Clark Gable

Clark Gable
Clark Gable

Studio publicity photo
Born William Clark Gable
February 1, 1901(1901-02-01)
Cadiz, Ohio, U.S.
Died November 16, 1960(1960-11-16) (aged 59)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Heart attack
Resting place Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California
Occupation Actor
Years active 1923–60
Spouse Josephine Dillon (m. 1924–1930) «start: (1924)–end+1: (1931)»"Marriage: Josephine Dillon to Clark Gable" Location: (linkback:// (divorced)
Maria "Ria" Franklin Prentiss Lucas Langham (m. 1931–1939) «start: (1931)–end+1: (1940)»"Marriage: Maria "Ria" Franklin Prentiss Lucas Langham to Clark Gable" Location: (linkback:// (divorced)
Carole Lombard (m. 1939–1942) «start: (1939)–end+1: (1943)»"Marriage: Carole Lombard to Clark Gable" Location: (linkback:// (widowed)
Sylvia Ashley (m. 1949–1952) «start: (1949)–end+1: (1953)»"Marriage: Sylvia Ashley to Clark Gable" Location: (linkback:// (divorced)
Kay Williams (m. 1955–1960) «start: (1955)–end+1: (1961)»"Marriage: Kay Williams to Clark Gable" Location: (linkback:// (his death)
Children Judy Lewis, John Gable
Parents William Gable
Adeline (née Hershelman)

William Clark Gable (February 1, 1901 – November 16, 1960), known as Clark Gable, was an American film actor most famous for his role as Rhett Butler in the 1939 Civil War epic film Gone with the Wind, in which he starred with Vivien Leigh. His performance earned him his third nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor; he won for It Happened One Night (1934) and was also nominated for Mutiny on the Bounty (1935). Later movies included Run Silent, Run Deep, a submarine war film, and his final film, The Misfits (1961), which paired Gable with Marilyn Monroe, also in her last screen appearance. In 1999, the American Film Institute named Gable seventh among the greatest male stars of all time.[1]

During his long film career, Gable appeared opposite some of the most popular actresses of the time. Joan Crawford, who was his favorite actress to work with,[2] 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 and Ava Gardner in three each. In the mid-1930s, Gable was often named the top male movie star, and second only to the top box-office draw of all, Shirley Temple.


Early life

Clark Gable was born in Cadiz, Ohio to William Henry "Bill" Gable, an oil-well driller,[2][3] and Adeline (née Hershelman). He was named "William" after his father, while "Clark" was the maiden name of his maternal grandmother. In childhood he was almost always called "Clark"; some friends called him "Clarkie", "Billy", or "Gabe".[4] He was mistakenly listed as a female on his birth certificate.

When he was six months old, his ill mother had him baptized Catholic. She died when he was ten months old,[citation needed] possibly from a brain tumor. Following her death, Gable's father's family refused to raise him as a Catholic, provoking enmity with his mother's side of the family. The dispute was resolved when his father's family agreed to allow Gable to spend time with his uncle, Charles Hershelman, and his wife on their farm in Vernon, Pennsylvania.

In April 1903, Gable's father married Jennie Dunlap, whose family came from the small neighboring town of Hopedale. Gable was a tall, shy child with a loud voice. After his father purchased some land and built a house, the new family settled in. Jennie played the piano and gave her stepson lessons at home; later he took up brass instruments. She raised Gable to be well-dressed and well-groomed; he stood out from the other kids. Gable was very mechanically inclined and loved to strip down and repair cars with his father. At thirteen, he was the only boy in the men's town band. Even though 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 did agree to buy a seventy-two volume set of The World's Greatest Literature to improve his son's education, but claimed he never saw his son use it.[5]

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, just outside of Akron. Gable had trouble settling down in the area. Despite his father's insistence that he work the farm, Gable soon left to work in Akron's B.F. Goodrich tire factory.[citation needed]

At seventeen, 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 Jennie had died and his father moved to Tulsa to go back to the oil business. He toured in stock companies as well as working the oil fields and as a horse manager. Gable found work with several second-class theater companies and thus made his way across the Midwest to Portland, Oregon, where he then took work as a necktie salesman in the Meier & Frank department store. While there, he met Laura Hope Crews, a stage and film actress, who encouraged him to return to the stage and into another theater company. Many years later, Crews would play "Aunt Pittypat" in Gable's most famous film, Gone With the Wind (1939).

