Before Clark Gable met Carole Lombard, “he used women for his ego and his pleasure. That’s just the way it was,” Robert Matzen, author of Fireball: Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3 explained. He was the King of Hollywood and a womanizer, but once the 24-year-old actress came into his life, everything changed.

On No Man of Her Own, Clark and Carole played a married couple, but that chemistry didn’t exactly translate to real life. Carole soon wed William Powell because she never got the impression Clark was romantically interested in her. “[We] did all kinds of hot love scenes… and I never got any kind of tremble out of him at all,” Carole once confessed.

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Four years later, after Carole’s divorce, the two met up again at the Mayfair Ball in Hollywood and danced the night away. They immediately became a perfect match and later married in 1939. “Clark was a very self-involved person, but Carole recognized that, and she adjusted her life to fit his,” Matzen shared. “He needed someone good-looking on his arm, someone who would challenge him but also someone who could adapt to his lifestyle.” He added, “She was a tomboy. She became a capable camper and hunter to please him.”

Sooner after they tied the knot, Clark’s career sky-rocketed with his role in Gone With the Wind. While he was continuing his acting, Carole was instead slowing down. “She wanted to cut back and get into producing and directing and have the freedom to be at home more,” Matzen said. 

Several miscarriages and Clark’s cheating ways soon caused a rift between the two, and “they were having tough times” when Carole departed for a tour selling war bonds in 1942. On an LA-bound flight from Las Vegas, she was tragically killed in a plane crash.

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Her death left Clark devastated. “It’s like Clark aged 10 years in one weekend,” Matzen said, adding he “lost his drive to be a movie star and started drinking a lot more.” He eventually joined the Army Air Force. “People said he had a death wish,” Matzen shared. “I think he felt guilty about Carole’s death. They’d had a huge fight before she left.”

Clark later married his fifth wife, Kay Williams, in 1955 and he was with her until his death in 1960. “He was relatively happy,” Matzen said. “Kay tried to emulate Carole and be the free-spirited, down-to-earth woman he loved. She suited him.”

But there was something always missing in Clark’s life following Carole’s death. After his passing at age 59, Clark was buried beside Carole — his one true love.

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