July 6th, 2011

carole lombard 03
  • vp19

Carole and the chief

"...on Dec. 29, 1940, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard arrived in Washington. They saw most of the things everyday tourists did -- the Capitol, the Washington Monument, Mount Vernon -- and some off-limits to said tourists, such as being in an audience of 20 in the White House when President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave one of his 'fireside chats' that night, specifically his famed 'arsenal of democracy' speech where the U.S. pledged its support of Britain (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/73489.html). The two actors reportedly had a half-hour conversation with FDR after the speech.

"However, try as I might, I have yet to come across a photo of the Gables with Roosevelt..."

-- "Carole & Co." entry, Dec. 29, 2010

Thankfully, someone else did come across a photo of Roosevelt with one of the Gables.

Give credit to those "golden age dames" at "An Elegant Obsession" for tracking this down (http://goldenagedames.wordpress.com/2011/07/04/happy-july-4th/). They say it's "from the La Guardia and Wagner Archives." Not sure who the other two men in the photo are, but I believe one of them is Secretary of State Cordell Hull.

It's rather surprising this photo is so rare, given Roosevelt's importance to American history and Lombard's status as a Hollywood icon. The way media is run today, this would have been all over the wires and press syndicates, and likely would have been on many newspaper front pages. (Then again, that might have diminished the impact of what the speech was about, one of the most important of FDR's fireside chats: aid to Britain during its most severe time of crisis.) I've never seen the picture in any Lombard biography, either.

Might there also be a photo of Roosevelt with Gable? Possibly, although Clark, relatively apolitical compared to his wife, might have been reluctant to pose with the president...especially since his boss, MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer, was a devout Republican probably still smarting from FDR's rout of his beloved Herbert Hoover eight years before. Carole, who had a nominal contract with RKO, had no such worries.

I hope Lombard received a copy of this photo, commemorating a moment she certainly cherished. And less than 13 months after it was taken, Roosevelt was eulogizing Carole for her service to her country.

  • Current Mood
    thankful thankful