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carole lombard 01

Clark and Carole star in Love Field

Posted by vp19 on 2012.09.03 at 19:39
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

Carole Lombard was in a potentially awkward situation in December 1939 when "Gone With The Wind" made its long-awaited, triumphant debut. As the wife of Clark Gable, she certainly had to attend, and as a film aficionado herself (not to mention someone who harbored eventual producing ambitions of her own), it was something she clearly wanted to see. But when she was passed over for the role of Scarlett O'Hara, that more or less ended her participation in the project -- though as Gable's wife, she regularly came by the set during production.

So she dutifully tagged along with Clark and the "GWTW" party as they left Los Angeles for Atlanta. In those days, long-distance air travel was comparable to its rail counterpart, albeit quicker, so the trip featured a few stops along the way. One of them would be at Love Field in Dallas on Thursday, Dec. 14, as the Dallas Morning News reported the day before:

And that Thursday morning, they indeed arrived, and Clark and Carole were photographed as they left the plane:

From there, it was on to the airport cafe, and thanks to Metroplex native Carole Sampeck of The Lombard Archive, we have a report of what happened from the now-defunct Dallas Times-Herald:

"H.C. McGregor experienced the biggest business at his D&M Cafe Thursday morning that he has had in years. The lunchroom is located in rear of the passenger terminal at Love Field and Mr. McGregor was host to Clark Gable and Carole Lombard and about 1,000 autograph hunters who tried to crowd their way into the place. The movie stars signed their names while they tried to drink a little coffee. They are shown in the photograph above, flanked bya couple of press agents for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and a reporter. From left to right are James Lovell, Times Herald reporter; Howard Strickling, publicitor; Mr. Gable, Miss Lombard and Otto Winkler, publicitor. Probably imbued with the fantastic record behind the production of the $1,000,000 picture, 'Gone With the Wind,' Mr. Strickling left $2 on the counter for the four cups of coffee. The reporter got his glass of water on the house."

"The two stars are shown below in a closeup just before they left the airport."

And that look on Lombard...it's one of the few times she ever appeared visibly annoyed on camera. Perhaps the coffee wasn't very good.

The Times Herald also printed a story, and thanks to Sampeck, here's how it read:



By Jimmy Lovell

Rhett Butler, personified by Clark Gable, stopped in Dallas Thursday morning en route by plane to Atlanta for a rendezvous with Scarlett O'Hara, the Southern Civil War heroine, who was created for the screen by an English girl, Vivian [sic] Leigh.

"Gone With the Wind," Margaret Mitchell's story of the trouble between the states, is having its world premiere Friday evening in Atlanta and the stars of the cast are being assembled from the four corners of the country.

Miss Leigh preceded Mr. Gable into the Georgia metropolis Wednesday by another route. Lesser known among the players, the financial angels of the production and high ranking technical assistants will be on hand after trips from New York and Hollywood.

Wife Comes Along

The male star of the picture reached Dallas Thursday morning at 9:09 o'clock, accompanied by two press representatives from the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio, and by Carole Lombard, his wife. Howard Strickling and Otto Winkler were from the studio staff and Nelson Milliken of the Los Angeles American Airlines office also is making the trip.

Crews of the special charter plane from American Airlines were changed here and the plane reserviced. Neale Fitzgerald, Squabby Vine and Stewardess Betty McLaughlin took the plane out. Jim Ingram, W.R. Hunt and Stewardess Lucille Snyder brought the ship in. It left for Atlanta after a twenty-minute layover, and stops at Nashville.

About 2,000 admirers of the Hollywood celebrities were on hand at Love Field to greet the players when they emerged from the plane. Most of them dogged the celebrities during the entire stopover, by crowding into a small cafe at the rear of the airport terminal and interrupting the coffee session with requests for autographs.

Lombard Is Gracious

It was notable that Miss Lombard signed all of her autographs "Carole Gable." She took good-naturedly the obvious preference of the crowd for her handsome husband, most of the women asking Mr. Gable to "have your wife sign it, too." He tactfully suggested they take up the matter with her.

