It's the morning of March 29, 1939, and Carole Lombard and Clark Gable are leaving Los Angeles, heading to a wedding rendezvous in Kingman, Ariz. While Clark drives, Carole, in the front passenger seat, pulls out that morning's copy of the Los Angeles Examiner and begins reading.
Clark: So what does Louella say today?
Carole: Hold your horses, Pa -- you know there's a lot of other things going on in the world right now. The talks between Poland and Germany over Danzig, for instance. But I'll get to it. (A minute or two passes by, and Lombard finally turns to the entertainment section.)
Clark: You don't think she knows?
Carole: (Laughs) About us? No, mum's the word -- haven't told a soul outside family. And looking at Louella here, it's apparent she doesn't know, either. Neither did Hedda in the Times I saw before I left.
Clark: Good. What does she say?
Carole: You're not in it, but I am. It concerns that British nursing property RKO has for me down the road, "Vigil In The Night."
Clark: A.J. Cronin?
Carole: Yep, the "Citadel" guy. You know, they've been looking for an actress to play my younger sister. At first, RKO was talking about Ginger Rogers co-starring with me.
Clark: Might've been interesting.
Carole: (Chuckles) As Jean Harlow, rest her soul, used to say to you, snap out of it, Fred. It's a supporting role, and Ginger's grown out of that now.
Clark: True, but I'm concentrating on my driving; fortunately, the sun isn't in my eyes anymore. Anyway, who are they talking about now in the part?
Carole: Wendy Hiller, you know, the actress who played Eliza in "Pygmalion" opposite your Ashley, Leslie Howard, and got the Oscar nomination. RKO just gave her a screen test in England.
Clark: And you didn't know about it?
Carole: Right now, when it comes to non-wedding stuff, I've been concentrating on "In Name Only." It'll be fun finally co-starring with Cary.
Clark: Leslie's told me a lot of good things about "Pygmalion," which I really should see one of these days. You're more the Shaw expert than I am. You choosing him for that list of 10 men outside of Hollywood in Look last year...
Carole: Hey, Shaw visited San Simeon a few years back, and Marion Davies loved him. And any friend of Marion's a friend of mine.
Clark: So, what else does Louella say about this?
Carole: I quote: "Let's have brunette Wendy Hiller with the blonde Carole if RKO can get her," end of quote.
Clark: That and five cents...
The couple continues driving eastward.
That information actually did run in Louella Parsons' column that morning. I don't have the Examiner on hand, but here's how it appeared in the Minneapolis Tribune:
Hiller, born in August 1912, decided to remain in England instead of heading to Hollywood, and stayed there throughout the war. Primarily a stage actress who did occasional films, she also appeared in the movie adaptation of Shaw's "Major Barbara" and in later UK classics such as "I Know Where I'm Going." She was later named a Dame for her stage, screen and television achievements and died in 2003.
And, as we all know, the role of the younger sister went to someone born Dawn Evelyeen Paris in 1918, who gained some renown as a child actress named Dawn O'Day, then changed it to Anne Shirley -- the name of the role she played in the film "Anne Of Green Gables" -- in 1934. Her best-known film is probably "Stella Dallas," for which she gained an Academy Award best supporting actress nomination, but she retired from acting after making "Murder, My Sweet" in 1944. She died July 4, 1993.
To close, a few more photos from Tally Haugen of Clark and Carole at the press conference at Lombard's home on St. Cloud Road (their Encino ranch home was still being worked on) the day after the wedding: