Clark Gable (February 1, 1901 – November 16, 1960) was an
American film actor and military officer, often referred to as "The
King of Hollywood" or just simply as "The King". He began his
career as a bus boy and appeared as an extra in silent films between
1924 and 1926, and progressed to supporting roles with a few films for
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1930. The next year, he landed his first
Hollywood role and over the next three and a half decades he
became a leading man in more than 60 motion pictures.
Gable won an
Academy Award for Best Actor
Academy Award for Best Actor for It Happened One Night
(1934), and was nominated for leading roles in Mutiny on the Bounty
(1935) and for his best-known role as
Rhett Butler in Gone with the
Wind (1939).
Gable also found success commercially and critically with films such
as Red Dust (1932),
Manhattan Melodrama (1934), San Francisco (1936),
Saratoga (1937) Boom Town (1940),
The Hucksters (1947), Homecoming
(1948), and The Misfits (1961), which was his final screen
Gable appeared opposite some of the most popular actresses of the
Joan Crawford was his favorite actress to work with, and she
was partnered with Gable in eight films.
Myrna Loy worked with him
seven times, and he was paired with
Jean Harlow in six productions. He
also starred with
Lana Turner in four features, and with Norma Shearer
Ava Gardner in three each. Gable's final film, The Misfits (1961),
united him with
Marilyn Monroe (also in her last completed screen
Gable is considered one of the most consistent box-office performers
in history, appearing on Quigley Publishing's annual Top Ten Money
Making Stars Poll 16 times. He was named the seventh-greatest male
star of classic American cinema by the American Film Institute.
1 Life and career
1.1 Early life
1.2 Early career
1.3 Stage and silent films
1.4 Early success and rising star
Spencer Tracy collaborations
1.6 Gone with the Wind
1.7 Marriage to Carole Lombard
1.8 World War II
1.9 After World War II
2 Personal life and family
3 Style and reception
5 In popular culture
6 See also
7 Informational notes
10 External links
Life and career
Clark Gable was born in Cadiz, Ohio, to William Henry "Will"
Gable (1870–1948), an oil-well driller, and his wife, Adeline
(née Hershelman). His father was a Protestant and his mother a Roman
Catholic. Gable was named William after his father, but even in
childhood, he was almost always called Clark or sometimes Billy.
He was mistakenly listed as a female on his birth certificate.
Among Gable's ancestors were
Pennsylvania Dutch (German), Belgians,
Rhinelanders, and Bavarians.
When Gable was six months old, he was baptized at a Roman Catholic
church in Dennison, Ohio. His mother died when he was ten months old,
possibly from a brain tumor, although the official cause of death was
given as an epileptic fit. William Gable refused to raise his son
Catholic, which provoked criticism from the Hershelman family. The
dispute was resolved when Will Gable agreed to allow his son to spend
time with his maternal uncle, Charles Hershelman, and his wife on
their farm in Vernon Township, Pennsylvania.
In April 1903, Gable's father married Jennie Dunlap (1874–1919),
whose family came from the small neighboring town of Hopedale. The
marriage produced no children. Gable was a tall, shy child with a loud
voice. His stepmother raised him to be well-dressed and well-groomed.
Jennie played the piano and gave her stepson lessons at home.
Later he took up brass instruments. At 13, he was the only boy in the
men's town band. He was very mechanically inclined and loved to strip
down and repair cars with his father. Although his father insisted on
Gable doing "manly" things, like hunting and hard physical work, Gable
loved language. Among trusted company, he would recite Shakespeare,
particularly the sonnets.
Will Gable agreed to buy a 72-volume set of The World's Greatest
Literature to improve his son's education, but claimed he never saw
his son use it. In 1917, when Gable was in high school, his father
had financial difficulties. Will decided to settle his debts and try
his hand at farming, and the family moved to Ravenna, Ohio, near
Akron. Despite his father's insistence that he work the farm, Gable
soon left to work in Akron for the Firestone Tire and Rubber
"The Wife Gable Forgot"
Clark Gable was inspired to be an actor after seeing the play
The Bird of Paradise, but he was not able to make a real start until
he turned 21 and inherited some money.
By then, his stepmother had died, and his father moved to Tulsa,
Oklahoma to go back to the oil business. Gable toured in stock
companies, as well as working the oil fields and as a horse manager.
He found work with several second-class theater companies, thus making
his way across the Midwest to Seaside, Oregon, working as a logger,
and to Portland, Oregon, where he worked as a necktie salesman in the
Meier & Frank department store. In Portland, he met Laura Hope
Crews, a stage and film actress, who encouraged him to return to the
stage with another theater company. Twenty years later, Crews
played Aunt Pittypat alongside Gable's
Rhett Butler in Gone With the
Gable's acting coach,
Josephine Dillon — a theater manager in
Portland – was 17 years older than him. She paid to have his teeth
repaired and his hair styled. She guided him in building up his
chronically undernourished body, and taught him better body control
and posture. She spent considerable time training his naturally
high-pitched voice, which he slowly managed to lower, to gain better
resonance and tone. As his speech habits improved, his facial
expressions became more natural and convincing. After a long period of
training, Dillon considered him ready to attempt a film career.
Stage and silent films
Zita Johann and
Clark Gable in
In 1924, with Dillon's financing, they went to Hollywood, where she
became Gable's manager and first wife. He changed his stage name
from W. C. Gable to Clark Gable. He found work as an extra in such
silent films as Erich von Stroheim's
The Merry Widow
The Merry Widow (1925), The
Plastic Age (1925), which starred Clara Bow, Forbidden Paradise
(1924), starring Pola Negri, plus a series of two-reel comedies called
The Pacemakers. He appeared as an extra in Fox's The Johnstown Flood
(1926). Seventeen-year-old Carole Lombard, later his third wife, also
appeared as an extra in that film, although they were not in the same
scene. He also appeared as a bit player in a series of shorts.
However, he was not offered any major film roles, so he returned to
the stage. He became lifelong friends with Lionel Barrymore, who,
despite initially bawling Gable out for what he deemed amateurish
acting, urged him to pursue a career on stage. During the
1927–28 theater season, he acted with the Laskin Brothers Stock
Company in Houston, Texas, where he played many roles, gained
considerable experience, and became a local matinee idol. He then
moved to New York City, and Dillon sought work for him on Broadway. He
received good reviews in
Machinal (1928); "He's young, vigorous and
brutally masculine", wrote the critic at The Morning Telegraph.
Early success and rising star
Mary Astor and
Clark Gable in Red Dust, 1932
In 1930, after his impressive appearance as the seething and desperate
character Killer Mears in the
Los Angeles stage production of The Last
Mile, Gable was offered a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. His first
role in a sound picture was as the unshaven villain in a low-budget
William Boyd Western called
The Painted Desert
The Painted Desert (1931). He received a
lot of fan mail as a result of his powerful voice and appearance; the
studio took notice.
In 1930, Gable and
Josephine Dillon were divorced. A few days later,
he married Texas socialite Maria Franklin Prentiss Lucas Langham,
nicknamed "Rhea". After moving to California, they were married again
in 1931, possibly due to differences in state legal requirements. "His
ears are too big and he looks like an ape", said executive Darryl F.
Zanuck, then at Warner Bros., about Gable after testing him for the
lead in the studio's gangster drama Little Caesar (1931).
The same year, in Night Nurse, Gable played a villainous chauffeur who
was gradually starving two adorable little girls to death, then
knocked Barbara Stanwyck's character unconscious with his fist, a
supporting role originally slated for
James Cagney until the release
The Public Enemy
The Public Enemy abruptly made Cagney a leading man. After several
failed screen tests for Barrymore and Zanuck, Gable was signed in 1930
by MGM's Irving Thalberg. He became a client of well-connected agent
Minna Wallis, sister of producer
Hal Wallis and a very close friend of
Norma Shearer.
Gable's arrival in
Hollywood occurred fortuitously. MGM was looking to
expand its stable of male stars and he fit the bill. He first worked
mainly in supporting roles, often as the villain. He made two pictures
in 1931 with Wallace Beery, a supporting role in The Secret Six, then
with his part increasing in size to almost match Beery's in the naval
aviation film Hell Divers. MGM's publicity manager Howard Strickling
developed Gable's studio image, playing up his he-man experiences and
his 'lumberjack in evening clothes' persona.
Clark Gable and
Jean Harlow in Hold Your Man, 1933
To bolster his increasing popularity, MGM frequently paired him with
well-established female stars.
Joan Crawford asked for him as her
Dance, Fools, Dance
Dance, Fools, Dance (1931). He built his fame and public
visibility in such movies as
A Free Soul
A Free Soul (1931), in which he played a
gangster who shoved the character played by Norma Shearer; Gable never
played a supporting role again. The
Hollywood Reporter wrote "A star
in the making has been made, one that, to our reckoning, will outdraw
every other star... Never have we seen audiences work themselves into
such enthusiasm as when
Clark Gable walks on the screen".
He followed that with
Susan Lenox (Her Fall and Rise)
Susan Lenox (Her Fall and Rise) (1931) with
Greta Garbo, and Possessed (1931), in which Crawford (then married to
Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) and he steamed up the screen. Adela Rogers St.
Johns later dubbed Gable and Crawford's real-life relationship as "the
affair that nearly burned
Hollywood down". Louis B. Mayer
threatened to terminate both their contracts, and for a while they
kept apart. Gable shifted his attentions to Marion Davies. However,
Gable and Garbo disliked each other. She thought he was a wooden
actor, while he considered her a snob.
Gable was considered for the role of
Tarzan the Ape Man, but
lost out to Johnny Weissmuller's more imposing physique and superior
swimming prowess. However, Gable's unshaven lovemaking with braless
Jean Harlow in Red Dust (1932) soon made him MGM's most important male
After the hit
Hold Your Man
Hold Your Man (1933), MGM recognized the goldmine of the
Gable-Harlow pairing, putting them in two more films, China Seas
(1935; with Gable and Harlow billed above Wallace Beery) and Wife vs.
Secretary (1936) with
Myrna Loy and James Stewart. An enormously
popular combination, on-screen and off-screen, Gable and Harlow made
six films together, the most notable being Red Dust (1932) and
Saratoga (1937). Harlow died during production of Saratoga. Ninety
percent completed, the remaining scenes were filmed with long shots or
the use of doubles like Mary Dees; Gable said that he felt as if he
were "in the arms of a ghost".
Clark Gable and
Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night, 1934
MGM did not have a project ready for Gable and was paying him $2,000
per week, under his contract, to do nothing. Studio head Louis B.
Mayer lent him to Columbia for $2,500 per week, making a $500 per week
profit. Gable was not the first choice to play the lead role of
Peter Warne in
It Happened One Night
It Happened One Night (1934). Robert Montgomery was
originally offered the role, but he declined, feeling the script was
Filming began in a tense atmosphere, but both Gable and director
Frank Capra enjoyed making the movie.
It Happened One Night
It Happened One Night became the
first movie to sweep all five of the major Academy Awards, with Gable
winning for Best Actor. To Capra, Gable's character in the film most
closely resembled his real personality:
It Happened One Night
It Happened One Night is the real Gable. He was never able to play
that kind of character except in that one film. They had him playing
these big, huff-and-puff he-man lovers, but he was not that kind of
guy. He was a down-to-earth guy, he loved everything, he got down with
the common people. He didn't want to play those big lover parts; he
just wanted to play Clark Gable, the way he was in It Happened One
Night, and it's too bad they didn't let him keep up with that.
He returned to MGM a bigger star than ever. He received an Academy
Award nomination for his portrayal of
Fletcher Christian in Mutiny on
the Bounty (1935).
Spencer Tracy collaborations
Lobby card for Test Pilot with Loy and Tracy
Gable made three pictures with Spencer Tracy, which boosted Tracy's
career and cemented them in the public mind as a team. San Francisco
(1936) featured Tracy in a brief but Oscar-nominated role in which he
played a priest who knocks Gable, by then the studio's foremost
leading man, down in a boxing ring.
Gone with the Wind
Despite his reluctance to play the role, Gable is best known for his
performance in Gone with the Wind (1939), for which he gained a Best
Actor Oscar nomination.
Carole Lombard may have been the first to
suggest that he play
Rhett Butler (and she play Scarlett) when she
bought him a copy of the bestseller, which he refused to read.
Gable and Vivien Leigh strike an amorous pose in Gone with the Wind,
Butler's last line in Gone with the Wind, "Frankly, my dear, I don't
give a damn," is one of the most famous lines in movie history.
Gable was an almost immediate favorite for the role of Rhett with both
the public and producer David O. Selznick. Since Selznick had no male
stars under long-term contract, though, he needed to go through the
process of negotiating to borrow an actor from another studio. Gary
Cooper was Selznick's first choice. When Cooper turned down the
role of Butler, he was quoted as saying, "Gone With the Wind is going
to be the biggest flop in
Hollywood history. I’m glad it'll be Clark
Gable who's falling flat on his nose, not me." By then, Selznick
had become determined to hire Gable, and set about finding a way to
borrow him from MGM. Gable was wary of potentially disappointing an
audience that had decided that no one else could play the part. He
later conceded, "I think I know now how a fly must react after being
caught in a spider's web."
By all accounts, Gable got along well with his co-stars during
filming. Gable was great friends with actress Hattie McDaniel, and
he even slipped her a real alcoholic drink during the scene in which
they were supposed to be celebrating the birth of Scarlett and Rhett's
daughter. Gable tried to boycott the premiere of Gone with the Wind in
Atlanta, Georgia, because the African American McDaniel was not
permitted to attend. He reportedly only went after she pleaded with
him to go. Gable remained friends with McDaniel, and he always
Hollywood parties, especially when she was raising funds
during World War II.
Gable did not want to shed tears for the scene after Rhett
inadvertently causes Scarlett to miscarry their second child. Olivia
de Havilland made him cry, later commenting, "...Oh, he would not do
it. He would not! Victor (Fleming) tried everything with him. He tried
to attack him on a professional level. We had done it without him
weeping several times and then we had one last try. I said, 'You can
do it, I know you can do it and you will be wonderful...' Well, by
heaven, just before the cameras rolled, you could see the tears come
up at his eyes and he played the scene unforgettably well. He put his
whole heart into it."
Decades later, Gable said that whenever his career would start to
fade, a rerelease of Gone with the Wind would soon revive his
popularity, and he continued as a top leading actor for the rest of
Marriage to Carole Lombard
Carole Lombard after their honeymoon, 1939
Gable's marriage in 1939 to his third wife, actress Carole Lombard
(1908–1942), was the happiest period of his personal life. They met
while filming 1932's No Man of Her Own, when Lombard was still married
to actor William Powell, but their romance did not take off until
1936. They became reacquainted at a party and soon were inseparable,
cited in fan magazines and tabloids as an official couple. Gable
thrived being around Lombard's youthful, charming, and frank
personality, once stating, "You can trust that little screwball with
your life or your hopes or your weaknesses, and she wouldn't even know
how to think about letting you down." Lombard, for her part,
seemed to gain personal stability and a contented home life that she
had previously lacked. She taught herself how to hunt and fish and
accompanied Gable on trips with his hunting companions.
Gable was still legally married, and he prolonged a lengthy and
expensive divorce from his second wife Rhea Langham. His salary from
Gone with the Wind enabled him to reach a divorce settlement with
Langham, however, on March 7, 1939. On March 29, during a production
break on Gone with the Wind,
Gable and Lombard
Gable and Lombard were married in
Kingman, Arizona. They purchased a ranch previously owned by
Raoul Walsh in Encino, California, and made it their home.
They raised chickens and horses, and had a menagerie of cats and dogs.
On January 16, 1942, Lombard was a passenger on Transcontinental and
Western Air Flight 3 with her mother and press agent Otto Winkler. She
had just finished her 57th movie, To Be or Not to Be, and was on her
way home from a successful war bond selling tour when the flight's
DC-3 airliner crashed into a mountain near Las Vegas, Nevada, killing
all 22 passengers aboard, including 15 servicemen en route to training
in California. Gable flew to the crash site to claim the bodies of his
wife, mother-in-law, and Winkler, who had been the best man at Gable
and Lombard's wedding. Lombard was declared to be the first
war-related American female casualty of World War II, and Gable
received a personal note of condolence from President Roosevelt. The
Civil Aeronautics Board
Civil Aeronautics Board investigation into the crash concluded that
pilot error was its cause.