The trip really belongs to Mr. Gable, however, as Miss Lombard is between pictures and is just going along for the ride. It is interesting to recall, too, that Miss Lombard was one of the stars most frequently mentioned for the role of Scarlett. She shrugged off attempts to talk on this subject, saying she was a "nonpaying guest" on the trip. She has just completed "Vigil In The Night" and contemplates acceptance of an offer from Columbia. For his part, Mr. Gable must rush right back to Hollywood and report Monday for work on "Strange Cargo," in which Joan Crawford is to be co-starred.

Wardrobe Trouble

Mr. Gable recalled a previous visit of his to Dallas when the crowd at Love Field was so immense the plane had difficulty in landing, and, in fact, took off hurriedly for a jump to Fort Worth so the star could get his clothes back in shape. Thursday morning he was still having wardrobe trouble, but not from over-zealous star hunters. He hadn't put on his shirt when the plane reached Dallas, so the ship had to make an extra trip about the field while he fixed his tie and became presentable enough for an appearance before his public.

The director of Mr. Gable and of Miss Leigh in "Gone with the Wind" was not on the Thursday morning ship as scheduled. He is Victor Fleming, close friend of the late Douglas Fairbanks. Mr. Fleming remained in Hollywood to attend the funeral of the star of silent days.

Lombard was no stranger to Love Field, either. In January 1935, she and personal secretary Madalynne Fields traveled to Miami and Havana (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/357812.html, http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/152746.html), and on Feb. 2, they made a stopover in Dallas.

On the 15th, the Dallas Morning News gave its account of the stopover:

So Lombard handled a potentially ticklish situation with her usual aplomb, and because of it probably won a few more fans in her own right.

Incidentally, Sampeck reports that despite being in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, she has never tracked down one of those 1939 "Carole Gable" autographs.

This week's LiveJournal header shows Lombard in her final Pathe film, teaming with Robert Armstrong in 1929's "The Racketeer."


lombardarchive at 2012-09-04 00:51 (UTC) (Link)
Wasn't her character name in Racketeer one of the worst ever? I recall surname of Philpott (!!!) and cannot remember the first name, but I do remember it as being particularly lugubrious. Regina? Perhaps.

There's a local radio show here in Dallas (duh) which has a demographic in the 60+ range. One (and regrettably, ONLY one) time an older lady called in with her recollection of meeting the Gables at Love Field and getting autographs. I tried valiantly to contact her via the radio station -- with their help -- but to no avail.

As W. C. Fields would put it so succinctly, "DRAT!"

Hope all you folks had a safe and memorable Labor Day.


Carole Sampeck
The Carole Lombard Archive
vp19 at 2012-09-04 01:05 (UTC) (Link)
Her character's name was Rhoda Philbrooke, one of the two most ridiculous names a Lombard character was saddled with. (The other? Penelope Newbold in "No One Man," which at least was adapted from a Rupert Hughes novel.)
lombardarchive at 2012-09-04 01:06 (UTC) (Link)
I love it that the Civil War is referred to as the "trouble between the states."
hazel_flagg at 2012-09-05 16:58 (UTC) (Link)
Clark and Carole signatures on one page seems to be pretty rare. You wouldn't think so but I haven't come across them very often. There was a scrapbook that someone kept on the Atlanta GWTW premiere--someone that attended the balls, dinners, etc, as the book included ticket stubs, programs and invitations--that had virtually all those attending the premiere signatures in it. It had Clark and Carole signed side by side (I believe Carole signed "Carole Lombard Gable"). The only time in recent memory I have seen such a thing.
Martin Turnbull
Martin Turnbull at 2012-09-05 21:52 (UTC) (Link)
Whenever I see photo of people getting off planes during this era, it never ceases to amaze me how well dressed and groomed they are. Suits, ties, collars, perfect hair and make up. And the flights these people were taking were longer and less comfortable than they are nowadays!
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