July 3rd, 2007

carole lombard 01
  • vp19

Lombard and Powell -- lovers and friends

Carole Lombard may be better known as a William Powell leading lady in "reel life" (most notably in "My Man Godfrey") than one in real life. But they were indeed husband and wife from 1931 to 1933, and it turned out that they were better suited as friends than as lovers. What's remarkable is that after their divorce, they remained amazingly amicable, helping each other out professionally (Powell insisted that Lombard play opposite him in "Godfrey," and it paid off; both received Academy Award nominations) and personally (Powell became severely ill not long after lover Jean Harlow passed away in mid-1937, and Lombard was among those who helped steer Bill back to health). Powell eventually married MGM player Diana Lewis, who remained his wife until his death in 1984.

Down the road, we'll do an entry on "Godfrey" and the other two films Bill and Carole made together, "Man Of The World" and "Ladies' Man." For now, how about a few off-screen pix of the debomair Mr. Powell and the lovely Lombard?

Here's a pic from the December 1933 Photoplay, issued a few months after their divorce. The caption says, "Carole said their divorce was a friendly one, and we believe it!" (Ironically, Lombard cited "cruelty" as her reason for a divorce.) It continues: "Friends of the couple are predicting that Carole and Bill will merge again, but they won't say when." As it turned out, the only merging was at the end of "My Man Godfrey" -- and, of course, those characters were fictional.

While Lombard and Powell couldn't "keep the music playing," to borrow a title from a song written nearly half a century later, they indeed remained "the best of friends."