Carole Lombard was one of Hollywood’s top stars in the 1930s – and for a time, she was the highest-paid of all actors. Her high energy made her a beloved star of screwball comedies, and her romance with fellow star Clark Gable helped keep her in the spotlight. Lombard’s top films include “My Man Godfrey,” “Made for Each Other,” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.” Lombard was traveling home from a war bonds rally when she was killed in a plane crash at only 33. Gable was devastated, and though he remarried twice, he was buried next to Lombard. We remember Lombard’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1936: Julius L. Chambers, U .S. lawyer and civil rights advocate whose law firm went before the U.S. Supreme Court in landmark civil rights cases, is born in Mount Gilead, North Carolina.
In 1964, Chambers opened a law practice that became the state’s first integrated law firm, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. He and his partners won cases that shaped civil rights law, including Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education regarding school busing. The 1971 ruling in the case mandated crosstown busing and highlighted the power of federal courts to intervene when local public school systems hedged en route to full integration. The case came as then-Gov. Bob Scott had just taken office. Although Chambers won the case, Scott had already pledged that he wouldn’t allow state money to be spent for busing. Read more
1935: Bruno Sammartino, one of the all time great professional wrestlers known as “The Living Legend,” is born in Pizzoferrato, Italy.
1928: Barbara Werle, U.S. actress known best for her role in the movie “Seconds,” is born in Mount Vernon, New York.
1925: Shana Alexander, U.S. journalist known best for her “Point-Counterpoint” debates with James J. Kilpatrick on the television news show “60 Minutes,” is born in New York, New York.
1922: Teala Loring, U.S. actress who appeared in more than 30 movies in the 1940s, is born in Denver, Colorado.
1908: Carole Lombard, U.S. actress known for her roles in the screwball comedies of the 1930s, is born in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Lombard was one of the top movie stars of her era, acting in her first silent film when she was just age 12. As talkies took over, Lombard’s fame grew, and she played opposite stage legend John Barrymore in her first big hit, “Twentieth Century.” Released in 1934, the movie is considered a prototypical screwball comedy – one of the first and best. All the classic elements of the screwball comedy were there – rapid-fire dialogue, a charming hero, and a lovely heroine (both of whom suffer from a bit of goofiness from time to time), slapstick humor, and situations that played the different social classes off each other. It set the stage for a decade of imitators. Read more
1906: Janet Gaynor, U.S. actress who won multiple Academy awards and was a star of movies including “State Fair” and “A Star Is Born” until she retired from acting at age 32, is born in Germantown, Pennsylvania.
1905: Helen Wills Moody, U.S. tennis player who won 31 grand slam titles during her career, is born in Centerville, California.
1892: Jackie Saunders, U.S. actress who was a star for Balboa Films during the silent era, is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
1888: Roland Garros, French early aviator and fighter pilot whose name is memorialized on the tennis stadium that hosts the French Open, is born in St. Denis, France.
The term “ace” pilot was first used in reference to Garros after he shot down several enemy aircraft. Reports vary as to whether he downed four or five planes, and the debate actually matters – because the accepted definition of “ace” has become a fighter pilot who has shot down five or more enemy planes. Though Garros was the first ace, he may not actually be an ace at all. Read more
1846: George Westinghouse, U.S. inventor who was a pioneer in the field of electricity and founded Westinghouse Electric, is born in Central Bridge, New York.
Westinghouse was just 19 when he patented his rotary steam engine invention, and his creativity only blossomed from there. His contributions to transportation helped make trains and cars safer and more comfortable, and his work with electricity was revolutionary. We still light our homes and power our towns with systems that Westinghouse pioneered. Read more