Carole Lombard was an American movie actress who became one of the highest paid stars of the 1930s. She is probably best known for starring in comedies and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the film My Man Godfrey. She was married to actors William Powell and Clark Gable. She and her mother died in a plane crash in 1942 while returning from a tour to sell war bonds. Their DC3 crashed into Mount Potosi in Nevada on a clear night apparently due to a navigation error. (1 & 3)
Born Jane Alice Peters on Oct 6, 1908, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Her parents were Frederick Christian Peters and Elizabeth Jane Knight. Her paternal grandfather, John Claus Peters, was the son of German immigrants, Claus Peters and Caroline Catherine Eberlin. On her mother’s side, she was a descendant of Thomas Hastings who came from the East Anglia region of England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1634. (2)
On her maternal side she was also a descendant of James Meteer (Mateer) and Elizabeth Nelson.
Lombard was the youngest of three children, having two older brothers. She spent her early childhood in a sprawling, two-story house at 704 Rockhill Street in Fort Wayne, near the St. Mary’s River. Her father had been injured during his early life and was left with constant headaches which caused him to burst out in paroxysms of anger which disturbed the family. Her parents divorced and her mother took the three children to Los Angeles in 1914. (2)
Her career spanned from the silent era to “talkies.” An auto accident almost ended her life as well as acting by inflicting serious scars on her face. Undaunted, she was able to cover the blemishes with the heavy use of cosmetics. She received her only Oscar nomination for Best Actress in My Man Godfrey. No Man of Her Own put her opposite Clark Gable for the first and only time but their marriage was still seven years away when they became the ideal Hollywood couple known for their success in the film industry. (1 & 3)
Carole Lombard and William Powell were married for 2 years. They dated for 8 months after getting together in Oct 1930 and they married on June 26, 1931. Two years later they divorced on August 16, 1933. although they remained very good friends until the end of Lombard’s life. At the time, she blamed it on their careers, but in a 1936 interview, she admitted that this “had little to do with the divorce. We were just two completely incompatible people”. (3, 6, & 7)
She did not see her final movie To Be or Not to Be released. With World War II raging in 1942, Clark Gable journeyed to Nevada to join a search party seeking the wreckage of a TWA twin engine DC-3 airliner flying from Indianapolis to Los Angeles. Aboard were 22 passengers including Carole Lombard Gable and her mother. She had finished a war bond drive just before boarding. There were no survivors. The blonde film star of the 1930s best remembered for her “Screw Ball comedies” was gone. Clark Gable rode on the train that carried the bodies of his wife and mother-in-law back to Los Angeles. She had left specific instructions for her burial in the event of death. Clark Gable purchased three crypts at Forest Lawn Cemetery, one for Carole, her mother and a reserve for himself. She mandated a swift, direct interment in a mausoleum crypt at Forest Lawn with only her immediate family present. In the wake of her death at age 33, the Army offered to conduct a military funeral to honor the first star to give her life while aiding the war effort. They were refused and her wishes were carried out as specified. However, a World War II Liberty Ship was christened in her honor. She is interred next to Gable and to her mother, Elizabeth Peters, who also perished in the crash. (1 & 3)
My favorite films of Carole Lombard:
- No Man of Her Own (1932). Her only film with Clark Gable.
- Supernatural (1933). Her only horror film. One of her stranger roles, but I love it!
- The Princess Comes Across (1936). She is paired with Fred MacMurray in this one, it is a mystery/comedy.
- Nothing Sacred (1937). A fun screwball comedy. Her only film in Technicolor.
- In Name Only (1939). A romantic film also starring another of my favorites Cary Grant along with Kay Francis.
- Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941). Another fun screwball comedy film. But directed by one of my all-time favorite directors, Alfred Hitchcock.
Fun fact: when the filming of No Man of Her Own concluded, on the last day of filming, Gable presented Lombard with a pair of ballerina slippers with a card attached that said, “To a true primadonna.” Lombard got him back when she presented him with a large ham with his picture on it. Gable kissed her goodbye, and they did not stay in touch, as Gable found Lombard to be bawdier than he was willing to handle, and Lombard found Gable to be overly conceited. It was not until four years later that their romance began to take off. Gable and Lombard never appeared together in another film, primarily because they became major stars at different studios, which didn’t like to lend them out. (3 & 4)
Carole Lombard is the only famous descendant of the Meteer ancestors that we share.
