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Clark Gable

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Also Known As: William Clark Gable, Billy Gable, W C Gable, Lst Lieut. Clark Gable Died: November 16, 1960
Born: February 1, 1901 Cause of Death: heart attack
Birth Place: Cadiz, Ohio, USA Profession: actor, call boy, lumberjack, tie salesman, tire factory worker, oil driller

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

ience, was his 1949 marriage to actress-model-socialite Lady Sylvia Ashley, a woman noted by many for her striking resemblance to Gable¿s dearly departed Carole. From the beginning, their relationship was a troubled one, possessing none of the mutual trust and admiration he had shared with Lombard.Even though he was no longer the dependable box office draw he had once been, there was still no substitute for Clark Gable. When MGM remade "Red Dust" as "Mogambo" (1953), Ava Gardner was in for Harlow¿s character and a young Grace Kelly played the Mary Astor role. And what of Gable's part? Only Gable could fill Gable's shoes, even 21 years later. Following his divorce from Ashley and his parting ways with long-time home MGM, Gable became an independent freelance actor in 1955. That same year he married for the fifth and final time to Kay Williams ¿ the union would bring him some semblance of security and happiness after years of grief. After starting GABCO, his own short-lived production company formed with actress Jane Russell, Gable appeared in "The King and Four Queens" (1956) ¿ the one and only film he both starred in and produced. Back to working as a freelance actor, Gable took a critical drubbing...

ience, was his 1949 marriage to actress-model-socialite Lady Sylvia Ashley, a woman noted by many for her striking resemblance to Gable¿s dearly departed Carole. From the beginning, their relationship was a troubled one, possessing none of the mutual trust and admiration he had shared with Lombard.

Even though he was no longer the dependable box office draw he had once been, there was still no substitute for Clark Gable. When MGM remade "Red Dust" as "Mogambo" (1953), Ava Gardner was in for Harlow¿s character and a young Grace Kelly played the Mary Astor role. And what of Gable's part? Only Gable could fill Gable's shoes, even 21 years later. Following his divorce from Ashley and his parting ways with long-time home MGM, Gable became an independent freelance actor in 1955. That same year he married for the fifth and final time to Kay Williams ¿ the union would bring him some semblance of security and happiness after years of grief. After starting GABCO, his own short-lived production company formed with actress Jane Russell, Gable appeared in "The King and Four Queens" (1956) ¿ the one and only film he both starred in and produced. Back to working as a freelance actor, Gable took a critical drubbing opposite Yvonne De Carlo and a young Sidney Poitier in the antebellum plantation melodrama "Band of Angels" (1957). More successful was his work alongside Burt Lancaster in the wartime submarine drama "Run Silent, Run Deep" (1958), followed by a turn opposite Sophia Loren in the romance "It Started in Naples" (1960).

As he neared his 60th birthday, Gable seemed both physically and emotionally a mere shadow of the virile, life-loving man he had once been. Still, there was one final great performance left in him, although it would come at a price. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker John Huston, "The Misfits" (1961) was not merely a requiem for the mythology of the Old West, but a love letter to its star, Marilyn Monroe, written by her then-husband, playwright Arthur Miller. Starring opposite Monroe, Montgomery Clift and Eli Wallach, Gable¿s tragic, yet noble portrayal of a broken-down cowpoke would be regarded as one of his very finest. It would also be his last. Prior to filming, Gable was already in poor health, having suffered at least one heart attack years earlier. His use of amphetamines to quickly drop from 230 to 195 pounds certainly could not have helped his condition. Reportedly, the aging screen icon also insisted on performing many of his stunts for the film, shot in the grueling heat of the Nevada desert. Just two days after completing work on "The Misfits," the actor suffered a major heart attack at his Encino home. Ten days later, at a Los Angeles hospital, Gable died from coronary thrombosis on Nov. 16, 1960. News of his death was announced to a mournful public via the short, somber headline, "The King is Dead." As per his final wishes, his widow, Kay Williams, graciously buried him at Los Angeles¿ Forest Lawn Memorial Park, alongside his lost love, Carole Lombard. Gable was 59 years old. Months later, Williams gave birth to John Clark Gable, the son Gable had always longed for but had not lived to see.

By Bryce P. Colemanf masculinity, as the dashing rogue Rhett Butler. Much to the delight of his devoted fans who felt he was perfect for the role, MGM finally agreed to loan Selznick their biggest star, prompting a wary Gable to at last sign on for "Gone with the Wind" (1939).