Gable returned to their Encino ranch and carried out her funeral
wishes as she had requested in her will. A month later, he returned to
the studio to work with
Lana Turner in the movie Somewhere I'll Find
You. Having lost 20 pounds since the tragedy, Gable evidently was
emotionally and physically devastated by it, but Turner stated that
Gable remained a professional for the duration of filming. He acted in
27 more films and remarried twice more. "But he was never the same,"
said Esther Williams. "He had been devastated by Carole's death."
World War II
For details of Gable's combat missions, see RAF Polebrook
Clark Gable with an
8th Air Force
8th Air Force
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress in
In 1942, following Lombard's death, Gable joined the U.S. Army Air
Forces. Lombard had suggested that Gable enlist as part of the war
effort, but MGM was reluctant to let him go, and he resisted the
suggestion. Gable made a public statement after Lombard's death that
prompted the Commanding General of the
U.S. Army Air Forces
U.S. Army Air Forces Henry H.
"Hap" Arnold to offer Gable a "special assignment" in aerial gunnery.
The Washington Evening Star reported that Gable took a physical
Bolling Field on June 19, preliminary to joining the
"Mr. Gable, it was learned from a source outside the war department,
conferred with Lieutenant General H. H. Arnold, head of the air forces
yesterday." the Star continued. "It was understood that Mr. Gable, if
he is commissioned, will make movies for the air forces. Lieutenant
Jimmy Stewart, another actor in uniform, has been doing this."
Gable had earlier expressed an interest in officer candidate school,
but he enlisted on August 12, 1942, with the intention of becoming an
enlisted aerial gunner on a bomber. MGM arranged for his studio
friend, the cinematographer Andrew McIntyre, to enlist with him and
accompany him through training.
However, shortly after his enlistment, McIntyre and he were sent to
Miami Beach, Florida, where they entered USAAF OCS Class 42-E on
August 17, 1942. Both completed training on October 28, 1942,
commissioned as second lieutenants. His class of about 2,600 fellow
students (of which he ranked about 700th in class standing) selected
Gable as its graduation speaker, at which General Arnold presented the
cadets with their commissions. Arnold then informed Gable of his
special assignment: to make a recruiting film in combat with the
Eighth Air Force
Eighth Air Force to recruit aerial gunners. Gable and McIntyre were
immediately sent to Flexible Gunnery School at Tyndall Field, Florida,
followed by a photography course at Fort George Wright, Washington
State and promoted to first lieutenants upon its completion.
James Stewart and
Clark Gable in 1943
Gable reported to Biggs Army Airfield, Texas, on January 27, 1943, to
train with and accompany the
351st Bomb Group to
England as head of a
six-man motion picture unit. In addition to McIntyre, he recruited the
screenwriter John Lee Mahin, camera operators Sgts. Mario Toti and
Robert Boles, and the sound man Lt. Howard Voss to complete his crew.
Gable was promoted to captain while he was with the 351st Bomb Group
at Pueblo Army Air Base, Colorado, a rank commensurate with his
position as a unit commander. (As first lieutenants, McIntyre and he
had equal seniority.)
Gable spent most of 1943 in
RAF Polebrook with the 351st
Bomb Group. Gable flew five combat missions, including one to Germany,
as an observer-gunner in B-17 Flying Fortresses between May 4 and
September 23, 1943, earning the
Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying
Cross for his efforts. During one of the missions, Gable's aircraft
was damaged by flak and attacked by fighters, which knocked out one of
the engines and shot up the stabilizer. In the raid on Germany, one
crewman was killed and two others were wounded, and flak went through
Gable's boot and narrowly missed his head. When word of this reached
MGM, studio executives began to badger the Army Air Forces to reassign
its most valuable screen actor to noncombat duty. In November 1943,
Gable returned to the
United States to edit his film, only to find
that the personnel shortage of aerial gunners had already been
rectified. He was allowed to complete the film anyway, joining the
First Motion Picture Unit
First Motion Picture Unit in Hollywood.
In May 1944, Gable was promoted to major. He hoped for another combat
assignment, but when the invasion of Normandy came and went in June
without any further orders, Gable was relieved from active duty as a
major on June 12, 1944, at his request, since he was over-age for
combat. His discharge papers were signed by Captain (later U.S.
President) Ronald Reagan. Gable completed editing of the film Combat
America in September 1944, giving the narration himself and making use
of numerous interviews with enlisted gunners as focus of the film.
Because his motion picture production schedule made it impossible for
him to fulfill reserve officer duties, he resigned his commission on
September 26, 1947, a week after the Air Force became an independent
Adolf Hitler favored Gable above all other actors. During World War
II, Hitler offered a sizable reward to anyone who could capture and
bring Gable to him unscathed.
Gable's military awards were the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air
Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern
Campaign Medal, and
World War II
World War II Victory Medal. He also qualified for
and received aerial gunner wings.
He made good use of his wartime experiences in the movie Command
Decision (1948), playing a
World War II
World War II brigadier general who
supervised bombing raids over Germany.
After World War II
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Immediately after his discharge from the service, Gable returned to
his ranch and rested. He resumed a prewar relationship with Virginia
Grey and dated other starlets. He introduced his golf caddie Robert
Wagner to MGM casting. Gable's first movie after
World War II
World War II was
Adventure (1945), with his ill-matched co-star Greer Garson. It was a
critical and commercial failure despite the famous teaser tagline
"Gable's back and Garson's got him".
