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Powell, Palm Springs...and Gable as a guest



This likely is the last time Carole Lombard and William Powell were photographed together, in January 1940 at the new Sunset Strip nightspot Ciro's. Lombard had married Clark Gable the year before, while Powell -- her first husband -- had just married actress Diana Lewis on Jan. 6.

Nevertheless, Bill and Carole had remained close friends following their 1933 divorce, and it paid off for both. Three years later, Powell endorsed Lombard as his leading lady for the screwball gem "My Man Godfrey," and both received Academy Award nominations. In 1937 and '38, Bill, already down after the death of his lover Jean Harlow, took ill with rectal cancer and Carole was among the friends who guided the actor back to health, through things like having him reprise his "Godfrey" role in a May 1938 "Lux Radio Theater" adaptation.



Soon after their marriage, the Powells purchased this home at 383 West Vereda Norte in Palm Springs, a house that had been built in the mid-1930s:



Initially designed as a summer retreat, the couple soon moved there full-time (Lewis retired from acting in 1943 and Powell, entering his fifties, cut back on his film work), and Powell would call it home until his death in March 1984. Here's the couple at home in the 1940s:



Did Lombard visit her ex's new digs in 1940 or '41? The chances are good, especially if she and Gable, who also liked Powell, made it a joint visit. But I myself have no substantive proof.

However, many years later, Gable dropped by Powell's home, as this pic makes evident:



This photo is said to be from 1958 or 1959, roughly the 25th anniversary of the Lombard husbands' lone film together, "Manhattan Melodrama." (It also was Bill's initial collaboration with famed partner Myrna Loy.) Gable's seated with fifth wife Kay Williams, while Lewis is above and between them, next to Powell. At right is longtime producer-director Mervyn LeRoy, who directed Lombard in "Fools For Scandal."

I'm certain Carole came up among the stories told by the three men...and I like to think that somewhere, Lombard smiled at seeing both of her husbands in the same room.

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