Old Movie Teams

Weren’t they also in that other movie?

Carole Lombard & Clark Gable

Husband and wife in No Man Of Her Own

Before they were married, Carole Lombard and Clark Gable were once husband and wife. Their marriage lasted all too briefly (about six reels worth). Their real marriage also lasted all too briefly—from March 1939 until January 1942, when Ms. Lombard and a score of others died in a plane crash just after take-off from Las Vegas, Nevada. She was on her way to join Mr. Gable at their home in Los Angeles, Ms. Lombard having been away lending support and celebrity status to a national war-bond drive. The movie marriage occurred in the 1932 feature No Man of Her Own. There are at least three other features that reputedly include Mr. Gable and Ms. Lombard in the cast of characters: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925), The Plastic Age (1925), and The Johnstown Flood (1926). But their roles in these movies are slight, perhaps imperceptible—especially Ben-Hur, where they are lost in a sea of extras, being only extras themselves and it being many years before their star quality came into its own. Another theatrical release, the 1938 short Hollywood Goes To Town, shows us a glimpse of these two as a couple in a very real way—as real as it probably ever gets in front of a camera for celebrities in Hollywood. The occasion is the 1938 world premiere of the Norma Shearer/Tyrone Power movie Marie Antoinette. Mixed among a panoply of other stars, Mr. Gable and Ms. Lombard appear, as themselves, unwed and in escort of one another on the red carpet outside the Carthay Circle Theater.

Janet Gaynor in a scene from The Johnstown Flood

Interestingly, Janet Gaynor also appears in the casts with Mr. Gable and Ms. Lombard in Ben-Hur, Plastic Age and Johnstown Flood, making themselves a threesome for actors in lesser roles. While Mr. Gable and Ms. Lombard would have to wait several years before achieving stardom, Ms. Gaynor’s critically-acclaimed supporting role as the ill-fated heroine Anna Burger in The Johnstown Flood shortly thereafter garnered for her the leads in the three movies where her stellar performances are credited with making her the first recipient of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) award (a.k.a. the Academy Award) for best actress).

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