Rated as the ‘Queen of Screwball Comedies’, at her height in the 1930’s and early 1940’s, she was one of the highest paid actresses. Hits included ‘My Man Godfrey’ and ‘Twentieth Century’ Lombard was described by those who knew her as warm and unaffected by her fame. She also had a love of practical jokes and a dirty mouth (my kind of girl).
It it impossible to mention Lombard without mentioning her grand amour Clarke Gable. Initially they disliked each other (she gave him a joint of ham with a picture of Gable on saying that he was a ‘ham’ he gave her a pair of ballet shoes since she was a ‘diva’), after several meetings they fell in love (much to the disdain of his wife). Once his divorce was finalised, they were married and enjoyed a very un-showbiz lifestyle on a ranch in Encino, California. Lombard enjoyed her animals while Gable had his hunting. It was incident free but blissful life.
Tragically, the good times were not to last. With the outbreak of WWII Lombard became heavily involved with war effort by promoting War Bonds. In 1942, whilst touring with her mother, she decided to come back to Hollywood and Gable early (rumour has it that this was due to Gable working on a picture with famed temptress Lana Turner). Lombard and her mother squtabled if they should board this plane, Lombard’s mother a numerologist, felt that they should not take this plane while Lombard disagreed. After a fateful coin toss, Lombard won, everyone boarded and took off. Sadly the plane crashed into a mountain killing everyone on board. Lombard was only 33. Hollywood mourned her loss, Gable never fully recovered from the loss of his beloved wife, enlisting to take his mind off of his loss (plus Lombard had pressured Gable to do his patriotic duty). President Franklin Roosevelt awarded the Medal of Freedom posthumously (making her the first American woman to die in the line of duty).
Hollywood has had and lost many blonde beauties, plenty who died young. None have been celebrated and missed like Lombard and I doubt that anyone will ever come close to filling her shoes.