After Joan Crawford's third divorce, Gable and she resumed their
affair and lived together for a brief time. Gable was acclaimed for
his performance in
The Hucksters (1947), a satire of postwar Madison
Avenue corruption and immorality. A very public and brief romance with
Paulette Goddard occurred after that. In 1949, Gable married Sylvia
Ashley, a British model and actress who was previously married to
Douglas Fairbanks. The relationship was profoundly unsuccessful; they
divorced in 1952. Soon followed Never Let Me Go (1953), opposite Gene
Tierney. Tierney was a favorite of Gable and he was very disappointed
when she was replaced in
Mogambo (because of her mental health
problems) by Grace Kelly.
Mogambo (1953), directed by John Ford,
was a somewhat sanitized remake of his earlier
Pre-Code film Red Dust,
Jean Harlow and Mary Astor, which had been a greater success.
Gable's on-location affair with
Grace Kelly (1929–1982), who was
young enough to be his daughter, gradually ended after filming was
Clark Gable and
Grace Kelly in Mogambo, 1953
Gable became increasingly unhappy with what he considered mediocre
roles offered him by MGM, while the studio regarded his salary as
excessive. Studio head
Louis B. Mayer
Louis B. Mayer was fired in 1951 amid slumping
Hollywood production and revenue, due primarily to the rising
popularity of television. Studio chiefs struggled to cut costs. Many
MGM stars were fired or their contracts were not renewed, including
Greer Garson and Judy Garland. In 1953, Gable refused to renew his
contract and began to work independently. His first two films in this
new situation were Soldier of Fortune and The Tall Men (both 1955),
which were profitable, although only modest successes. In 1955, Gable
married his fifth wife, Kay Spreckels (née Kathleen Williams), a
thrice-married former fashion model and actress who had previously
been married to sugar-refining heir Adolph B. Spreckels Jr. Gable
became stepfather to her son Bunker Spreckels, who went on to live a
notorious celebrity lifestyle in the late 1960s and early 1970s
surfing scene, ultimately leading to his early death in 1977.
Clark Gable and Yvonne de Carlo in Band of Angels, 1957
In 1955, Gable formed a production company with
Jane Russell and her
husband Bob Waterfield, and they produced The King and Four Queens
(1956), Gable's only production. He found producing and acting to be
too taxing on his health, and he was beginning to manifest a
noticeable tremor, particularly in long takes. His next project was
Band of Angels
Band of Angels (1957), with relative newcomer
Sidney Poitier and
Yvonne De Carlo; it was not well received despite Gable's role's
similarities to Rhett Butler.
Newsweek said, "Here is a movie so bad
that it must be seen to be disbelieved." Next, he paired with
Doris Day in Teacher's Pet (1958), shot in black and white. The film
was good enough to bring Gable more movie offers, including Run
Silent, Run Deep (also 1958), with co-star and producer Burt
Lancaster, which featured his first on-screen death since 1937, and
which garnered good reviews. Gable started to receive television
offers, but rejected them outright. At 57, Gable finally acknowledged,
"Now it's time I acted my age". His next two films were light
comedies for Paramount: But Not for Me (1959) with
Carroll Baker and
It Started in Naples
It Started in Naples (1960) with Sophia Loren. The last one, despite
an icy critical reception, was a good box-office success and was
nominated for an Academy award and two Golden Globes. Filmed mostly on
location in Italy, it was Gable's last film released in color.
On February 8, 1960, Gable received a star on the
Hollywood Walk of
Fame for his work in motion pictures, located at 1608 Vine
Gable's last film was The Misfits (1961), with a script by Arthur
Miller and directed by John Huston. Co-starring with Gable were
Marilyn Monroe, her last completed film; Montgomery Clift; Eli
Wallach; and Thelma Ritter. Many critics regard Gable's performance to
be his finest, and Gable, after seeing the rough cuts, agreed.
Al Hirschfeld created a drawing, and then a lithograph,
portraying the film's stars Clift, Monroe, and Gable with screenwriter
Miller, in what is suggested as a typical "on-the-set" scene during
the troubled production. Throughout his life, Gable was fond of
the work of artist Reinhold Palenske, and they were close friends.
Gable was a conservative Republican, though he never publicly spoke
about politics. His third wife, Carole Lombard, was an activist
liberal Democrat, and she cajoled him into supporting Democratic
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal. In 1944, he became
an early member of the conservative Motion Picture Alliance for the
Preservation of American Ideals, alongside Ronald Reagan, John Wayne,
Gary Cooper, and other conservative actors and filmmakers, and was
therefore pro-McCarthy. In February 1952, he attended a televised
rally in New York where he enthusiastically urged General Dwight D.
Eisenhower to run for president. This was when Eisenhower was still
being sought by both parties as their candidate. Despite having
suffered a severe coronary thrombosis, Gable still managed to vote by
mail in the 1960 presidential election for Richard Nixon.
Crypt of Clark Gable, in the Sanctuary of Trust of the Great
Mausoleum, Forest Lawn Glendale.
With fourth wife Sylvia Ashley
On November 6, 1960, Gable was sent to
Hollywood Presbyterian Medical
Center in Los Angeles, California, where doctors found that he had
suffered a heart attack. Newspaper reports the following day listed
his condition as satisfactory. By the morning of November 16 he
seemed to be improving. But he died that evening at age 59 from an
arterial blood clot. Medical staff did not perform CPR for fear that
the procedure would rupture Gable's heart, and a defibrillator was not
There was speculation that Gable's physically demanding role in The
Misfits contributed to his sudden death soon after filming was
completed. In an interview with Louella Parsons, published soon after
Gable's death, Kay Gable said, "It wasn't the physical exertion that
killed him. It was the horrible tension, the eternal waiting, waiting,
waiting. He waited around forever, for everybody. He'd get so angry
that he'd just go ahead and do anything to keep occupied." Monroe
said that she and Kay had become close during the filming and would
refer to Clark as "Our Man", while Arthur Miller, observing Gable
on location, noted, "no hint of affront ever showed on his face".
