|Franchot is proudly framed on Carole's table.|
Although both still visibly on the market, Carole apparently intimated to friends that Franchot was close to proposing or had already quietly proposed marriage. When reporters from Modern Screen magazine stopped by Carole's home, they observed a photo of Franchot signed, "Yours without protest." (Wouldn't it be nice to see that one pop up on eBay?) Still, some doubted that he had made such a commitment. Franchot was very active on the dating scene at this time and although he clearly cared about Carole, it doesn't seem like he was quite ready to jump into marriage in late 1940.
Carole described what she was looking for in a man:
I'm the happy type, by nature and by inclination. I expect men to amuse me, interest me, flatter me, spoil me, I say that if there is any heart-breaking to be done, it is a woman's privilege...if I meet the man with the qualities, he is welcome, love is welcome. But I am NOT seeking. I'm keeping my eyes and ears open, that's all. Because if you were 'in love' a couple of times when, obviously, you weren't, if you follow me—you just relax and wait. You also do a spot of figuring. I've done several spots. I've made a sort of man-map. I know now what I want in a man, what I expect of a man, what I demand of a man.
What were some of the reasons she fell so hard for Franchot? Carole shared:
Franchot Tone has a divine sense of humor. Hollywood practically turned hand-springs a few months ago over 'the change' in Franchot. Over bars, at parties, on sound stages, over the counter at Schwabs Drugstore, at the races and in print, people wondered, what's happened to Franchot? A dozen different versions were given, including one that set forth that I had changed him. Flattering, but fallacious. The real low-down is that Franchot sat himself down one night in New York, did one of those Rochester-talking-to-himself-in-the-mirror turns. He said to his reflection, 'You've a dull disposition, my boy, let's face it, let's break through and have some fun, let's go back to Hollywood, quit being snooty, laugh and make mad and merry.'
He came back to Hollywood. He broke through. But the point is that he had a sense of humor about himself. He had the very rare ability of being able to see himself as others saw him. Another nice thing about Franchot, as about Cesar [Romero], is that he is always so moderate, so restrained. No ear-marks of The Actor, not an ear-mark. I used to watch him when I first came to Hollywood, when he was still married to Joan Crawford and I'd think, what a lucky girl! I still say that any girl who gets Franchot will be a lucky girl. I think it would be very pleasant indeed to be married to Franchot...One little thing Franchot does always bowls me over when we're dining out, at Ciro's, at the Brown Derby, or wherever, and I go to the powder room, he never lets me go alone, always escorts me, always waits for me, takes me back to our table, pulls my chair out for me, and then sits down himself. If you are in pictures, which means that your face is known, and have ever tried to battle your way through a public place, waylaid at every other table by too convivial strangers, you have some idea of what this thoughtfulness—believe me, gentlemen, this rare thoughtfulness, means...From Franchot I learned about classical music, opera. I adore men I can learn from. And they never make me feel that I don't know, never make me feel stupid or inferior. They make it seem as though we are sharing an experience together...Franchot took me to my first opera. I knew nothing about operatic music and, frankly, I expected to be bored to a welcome death. But throughout the evening, in his nice, quiet way, Franchot explained it all to me so that I was sharing the experience with him, and loving it.
According to author Eric Gans and researcher Lisa Burks, Franchot liked Carole quite a bit but felt she, nearly 14 years his junior, was "immature and coming on too strong." At some point, Franchot broke away from the relationship and shocked everyone when he suddenly eloped with Jean Wallace, who at just 18 years old was actually 4 years younger than Carole, on October 18, 1941. It has long been suspected that the ex Carole Landis talks about with reporter Gladys Hall in the article, "Glamour Girls are Suckers!" is indeed Franchot. In the interview, Carole is clearly hurting deeply from the breakup and feels betrayed. She says:
A great, terrific constant thing came into my life. A man, of course. For obvious reasons I can't use his name, but he is an actor and—it was love I felt. Real love. I knew it and I still know it...This went on for months. We were constantly together every possibly moment. I felt this, at last, was it...I lived in a dream when, suddenly, a little girl, a nonprofessional, not pretty really, clothes just so-so but not chi-chi, vivacious perhaps, but that was all, stepped in and—here I am...the minute you let a fellow know so completely that he's the whole floor show, you're sunk.If this unnamed man is Franchot as everyone believes, then Carole, in pain, is unnecessarily cruel in her description of Franchot's wife Jean Wallace. With time, the bad feelings between Carole and Franchot disappeared and a real friendship emerged. Franchot attended a surprise party to honor Carole's dedication to the war effort. Carole was a tireless supporter of the brave men overseas. As the actress who visited the most troops during World War II, Carole sold war bonds, entertained on multiple tours and at the Hollywood Canteen, served as an air raid warden, Aerial Nurses Corps commander, first aid instructor, and visited over two hundred bases. Carole famously documented a 1942 tour with Kay Francis, Martha Raye, and Mitzi Mayfair in her book Four Jills in a Jeep. The story of her travels was made into the 1944 film of the same name.
Although they didn't marry, Franchot and Carole remained close friends until her death. When Screen Guide and Eagle-Lion Films wanted a Christmas layout at Carole Landis's house in 1947, Carole hosted a little preview of Christmas and Franchot and his wife Jean were present. Of course, it was July when the layout was shot—with a Christmas tree by the pool and friends gathered around an outdoor Christmas feast—but it wasn't published until December 1947.
|Carole, husband Horace, Jean Wallace, Betty Garrett, Larry Parks, and Franchot|
celebrating Christmas in July 1947.
|Franchot (under the tree) and Carole Landis directly in front. You can also see|
Jean's legs to the right.
The website above is a fantastic resource for all information on Carole and I highly suggest it for further reading as well as the Facebook page A Comet Over Hollywood.
- Fleming, E.J. Fleming (2005). Carole Landis: A Tragic Life in Hollywood. McFarland and Company, 2005."What Carol Landis Demands of Men!" Screenland. October 1941.
- Gans, Eric Lawrence. Carole Landis: A Most Beautiful Girl. Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2008.
- "Glamour Girls are Suckers!" Photoplay. December 1941.
- "It's Out-landis!" Modern Screen. October 1941.