His acting coach was a theater manager in Portland named Josephine Dillon, who was 17 years his senior. 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 Gable slowly managed to lower, and to gain better resonance and tone. As his speech habits improved, Gable's facial expressions became more natural and convincing. After the long period of rigorous training, Dillon eventually considered him ready to attempt a film career.[6]


Stage and silent films

In 1924, with Dillon's financial aid, the two went to Hollywood, where she became his manager -- and first wife. He changed his stage name from W. C. Gable to Clark Gable.[7] He found work as an extra in such silent films as Erich von Stroheim's The Merry Widow (1925), The Plastic Age (1925), which starred Clara Bow, and Forbidden Paradise, plus a series of two-reel comedies called The Pacemakers. He also appeared as a bit player in a series of shorts. However, Gable was not offered any major roles and so he returned to the stage. He became lifelong friends with Lionel Barrymore, who in spite of his bawling Gable out for amateurish acting initially, urged Gable to pursue a career on stage.[8] During the 1927-28 theater season, Gable acted with the Laskin Brothers Stock Company in Houston, where he played many roles, gained considerable experience and became a local matinee idol. Gable then moved to New York and Dillon sought work for him on Broadway. He received good reviews in Machinal; "He's young, vigorous and brutally masculine", wrote the critic at the Morning Telegraph.[9] The start of the Great Depression and the beginning of talking pictures caused a cancellation of many plays in the 1929-30 season and acting work became harder to get.

Early successes

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 MGM. His first role in a sound picture was as the unshaven villain in a low-budget William Boyd western called The Painted Desert (1931). He received a lot of fan mail as a result of his powerful voice and appearance; the studio took notice. (Robert Mitchum had an identical experience when he played an unshaven villain in a Boyd cowboy film a decade later).

In 1930, Gable and Josephine Dillon were divorced. A few days later, he married Texas socialite Maria Franklin Prentiss Lucas Langham, nicknamed "Ria". 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 Warner Bros. executive Darryl F. Zanuck about Clark Gable after testing him for the lead in Warner's gangster drama Little Caesar (1931).[10] 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 of 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 very close friend of Norma Shearer. Gable's timing in arriving in Hollywood was excellent, as MGM was looking to expand its stable of male stars and he fit the bill. Gable first worked mainly in supporting roles, often as the villain. He made two pictures in 1931 with Wallace Beery, a minor 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 Strickland developed Gable's studio image, playing up his he-man experiences and his 'lumberjack in evening clothes' persona.[citation needed]

To bolster his rocketing popularity, MGM frequently paired him with well-established female stars. Joan Crawford asked for him as her co-star in Dance, Fools, Dance (1931). He built his fame and public visibility in such movies as 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".[11] He followed that with Susan Lenox (Her Fall and Rise) (1931) with Greta Garbo, and Possessed (1931), in which he and Crawford (then married to Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) steamed up the screen. Adela Rogers St. John later dubbed Gable and Crawford's real-life relationship as "the affair that nearly burned Hollywood down".[12] Louis B. Mayer threatened to terminate both their contracts, and for a while they kept apart. Gable shifted his attentions to Marion Davies. On the other hand, Gable and Garbo disliked each other. She thought he was a wooden actor while he considered her a snob.

Rising star

Gable was considered for the role of Tarzan but lost out to Johnny Weissmuller's better 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 star. After the hit 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). An enormously popular combination, on-screen and off-screen, Gable and Jean 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 would say that he felt as if he was "in the arms of a ghost".[13]

According to legend, Gable was lent to Columbia Pictures, then considered a second-rate operation, as punishment for refusing roles; however, this has been refuted by more recent biographies. MGM did not have a project ready for Gable and was paying him $2000 per week, under his contract, to do nothing. Studio head Louis B. Mayer lent him to Columbia for $2500 per week, making a $500 per week profit.[4]

Gable was not the first choice to play the lead role of Peter Warne in It Happened One Night (1934). Robert Montgomery was originally offered the role, but he felt that the script was poor.[14] Filming began in a tense atmosphere,[4] but both Gable and Frank Capra enjoyed making the movie, although Colbert reportedly did not. Gable and Colbert won the Academy Award for Best Actor and Best Actress for their performances in the film and the movie itself won the Academy Award for Best Picture. He returned to MGM a bigger star than ever.[15]

