vp19 (vp19) wrote in carole_and_co,

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Back home in Indiana? Not for this

Here's Clark Gable and Carole Lombard when they met the press in Los Angeles on March 30, 1939, the day after their marriage in Kingman, Ariz. But where the screen couple spent their honeymoon has become the stuff of urban legend.

Some maintain that Clark and Carole honeymooned at the Oatman Hotel in Arizona, something that's been shown as a myth (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/28809.html) -- but that's not the only place they supposedly spent time as newlyweds.

This is Lake Barbee, one of a chain of seven small lakes in northeast Indiana. It's a resort area for people in that region, sort of Indiana's equivalent of Lake Okoboji in Iowa. Anyway, I'll step aside and let a Hoosier named Joe explain everything, in an entry he did called "Carole Lombard Didn't Sleep Here":

While I was preparing for my garage sale, one of the association board members dropped off my summer maintenance fees and mistook a picture on the cover of a book about Bette Davis as that of Carole Lombard. “She and Clark Gable spent their honeymoon at Lake Barbee at the hotel there near Warsaw you know.”

I was hot, tired and not in the mood to argue local urban legends so I took my bill and excused myself to go off in search of iced tea.

I had heard this story before, many times. Even the Barbee Hotel website boasts of the Hollywood star’s honeymoon there. There are countless references regarding this Indiana link to Lombard on the Internet and quite a few which recall various visits she made to her hometown of Fort Wayne; One even suggests that the location of what is now Chappell’s Coral Grill was once a pharmacy owned by a Lombard relative and that she frequently visited the site when she returned home and is supposed to haunt the building now. Her childhood home on Rockhill in West Central is a Bed & Breakfast now and source after source recounts tales of Lombard attending the unveiling of the historical plaque on the front of the house.

Nice star stories –- the problem is … they’re all untrue. Lombard only returned to Indiana twice after her mother whisked her to California in 1914: Once in 1930 on her way to New York and then again to Indianapolis in 1942. She was barely a starlet when she spent June 17-18, 1930 in Fort Wayne. Her visit was covered by the
Journal Gazette in detail even though big screen stardom was still a few years away for her.

When she eloped with Clark Gable in 1939 during a break in the filming of 'Gone With The Wind,' they returned from Arizona to Hollywood, spent a few days at a ranch Gable had fallen in love with and bought and then he was back on the set. With every Hollywood reporter watching their every move, a long journey back to Lake Barbee would not have gone unnoticed. As for the dedication of the plaque on the house where she was born and spent her childhood, there is no record, locally or in her detailed itineraries, that she was anywhere else but Hollywood on January 1, 1938.

Her 1942 trip to Indianapolis was to sell WWII war bonds. There was no stop in Fort Wayne. She was killed flying back to Hollywood when her plane crashed near Las Vegas.

As bright a star as Lombard would become, she is truly one of Fort Wayne’s native legends … but her so called “return visits” and her honeymoon with Gable on an Indiana lake are simply urban legends.

The entry is at http://ataylormadelife.com/blog1/?p=704

Since it's been documented that Gable and Lombard met the press on March 30, 1939, the logistics would have made it impossible (not to mention illogical) for the couple to go from a small Arizona town on the 28th to a remote Indiana lake and back to L.A. in a 48-hour span. Hey, it'd be tough to do that now, and we have jet aircraft and interstate highways.

And the plaque story? Carole saw it, but in California, before it was shipped east.

It's entirely possible Carole Lombard did visit Lake Barbee...when she was a little girl named Jane Alice Peters on family outings from Fort Wayne. But after she, her mother and brothers left for California in 1914, the answer is no; the only Warsaws in Lombard's life were the fictional Vermont town in "Nothing Sacred" and the war-torn Polish capital in "To Be Or Not To Be."

Perhaps Lombard's spirit has taken Gable's ghost to Lake Barbee. I'm sure they would enjoy the sunsets.


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