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Fireball: Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3
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Fireball: Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  222 ratings  ·  51 reviews
At 5:00 A.M. on January 16, 1942, actress Carole Lombard, Hollywood's "Queen of Screwball" and the wife of the king of the movies, Clark Gable, stepped onto a Transcontinental & Western Airlines DC-3, designated as Flight 3 in Indianapolis, Indiana with her mother, Elizabeth Peters, and MGM publicity man Otto Winkler. Lombard had just completed the first sale of war bo ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published January 16th 2014 by GoodKnight Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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This book is part biography and part the story of a tragic accident, in which actress Carole Lombard and twenty one other people lost their lives. Much of the wreckage of TWA Flight 3, the commercial airliner which crashed on the evening of January 16th, 1942, is still strewn across the side of Mount Potosi in Nevada. The author actually climbed to the crash site and it took him four and a half hours to ascend the steep mountain slope. It can only be imagined how hard it was to mount a rescue mi ...more
Justine Olawsky
Carole Lombard was one of those rare people in perpetually catty Hollywood who seems not have left behind anyone who could say a bad word about her. Her boundless energy, generous heart, delicious sense of humor, down-to-earth sexiness, and general exuberance have endeared her to generations of fans so that she is still lovingly remembered more than 70 years after her shocking, tragic death. I cannot remember how I ever discovered Carole Lombard -- perhaps in My Man Godfrey? -- but I have enjoye ...more
May 16, 2014 Lisa rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves old Hollywood, unsolved mysteries, plane crashes, mountain climbing
Recommended to Lisa by: Found it on Net Galley
FIREBALL by Robert Matzen

One of Hollywood's biggest tragedies involving one of its biggest mysteries and one of its biggest love stories.

It would have been so easy for Robert Matzen to fill 300 pages with Hollywood glitz, romance, and grief. He would not have been lying, or even exaggerating this part of the story that is the crash of TWA3. But those headlines have been covered before: Hollywood's Queen of Screwball marries the unchallenged King of Hollywood, but their happily ever after is cut
The author suggests at the start of the book that he has "discovered" something about the plane crash that killed Carole Lombard. We are led to believe it is, perhaps, something sinister because Orson Welles once said at lunch to Henry Jaglom, "the plane was shot down, and those who know, know." Really--that's a revelation? With no evidence to support it; it's just a man talking at lunch. Also Matzen uses the word surreal at least a dozen times and always incorrectly.
In fact, Matzen has absolute
Denise Morse
This book is more biography and telling of the events that surround the crash rather than the mystery of it. It doesn't really seem like there was too much of a mystery and not a lot of stock was placed in the idea of sabotage or foul play.

What this book does do well is tell an abbreviated story of the life of Carole Lombard, her upbringing, her love life and her rise to fame. It also does a good job of chronicling the life of her friends and especially of Clark Gable.

The story of the hike to
Nancy L.
OK, I devoured this in a day, given the intersection of my love of vintage Hollywood, calamities, and WWII. Matzen does a great job with research, but I'm giving him four stars instead of five because of his unfortunate reliance on what he called "extrapolation," or the insertion of his thoughts into the unknowable, interior lives of Gable, Lombard, and others. I don't understand this intrusion because it weakens his book. His chapters on the crash and its investigation are stronger than the Hol ...more
This certainly was a page-turner. I had no problem with the switch between the Lombard biography and the events leading up to the crash. I found the biography of Lombard to be "bio-lite" easy to skim and clearly cribbed from the sources. The meat of the research went into the files on the crash and the aftermath, recovery and final investigation, this was very good. I like that he gave names and stories of the other victims of this accident, Lombard was the big name, but there were others on boa ...more
I received this as a free copy for review from NetGalley.

An interesting book, but somewhat disappointing. Given the title of the book, I knew not to expect a biography on Lombard, but was still expecting a bit more than what was given. While this was a book that was meant to explore Lombard's death in a mysterious plane crash, I rarely felt like I cared about her at all. She was described as a fireball, sweet, a woman who cussed, and one who was unbelievably generous. The problem was these descr
Rosie Genova
Meticulously researched and full of compelling detail, for an old Hollywood fan like myself, this book was a thrilling--but heartbreaking--read. I could have done without the author's assuming Clark Gable's consciousness, however. Just tell it to me straight, dude!