Carole Lombard and my Mom were direct 4th cousins. Carole Lombard’s mother, Elizabeth Jane Knight Peters, and my grandmother, Glenna Annette Kennedy Cole, were direct 3rd cousins.
Our shared ancestors are James Meteer (Mateer) and Elizabeth Nelson.
Our shared ancestor James Meteer (Mateer) was born about 1755 in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. He died 23 May 1832 in Union Township, Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. He married Elizabeth Nelson. She was born 22 Apr. 1769 in Rye, Pennsylvania. She died 25 Sept 1804 in Pennsylvania. She was the daughter of Robert Nelson. They married 17 Feb 1780 in East Pennsboro, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. The surname is found various ways in addition to Meteer and Mateer, including Matier, Mintre, Minater, Mintier.
Proven children of James Meteer (Mateer) and Elizabeth Nelson:
- Robert Meteer (Mateer) born 25 Oct 1781 in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. He died 6 Dec 1849 in Monday Creek, Perry County, Ohio. He married Esther Chambers on 11 Dec 1817 in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. She was born 25 July 1790 in Centre County, Pennsylvania and died 16 July 1876 in Monday Creek, Perry County, Ohio. She was the daughter of Pvt. Elijah Chambers and Mary Linaberry (Lindaberry). They are my direct ancestors.
- William Mateer born about 1783 in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, and died before 1870 in Clarion, Clarion, Pennsylvania. He married Eliza Eskill, and Martha Donnelly.
- Isabelle (Isabella) Meteer born 12 June 1784 in Pennsylvania, and died 25 October 1860 in Fairfield County, Ohio. She married Robert Work.
- Dorcas Mateer born about 1785 in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, and died 1825 in Huntington County, Pennsylvania. It appears she never married.
- Jennet (Jennette) Mateer/Meteer born 1786 in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania and died 1 January 1861 in Mahoning County, Ohio. She married William Steele. (She passed on the maiden name of her mother Nelson as a first name of her son).
- Joseph M. Mateer born 1789 in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, and died 11 January 1849 in Martinsburg, Blair, Pennsylvania. He married Mary Kline.
- James Nelson “J.N.” Meteer (Mateer) born 1791 in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, and died 14 September 1848 in Franklin County, Ohio, and married Parthena McMurtry Everett, the daughter of Abel Johnson Everitt and Bridget McMurty. They are actress Carole Lombard’s direct ancestors.
My sister Linda, my niece Elisabeth (daughter of my brother Bob), and my Kennedy 2nd cousin (who also shares my Price/Meteer ancestors), and me, all have numerous DNA matches to the descendants of the siblings of Robert Meteer listed above except Joseph M. Mateer.
Our original immigrant ancestor was James McTeer (Mateer) who was from Kilkeel, County Down, Ireland, and settled in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. Please see this blog post for more information about my immigrant ancestor James McTeer (Mateer).
Carole Lombard’s direct line:
- James Meteer (Mateer) and Elizabeth Nelson.
- James Nelson Meteer and Parthena McMurtry Everett.
- Elizabeth Jane Meteer and Willard M. Knight.
- Charles Stuart Knight and Alice S. Cheney.
- Elizabeth Jane Knight and Frederick Christian Peters.
- Jane Alice Peters (Carole Lombard).
My direct line:
- James Meteer (Mateer) and Elizabeth Nelson.
- Robert Meteer and Esther Chambers.
- Julia Ann Meteer (Mateer) and James Price.
- Mary Elizabeth Price and Abraham G. Kennedy.
- Glenna Annette Kennedy and Durward Edward Cole. (My maternal grandparents).
My Mom would have loved knowing about this family connection with Carole Lombard. She loved old movies and named my sister Linda after actress Linda Darnell.
- Carole Lombard. Britannica.com
- Carole Lombard. Walkoffame.com
- Carole Lombard. Wikipedia.
- Nixon, Rob “No Man of Her Own” (TCM article)
- No Man of Her Own (1932). Wikipedia.
- Gehring, Wes D. (2003). Carole Lombard: The Hoosier Tornado. Indianapolis, Indiana: Indiana Historical Society Press.
- Ott, Frederick W. (1972). The Films of Carole Lombard. Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press.
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