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January 17, 1942. With all the war news at home and abroad on this day, nothing hit the movie-going public quite like hearing about the tragic and sudden death of film icon Carole Lombard. She had just finished a grueling War Bond drive tour, which took her back and forth across the U.S., raising some $2 million for the War effort. Finishing her last appearance in Indianapolis, she boarded TWA Flight 3, along with her mother and press agent and headed back to the West Coast. A routine flight with several stops, as was customary with air travel in those days. But it was after taking off after a stop in Las Vegas that the plane slammed into the side of a mountain and exploded, killing all on board.
The news of her death was a great tragedy to Hollywood, particularly to her husband Clark Gable, himself an iconic figure in Hollywood and who was inconsolable at first hearing the news and flew out to Las Vegas to join in the rescue/recovery efforts.
And with all that, there was still other War news. The manufacture of synthetic rubber was underway, with delivery of some 90,000 tons by January of 1943, which was a far cry from the 750,000 tons America consumed in 1941. However, experts said the number could be boosted to 250,000 tons and raised further to 480,000 tons a year later. The figures weren’t certain and caution was advised before chucking old tires in favor of new ones.
The other piece of news came by way of Rio de Janeiro and the closing of the first Rio Conference of Foreign ministers, made up of South American leaders who were enthusiastically pledging their support of the Allies in the War Effort.
All that, and much more for this January 17, 1942 – as reported by The Blue Network of NBC