Overall, however, a recommended summer read.
Robert Matzen cleverly converges stories of the ill-fated flight 3 from multiple perspectives to give fascinating texture to this tale without deviating from the facts. Even those who are not familiar with Carole Lombard will be drawn in to the series of events that led to tragedy. A first-rate account that is gripping from page one.
Thad Komorowski
A solid, appropriately emotional book on one of Hollywood's seldom spoken tragedies. The writing can get too conversational at times, and despite the attempt at neutrally presenting possible causes of the crash, the author greatly implies sabotage was the likeliest culprit. Not that there's anything wrong with that conclusion. Unlike the majority of books on Hollywood, "Fireball" is astoundingly researched, with plenty of fresh interviews and documentation to back up any claims. Recommended for ...more
Kit Fox
Was led to this one by my favorite old-timey movie blog, http://greenbriarpictureshows.blogspo..., and I have yet to get a bad film book recommendation through it. (The blogger and the author are bros.) If you're looking for a pretty exhaustive exploration into the time before and after the plane crash that claimed Carole Lombard's life, this here is the one. The author also gives significant time to everyone else on that flight and goes waaaay into Clark Gable's psychological makeup as well. Ye ...more
Malorie Shannon
If I could give this book more then 5 stars I would. I got this book as a Christmas gift. I knew of Gable and Lombard, their love affair and her tragic end in a plane on her way home from selling war bonds. This book filled in more then the blanks. Robert Matzen did a brilliant job writing. I especially loved how it had the story flow. One chapter was just before the crash, the next chapter took us a few years before, then next chapter back to leading to the accident, then next chapter back to t ...more

Brought to you by OBS reviewer JoAnne

I have always believed deeply that when you read a book, it should draw some sort of emotion from you, whether it be joy, sadness, disgust, consternation, etc. I can tell you that this book did not disappoint. It left indelible marks upon my very being. I have always known about Carole Lombard and Clark Gable. I have even visited the place where they spent their honeymoon. Please understand this: I am not a star-watcher
The author opens the book by talking about his climb to the wreckage and how steep it is and that still to this day there is no trail to the top of the mountain. Once at the crash site he describes that even after all of these years there are still pieces of the plane on the mountain, scattered about along with other objects that he found along with the guide who took him there. From there he begins the story with Carole Lombard, born Jane Alice Peters, from Fort Wayne Indiana. After her father ...more
While not weakly written or incoherent, this book was, overall, a disappointment. Suggesting that some "mystery" lay behind the airline crash that killed Carole Lombard and that the writer would reveal surprising or previously unknown facts about the incident was bait for the reader, who discovers that nothing of the kind is provided. In fact, while the reason the plain crash was not ultimately found, in the end, that was the only "mystery," in itself something of a letdown.

The writing is a str
There are very few books out there about Carole Lombard, but this one is, by far, the best, because I feel it captures her personality in a really authentic way, while balancing the historical and social factors weighing in at the time. But the most important part of this book is the fact that, as readers, we finally got a chance to know more about the other victims and their stories, what instances led them to that flight. You will also get an in-depth look into the people who were affected by ...more
"Fireball" was used to describe Carole Lombard, an actress in screwball comedies in the 1930's & early 40's. It's also the way she died: in a fiery plane crash just south of Las Vegas in January 1942. The book is the result of extensive research and interviews by the author. While it deals mainly with Ms. Lombard's life and her marriage to Clark Gable (what was - from all accounts - a tumultuous love story), it also explores the reason she was on the plane (the first War Bond tour by Hollywo ...more
Michelle (Champ)
Vivid, nerve racking, unreal , sorrow.....I felt all of this. I knew the story, but I didn't know the story. The wreckage is unreal and a bit morbid, but you need this detailed account to see just what Flight 3 did to so many families. I very much enjoyed the mini bio about Carole in between the horrific story of her passing. It was the good in all that bad.

I knew of Clark's sorrow, how it changed him....but I teared up reading just how miserable he was.

