by Beverly Adam (author of Two Lovers: the love story of Carole Lombard and Russ Columbo)
Tomorrow marks the 75th Anniversary of Carole Lombard’s unexpected death. Her death, as in life, was connected in the press to Russ Columbo’s.
“To account for her son’s prolonged absence, Mrs. Columbo was told he was in London, making movie pictures with Carole. In the course of her romance with Russ, Carole naturally had grown close to Mrs. Columbo. Thus, to keep the heartbreaking news from her, Carole wrote weekly letters full of gay chit-chat and news of their activities, which were supposedly postmarked London and read to the blind mother.” Hollywood Magazine.
Both Russ and Carole died young. It is a sad twist of fate that they both had premonitions that they would do so. Yesterday, January 14th, was Russ’s birthday.
When she sang the National Anthem on January 15th she must have thought of him. If Russ were alive how proud he would have been of her standing there singing her heart out, leading the audience. He had been the one, after all, who gave her voice lessons early on in their romance. And she in turn had encouraged him to consider a career singing opera.
Carole knew she would die young. When she told her friend Alice Marble, the tennis-pro replied, “Did the fortune-tellers tell you that?”
“Yes, they did, but it’s more than that. It’s a feeling I have,” Carole said. Original source: Courting Danger by Alice Marble.
Russ had had a premonition that he too would die young. When he did his family decided he would be placed in the vault opposite his brother Fiore’s, at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California. When Carole made her last will and testament, the first instruction she wrote down was her desire to be interred in a modest crypt at the same cemetery, dressed wearing her favorite white gown.
The flowers that were laid on her burial casket were identical to the ones she had laid on Russ’s and the large heart shaped wreath display she had sent to Russ’s funeral signed with his pet name for her, Angel.
Bing Crosby and Carole’s brother, Fred Peters, were pallbearers at Russ’s funeral.
The last song Russ ever sang and recorded was Two Lovers by Allie Wrubel and Mort Dixon:
I see two lovers on the moonlit sand,
Standing face to face,
And as he takes her little trembling hand,
They slowly embrace.
I see two lovers in a world apart,
Heart to heart, what bliss!
And in my loneliness, I see them start
One heavenly kiss.