With a behind-the-scenes story as epic as that depicted on screen, "GWTW" faced innumerable hurdles on its way to theaters, and, of course, Gable figured prominently in many of them. Initially, Selznick had lined up revered director George Cukor to helm the massive undertaking. A few weeks after production had begun Cukor was suddenly pulled from the film and replaced with director Victor Fleming. Although official explanations for the switch were scant, those associated with the picture acknowledged that it was Gable who had insisted on the change of director. Cukor¿s reputation as Hollywood¿s most adept director of women concerned Gable, who feared his performance would be overshadowed by those of his female co-stars, Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Havilland. Having enjoyed his experience with Fleming ¿ a true man¿s man, like himself ¿ on the successful "Red Dust," Gable successfully lobbied to place Fleming in the director¿s chair. Another tense moment for Gable came prior to filming the famous scene in which Butler cries. Always insecure about his range as an actor, Gable stubbornly pushed to alter the scene, until his co-star in the scene, de Havilland, buoyed his confidence in a heart-to-heart talk. He played the scene to perfection, and the fact that Gable had never shown such vulnerability on screen before made the moment all the more affecting.

"Gone with the Wind" went on to become one of the most successful, beloved films of all time, winning several Academy Awards, and earning Gable another Best Actor nomination. At the very pinnacle of his success, Gable had undoubtedly earned his title as the "King of Hollywood," an honor bestowed upon him by columnist Ed Sullivan. Not only was the period the best of his career, but it also marked a highpoint in Gable¿s personal life when he finally married Lombard in 1939. Although they had first met while co-starring in 1932¿s "No Man of Her Own," Lombard¿s then-happy marriage to actor William Powell and Gable¿s unease with her bawdy nature kept their interaction strictly professional. It was not until a chance meeting at a party four years later that they began a torrid affair. One of Hollywood¿s worst kept secrets, their romance was nonetheless kept under wraps to prevent a scandal, as Gable was still married to Langham, who demanded an exorbitant amount of money before she would agree to a divorce. As a way of convincing the star to accept the role of Rhett Butler, Louis B. Mayer increased Gable¿s salary to a degree that would allow him to pay off Langham, thus paving the way for the public consummation of America¿s favorite Hollywood couple.

By all accounts, it was the most fulfilling relationship Gable had ever enjoyed, as the outspoken, liberal-minded Lombard kept him on his toes and encouraged the usually solitary Gable to become more social. Additionally, she endeared herself to her husband by developing an appreciation for the pastimes he loved, such as hunting and fishing. Their storybook romance was cut tragically short after Lombard died in a plane crash in the mountains of Nevada in 1942 while returning from a successful war bonds fundraiser. After immediately rushing to the crash site ¿ there were no survivors ¿ a clearly devastated Gable returned to Los Angeles, where friends despaired as they watched the actor drink himself into oblivion while watching Lombard¿s old films, night after night.

In what some viewed as a death wish, the 41-year-old Gable turned his back on the movie business and enlisted in the Army Air Corps, where he served as a "motion picture specialist" and saw combat as a tail gunner during several missions over Europe. Reportedly, even Adolf Hitler was not immune to Gable¿s charms and offered a reward to any Nazi soldier who could deliver the Hollywood star to the Fuhrer, unscathed. After attaining the rank of Captain, Gable ¿ who felt his age and celebrity status was preventing him from effectively serving his country ¿ requested a discharge from active duty. A bigger hero than ever before in the eyes of fans, Gable returned to film with much ballyhoo for the Fleming-directed "Adventure" (1945), co-starring Greer Garson. While the novelty of Gable¿s return initially sold tickets, the sub-par romantic-adventure ultimately proved a disappointment. Although he continued to turn out projects throughout the remainder of the decade, both Gable¿s zeal for filmmaking and his status as the undisputed "King of Hollywood" began to wane. Also less successful than his previous exper

