard Net Worth

Carole Lombard was an American actress who had a net worth of $16 million after inflation at the time of her death in 1942. Carole Lombard was born in October 1908 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and died in January 1942. During the 1930s, she performed in a number of screwball comedies and was once the highest-paid actress in Hollywood. She was cast in the film A Perfect Crime by a film director when she was 12 years old. She secured a deal with Fox Film Corporation when she was 16 years old and has since acted in a number of minor roles.