Kingston Residence, 7515 Winchester Road, remembered Fort Wayne native, actress Carole Lombard, with a celebration of what would have been the late actress’ 98th birthday on October 11.

Rick Brandt, co-owner with his wife, Cora, of the Carole Lombard House Bed and Breakfast, 704 Rockhill Street, opened the program with “My Life With Carole Lombard.” He gave a brief history of the couple’s involvement with the bed and breakfast, and talk about Lombard’s early years in Fort Wayne, as well as her rise to fame in Hollywood, her marriage to movie legend Clark Gable and her tragic death at age 34.

Birthday cake was served after Brandt’s talk, and Carole Lombard films were shown back to back for the remainder of the day.

Brandt and his wife bought the Lombard home in 2004 after being guests there on several occasions while they were living in California.

Born Jane Alice Peters October 6, 1908, in the Rockhill Street house across from the St. Mary’s River, Carole Lombard is remembered as one of the top movie comediennes of the 1930s. Despite her striking beauty and glamorous style, Lombard was considered a natural comedienne who was not afraid to look silly for the sake of being funny. In comedies like “Twentieth Century,” “My Man, Godfrey” and “Nothing Sacred” (for which she won a “Best Actress” Academy Award nomination), she became known as the personification of “screwball” comedy.

On March 29, 1939, Lombard married Gable, and the two of them bought a ranch in the San Fernando Valley of California, where they lived quietly and unpretentiously.

In January 1942, just six weeks after Pearl Harbor was attacked, Lombard and her mother, Elizabeth, traveled to Indiana for a War Bond rally. On the return to California, their plane crashed into a mountain 30 miles southwest of Las Vegas after a refueling stop. All 23 on board died. Ironically, the women had considered taking the train back to Los Angeles, but chose to fly, instead.

Gable was inconsolable. Shortly after Lombard’s death, he joined the United States Army Air Forces and served as a gunner on a bomber, flying combat missions over Europe. Though he married twice after her death, all who knew Gable said Lombard remained the love of his life. He was buried next to her in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California, when he died in 1960.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared Lombard the first woman killed in the line of duty during World War II and awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. “She brought great joy to all who knew her and to millions who knew her only as a great artist,” Roosevelt said. “She loved her country. She is and always will be a star, one we shall never forget, nor cease to be grateful to.”

The Waynedale News Staff
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