On March 20, 1961, Kay Gable gave birth to Gable's only son, John
Clark Gable, at the same hospital in which her husband had died four
Marilyn Monroe attended his son's baptism.
Gable is interred in the Great Mausoleum, Memorial Terrace at
Glendale's Forest Lawn Memorial Park.
Personal life and family
During the filming of The Call of the Wild in early 1935, the film's
lead actress, Loretta Young, became pregnant with Gable's child. Their
daughter, Judy, was born in November 1935. Those who knew of Gable's
paternity widely assumed that the pregnancy was the result of an
affair. Eighty years later, Linda Lewis — Young's daughter-in-law
— claimed that before her death Young told her that she had been
raped by Gable, and though the two had flirted on set, there had been
Kay Williams and
Clark Gable at premiere of A Star is Born (1954)
Young's pregnancy was hidden in an elaborate scheme, reported devised
by Eddie Mannix. While nearing the end of her pregnancy, she took a
vacation to Europe for several months. She then returned to the United
States to give birth to their daughter in Venice, California. During
Young's pregnancy, Gable had spent much time out of the country, but
he was in
New York City
New York City when he received an unsigned telegram that
said, "The baby was born, she is beautiful, and has blonde hair."
Young and her mother both denied sending the telegram; Loretta
believed that Carter Hermann (her sister Polly's husband, who was also
Judy's godfather) had sent it.
Judy Lewis was Gable's only child born while he was alive. Nineteen
months after the birth, Young claimed to have adopted Judy. The girl
grew up resembling Gable very much, including having large ears that
stuck out. She went by the name
Judy Lewis after her mother married
Tom Lewis when Judy was four years old. According to Lewis, Gable
visited her home once, when she was 15, asked about her life, and
kissed her on her forehead upon leaving. He did not tell her that he
was her biological father. Neither Gable nor Young would ever publicly
acknowledge the truth about their daughter, but most in
some in the general public believed Gable was her father, due, in
part, to their strong resemblance and the timing of her birth.
When she was 31 years old and five years after the death of Clark
Gable, Lewis finally confronted her mother about her true parentage.
Loretta confirmed that she was her biological mother and Gable was her
father. Young never publicly acknowledged the fact while she was
alive, which she said would be admitting to a mortal sin. However, she
finally gave her biographer permission to include the information on
the condition that the book not be published until after her death.
She died on August 12, 2000, at the age of 87 of ovarian cancer. Judy
Lewis died at age 76 on November 25, 2011, also of cancer.
In 1955, Gable married twice divorced Kay Williams, and had a son,
John Clark Gable, by her, on March 20, 1961, after his death. John
Clark had two children: Kayley Gable (born 1986) and Clark James Gable
(born September 20, 1988). Kayley is an actress, while Clark James is
currently host of the nationally syndicated reality show Cheaters.
Style and reception
In a photo essay of
Hollywood film stars, Life magazine called Gable,
"All man... and then some."
Doris Day summed up Gable's unique personality: "He was as masculine
as any man I've ever known, and as much a little boy as a grown man
could be – it was this combination that had such a devastating
effect on women."
Longtime friend, eight-time co-star and on-again, off-again romance
Joan Crawford concurred, stating on David Frost's TV show in 1970 that
"he was a king wherever he went. He walked like one, he behaved like
one, and he was the most masculine man that I have ever met in my
Gable in 1938
Robert Taylor said Gable "was a great, great guy and certainly one of
the great stars of all times, if not the greatest. I think that I
sincerely doubt that there will ever be another like Clark Gable; he
was one of a kind."
In his memoir Bring on the Empty Horses
David Niven states that
Gable, a close friend, was extremely supportive after the sudden,
accidental death of Niven's first wife, Primula (Primmie) in 1946.
Primmie had supported Gable emotionally after Carole Lombard's death
four years earlier: Niven recounts Gable kneeling at Primmie's feet
and sobbing while she held and consoled him. Niven also states that
Arthur Miller, the author of The Misfits, had described Gable as "the
man who did not know how to hate."
Gable has been criticized for altering critical aspects of a script
when he felt that the script would not fit in with his image.
Screenwriter Larry Gelbart, as quoted by
James Garner  once stated
that Gable, "...would not go down with the submarine [referring to Run
Silent Run Deep (1958), where the movie ended differently from the
book on which it was based], because Gable doesn't sink."
Eli Wallach, in his autobiography, also states that Wallach's most
dramatic scene in The Misfits was cut from the movie after it had been
filmed over several takes. This scene depicts Wallach's character (who
secretly loves the character played by
Marilyn Monroe) being
emotionally crushed when he visits her, hoping to propose to her, and
instead sees her with Gable's character. Both Gable and Monroe are
offscreen, and Wallach's heartbreak is indicated by his dropping the
rose bouquet he had brought for her. Gable ordered the scene removed
because he felt that his character would never steal a woman from
another man. Wallach, however, refrains from criticizing Gable, noting
that he was professional and considerate in his behavior.
Clark Gable filmography
Gable is known to have appeared as an extra in 13 films between 1924
and 1930. He then appeared in a total of 67 theatrically released
motion pictures, as himself in 17 "short subject" films, and he
narrated and appeared in a
World War II
World War II propaganda film entitled
Combat America, produced by the
United States Army Air Forces.
