Autumn 1940 is approaching, and chances are when thoughts turn to Carole Lombard, they more often than not are in the context of her husband Clark Gable, only a few months removed from his triumph as Rhett Butler in "Gone With The Wind." Some of it was because of the films Lombard had been making since the start of 1939, quality dramas in which she performed pretty well but not the Carole that had caught the fancy of the public -- the beloved madcap of 1934 ("Twentieth Century") through '37 ("Nothing Sacred," "True Confession"). Part of it was Lombard herself; now in her early thirties, she was temporarily subjugating herself to Gable, eying her future as a mother before re-establishing herself one way or another.
In the midst of this, a magazine called Movie Stars Parade hit the newsstands with its autumn 1940 issue:
The cover featured Gable and his three co-stars in MGM's "Boom Town" -- Claudette Colbert (her first teaming with Clark since "It Happened One Night"), longtime Gable pal Spencer Tracy, and European import Hedy Lamarr (who won the respect of a skeptical Lombard by making no amorous advances towards Clark).
Inside were profiles of some of the day's current stars, including Lombard. Here, through the fine site DearMrGable.com, is what readers saw as temperatures, and leaves, began to fall:
A few nice shots, and a splendid lead: "Zestful is the word for this lithe and vital lady who has, and conveys, such abounding joie de vivre." There are several errors, mind you; the caption of the picture of her with William Powell states they married in 1929, when it actually came two years later. As was often the case elsewhere, Lombard's birth year was moved a year ahead to 1909, and in the ever-uncertain argument over Carole's height, she's shown here on the short side at 5-foot-2.
No matter -- the name page, a stunningly beautiful sepia portrait, more than makes up for it:
While no photo credit is listed, there's more than a 50-50 chance this was taken by Ernest Bachrach, RKO's longtime photographer. (Lombard was in the midst of her contract with the studio.)
All in all, a reminder to the public that Carole Lombard was more than Mrs. Clark Gable.