When Carole Lombard died at the age of 34 in a plane crash following a World War II war bond drive, the American film industry lost one of its most talented and intelligent actresses. Starting out in silent films as a Mack Sennett bathing beauty, she later epitomized screwball comedy in Twentieth Century (1934); My Man Godfrey (1936), for which she was Oscar nominated as Irene Bullock, with ex-husband William Powell as Godfrey; and Nothing Sacred (1937), playing the not-so-doomed Hazel Flagg. But Lombard was also a capable dramatic actress whose talents can be seen in her subdued performance as a nurse in one of her final roles, in Vigil in the Night (1940), as well as in The Eagle and the Hawk (1933), In Name Only (1939) and They Knew What They Wanted (1940). Other fine appearances include teaming with Fred MacMurray in several films, the best of which are Hands Across the Table (1935) and The Princess Comes Across (1936), in which Lombard does a humorously accurate Greta Garbo takeoff. Her two final films contain two of her best performances: Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1940) and the Ernst Lubitsch war satire, To Be or Not To Be (1942). She was married to William Powell from 1931-33 and to Clark Gable from 1939 til her death.
Biography by Rovi
- Discovered at age 12 by silent-film director Allen Dwan while playing baseball with neighborhood children.
- Had a facial scar from a 1925 car accident.
- Remained good friends with ex-husband William Powell after their divorce; they starred together in 1936's My Man Godfrey.
- Nicknamed "the Profane Angel" because of her penchant for swearing.
- Sold war bonds during World War II, and died in a plane crash (along with her mother) in 1942 on her way home from a campaign; President Roosevelt publicly eulogized her and posthumously awarded her the Medal of Freedom.
- Her last film, To Be or Not to Be, was released after her death.