Hollywood's unmarried husbands and wives
by Kirtley Baskette
To the outside world Clark Gable and Carole Lombard might as well be married. The gifts Carole Lombard and Clark Gable have exchanged are unorthodox. Whoever heard of a woman in love with a man giving him a gun for Christmas! Or a man, crazy about one of the most glamorous, sophisticated and clever woman in the land, hanging a gasoline scooter on her Christmas tree!
For Clark, Carole stopped, almost overnight, being a Hollywood playgirl. People are expected to change when they get married. The necessary adaptation to a new life and another personality shows up in every bride and groom. All Clark and Carole did was strike up a Hollywood twosome. Nobody said "I do!"
Clark Gable doesn't like night spots, or parties, social chit-chat, or the frothy pretensions of society. He has endured plenty of it, but it makes him fidget.
Carole, quite frankly, used to eat it up. She hosted the most charming and clever parties in town. She knew everybody, went everywhere. When the ultra exclusive, and late lamented Mayfair Club held its annual ball, Carole was picked to run things. It was Carole who decreed the now famous "White Mayfair" that Norma Shearer crossed up so wickedly by coming in flaming scarlet --- an idea you later saw dramatized by Bette Davis in "Jezebel."
These things were the caviar and cocktails of Carole Lombard's life --- before she started going with Gable. But look what happened ---
Clark didn't like it, Carole found out --- quickly. What did he like? Well, outside of hunting in wild country white men seldom entered, and white women never, he like to shoot skeet. Shooting skeet, of course, is an intricate scoring game worked out on the principle of trapshooting. It involves banging away at crazily projected clay pigeous with a shotgun.
Carole learned to shoot skeet --- not only learned it but, with the intense proficiency with which she attacks anything, rapidly became one of the best women skeet shooters in the country.
Gable likes to ride, so Carole got herself a horse and unpacked her riding things.
He liked tennis, so she resurrected her always good court game, taking lessons from Alice Marble, her good friend and the present national woman's champion. Playing with a man, Carole had to get good and she did --- so good that now Clark can't win a set!
It goes on like that. Clark, tiring of hotel life, moved out to a ranch in the San Fernando Valley. what did Carole do? She bought a Valley ranch!
Carole has practically abandoned all her Hollywood social contacts. She doesn't keep up with the girls in gossip as she used to. She doesn't throw parties that hit the headlines and the picture magazines. She and Clark are all wrapped up in each other's interests. While Gable did all the night work in "Too hot to handle," Carole, though working, too, was on his set every night. She caught the sneak preview with him and told him with all the candor of the little woman, "It's hokum, Pappy --- but the most excellent hokum!"
Like any good spouse might do, Carole has ways and means of chastening Clark, too. When she's mad at him she wears a hat he particularly despises. Carole calls it her "hate hat."
Their fun now, around the town, is almost entirely trips, football games, fights and shows. Their stepping-out nights usually end up at the home of Director Walter Lang and his new wife, Madalynne Fields, "Fieldsie," Carole's bosom pal and long-time secretary. They sit and play games!
Yes, Carole Lombard is a changed woman since she tied up with Clark Gable.
But her name is still Carole Lombard. The alter record, in fact, among Hollywood's popular twosomes is surprisingly slim.
Usually something formidable stands in the way of a marriage certificate when Hollywood stars pair up minus a preacher.
In Clark and Carole's case, of course, there is a very sound legal barrier. Clark is still officially a married man. Every now and then negotiations for a divorce are started, but until something happens in court, Ria Gable is still the only wife the law of this land allows Clark Gable.