While there is extremely little doubt that anyone who "knocked around" with Carole Lombard was not at least 98% gay--well, Clark Gable was only thus, pre-fame, according to Joan Crawford--Billy Hayes being a prime example. The subject of my book which comes out in October is NOT the delectable crooner, Russ Columbo, who very definitely batted for Team Pink, and good for him! The subject of the book IS a man, and one of the most famous of his day--and a sequel has been commissioned. But it's not Russ! His name will be revealed two days before publication.
Carole Lombard was one of the most gorgeous, and one of the kindest women who ever drew breath. Very down to earth, too, which only added to her qualities as a human being. Who needs airs and graces? Russ was another lovely, and very nearly made it to "The Twenty-Seven Club", then in its infancy. He died while having a barney with his long-term lover, Lansing Brown, who had been showing him his collection of antique pistols. One of these went off accidentally: the bullet ricocheted off a table-top and entered Russ's eye. He died soon afterwards, with Brown more or less going off his head with grief--though it WAS an accident--while Carole assumed the very dignified role as his lavender widow. Russ's ailing mother was never told of his death--for ten years, she received postcards from him while "he" was touring. It also emerged that another of his lovers was Carole's brother, Stuart, who was a pallbearer at his funeral. "I loved Russ, not only as a man, but as a mother loves her child," Carole later said, which pretty much also sums up her relationship with Clark Gable.
It's all in "Tormented Star", now in its seventh reprint and fourth edition.