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Carole Lombard

Carole Lombard

Known For: Acting · Birthday: 1908-10-06

58 Movies

Biography

Carole Lombard (born Jane Alice Peters; October 6, 1908 – January 16, 1942) was an American actress, particularly noted for her energetic, often off-beat roles in screwball comedies. She was the highest-paid star in Hollywood in the late 1930s and in 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Lombard 23rd on its list of the greatest female stars of Classic Hollywood Cinema. Lombard was born into a wealthy family in Fort Wayne, Indiana, but was raised in Los Angeles by her single mother. At 12, she was recruited by director Allan Dwan and made her screen debut in A Perfect Crime (1921). Eager to become an actress, she signed a contract with the Fox Film Corporation at age 16, but mainly played bit parts. She was dropped by Fox just before her 18th birthday after a shattered windshield from a car accident left a scar on her face. Lombard appeared in fifteen short comedies for Mack Sennett between 1927 and 1929, and then began appearing in feature films such as High Voltage (1929) and The Racketeer (1929). After a successful appearance in The Arizona Kid (1930), she was signed to a contract with Paramount Pictures. Paramount quickly began casting Lombard as a leading lady, primarily in drama films. Her profile increased when she married William Powell in 1931, but the couple divorced amicably after two years. A turning point in Lombard's career came when she starred in Howard Hawks's pioneering screwball comedy Twentieth Century (1934). The actress found her niche in this genre, and continued to appear in films such as Hands Across the Table (1935) (forming a popular partnership with Fred MacMurray), My Man Godfrey (1936), for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, and Nothing Sacred (1937). At this time, Lombard married "The King of Hollywood", Clark Gable, and the supercouple gained much attention from the media. Keen to win an Oscar, Lombard began to move towards more serious roles at the end of the decade. Unsuccessful in this aim, she returned to comedy in Alfred Hitchcock's Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941) and Ernst Lubitsch's To Be or Not to Be (1942), her final film role. Lombard's career was cut short when she died at the age of 33 aboard TWA Flight 3, which crashed on Mount Potosi, Nevada, while returning from a war bond tour. Today, she is remembered as one of the definitive actresses of the screwball comedy genre and American comedy, and as an icon of American cinema.

Early Life

Childhood, family and education. Lombard was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on October 6, 1908 at 704 Rockhill Street. Christened with the name Jane Alice Peters, she was the third child and only daughter of Frederick Christian Peters (1875–1935) and Elizabeth Jayne "Bessie" (Knight) Peters (1876–1942). Her two older brothers, to each of whom she was close, both growing up and in adulthood, were Frederick Charles (1902–1979) and John Stuart (1906–1956). Lombard's parents both descended from wealthy families and her early years were lived in comfort, with the biographer Robert Matzen calling it her "silver spoon period". The marriage between her parents was strained, however, and in October 1914, her mother took the children and moved to Los Angeles. Although the couple did not divorce, the separation was permanent. Her father's continued financial support allowed the family to live without worry, if not with the same affluence they had enjoyed in Indiana, and they settled into an apartment near Venice Boulevard in Los Angeles. Described by her biographer Wes Gehring as "a free-spirited tomboy", the young Lombard was passionately involved in sports and enjoyed watching movies. At Virgil Junior High School, she participated in tennis, volleyball, and swimming, and won trophies for her achievements in athletics. At the age of 12, this hobby unexpectedly landed Lombard her first screen role. While playing baseball with friends, she caught the attention of the film director Allan Dwan, who later recalled seeing "a cute-looking little tomboy ... out there knocking the hell out of the other kids, playing better baseball than they were. And I needed someone of her type for this picture." With the encouragement of her mother, Lombard happily took a small role in the melodrama A Perfect Crime (1921). She was on set for two days, playing the sister of Monte Blue. Dwan later commented, "She ate it up".

Movies & TV Series

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