Today, 76 years ago, Carole Lombard made what would be her last public appearance -- visiting Indianapolis, capital of her home state of Indiana, to rally citizens in the nation's first bond rally of World War II. While America had been building up its readiness since war broke out in Europe in September 1939, full-force mobilization didn't occur until after Dec. 7, 1941 and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
Now, little more than a month later, Lombard -- who as 9-year-old Jane Alice Peters watched film stars speak to sell bonds at rallies in Los Angeles during much of 1918 -- was herself cast in that role, one that meant much to her as an American. And did she ever deliver...
...alas, at the cost of her life the following night in Nevada. (I believe this headline is from a newspaper published Jan. 16, though I'm not certain which one.)
For today's entry, I thank midwesterner Brian Lee Anderson, who's done plenty of research in recent months on the final few months of Lombard's life, with hopes of converting it into a book.
Carole, her mother Elizabeth Peters and MGM publicist Otto Winkler, a longtime friend of both Lombard and husband Clark Gable, spent the night of Jan. 14-15 at the Claypool Hotel, the largest in Indianapolis:
While the Claypool was razed nearly half a century ago following a huge fire in June 1967, the furniture from Lombard's suite that fateful night was preserved and can be seen elsewhere in the city:
The Indianapolis Propylaeum, a nonprofit civic site at 1410 North Delaware Street in the city's Old Northside historic district (https://www.thepropylaeum.org/). The organization ("propylaeum" is Greek for "gateway") moved to its current site in 1923.
The Propylaeum acquired some of the furniture from Lombard's suite, and it's on display for public viewing. Here's the bed Carole slept in:
Note the pineapple fixture on each bedpost. In happier times, that might have reminded Lombard of her 1931 Hawaiian honeymoon with William Powell, but in early '42, she likely thought of the devastating "day of infamy" at the U.S. naval base the previous month:
Also shown is a chest of drawers and a writing desk:
Atop the chest is a photo of Carole and Clark, to remind those too young to have known of them or non-classic Hollywood fans. (Sadly, many do exist.)
For proof these items are from the hotel...
The Propylaeum, which can be rented for weddings and other gala events, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, and its tea room serves lunch from 11 to 2. For more information, check the website listed above or phone 317-638-7881.