In popular culture
Marilyn Monroe and (in the background)
Eli Wallach and Montgomery
Clift in The Misfits (1961)
Warner Bros. cartoons sometimes caricatured Gable. Examples include
Have You Got Any Castles?
Have You Got Any Castles? (in which his face appears seven times
inside the novel The House of the Seven Gables), The Coo-Coo Nut Grove
(in which his ears flap on their own),
Hollywood Steps Out (in which
he follows an enigmatic woman), and
Cats Don't Dance
Cats Don't Dance in which he
appears on a billboard promotion for Gone With The Wind.
The 2003 album
Give Up by electronic music group The Postal Service
includes a song titled "Clark Gable". The song's narrator says he
wants love like something in the movies, and includes the lyrics "I
kissed you in a style
Clark Gable would have admired, I thought it
In the film Broadway Melody of 1938,
Judy Garland (aged 15) sings "You
Made Me Love You" while looking at a composite picture of Gable. The
opening lines are: "Dear Mr. Gable, I am writing this to you, and I
hope that you will read it so you'll know, my heart beats like a
hammer, and I stutter and I stammer, every time I see you at the
picture show, I guess I'm just another fan of yours, and I thought I'd
write and tell you so. You made me love you, I didn't want to do it, I
didn't want to do it..."
Bugs Bunny's nonchalant carrot-chewing standing position, as explained
by Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, and Bob Clampett, originated in a scene
in the film It Happened One Night, in which Clark Gable's character
leans against a fence, eating carrots rapidly and talking with his
mouth full to Claudette Colbert's character. This scene was well known
while the film was popular, and viewers at the time likely recognized
Bugs Bunny's behavior as satire.
Gable has been portrayed in films by
James Brolin in Gable and Lombard
Larry Pennell in Marilyn: The Untold Story (1980), Edward
Winter in Moviola: The Scarlett O'Hara War (1980), Boyd Holister in
Grace Kelly (1983),
Gary Wayne in Malice in Wonderland (1985), Gene
The Rocketeer (1991), Bruce Hughes and Shayne Greenman in
Blonde (2001), and Charles Unwin in Lucy (2003).
United States Air Force portal
List of actors with Academy Award nominations
Marilyn Monroe had started filming
Something's Got to Give
Something's Got to Give in 1962,
but she died before the project was finished, and the film was
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April 22, 2014.
^ a b "America's Greatest Legends" (PDF). American Film Institute.
Retrieved July 29, 2009.
Clark Gable Movies Ranked Best to Worst with Box Office Grosses,
Reviews and Awards". Cogerson Moviescore. Retrieved April 22,
^ a b c d e f Spicer, Chrystopher (2002). Clark Gable: Biography,
Filmography, Bibliography. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland &
Company. ISBN 978-0-7864-1124-5.
^ Van Neste, Dan (1999). "
Clark Gable Reconstructed Birthhome: Fit For
A King". Classic Images. Archived from the original on January 5,
2005. Retrieved April 3, 2008.
^ a b c Harris, Warren G. (2002). Clark Gable: A Biography. New York:
Harmony Books. ISBN 978-0-609-60495-3.
^ ReelRundown: The Life and Many Loves of Clark Gable, online bio
Clark Gable Retrieved November 3, 2016
Pennsylvania Dutch and their cookery: their history, art,
accomplishments ... - Justus George Frederick. Google Books. 1935.
Retrieved August 31, 2012.
^ "1933: Clark Reaches His Goal!". Dear Mr. Gable. Retrieved August
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Volume 1. p. 661. ISBN 9781598842968. Retrieved June 2,
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^ a b c d e f Paul G. Roberts. Style Icons Vol 1 Golden Boys.
ISBN 9781627760324. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
^ Todd E. Creason. Famous American Freemasons, Volume 2. p. 92.
ISBN 9780557070886. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
^ Harris, p. 7.
^ a b Chrystopher J. Spicer. Clark Gable, in Pictures: Candid Images
of the Actor’s Life. ISBN 9780786487141. Retrieved June 2,
^ Jeff Dwyer. Ghost Hunter's Guide to Portland and the Oregon Coast.
ISBN 9781455621170. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
^ Harris, p. 24.
^ Brett L. Abrams.
Hollywood Bohemians: Transgressive Sexuality and
the Selling of the Movieland Dream. ISBN 9780786482474. Retrieved
June 2, 2017.
^ Harris, p. 29.
^ Anthony Slide.
Hollywood Unknowns: A History of Extras, Bit Players,
and Stand-Ins. ISBN 9781617034756. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
^ Harris, p. 36.
Clark Gable – North American Theatre Online
^ Harris, p. 49.
Turner Classic Movies
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^ Harris, p. 80.
^ Harris, p. 82.
^ James Egan. 3000 Facts about Actors. ISBN 9781326701130.
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^ Harris, p. 179.
^ Kotsabilas-Davis, James;
Myrna Loy (October 31, 1998). Myrna Loy:
Being and Becoming. Primus, Donald & Fine, Inc. p. 94.
^ Griffin, Merv. From Where I Sit, Arbor House (1982) p. 141
^ Gable's Oscar recently drew a top bid of $607,500 from Steven
Spielberg, who promptly donated the statuette to the Academy of Motion
Picture Arts and Sciences. (Colbert's Oscar for the same film was
offered for auction by
Christie's on June 9, 1997, but no bids were
made for it.)
^ Harris, p. 164.
