Lombard was born Jane Alice Peters in Fort Wayne, Indiana on October
6, 1908. Her parents divorced in 1916 and Carole's mother took
the family on a trip out West. While there they decided to settle
down in the Los Angeles area in California. After being spotted
playing baseball in the street with the neighborhood boys by a
film director, Carole was signed to a one picture contract in
1921 when she was 12. The film in question was A
PERFECT CRIME. Although she tried for other acting jobs, she
would not be seen again for four years. For the time being she
returned to a normal life, going to school and participating in
athletics at which she was very good particularly track and field.
At 15, Carole had had enough of school and quit. She joined a
theater troupe and played in several stage shows, which were for
the most part nothing to write home about. In 1925, she passed
a screen test and was signed to a contract with 20th Century Fox.
Her first role as a Fox player was HEARTS
AND SPURS where she had the lead. Right after that film Carole
appeared in a western called DURAND
OF THE BADLANDS. She rounded out 1925 in the comedy MARRIAGE
Other films that year included a number of shorts.
In 1926, Carole was seriously injured in an automobile accident
which left the left side of her face scarred. Once she had recovered,
Fox canceled her contract. She did find work in a number of shorts
during 1928 (thirteen of them), but did go back for a one time
shot with Fox called ME,
GANGSTER. By now, the film industry was moving from the silent
era to "talkies". While some had their careers end due
to sound, Carole made a very smooth transition. Her first film
with sound was HIGH
VOLTAGE with Pathe (her new studio employer) in 1929. In 1931,
Carole was teamed with William Powell in MAN
OF THE WORLD. (In fact, she married Powell, but the union
was a failure with a divorce in 1933). NO
MAN OF HER OWN (1932) put Carole opposite Clark Gable for
the first and only time. (They married in seven years later in
1939). By now she was with Paramount Studios and was one of their
top stars. But it was 1934's TWENTIETH
CENTURY that showed her true comedic talents and proved to
the world what a fine actress she really was.
In 1936, Carole
received her only Oscar nomination for Best Actress in MY
MAN GODFREY. As Irene Bullock, she was superb in the role.
Unfortunately, the coveted award went to Luise Ranier in THE GREAT
ZIEGFELD which also won for Best Picture. She was now working
about one film a year at her choosing, because she wanted any
role she picked to be a good one. She was very adept at picking
just the right part. And why not? She was smart enough to see
through the good-ol-boy syndrome of the studio moguls. She commanded
and received one of the top salaries in the business. At one time
it was reported she was making $35, 000 a week.
She made but one
film in 1941, that being MR. & MRS. SMITH. Her last film was in 1942, when Carole
played Maria Tura in TO
BE OR NOT TO BE. She did not live to see its release. Finished
in 1941 at the time the US entered World War II, Carole went home
to Indiana for a war bond rally. On January 16, 1942, Carole,
her mother, and 20 other people were flying back to California
when the plane went down outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. All perished.
The highly acclaimed comedy actress was dead at the age of 33
and few have been able to match her talents since.
by Denny Jackson
World War II and after her death a Liberty ship was named after
1926 auto accident badly cut her face. Advanced plastic surgery
and adroit use of make-up covered the scars.
romantically to crooner
Russ Columbo until his accidental death late in 1934.
was listed in the credits of Safety in Numbers (1930), her first
Paramount release, as Carole (instead of Carol as in her previous
billings). They decided that this would now be the official spelling
and she went along with it. She legally changed her name to Carole
Lombard in 1936. Only in her first film, Perfect Crime, A (1921)
did she use her real name, Jane Peters.
at Forest Lawn, Glendale, California, USA, in the Great Mausoleum,
Sanctuary of Trust, on the left hand side, next to Clark Gable.
cousin of director Howard
cousin of Kenneth Hawks.
of her marriages were childless.
of Athole Shearer.
of Dee Hartford.
natural tomboy with athletic prowess and spirit far exceeding
her size (Jane Alice Peters was a petite child who achieved a
towering 5' 2", with shoes) the future screen star frequently
joined her brothers in roughhousing.