Clark Gable

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      Part 2. First part here

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      Even the greatest stars had to worry about personal hygiene. Gable was notorious for having bad breath due to his dentures and was something that his co-star, Vivien Leigh complained about during the making of Gone with the Wind! ...(scroll down).

      clark gable

      The Clark Gable Story continued:

      He fitted in well at MGM; his best friends there were the public relations man Howard Strickling and the director Victor Fleming, in whose company he frequently hunted and fished, golfed and sailed. The studio paid for the perfect set of dentures it was finally necessary for him to have; and also paid for surgery to pin back his ears.

      Meanwhile Josephine Dillon had agreed to a divorce. She spoke of him with reluctant but calculated reticence:

      'Clark told me frankly that he wished to marry Ria Langham because she could do more for him financially. He is hard to live with because his career and ambition always came first.'

      Ria Langham became the second Mrs Clark Gable in New York on March 30, 1930, and they were married a second time in California on June 19,1931, because of a legal hitch. Ria Langham queened it in Beverly Hills film society, which was fitting enough because by the end of 1931 her husband was the acknowledged King of Hollywood. He was a star who would be in the Box-office top ten from 1932 to 1943, again from 1947 to 1949 after he had returned from the war, and for one more year in 1955.

      Most of the time MGM reserved Gable, drawing on his powerful masculine image, to co-star with their galaxy of female stars, and he developed powerful screen partnerships with three of their greatest stars. Joan Crawford and he were together in eight features, Myrna Loy was with him seven times, and Jean Harlow was with him six times.

      Gable's off screen relationships with Miss Loy and Miss Harlow were strictly platonic, friendly but strictly professional. Miss Crawford later confessed, however, that on several occasions, when they were both free from personal obligations they nearly ran away and got married but on each occasion came to their senses in time - their careers mattered more.

      Gable also starred with Lana Turner in four films, with Norma Shearer in three, Constance Bennett twice and Helen Hayes twice. He made one appearance each with Greta Garbo and Jeanette MacDonald. He was in fact at some time or another teamed with every MGM female star except Marie Dressler.

      Gable was at his best, however in a man's world, leading the Mutiny on The Bounty (1935), sorting out problems of the Air Force in Command Decision (1948), scouting Indian country in Across the Wide Missouri (1951). Also, say the name of Clark Gable and to most people it means Rhett Butler in Gone With The Wind (1939), or Peter Warne, the newspaper reporter he played in It Happened One Night (1934); yet he hadn't wanted to play them or Bounty's Fletcher Christian. These were the three pictures for which he was honoured with Oscar Nominations (winning for It Happened One Night) - virtually the only three he fought against playing.


      gone with the wind

      During the filming of Gone With The Wind Gable was more excited when Ria Langham divorced him for a settlement of $286,000. He was a free man before shooting was finished and drove with Carole Lombard to Kingsman, Arizona, where they were quickly married on March 29,1939. They had known each other for more than three years; it was no secret that that had been living together for the majority of that time,and were both still ecstatically happy. They bought a ranch in Encino and settled down; it seemed as if they would always be the perfect couple. World War II came, however, and Lombard threw herself into war work. She went out on the first War Bond tour after Pearl Harbour in 1942. Returning home, the plane crashed into a mountainside and everybody on it was killed.

      Gable was half crazy with grief. Lombard had always teased him about getting involved with the war and now it was all he wanted to do. He took time off from the nearly completed Somewhere I'll Find You (1942) to get a firm hold of himself. Then he finished the picture, and eventually joined up in August 1942. He was assigned to Officers Candidate School in Miami, Florida, and went overseas with the Eighth Air Force in 1943. Seven months later he received the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal for 'exceptionally meritorious achievement while participating in five separate bomber combat missions' over Germany. Gable was promoted to the rank of Major and discharged shortly afterwards returned to work for MGM.

      The studio did not know what to do with him: Gable had changed - so had the image of the movie hero. Adventure (1945) his comeback film, co starring him with Greer Garson, was a tedious, manufactured comedy. The Hucksters (1947), with Deborah Kerr and Ava Gardner, had its moments but was largely a bore. Next to Parnell (1937), Homecoming (1948) - his third post-war film - is probably his most tiresome and embarrasing picture. The next two were better: Gable seemed to be at ease in uniform with an all male cast in Command Decision (1948); and in Any Number Can Play (1949), here as a casino owner. Most of his later films were disappointing, however. Even Mogambo (1953), Ford's remake of Red Dust, with Ava Gardner and Grace Kelly, which did very well at the box-office was tame in comparison to the earlier version and had little 'bezazz' except Miss Gardner.

      any number can play

      Gable was bitterly discontented during this period. He was also lonely, and commited a terrible and expensive error when, on December 21,1949, he married a fourth time. The bride was Lady Sylvia Ashley, the widow of Douglas Fairbanks Sr. It is said that three weeks after the wedding Gable knew that he had made a mistake. They were not divorvced until 1951 - an event which cost Gable a neat bundle. That same year Dore Schary replaced Louis B. Mayer as head of production at MGM. The stars began falling out of the MGM heavens and Gable's contract, expiring in 1954, was not renewed.

