Monday, January 16, 2017

January 16, 1942 - The Death of a Hollywood Legend

A significant and very sad anniversary.

Seventy-five years ago today, in the early morning hours of January 16, 1942, actress Carole Lombard was tragically killed when the TWA DST airplane she was traveling on, crashed into Potosi Mountain, 32 miles southwest of Las Vegas.  She was returning to her home in Hollywood, California after attending a war bond rally in her native Indiana.  All twenty-two passengers on board lost their lives, including Lombard's mother Bess Peters, her close friend Otto Winkler and fifteen Army servicemen.
The search and recovery efforts were based out of the small desert town of Goodsprings, Nevada.  I visited Goodsprings as part of a cross-country roadtrip during the summer of 2015.  It is famous for the Pioneer Saloon, which pays homage to Lombard and actor Clark Gable, to whom she was married at the time of her death.  Potosi Mountain can be seen in the distance from the saloon's Carole Lombard Terrace.

Biographer Robert Matzen has written what I consider to be the definitive chronicle of Lombard's life and death - Fireball: Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3.