Carole Lombard Broke Into Clark Gable's House When His Wife Wouldn't Divorce Him
The former co-stars couldn't marry each other until Ria Langham let him go.
During their short but passionate relationship, Carole Lombard and Clark Gable went through quite a few ups and downs. The co-stars reportedly did not get along when they worked together, only to hit it off years later and eventually get married. Lombard and Gable seemed to find true love once they settled down, but they also had to contend with one important fact before they could wed: Gable was still married to his second wife, Ria Langham, when they decided to tie the knot.
Langham wasn't too keen on granting Gable a divorce, which upset Lombard. In fact, according to a biography of the two stars, Lombard once broke into Gable and Langham's home in order to make quite the declaration to Langham. Read on to find out more about Gable and Lombard's love story, including its tumultuous beginnings.
Gable and Lombard clashed on set.
Lombard and Gable met when they starred opposite one another in the 1932 film No Man of Her Own. Though they played a married couple in the movie, but they reportedly did not like each other.
As reported by Vanity Fair, Warren G. Harris' 1974 biography Gable & Lombard explains that Gable found Lombard too boisterous and she found him too indifferent. On the other hand, TCM reports that Lombard and Gable got along well enough, and that she gave him her "trademark prank gift" when the movie wrapped, which was a ham with a photo of him on it.
But, regardless of how well they got along as co-stars, Lombard and Gable's romantic relationship did not begin at this point. At the time, Lombard was married to her first husband, actor William Powell—that marriage lasted from 1931 to 1933—and Gable had married Langham in 1931.
They reconnected years later.
In 1936, Gable and Lombard met again when he attended the annual Mayfair Ball, which she was hosting that year. This time, the two connected romantically. According to Country Living, Gable was separated from Langham at this time, but they were still legally married.
Their flirtation that night was reportedly somewhat theatrical. According to Harris' book, when Gable took Lombard back to his hotel and hit on her, she responded, "Who do you think you are, Clark Gable?" This upset him, and he took her back to the party. According to Harris, Gable woke up to a surprise from Lombard the next day.
"[Lombard] decided she'd been too hard on him, so she called up a pet shop and had them send over a pair of doves as a peace offering," Gable & Lombard reads. "She then bribed one of the hotel clerks to release the doves in Gable's apartment while he was still asleep. Then he found a card attached to the leg of one of the birds, with the words 'How about it? Carole.'"
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Lombard broke into Langham's house.
According to Harris, Langham was upset by the news of his and Lombard's romance and did not want to grant Gable a divorce. In response, Lombard broke into the home where Langham lived. The actor didn't go there to steal anything—instead, she shouted out a statement.
"Lombard padded quietly to the doorway, cleared her throat and yelled at the startled Mrs. Gable, 'Hi, you old witch. If you want to call me a home-breaker now, it's your [expletive] privilege,'" Gable & Lombard reads.
Eventually, Langham agreed to divorce Gable. The split was finalized in March 1939, and later that same month, Gable and Lombard tied the knot.
Lombard and Gable's marriage was cut tragically short.
Lombard and Gable spent their unfortunately short-lived marriage living on a ranch in Encino, California known as "The House of Two Gables" while also continuing on with their careers. They referred to each other as "Ma" and "Pa."
"They lived a peaceful life," Michelle Morgan, who wrote Carole Lombard: Twentieth Century Star, told Closer. "Clark would putter around with his old cars and farm work, and Carole was quite happy to help out and look after her animals."
The relationship wasn't perfect, though. During their marriage, Lombard found out that she would not be able to have children. Vanity Fair also explains that Gable regularly cheated on his wife, which led a suspicious Lombard to frequently show up on the sets of his movies.
Then in 1942, after three years of marriage, Lombard tragically died in a plane crash at age 33 while she was returning from an event supporting the purchase of war bonds during World War II.
"The most wonderful and the most beautiful and the greatest thing—the only real happiness he ever had in his life—was gone," Howard Strickling, the head of publicly of MGM once said, according to Vanity Fair.
Gable went on to remarry twice—to Sylvia, Lady Ashley and Kay Williams. But, when he died in 1960, he was buried next to Lombard.