As Fletcher Christian in the trailer for Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

The unpublished memoirs of animator Friz Freleng mention that this was one of his favorite films. It has been claimed that it helped inspire the cartoon character Bugs Bunny. Four things in the film may have coalesced to create Bugs: the personality of a minor character, Oscar Shapely and his penchant for referring to Gable's character as "Doc", an imaginary character named "Bugs Dooley" that Gable's character uses to frighten Shapely, and most of all, a scene in which Clark Gable eats carrots while talking quickly with his mouth full, as Bugs does.[16]

Gable also earned an Academy Award nomination when he portrayed Fletcher Christian in 1935's Mutiny on the Bounty.

Gone with the Wind

Despite his reluctance to play the role, Gable is best known for his performance in Gone with the Wind (1939), which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. 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.[17]

As Rhett Butler in the trailer for Gone with the Wind (1939)

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 industry history.[18]

Gable was an almost immediate favorite for the role of Rhett with both the public and producer David O. Selznick. But since Selznick had no male stars under long-term contracts, he needed to go through the process of negotiating to borrow an actor from another studio. Gary Cooper was Selznick's first choice.[19] 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."[20] By then, Selznick had become determined to hire Gable, and set about finding a way to borrow him from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. 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."[21] Gone with the Wind was Gable's first Technicolor film. Also appearing in Gone with The Wind in the role of "Aunt Pittypat" was Laura Hope Crews who had coaxed Gable back into the theater from Portland.

During the filming of the movie, Vivien Leigh complained about Gable's bad breath, which was apparently caused by his false teeth, claiming they "smelled something awful". Otherwise, they appear to have gotten along well.[22] Gable was also friends with actress Hattie McDaniel, and he even slipped her a real alcoholic drink during the scene they were supposed to be celebrating the birth of Scarlett and Rhett's daughter. Gable tried to boycott the premier 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 attended her Hollywood parties, especially when she was raising funds during World War II.[citation needed]

Gable did not want to shed tears for the scene after Scarlett (Leigh) has a miscarriage. 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."[23]

Decades later, Gable said that whenever his career would start to fade, a re-release of Gone with the Wind would soon revive his popularity, and he continued as a top leading actor for the rest of his life. Thanks in part to MGM's dominance in balloting, Gable was the lead actor in three films that won the Academy Award for Best Picture between 1934 and 1939. Only Dustin Hoffman has subsequently enjoyed a similar trifecta. Gone with the Wind was given theatrical re-releases in 1947, 1954, 1961, 1967 (in a widescreen version),[24] 1971, 1989, and 1998.

Personal life

Marriage to Carole Lombard

With 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. As an independent actress, her annual income exceeded his studio salary until Gone with the Wind brought them to rough parity.[25] From their marriage, she gained personal stability that she had lacked, and he thrived being around her with her youthful, charming, and frank personality. Lombard went hunting and fishing with Gable, and he became more sociable around her. Most times, she tolerated his philandering ways. He one or more times stated, "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."[26] The Gables purchased a ranch at Encino, California, and once Gable had become accustomed to Lombard's often blunt way of expressing herself, they found that they had much in common, despite Gable being a Conservative Republican and Lombard a Liberal Democrat. Their efforts to have a baby were unsuccessful. Lombard got pregnant once in 1940, but she suffered a miscarriage.

On January 16, 1942, Lombard was a passenger on Trans-World Airlines Flight 3. 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 aboard, including Lombard, her mother, and her MGM staff publicist Otto Winkler (who had been the best man at Gable's wedding to Lombard). Gable flew to the crash site, and he saw the forest fire that had been ignited by the burning airliner. Lombard was declared to be the first war-related American female casualty of World War II, and Gable received a personal condolence note from President Roosevelt. The Civil Aeronautics Board investigation into the crash concluded that "pilot error" was its cause.[27]

