Today marks the 75th anniversary of one of the most tragic, and pivotal, days in Carole Lombard's life. For it was on Sept. 2, 1934 that singer/songwriter/bandleader Russ Columbo, to whom she was romantically linked at the time, died in a freak accident where a spark set off a Civil War-era gun at the home of his friend Lansing Brown.
We've written about Columbo before (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/64989.html), who some say was ready to announce his engagement to Carole at the time of his death. Would she have married him? And would such a marriage have succeeded over the long term?
As was the case with Clark Gable, (whom of course, she actually married), some biographers have their doubts; letters between Columbo and Lombard (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/11717.html) indicate that Russ viewed Carole with as much worship as affection, and perhaps this made the more down-to-earth Lombard a bit uneasy. (Later, Lombard would say of him, "His love for me was the kind that rarely comes to any woman," and though she viewed him with affection, there likely was a double edge to that remark.)
Due to Columbo's early passing (he was 26 at the time of his death) he is relatively forgotten today, although things might be different had he been portrayed by Tom Cruise in a rumored film where Michelle Pfeiffer, then at the peak of her luminosity, would have played Lombard (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/48480.html). Fortunately, Russ' music can still be enjoyed; while he's often compared to Bing Crosby, one of his contemporaries, Columbo's style is far more dramatic, less jazz-oriented.
Here's Russ performing from his final film, "Wake Up And Dream." First, "Too Beautiful For Words":
Then, "Let's Pretend There's A Moon" (with June Knight, who's probably best known for introducing "I've Got A Feelin' You're Foolin'" in "Broadway Melody Of 1936"):
Third, "When You're In Love" (and watch for Andy Devine in the supporting cast):
Finally, a reprise of "Too Beautiful For Words":
The clips show Columbo would have had some success in movies; while he lacked Crosby's ease, he certainly could have found his own niche in films.