^ Although legend persists that the Hays Office fined Selznick $5,000
for using the word "damn". In fact, the Motion Picture Association
board passed an amendment to the
Production Code on November 1, 1939,
that forbade use of the words "hell" or "damn" except when their use
"shall be essential and required for portrayal, in proper historical
context, of any scene or dialogue based upon historical fact or
folklore ... or a quotation from a literary work, provided that no
such use shall be permitted which is intrinsically objectionable or
offends good taste." With that amendment, the Production Code
Administration had no further objection to Rhett's closing line.
Leonard J. Leff and Jerold L. Simmons, The Dame in the Kimono:
Hollywood, Censorship, and the Production Code, pp. 107–08.
^ Selznick, David O. (2000). Memo from David O. Selznick. New York:
Modern Library. pp. 172–3. ISBN 0-375-75531-4.
^ Donnelley, Paul (June 1, 2003). Fade To Black: A Book Of Movie
Obituaries. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-9512-5.
^ Harris, p. 189.
^ Stallings, Penny; Mandelbaum, Howard (1981). Flesh and Fantasy. New
York: Bell Publishing Co. ISBN 0-517-33968-4.
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ISBN 9781598842975. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
^ Breznican, Anthony (November 14, 2004). "Legends swirl around `Gone
With the Wind' 65 years later". Deseret Morning News. Associated
Press. Retrieved April 3, 2008. (Subscription required (help)).
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^ Harris, pp. 200-201.
^ Harris, pp. 250–51.
^ Williams, Esther; Diehl, Digby (1999). The Million Dollar Mermaid.
New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-85284-5.
^ Associated Press, "Gable Tested For Air Corps", The
Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Washington, Saturday 20 June 1942, Volume
60, Number 37, page 5.
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Clark Gable in the 8th Air Force". Air
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^ Harris, p. 268.
^ Tierney and Herskowitz (1978) Wyden Books, Self-Portrait pp. 150–1
^ Harris, p. 351.
^ Harris, p. 361.
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Reignite the Love You Have Through the Power of Numerology.
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Publishers. p. 156. ISBN 9780824602055.
^ The Milwaukee Journal, November 7, 1960, p. 20.
^ Ocala Star-Banner, November 18, 1960, p. 1.
^ Ocala Star-Banner, November 18, 1960, p. 4.
^ Harris, pp. 378–79.
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Clark Gable.
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Clark Gable
Clark Gable on IMDb
Clark Gable at the TCM Movie Database
Clark Gable at AllMovie
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Internet Broadway Database
Internet Broadway Database
Clark Gable at Virtual History
Combat America at the Internet Archive: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
Centennial Tribute to Clark Gable
Clark Gable (Aveleyman)
Academy Award for Best Actor
Emil Jannings (1928)
Warner Baxter (1929)
George Arliss (1930)
Lionel Barrymore (1931)
Fredric March /
Wallace Beery (1932)
Charles Laughton (1933)
Clark Gable (1934)
Victor McLaglen (1935)
Paul Muni (1936)
Spencer Tracy (1937)
Spencer Tracy (1938)
Robert Donat (1939)
James Stewart (1940)
Gary Cooper (1941)
James Cagney (1942)
Paul Lukas (1943)
Bing Crosby (1944)
Ray Milland (1945)
Fredric March (1946)
Ronald Colman (1947)
Laurence Olivier (1948)
Broderick Crawford (1949)
José Ferrer (1950)
Humphrey Bogart (1951)
Gary Cooper (1952)
William Holden (1953)
Marlon Brando (1954)
Ernest Borgnine (1955)
Yul Brynner (1956)
Alec Guinness (1957)
David Niven (1958)
Charlton Heston (1959)
Burt Lancaster (1960)
Maximilian Schell (1961)
Gregory Peck (1962)
Sidney Poitier (1963)
Rex Harrison (1964)
Lee Marvin (1965)
Paul Scofield (1966)
Rod Steiger (1967)
Cliff Robertson (1968)
John Wayne (1969)
George C. Scott1 (1970)
Gene Hackman (1971)
Marlon Brando1 (1972)
Jack Lemmon (1973)
Art Carney (1974)
Jack Nicholson (1975)
Peter Finch (1976)
Richard Dreyfuss (1977)
Jon Voight (1978)
Dustin Hoffman (1979)
Robert De Niro
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Henry Fonda (1981)
Ben Kingsley (1982)
Robert Duvall (1983)
F. Murray Abraham
F. Murray Abraham (1984)
William Hurt (1985)
Paul Newman (1986)
Michael Douglas (1987)
Dustin Hoffman (1988)
Daniel Day-Lewis (1989)
Jeremy Irons (1990)
Anthony Hopkins (1991)
Al Pacino (1992)
Tom Hanks (1993)
Tom Hanks (1994)
Nicolas Cage (1995)
Geoffrey Rush (1996)
Jack Nicholson (1997)
Roberto Benigni (1998)
Kevin Spacey (1999)
Russell Crowe (2000)
Denzel Washington (2001)
Adrien Brody (2002)
Sean Penn (2003)
Jamie Foxx (2004)
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Philip Seymour Hoffman (2005)
Forest Whitaker (2006)
Daniel Day-Lewis (2007)
Sean Penn (2008)
Jeff Bridges (2009)
Colin Firth (2010)
Jean Dujardin (2011)
Daniel Day-Lewis (2012)
Matthew McConaughey (2013)
Eddie Redmayne (2014)
Leonardo DiCaprio (2015)
Casey Affleck (2016)
Gary Oldman (2017)
1 refused award that year
ISNI: 0000 0001 1023 6672
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