Gable returned to his and Lombard's empty house, and a month later, he returned to the studio to work with Lana Turner in the movie, Somewhere I'll Find You. Gable was devastated by the tragic death of his wife for many months afterwards, and he began to drink heavily, but carried out his performances professionally on the movie sets. Gable was seen to break down for the first time in public when Lombard's funeral request note was given to him. He resided for the rest of his life at the home in Encino which he and Lombard had purchased. He acted in twenty-seven more movies, and re-married two more times. "But he was never the same", said Esther Williams. "His heart sank a bit."[28]

World War II

Clark Gable with 8th AF B-17 in Britain, 1943
For details of Gable's combat missions, see RAF Polebrook

In 1942, following Lombard's death, Gable joined the U.S. Army Air Corps. 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 Commanding General of the Army Air Forces Henry H. Arnold to offer Gable a "special assignment" in aerial gunnery. Gable had earlier expressed an interest in officer candidate school (OCS), but he enlisted on August 12, 1942, with the intention of becoming an enlisted gunner on an air crew. MGM arranged for his studio friend, cinematographer Andrew McIntyre, to enlist with and accompany him through training.[29]

However, shortly after his enlistment, he and McIntyre 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 2,600 fellow students (of which he ranked 700th in class standing) selected Gable as their graduation speaker, at which General Arnold presented them their commissions. Arnold then informed Gable of his special assignment: to make a recruiting film in combat with the Eighth Air Force to recruit 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 and promoted to first lieutenants upon completion.[29]

Gable reported to Biggs Army Air Base 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 screenwriter John Lee Mahin; camera operators Sgts. Mario Toti and Robert Boles; and sound man Lt.Howard Voss to complete his crew. Gable was promoted to captain while with the 351st at Pueblo AAB, Colorado, for rank commensurate with his position as a unit commander. (As first lieutenants, he and McIntyre had equal seniority.)[29]

Gable spent most of the war in the United Kingdom at RAF Polebrook with the 351st. 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 U.S. Army Air Corps to reassign their most valuable screen property to non-combat duty. In November 1943, he returned to the United States to edit the 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 1st Motion Picture Unit in Hollywood.

In May 1944, Gable was promoted to major. He hoped for another combat assignment but, when D-Day came and passed in June without further orders, he requested and was granted a discharge. His discharge papers were signed by Captain Ronald Reagan, Hollywood actor and eventual President of the United States. Gable completed editing of the film, Combat America, in September 1944, providing the narration himself and making use of numerous interviews with enlisted gunners as focus of the film.[29]

Adolf Hitler favored Gable above all other actors; during the Second World War, Hitler offered a sizable reward to anyone who could capture and bring Gable to him unscathed.[30]

After World War II

A Mercedes 300SL Gullwing once belonging to Gable.

Immediately after his discharge from the service, Gable returned to his ranch and rested. He resumed a pre-war 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 was the 1945 production of Adventure, 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 this film, Gable's career as a top star in Hollywood was damaged.

With Ava Gardner in The Hucksters (1947)

After Joan Crawford's third divorce, she and Gable resumed their affair and lived together for a brief time. Gable was acclaimed for his performance in The Hucksters (1947), a satire of post-war 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 divorcée and the widow of 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 (due to her mental health problems) by Grace Kelly.[31] Mogambo (1953), directed by John Ford, was a Technicolor but somewhat sanitized remake of his earlier Pre-Code film Red Dust with 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 completed.

Gardner and Gable made three films together: The Hucksters, Lone Star, and Mogambo.

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 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 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 were Soldier of Fortune and The Tall Men, both 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.

With Grace Kelly in Mogambo (1953)

In 1955, Gable formed a production company with Jane Russell and her husband Bob Waterfield, and they produced The King and Four Queens, Gable's one and 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, with relative newcomer Sidney Poitier and Yvonne De Carlo; it was a total disaster. Newsweek said, "Here is a movie so bad that it must be seen to be disbelieved."[32] Next he paired with Doris Day in Teacher's Pet, shot in black and white to better hide his aging face and overweight body. The film was good enough to bring Gable more movie offers, including Run Silent, Run Deep, 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".[33] His next two films were light comedies for Paramount: But Not for Me with Carroll Baker and It Started in Naples with Sophia Loren (his last film in color). Both received poor reviews and flopped at the box office.