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Going Hollywood: The War Years (1988) Himself (Archival Footage)
2.
 The Misfits (1961) Gay Langland
3.
 It Started in Naples (1960) Michael Hamilton
4.
 But Not for Me (1959) Russell Ward
5.
 Teacher's Pet (1958) James Gannon, also know as "Jim Gallagher"
6.
 Run Silent Run Deep (1958) Commander "P. J." Richardson
7.
 Band of Angels (1957) Hamish Bond
8.
 The King and Four Queens (1956) Dan Kehoe
9.
 Soldier of Fortune (1955) Hank Lee
10.
 The Tall Men (1955) Ben Allison
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1901:
Mother died when he was nine months old; sent to live with maternal grandparents
1903:
Father and stepmother reclaimed him
1910:
Family settles in Hopedale, Ohio
1917:
Moved to Ravenna with father and stepmother; eventually returned to Hopedale
1915:
Amateur acting debut in school play
1919:
Settled in Akron and worked in a tire factory
1921:
After stepmother's death, moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma with his father
1922:
Joined Astoria Players Stock Company
1924:
Became a member of Josephine Dillon's Stock Company
1924:
Moved to Hollywood
1924:
First film as actor, a bit part in "Forbidden Paradise"
1925:
Can be spotted as an extra in Erich von Stroheim's "The Merry Widow"
1928:
Broadway debut, "Machinal"
1930:
Signed contract with MGM
1931:
First sound film as actor in "The Painted Desert"
1931:
Attracted attention when he pushed reigning screen queen Norma Shearer around (in the role of her brutish gangster lover) in "A Free Soul"; subsequent leading role opposite other MGM divas Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford confirmed his star status
1932:
Starred in "Red Dust"
1934:
Won Best Actor Oscar for comic role of a newspaperman chasing a runaway heiress in "It Happened One Night"
1935:
Picked up second Academy Award nomination for performance as Fletcher Christian in "Mutiny on the Bounty"
1937:
Made rare box-office flop, "Parnell", a biopic about the Irish statesman
1937:
Sued by a woman from England who claimed that he was the father of her 13 year-old child; Gable was able to prove that he was in Oregon in 1923 when the child was conceived
1939:
Starred in his best-remembered film, "Gone With the Wind", as Rhett Butler; received third Oscar nomination
1942:
Enlisted in Army Air Corps as private; last film for three years, "Somewhere I'll Find You"
1944:
Discharged as Major
1944:
Awarded Air Medal
1945:
Made first film after returning from war service, "Adventure"
1953:
Starred in "Mogambo", playing the leading role in the remake of the 1932 film "Red Dust" in which he also starred
1954:
Parted company with MGM
1956:
Formed Russ-Field-Gabco production company (with Jane Russell and her husband Bob Waterfield)
1961:
Starred in last film, "The Misfits"
1976:
Portrayed in the feature biopic "Gable and Lombard" by James Brolin (Jill Clayburgh played Carole Lombard)
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Edinburgh High School: Hopedale , Ohio -

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Josephine Dillon. Actor. Married in December 1924; divorced in April 1930; born c. 1889.
companion:
Joan Crawford. Actor. Reportedly had an on-again, off-again relationship over a 10-year period; frequently co-starred together in such films as "Dancing Lady" (1933) and "Strange Cargo" (1940).
wife:
Rhea Langham. Married on June 19, 1931; divorced in March 1939.
companion:
Loretta Young. Actor. Had affair during filming of 1935's "The Call of the Wild"; gave birth to Gable's daughter Mary Judith but passed her off as an adopted child; daughter did not learn truth of parentage until she was an adult.
wife:
Carole Lombard. Actor. Married from March 29, 1939 until her death in a plane crash on January 16, 1942; popular film star in the 1930s and early 40s in such films as "Twentieth Century" (1934), "My Man Godfrey" (1936), "Nothing Sacred" (1937) and "To Be or Not to Be" (1942); acted opposite Gable in the 1932 "No Man of Her Own".
wife:
Lady Sylvia Ashley. Former actor. Married on December 20, 1949, divorced in 1952.
wife:
Kay Williams Spreckels. Married from July 1955 until his death in 1960.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
William Henry Gable. Oil driller.
mother:
Adeline Gable. Born c. 1870; Roman Catholic; died on November 14, 1901.
step-mother:
Jennie Gable. Died in 1920.
daughter:
Judy Lewis. Psychotherapist, former actor. Born on November 6, 1935; mother, Loretta Young; Lewis believed she was adopted until she learned the truth of her parentage as an adult.
step-daughter:
Joan Spreckels.
son:
John Clark Gable. Actor. Mother, Kay Spreckels; born shortly after Gable's death on March 20, 1961.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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