by Beverly Adam (author of Two Lovers: the love story of Carole Lombard and Russ Columbo)
“Carole Lombard and Russ Columbo were the gayest of gay and continued to dance the rumba long after everyone had gone home…” Silver Screen Magazine reported on the charming couple’s partying in 1934.
Looking back at their romance, I can write they were truly two people who were destined to meet and fall in love. And oh how they enjoyed each other’s company and that of others!
Russ had once hosted at the height of his radio and theater career in the early 1930’s a party at the famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York city, hosting over 200 reporters to celebrate his success at the local Paramount Brooklyn Theater. His musical variety shows were sold-out, five shows a day. He set a record that would not be broken for a quarter of a century at the theater.
The gifted singer and songwriter Russ Columbo grew-up in show business, and performed as a child as a violin prodigy. He was born into a large Italian American family on January 14, 1908, in Camden, New Jersey and had taken the radio airwaves by storm as “The Valentino of The Radio,” making all the young girls’ hearts flutter with his velvety voice and handsome profile.
And then one fateful night at the Cocoanut Grove his eyes met Carole’s, and they started an unforgettable romance. She told reporters, “His love for me was the kind that seldom comes to any woman.” In another interview she said, “I have married, divorced, and loved again.” This was in 1934. She showed her love both in action and words, and sometimes by the gifts she gave Russ, which were noted in newspapers and by the inventory of his estate.
What kind of gifts would you give a male Hollywood star on his birthday? We know that Carole Lombard gave Russ an Alaskan malamute puppy.
And Carole, according to Russ’s last will and testament, gave him a silver platinum cigarette case with his initials set in small diamonds. I imagined it looked something like this (see below).
Listed among the other items Carole was known to gift Russ was a Cartier watch inscribed from her to him and a ring, which he faithfully wore on his wedding finger, with an inset solitaire diamond.
Happy Birthday Russ!
Love, your Angel,