It was 66 years ago today -- Jan. 16, 1942 -- that the world lost Carole Lombard, as well as her mother, Elizabeth Peters, MGM publicist Otto Winkler, 15 Army Air Corps pilots and four others when the plane they were on crashed into a Nevada mountain, killing all aboard.
You will not see any pictures of the wreckage at this site, as we prefer not to commemorate how Carole Lombard died, but rather celebrate how she lived.
President Roosevelt's telegram to Clark Gable:
"Mrs. Roosevelt and I are deeply distressed. Carole was our friend, our guest in happier days. She brought great joy to all who knew her and to the millions who knew her only as a great artist. She gave unselfishly of her time and talent to serve her government in peace and war. She loved her country. She is and will always be a star, one we shall never forget nor cease to be grateful to."
"I am too shocked to express anything but the deepest grief."
"Carole Lombard's tragic death means that something of gaiety and beauty have been taken from the world at a time they are needed most."
"Carole Lombard died doing her job for her country. Every one of us is proud of her."
Los Angeles Times film critic Charles Champlin, in a 1970 appreciation:
"She was breathtakingly beautiful in a day which began by demanding plastic beauty of its heroes and heroines, but what would, I think, have led her to still greater stardom were the interior qualities, of wit and unaffected worldly wisdom, untrammelled spirits, honesty, directness, and what seems to have been her awareness that being free is not necessarily the same thing as being alone and that the truest freedom is within a secure love. ...
"It becomes almost impossible to judge old movies with any detachment, because we seem to see them through a scrim of our own private accretions of memory, association, and our sense of our own frail transience. But the existing achievements of Carole Lombard look stunning to our most ruthless and unsentimental eye. And that we cannot know what her ultimate triumphs might have been is not least of the sorrows of that January night above the Nevada desert."