I’ve read that Carole once referred to Russ as “the great love of my life” off-the-record to a reporter, but I’m curious about how accurate that statement was, if it did indeed take place. Personally, I believe this statement stemmed from a mix of love, nostalgia, and pity, especially after reading about her motherly affection for him, not even counting her love for Gable, and her refusal to marry Russ every time he asked. (Contrary to popular relief, the two were not engaged at the time of his death.) But who knows? Anyway, under the cut are a few lenghty, pleading letters from Russ to Carole, and even one from Carole herself, attempting to calm him down! I also included part of Carole's statement to Movie Classic abour Russ' death.
Fieldsie seems to have known quite a great deal about your love for me when she takes it upon herself to say it was merely physical and did I think for one minute that you fell in love with my mind. Well--darling--that's a lot to take from someone else--supposedly speaking your mind or thoughts.
You wouldn't have the least bit of respect for me if I did take it. In other words--as I gathered from Fieldsie--I should have felt perfectly contented to take love as it was and enjoyed it and cherished the sweetness and loveliness when it was all over. Well--that's all nice and lovely--if I had known that you wanted me just that way, but I gathered from our earlier meetings that you wanted me for always....
There was nothing too great or too small that I wouldn't have done for you--I loved you more than anything in this world--this life--You said the same thing to me many times but you proved otherwise...
You wouldn't have done so many things if you had such a great and fine love for me. For instance--your spending that week-end at the Beverly House with Bill [William Powell]--You know what resulted. Not satisfied with a severe lesson you were taught by the Almighty for being unfaithful...I knew right along it happened after that week-end party--especially when Bill called you that one nite one week or two later. I forgave you--because I loved you. I know how you felt about Bill being so unhappy because he had lost you--and that was your opportunity to prove to him that you still cared for him a great deal--so much for that...
Letters to my Great Love--
The Ideal of my dreams--Perfection of woman--she is--at times Yet--at times--she is so naughty.
My Dearest One: My Angel--
In this world of artificiality and superficiality, it may not seem quite sane to say--
I worship you as the ancient worshipped their gods and goddesses. I have placed you on a pedestal, yes, and there I shall always keep you in my heart and soul, as my goddess--my infinite ideal. My dream come true. My love for you is so great sometimes--that it almost crushes the very life out of me. It creates a new being inside--a greater and more beautiful soul and sometimes from the spirit of God, I receive a message that you have been unfaithful--I don't exist any more. You crush all--my life and my being becomes dormant as a dead person's.
If I could express in words, verbally to you how I know about your doings with him, B. [Powell], you would doubt me--why do you doubt me and say it is not true when God in my very soul speaks the truth and it is always revealed--without error.
Remember, my Angel--
Faithfulness, Loyalty, Truthfulness and Honesty are the "Four Horsemen" of Love.
My Darling--My Angel--
Why do we have to discuss this thing any further?
You seem to have your ideas about our love as to how it should develop, and the conditions of complication should eventually eliminate themselves. But Angel, don't you realize that you are quite satisfied and content to go on like this and I am not. No two people in love have ever dared to take love as we have. Of course, Angel, not willingly have I stood for this sort of treatment for so long but merely because my love for you is so great that I have overlooked the smaller and, yes, very vital things.
If two people are so madly in love with each other as we are, why can't they be together constantly? For what reason should they be separated? None, my Darling, except for the selfishness on your part of trying to keep your love as well balanced as possible.
You know definitely in your own mind that mentally I do not meet your certain requirements, so therefore you must look elsewhere for that. Physically you adore me and love me madly. But Angel, this is not a great love on your part. For if you loved me as greatly as I love you, there would be no requirement that you might demand from me, for a great love between man and woman demands nothing.
It just happens. Two people fall desperately in love. Nothing is too great or too small to sacrifice. If you loved me as you say you do, you would give up this great mental companionship with so and so.
Oh Angel, I do pray to God that you will come to your senses soon and realize that either your love for me must surpass all these little foolish pastimes and give all, or we must go our different ways and I shall forget you.
I love you with my heart, mind, body, and soul. That covers everything, darling. Whatever problem or difficulty that arises that must be worked out or solved, we must do together, dear. We must progress together. We must learn and help each other in different ways and yet be divinely happy in doing so. This is mine and probably the rest of the world's proper idea of a great existing love between two human beings.
