By Beverly Adam (author of Two Lovers: the love story of Carole Lombard and Russ Columbo).
“Carole was crazy about him,” Bing Crosby said during a televised interview on the Joe Franklin Show, and he wasn’t referring to Clark Gable. He was talking about the greatest love in Carole Lombard’s life, Russ Columbo, with whom Bing had been both friend and rival during the early 1930’s.
Carole Lombard and Russ Columbo were both twenty-five years old and very much in love in 1933. Their studios, however, weren’t happy. They wanted the couple to be seen as single. And if Carole was to be in love, Paramount wanted it to be with George Raft, her co-star in Bolero, not the handsome crooner. A lot of money and publicity had been invested to make that impression. .
Carole Lombard and Russ, notice what finger the ring is on?
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Sally Blane, sister of Loretta Young, had met Russ four years before, during a break, when he was performing at The Cocoanut Grove. Sally, Russ, and his friend, Lansing Brown, the photographer,
were close friends, and the threesome were often seen about Hollywood at different parties and at Russ’s performances.
Dixie Lee with her husband Bing Crosby and their newborn, Gary
In September of 1933, the publicity department was working overtime, putting out the rumor that Russ Columbo was afraid to meet Bing Crosby on the set of We’re Not Dressing, where his girlfriend Carole Lombard was performing on Catalina Island.
Russ and Bing Crosby had been friends and had worked together with the Gus Arnheim Orchestra before then, and Russ “had always hated the idea” of being rivals with Bing Crosby. They soon would bury the hatchet.