Carole Lombard Among 22 Dead in Crash; Gable Charters Plane for Las Vegas

Jan. 17, 1942, Carole Lombard Crash

Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, 1940
Photo: Clark Gable and Carole Lombard at home with their pet Siamese cats.

Jan. 17, 1942: Carole Lombard, who was returning from a campaign to sell defense bonds; her mother, Elizabeth K. Peters; and MGM publicist Otto Winkler are among 22 killed  when a TWA  Douglas Skycub slams into the side of Olcott Mountain 35 miles southwest of Las Vegas. Her husband, Clark Gable, who had been waiting at the Lockheed Air Terminal, immediately chartered a plane to Las Vegas.

The next day, The Times reported that Gable “vainly sought to make his way torturously up the cactus-strewn trail to the scene of his wife’s death. He was finally persuaded to return to Las Vegas, where he received the news that all aboard the plane had perished.”

Maxine, spicy strawberry blonde, is at the midnight show at the Aztec, “home of peachy burlesk.”

Jimmie Fidler says: There are several private campaigns underway to get Academy Awards; chief ones are for Joan Fontaine (“Suspicion,”) Ida Lupino (“Ladies in Retirement,”) Olivia de Havilland (“Hold Back the Dawn,”) and Claudette Colbert (“Remember the Day.”) But why not Greer Garson for “Blossoms in the Dust?”

Jan. 17, 1942, Hot Baby Dolls

Jan. 17, 1942, Carole Lombar
Jan. 17, 1942, Carole Lombard

Jan. 17, 1942, Jimmie Fidler

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1942, Animals, Columnists, Film, Hollywood, Jimmie Fidler, Transportation and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Carole Lombard Among 22 Dead in Crash; Gable Charters Plane for Las Vegas

  1. Eve says:

    Poor Carole–she’d have aged well, too. I can see her doing character roles, and TV in the 1950s and ’60s.

    That marriage, though? I’d have given her and Clark another two years, tops.


  2. Rotter says:

    Did the CAB ever determine the cause of the crash?


    • Eve says:

      I don’t know–but if you really want to give yourself the willies (and the heebie-jeebies), go on YouTube, there’s a guy giving a tour of the wreckage, much of which is still up there.


  3. airbeagle says:

    For some reason, airliner accidents have always been fascinating to me and I am working on a book about a later, unrelated one. So bear with me, I get long-winded about such stuff. But since you asked:

    In this case, according to File No. 119-42, adopted July 16, and released on July 20, 1942, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) ruled the following as the probable cause of the crash of TWA Flight 3:

    “Upon the basis of the foregoing findings and of the entire record available at this time, we find that the probable cause of the accident to aircraft NC1946 on January 16, 1942, was the failure of the captain after departure from Las Vegas to follow the proper course by making use of the navigational facilities available to him.”

    It also listed the following contributing factors:

    “1. The use of an erroneous compass course.

    “2. Blackout of most of the beacons in the neighborhood of the accident made necessary by the war emergency. [Only one beacon (the Arden Beacon, located about 20 miles from Las Vegas) was operating between Las Vegas and Silver Lake, CA. Flights usually keep to the left of the beacon, but TWA 3 was flown to the right.]

    “3. Failure of the pilot to comply with TWA’s directive of July 17, 1941, issued in accordance with a suggestion from the Administrator of Civil Aeronautics requesting pilots to confine their flight movements to the actual on-course signals.”

    It should be noted that Captain Wayne C. Williams, 41, had 12,024 hours of flying experience, 3,500 of it on DC-3s, and 203 of it at night. He passed a complete physical a month before Flight 3. He was hired by TWA on Sept. 7, 1931. The report alludes to an incident in 1933 where Captain Williams was discharged by TWA for an undisclosed-by-the-report reason. Rumor had it that he was fired for flying “unauthorized routes.” He requested a hearing before the National Labor Board and was subsequently reinstated by TWA. Between 1933 and the crash, the report states, “… Captain Williams’ conduct and procedure were considered satisfactory by the management of TWA. We therefore conclude that the dispute between Captain Williams and TWA in 1933 has no causal relation to the accident.”

    Taken all together, it was, like most such accidents, a tragic confluence of events, any one of which might not have been fatal by itself.


  4. Roz says:

    Their Icon’s get over it.


  5. just thought you may enjoy learning that my grandmother was the widow (before marrying my grandpa) of Wayne Williams. She and Clark Gable became great friends as they grieved the death of their spouses in the crash. Her name was Ruby


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