Gable's last film was The Misfits, written by Arthur Miller, directed by John Huston, and co-starring Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, Eli Wallach, and Thelma Ritter. This was also the final film completed by Monroe. Many critics regard Gable's performance to be his finest, and Gable, after seeing the rough cuts, agreed.[34]


Gable was politically conservative, though he never publicly spoke about politics. His third wife Carole Lombard was an activist liberal Democrat, and she cajoled him into supporting Democratic President 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. 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 post in the 1960 presidential election. It is believed that he probably voted for the Republican candidate, and Eisenhower's vice-president, Richard Nixon.[35]


Gable had a daughter, Judy Lewis,[36] the result of an affair with actress Loretta Young that began on the set of The Call of the Wild in 1934. In an elaborate scheme, Young took an extended vacation and went to Europe to hide the fact that she was pregnant. After a few months, she came back to California and gave birth to their child in Venice, CA. Nineteen months after the birth, Loretta claimed to have adopted Judy. This ploy became less believable when the child grew up to look almost exactly like her mother except with protruding ears like Clark Gable's. According to Lewis, Gable visited her home once, but he didn't tell her that he was her father. Neither Gable nor Young would ever publicly acknowledge their daughter's real parentage, but this fact was so widely known that, in Lewis' autobiography Uncommon Knowledge, she wrote that she was shocked to learn of it from other children at school. Young never officially acknowledged the fact, which she said would be the same as admitting to a "venial sin". However, Young finally gave her biographer permission to include it only on the condition that the book not be published until after her death.[citation needed]

On March 20, 1961, Kay Gable gave birth to Gable's son, John Clark Gable, born four months after Clark's death.


Gable died in Los Angeles on November 16, 1960, aged 59, from a coronary thrombosis ten days after suffering a severe heart attack. There was much 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 was quoted as saying "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."[37] Monroe said that she and Kay had become close during the filming and would refer to Clark as "Our Man",[2] while Arthur Miller, observing Gable on location, noted that "no hint of affront ever showed on his face".[34]

Others have blamed Gable's crash diet before filming began. The 6'1" (185 cm) Gable weighed about 190 pounds (86.2 kg) at the time of Gone with the Wind, but by his late 50s, he weighed 230 pounds (104.3 kg). To get in shape for The Misfits, he dropped to 195 lbs (88 kg). In addition, Gable was in poor health from years of heavy smoking (three packs of unfiltered cigarettes a day over thirty years, as well as cigars and typically at least two bowlfuls of pipe tobacco a day) and periodically taking amphetamines to lose weight, which gave him head tremors.[citation needed]

Gable is interred in The Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California beside his wife, Carole Lombard.


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."[38]

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 life."

A common observation about Gable's masculinity around the MGM lot was that "when he walked down the alley, you could almost hear his balls clank."[citation needed]

Actor Robert Ryan, in character as Nathan Stark in the 1955 film, "The Tall Men," paid Gable what is probably his best tribute: "He's what every boy thinks he's going to be when he grows up, and wishes he had been when he's an old man."

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."[39]


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 propaganda film entitled Combat America, produced by the United States Army Air Forces.

In popular culture

Warner Bros. cartoons sometimes caricatured Gable. Examples include Have You Got Any Castles? (in which his face appears seven times from 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 in which he appears on a billboard promotion for Gone With The Wind.

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.

The Postal Service's album Give Up (2003) features a track entitled "Clark Gable".




