February 8th, 2020

carole lombard 06
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A last-minute option not taken

Carole Lombard is shown near the Indiana State Capitol on Jan. 15, 1942, as she helped kick off the inaugural war bond rally of World War II. It would be her last full day on earth, as the following evening she and 21 others -- including her mother, Elizabeth Peters, and MGM publicist/chaperone Otto Winkler -- would die in a plane crash in Nevada.

We know the tragic story. But until a few days ago, many of us weren't aware that Carole apparently had a final opportunity to cheat her fate. From Vargha Mazlum, director of a documentary on Lombard focusing on her Baha'i beliefs:

This probably was at the Claypool Hotel in Indianapolis, where the Lombard party was staying, just before they were ready to leave. I'm guessing the Cabinet department contacting Carole was not the War Department, but the Department of the Treasury, which had been instructing the actress before she had left Los Angeles on Jan. 12 as well as during her stopover in Chicago two days later, where she's shown with her mother:

Why was Lombard wanted in Washington? Perhaps Treasury Department officials wanted her input on how to arrange future bond rallies. Possibly after seeing the incredibly successful results (more than $2 million in bonds sold), officials hoped to arrange more rallies for her to star in.

Whatever, Carole for now wasn't interested, preferring to get home ASAP. Was she feeling threatened (warranted or otherwise) by Lana Turner, Clark Gable's co-star in "Somewhere I'll Find You"? Turner (1921-1995), born 99 years ago today in Idaho, later would repeatedly deny any romantic involvement with Gable at this time.

It may have been for another reason, one known only to Clark and Carole and something they took to their graves.


Some more information on Holman Hamilton: Born Andrew Holman Hamilton in Fort Wayne on May 30, 1910, he was related to Lombard on her mother's side (Knight). He graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts in 1931 and nearly the next two decades worked for the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, save for the World War II years, when he was an officer.

In 1951, he began graduate study at the University of Kentucky, completing his degree in 1954. Hamilton spent 21 years as an instructor at the UK history department, writing seven books -- including a two-part biography of former president Zachary Taylor -- and also served as chairman of the editorial board at the University Press of Kentucky. (The press has published numerous books on film and media studies, including volumes on Thomas Ince, Busby Berkeley, Robert Riskin and Martha Raye.)

Hamilton was named to UK's Hall of Distinguished Alumni on April 11, 1980. He died on June 7, one week after turning 70.
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