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Screen Idols: Clark Gable, The King of Hollywood

Clark_Gable_1938

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.

Publicity photo of Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in Gone With the Wind. 1939

Publicity photo of Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in Gone With the Wind. 1939

Original publicity photo of Clark Gable and Lana Turner for film Honky Tonk, 1941

Original publicity photo of Clark Gable and Lana Turner for film Honky Tonk, 1941

Publicity photo of Clark Gable and Jean Harlow in Hold Your Man (1933).

Publicity photo of Clark Gable and Jean Harlow in Hold Your Man (1933).

Publicity photo of Clark Gable and Yvonne de Carlo in Band of Angels. 1957

Publicity photo of Clark Gable and Yvonne de Carlo in Band of Angels. 1957

 

Image source and copyright: 1, 2, 3, 5: This work is in the public domain in that it was published in the United States between 1923 and 1977 and without a copyright notice.

4, This work is in the public domain in that it was published in the United States between 1923 and 1977 and without a copyright notice.

8 thoughts on “Screen Idols: Clark Gable, The King of Hollywood

  1. Missy

    It Happened One Night was directed by Frank Capra and was one of the last movies that came out pre code … It was the first to win all 5 major Academy Awards, Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay … That didn’t happen again till 1975 when One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest swept the Oscars … It’s a classic Screwball Comedy and a must see just for the hitch hiking scene and The Walls of Jericho … It was kind of an unwritten rule that actors would only win one Award at this time, so Clark didn’t go on to get an Oscar for Gone With the Wind … I love Gary Cooper, but I can’t think of anyone playing Rhett Butler than Gable … Another early movie I liked is Susan Lenox (Her Fall and Rise) it was the only pairing of Gable and Garbo … Apparently they didn’t care for each other, but you’d never know it by the onscreen chemistry … He is all Gable in it, and I don’t think Garbo knew what hit her as generally her co stars were more refined and gentlemanly …

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