Gable started out in Hollywood playing bit-parts in silent movies in the mid 1920s and starred in his first starring role in 1931 in The Painted Desert opposite leading lady Helen Twelvetrees. The movie that really catapulted him to fame was Red Dust (which I reviewed last week) where his rough and ready sex appeal made him an instant hit with the cinema-going public.
Gable and Jean Harlow made 6 movies together, and would probably have made many more had Harlow not died during the filming of Saratoga. Most of the movie had been shot by the time she died and the rest of the scenes were shot using look alikes. Gable said it was like being “in the arms of a ghost” filming the remaining scenes with another woman.
Undoubtedly Gable’s most famous role that of Rhett Butler in Gone With The Wind. Something I didn’t know was that the studio wanted the part to be played by Gary Cooper (super duper) who turned it down saying the movie would be the “biggest flop in Hollywood history”.
Clark Gable married 5 times: including to fellow movie star Carole Lombard who was tragically killed only 3 years into their marriage. Despite being devastated by her death he went on to marry a further 2 times.
Even though Gable had terrible halitosis because of teeth problems (he had dentures from a very early age), he seemed to have been universally adored by his female co-stars. This is how Doris Day described him:
“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.”
Did You Know?
Clark Gable was considered for the role of Tarzan the Ape Man. Apparently Johnny Weismuller got the role because he had a more impressive physique.