Oh, I do pray that you will see it God's way. That is the only way it should be.
Oh my Angel--
I'm not exactly sober but always know exactly what I'm doing, and the brain is always alert and active. I finally concluded and confirmed my own thoughts about the carryings on with B--I know, darling, exactly why you're so attentive and charming to him.
I realize and have known for quite some time that you are quite extravagant and live rather lavishly, and a bit too luxuriously for the amount of money you earn, and so you must get it elsewhere.
Don't misunderstand me if I say merely that you are playing with B. very wisely and always to protect yourself and what's more--security and good security.
That is why it is so difficult for you to choose between love and an assured, comfortable, and luxurious living. That is why I said tonight that this certain quality that you have must be hereditary. It is not the beautiful and divine Carole that I love, but the superficial and artificial person that does not even exist in my heart and soul for a minute.
Oh My Darling--
Why do you make it so difficult? You know exactly what I mean when I say that we are so unlike other lovers.
From now on it has to be different. I must see you every nite and there must be a stop put to all this unreasonable amount of foolishness and selfishness on your part. All I ask is that you be fair and return the love I give to you.
We must be together always--every day--darling--as lovers should be, together, constantly.
I do pray and hope that you will see it this way--the only way.
I don't want to do anything drastic during one of my idiotic and depressed moods--and probably go off and marry someone just for the hell of it.
We're not being fair to each other by just carrying on as we have been in the past. I must be near you and see you everyday--and nite. Is that asking too much of one whom you love so dearly with your heart and soul? I think not, my darling, and I'm sure you will see it my way, the right way.
And here's Carole's POV on "Clingy Columbo":
Oh my loved one,
I have just received your beautiful letter and poems would fail to express how full of love my heart is. So full that I am crying for joy. I love you my angel, with a great love. Dearest, I know you must think me insane and you are quite right. Your love for me has made me happier than anything. I am so grateful.
You see dear--I know that beautiful soul of yours. At times I may seem caustic and petulant. But as you said in your letter, you could express your thoughts--so much better on paper. Believe me darling, your letters and messages of love are so inspiring. They are truly great and express the real you. Sweet, I am filled with such eagerness for you to let that come forth orally. I know what it will do for you.
Dearest, I never want to hurt. On the contrary, I want only to give you love, understanding and help. I am like a mother at times. Completely filled with love, ambition, wanting you to be perfect. Guarding you and protecting you from being hurt. (Sweet, I wish you were here this second to kiss me, I miss you so.) I love you always with all my heart and soul.
Sweet, I am giving you this band ring and I want it to be a complete circle of perfect harmony and understanding.
God bless us both and may we always see his light and follow it.
I love you
Here's some press she did immediately after his death:
"His death is a terrible shock to me, as it must be to all his friends and admirers. Even though I have lost Russ, I can't feel that life is at an end. For I have a peculiar philosophy. I believe that everything that happens is determined by an inflexible Fate. The whole tragedy seems to have been a chain of circumstances leading to death. [Russ and I] felt something cataclysmic hanging over us...a peculiar apprehension. [I had a] horrible feeling the night before, a frenzy of nerves. If it hadn't seemed so utterly stupid, I would have returned home early that Sunday morning. I tried to telephone Russ, but I couldn't reach him. If I had turned back to Hollywood, Russ would have been with me. If Lansing had been able to telephone him on Saturday, Russ would not have gone to see Lansing on Sunday. Yet, I am certain that no matter what we might have done, Russ would have died that day. I am convinced that if he had not met his death though that ricocheting bullet, he would have met it some other way--in an automobile accident, perhaps. His number was up. His love for me was of the kind that rarely comes to any woman. I never expected to have such worship, such idolatry, such sweetness from any man. He told me once that his love for me was the most important thing in his life. It really was paramount in his thoughts; it even dwarfed his desire for fulfilling recognition. He was completely content to sit on an evening and just watch me, without saying a word, hardly moving. He had no life apart from me. He was lost if we were not together. No woman dares to be the one goal in a man's life. I loved Russ not only as a man, but as a mother would love her child. His death shocks me beyond words."