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Sunday, 15 March 2015

Clark Gable

Born William Clark Gable on February 1, 1901 in Cadiz, he was mistakenly listed as a female on his birth certificate.

His parents were William Henry "Will" Gable (1870–1948), an oil-well driller and Adeline (née Hershelman; 1869–1901)

He was named William after his father, but even in childhood he was almost always called Clark.

At seventeen Gable was inspired to be an actor after seeing the play The Bird of Paradise. He toured with stock companies as W.C. Gable and did odd jobs, working his way across the country.

Joining a theater company in Portland, Oregon, Gable met Josephine Dillon, the theater manager, who was seventeen years his senior. She became his acting teacher, paid to have his teeth fixed, and worked with him on his posture, voice, and physique.

In 1924, with Dillon's financial aid, the pair went to Hollywood, where she became his manager—and first wife. He changed his stage name from W. C. Gable to Clark Gable and began in silent films as an extra in 1925.

Gable failed a screen test at Warner Brothers because Darryl Zanuck thought his ears were too big,

Gable came to the attention of MGM in a play, and in 1930 was cast as a villain in The Painted Desert.

Irving Thalberg signed him with MGM, where and he would spend most of his career.Initially cast in supporting parts playing bad guys, Gable's popularity began to grow, and his role with Norma Shearer in A Free Soul in 1931 brought him a great deal of attention. By the following year Gable was MGM's biggest star.

When Gable removed his shirt in It Happened One Night (1934) revealing bare skin beneath rather than an undergarment -- sales of undergarments reportedly showed a significant drop.

His performance as a wise-cracking journalist in It Happened One Night won Gable an Academy Award for Best Actor. He gave his Oscar to a child who admired it, telling him it was the winning of the statue that had mattered, not owning it. The child returned the Oscar to the Gable family after Clark's death. It sold for $607,500 in a 1996 auction of Hollywood memorabilia.

Rumored to have had a long, on and off affair, Clark Gable and Joan Crawford sparked on screen in eight films.

Gable and Josephine Dillon divorced in 1930; days later, he married Texas socialite Ria Langham. They divorced in 1939, but the marriage seems to have been over in 1936.

Gable and Carole Lombard first met while filming No Man of Her Own in 1933, but didn't start a relationship for another three years. They married in 1939, three weeks after Gable's divorce from Langham.

Gable's best known for playing the part of Rhett Butler in the 1939 movie version of Gone with the Wind.  Carole Lombard may have been the first to suggest that he play Rhett Butler, when she bought him a copy of the bestseller, which he refused to read.

Carole Lombard died in a plane crash while on a war bond tour on January 16, 1942. Though devastated, Gable returned to work a month later for Someday I'll Find You. Lombard's death affected him for the rest of his life.

In the summer of 1942, Clark Gable enlisted in the army in honor of his late wife  He was commissioned an officer under service number 565390.

Gable served as a Captain in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II making training films. He also trained as an aerial gunner, flying five combat missions with the 8th Air Force's 351st Bombardment Group (Heavy) often under enemy fire and was awarded  the Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross. His missions were filmed for Combat America, a propaganda film.

In 1949, Gable married Lady Sylvia Ashley, the widow of Douglas Fairbanks Sr.. Unfortunately this marriage was short-lived and they divorced in 1952.

In 1953, MGM did not renew Gable's contract as they regarded his salary as excessive.  He was so bitter about this that he refused to attend a 25th anniversary screening of Gone with the Wind in Atlanta in 1954.

In July 1955 he married for the last time a former sweetheart, the socialite Kathleen Williams Spreckles (a.k.a. Kay Williams) and became stepfather to her two children, Joan and Adolph ("Bunker") Spreckels III.

Gable once had to have almost all of his teeth extracted due to pyorrhea. The infection would have killed him had he not been rushed to a private hospital for treatment.

Gable was dyslexic, a fact which didn't emerge until several years after his death.

The last movie that Gable starred in was The Misfits, in 1961. This movie also starred Marilyn Monroe and was written by Arthur Miller. Gable's role was demanding physically and strained his heart, weakened by his three-pack-a-day cigarette habit and a 35-pound weight loss from a crash diet before production began.

Shortly after completion of The Misfits, Clark Gable died after having had a fourth coronary thrombosis, on November 16, 1960. He was interred at Forest Lawn, Glendale, California in the Great Mausoleum, Sanctuary of Trust, on the left hand side, next to Carole Lombard.


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