      He became the most expensive freelance actor in the business, working for a percentage of the gross. His pictures,though largely ineffective, were better than any he had made at MGM after returing from the war, and the made money. Gable also fell in love, and married for the fifth time. His new wife was beautiul Kay Spreckels; there was much about her that was not unlike Carole Lombard and for the first time since Lombard's death Gable was really happy.

      His last film The Misfits (1961), written by Arthur Miller and directed by John Huston, was one of the best films he ever made. He played an ageing cowboy who is seeking one last perfect moment on earth and finds it in a beautiful divorcee (Marilyn Monroe).

      the misfits

      Gable had a good time making the film but it was not an easy picture to work on. Filming it on location in Reno, the cast and crew had to put up with weather conditions of sheer hell - it was usually over 105 degrees fahrenheit. The action was far too strenuous for a man of Gable's years but he refused a double; Monroe, meanwhile, was exasperatingly difficult, never on time and unprofessional. But Gable was content. His wife was pregant,and he went around announcing,'It's going to be a boy.'

      It was a boy - named John Clark Gable - but his father never lived to see him. Two days after completing his part in The Misfits, Clark Gable suffered a major heart attack and died on November 16, 1960, aged 59.

      Between 1957 and 1961 many of the screen heart throbs of the thirties and fourties died, including Ronald Colman, Gary Cooper, Tyrone Power, Errol Flynn and Humphrey Bogart. But it was Gable's death that really signified the end of that generation of all-male, all-action movie heroes - for Gable alone had been the King of Hollywood....start.



      C L A R K   G A B L E

      1923 - Fighting Blood

      1924 - White Man

      1924 - Forbidden Paradise

      1925 - Declassee/The Social Exile

      1925 - The Peace Makers

      1925 - The Merry Widow

      1925 - The Plastic Age

      1925 - North Star

      1931 - The Painted Desert

      1931 - Dance, Fools, Dance

      1931 - The Easiest Way

      1931 - The Finger Points

      1931 - Laughing Sinners

      1931 - The Secret Six

      1931 - A Free Soul;Night Nurse

      1931 - Sporting Blood

      1931 - Susan Lennox: Her Fall And Rise

      1931 - Possessed

      1931 - Hell Divers

      1932 - Polly Of The Circus

      1932 - Strange Interlude

      1932 - Red Dust

      1932 - No Man Of Her own

      1933 - The White Sister

      1933 - Hold Your Man

      1933 - Night Flight

      1933 - Dancing Lady

      1934 - Men In White

      1934 - It Happened in One Night

      1934 - Manhattan Melodrama

      1934 - Chained

      1934 - Forsaking All Others

      1935 - After Office Hours

      1935 - Call of The Wild

      1935 - China Seas

      1935 - Mutiny on The Bounty

      1936 - Wife Vs Secretary

      1936 - Screen Snapshots No.10 (short)

      1936 - San Francisco

      1936 - Cain and Mabel

      1936 - Love on the Run

      1937 - Parnell

      1937 - Saratoga

      1938 - Test Pilot

      1938 - Too Hot To Handle

      1939 - Idiot's Delight

      1939 - Gone With The Wind

      1940 - Strange Cargo

      1940 - Boom Town

      1940 - Comrade X

      1941 - They met In Bombay

      1941 - Honky Tonk

      1942 - Somewhere I'll Find You

      1943 - Combat America (military training short)

      1943 - Wings Up (propaganda short,incorporating footage from Combat America)

      1943 - Aerial Gunner (military training short)

      1945 - Adventure

      1947 - The Hucksters

      1948 - Homecoming

      1948 - Command Decision

      1949 - Any Number Can Play

      1951 - Across The Wide Missouri

      1951 - Callaway Went That-A-Way

      1952 - The Lone Star

      1953 - Never Let Me Go

      1953 - Mogambo

      1954 - Betrayed

      1955 - Soldier Of Fortune

      1955 - The Tall Men

      1956 - The King and Four Queens

      1957 - Band of Angels

      1958 - Teachers Pet

      1958 - Run Silent, Run Deep

      1959 - But Not For Me

      1960 - It Started In Naples

      1961 - The Misfits


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