I have had this book on my to read book
Jezebel Jorge
I was lucky enough to grab this book when it was on sale for $1.99. It is beautifully formatted and very well written.

Carole Lombard lead a short, but fascinating life. I felt so bad for Clark Gable when I read of the days after her tragic death. Being a tennis fan, I was delighted with her friendship with Alice Marble. It was also night that tribute was paid to the 19 air men and 3 member flight crew who also lost their lives on this flight.

This is a book that will haunt you for days after you
The further I got into this book the less I liked it. The first part is a fairly shallow biography of Carole Lombard, with brief flash-forwards to the plane crash that took her life. Around midway through, the focus of the book shifts entirely to the crash itself and the investigation into its possible causes. I would have preferred that the book spend more time on Lombard's life and less on her death, but what annoyed me about the book was the style of the writing.

Author Robert Matzen so freque
Fireball by Robin Matzen is a compelling and thorough examination of the 1942 plane crash and its aftermath that took the life of 30’s screwball comedy queen (and wife of then Hollywood king, Clark Gable), Carole Lombard and the 21 other people onboard the plane when it crashed into a mountain. The book alternates detailed chapters of Ms. Lombard’s life up to the night of the crash with a moment by moment accounting of the night of the plane crash. Told in a straight forward yet involving manner ...more
It kept me up reading until almost 3 a.m. I knew very little about Lombard going in and even less about the plane crash that took her life. By the end, I had shed several tears for her and the others on board the doomed flight.

The chapters jumped from Carole's life to the lead up to the crash and then converged in sadness. I felt like I was on the mountain searching for survivors and then with the mourners at the funerals.

Well done without sensationalizing the story.
Heather Bennett
If you are looking for a answer to the plane crash, you will not find it in this book. The book will explain everything that happened before and after the crash. If gives you a small biography of Carole Lombard. The author even went to the crash site,where some of the wreckage still lies. Robert Matzen did a excellent research of the crash. Carole Lombard was a wonderful actress, who wasn't even supposed to be on the plane.I enjoyed the book.
Excellent - my interest in Carole Lombard/Clark Gable led me to this book but it fulfilled many other interests such as curiosity about the plane crash and details about the other plane crash victims. It also included some other interesting stories about Lombard's life, including the tragedy of Russ Columbo and her car accident that nearly ended her career. It might have been a limited-time deal but I got this for Amazon Kindle for like $2 and I would have paid 5 times that.
I have always been fascinated by Carole Lombard and the air crash that took her life, so to read this book and discover new details as to the why, was illuminating. The author does a beautiful job of weaving the accident in between chapters of Carole's biography. Also, the author talks about the other people on board the plane, lest we forget there were other souls lost as well. The author has done his homework, because this book is well researched and documented.
Diane Heath
My prior knowledge of Carole Lombard was that she was married to Clark Gable. I knew she had died in a plane crash. This book reveals the details of who Carole was. It is stated that 4 freak accidents defined stages of her life. The impact/influence of her life on Clark Gable is explored. The lives of the flight crew and the other passengers are not just footnotes.
Bettie lapham
Loved, loved, loved this book!

Loved, loved, loved this book!

This is one of the best books that I harvested in a very long time. It really brought to life the neat love story of two very different people, Carole Lombard and Clark Gable. I could not put this book down and was sorry that it ended.
This is an excellent detailed account of the plane crash of TWA Flight 3 that killed Carole Lombard and everyone else on the plane. A good story with details about all of the passengers and crew on the plane. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in an accounting of this plane crash and this era.
Biography cum disaster account of Carole Lombard's death in a plane crash in Nevada. Exhaustively researched with details of Lombard's career and gritty descriptions of the crash site. Speculation about what actually happened--why the plane crashed. Tavia Gilbert reads well, if perhaps a bit too earnestly.
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“Only those are fit to live who do not fear to die, and none are fit to die who have shrunk from the joy and duty of life. Those whom we have come to honor and, in God’s name to bless, never shrank from life, but welcomed it—welcomed life and its every aspect—loved life and were responsible to both its duties and its joys…. Each believed steadfastly in the glorious life to come.” 1 likes
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