  1. ^ "America's Greatest Legends". American Film Institute. Retrieved July 29, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c Spicer, Christopher (2002). Clark Gable: Biography, Filmography, Bibliography. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. ISBN 0-7864-1124-4. 
  3. ^ Van Neste, Dan (1999). "Clark Gable Reconstructed Birthhome: Fit For A King". Classic Images. Retrieved 2008-04-03. 
  4. ^ a b c Harris, Warren G. (2002). Clark Gable: A Biography. New York: Harmony. ISBN 0609604953. 
  5. ^ Harris, pg. 7
  6. ^ Harris, pg. 24
  7. ^ Harris, pg. 29
  8. ^ Harris, pg. 36
  9. ^ Harris, pg. 49
  10. ^ Turner Classic Movies (2006-09-01). Leading Men: The 50 Most Unforgettable Actors of the Studio Era. Chronicle Books. ISBN 0811854671. 
  11. ^ Harris, pg. 80
  12. ^ Harris, pg. 82
  13. ^ Harris, pg. 179
  14. ^ Kotsabilas-Davis, James; Myrna Loy (1998-10-31). Myrna Loy: Being and Becoming. Primus, Donald & Fine, Inc.. p. 94. ISBN 1556111010. 
  15. ^ 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.)
  16. ^ "It Happened One Night". Retrieved 2008-04-03. 
  17. ^ Harris, pg. 164
  18. ^ 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, pgs. 107-8.
  19. ^ Selznick, David O. (2000). Memo from David O. Selznick. New York: Modern Library. pp. 172–3. ISBN 0-375-75531-4. 
  20. ^ Donnelley, Paul (2003-06-01). Fade To Black: A Book Of Movie Obituaries. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0711995125. 
  21. ^ Harris, pg. 189
  22. ^ Stallings, Penny; Mandelbaum, Howard (1981). Flesh and Fantasy. New York: Bell Publishing Co.. ISBN 0517339684. 
  23. ^ Breznican, Anthony (2004-11-14). "Legends swirl around `Gone With the Wind' 65 years later" (fee required). Deseret Morning News (Associated Press). Retrieved 2008-04-03. 
  24. ^ The American Widescreen Museum, Gone With the Wind.
  25. ^ Harris, pg. 224
  26. ^ Harris, pg. 182
  27. ^ Harris, pgs 250-1
  28. ^ Williams, Esther; Diehl, Digby (1999). The Million Dollar Mermaid. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0684852845. 
  29. ^ a b c d Argoratus, Steven. "Clark Gable in the 8th Air Force". Air Power History, Spring 1999. Centenniel Tribute to Clark Gable. Archived from the original on 2009-08-06. Retrieved August 12, 2008. 
  30. ^ Harris, pg. 268
  31. ^ Tierney and Herskowitz (1978) Wyden Books, Self- Portrait pgs. 150-1
  32. ^ Harris, pg. 351
  33. ^ Harris, pg. 361
  34. ^ a b Miller, Arthur (1987). Timebends. New York: Grove Press. p. 485. ISBN 0-8021-0015-5. 
  35. ^ Harris, Warren G. Clark Gable: A Biography (2003)
  36. ^ Official site of Judy Lewis
  37. ^ Harris, pgs. 378-9
  38. ^ Harris, pg. 352
  39. ^ UPI, Year In Review "1960 Year In Review: Casey Stengel retires, Clark Gable Dies".,-Clark-Gable-Dies/12295509435928-6. Retrieved May 19, 2009. 

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  • Clark Gable — Clark Gable, 8th AF in Großbritannien, 1943 William Clark Gable (* 1. Februar 1901 in Cadiz, Ohio; † 16. November 1960 in Los Angeles) war ein US amerikanischer Schauspieler. Das American Film Institute wählte ihn in der „Liste der 25 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Clark Gable — en Lo que el viento se llevó (1939) Nombre real William Clark Gable Nacimiento …   Wikipedia Español

  • Clark Gable — (1 de febrero de 1901 16 de noviembre de 1960) fue un actor norteamericano. Nació en Cádiz, en el estado de Ohio, con el nombre de William Clark Gable. Su madre murió cuando tenía sólo siete meses de edad. A los 16 años dejó el colegio y se fue a …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Clark Gable — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Gable. Clark Gable …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Clark Gable — noun United States film actor (1901 1960) • Syn: ↑Gable, ↑William Clark Gable • Instance Hypernyms: ↑actor, ↑histrion, ↑player, ↑thespian, ↑role player * * * …   Useful english dictionary

  • Clark Gable — ➡ Gable * * * …   Universalium

  • Clark Gable — William Gable …   Eponyms, nicknames, and geographical games

  • Clark Gable — …   Википедия

  • Clark Gable — n. (1901 1960) American movie actor, winner of the 1934 Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in It Happened One Night (also known for his starring role in Gone with the Wind ) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Clark Gable (disambiguation) — Clark Gable may refer to: Clark Gable (1901 – 1960), American Academy Award winning film actor Clark Gable , a song from Give Up, the 2003 debut album of the band The Postal Service This disambiguation page lists articles associated with the same …   Wikipedia

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