Clark Gable- A trivia quiz
Clark Gable was born in Cadiz, Ohio, on February 1, 1901. The city still
holds film festivals in his honor.
After doing extra work in such films as The Merry Widow (1925), Gable moved
to New York where he became friends with Lionel Barrymore. Years later, Barrymore
arranged for Gable to test at MGM, but it was a disaster. Gable also tested
at Warner Bros. to play Edward G. Robinson's best friend in Little Caesar,
but production chief Darryl F. Zanuck turned him down, saying "His ears are
too big. He looks like an ape."
Gable finally landed a film role as a villain in The Painted Desert , a
1931 western starring William Boyd, who would later rise to stardom as "Hopalong"
After a second screen test at MGM (again arranged by Barrymore), Gable won
a contract, making his debut in a small role as Constance Bennett's brother-in-law
in The Easiest Way. When he rose to stardom within a year, MGM re-issued the
film with Gable listed as its star.
Treating Norma Shearer roughly in A Free Soul was Gable's ticket to stardom
in 1931. Female fans fell for a new type of hero, as likely to slug them as
to kiss them.
When Gable and Jean Harlow shared some steamy love scenes in 1932's Red
Dust, fan response made him MGM's top male star. They would re-team in four
more films, including the modern day pirate adventure China Seas (1935).
As Gable's star rose, he started to refuse run-of-the-mill roles. When he
turned down a Joan Crawford soap opera, studio head Louis B. Mayer punished
him by loaning him to the less prestigious Columbia Pictures. The film he
made there was It Happened One Night , which brought Gable an Oscar for Best
Despite his he-man image on-screen, Gable off-screen seemed to be in search
of someone to mother him. His first wife, drama coach Josephine Dillon, was
17 years his senior; his second, socialite Rhea Davis, was also considerably
Gable indulged in three famous romances with leading ladies in the 1930s.
His fling with Joan Crawford ended when Mayer threatened to destroy their
careers. While making Call of the Wild with Loretta Young, they fell in love.
Years later, Young's adopted daughter, Judy, would claim that she was their
love child. When Gable started dating Carole Lombard, he knew he'd found the
Initially, Gable refused the role of Blackie Norton in San Francisco (1936)
because he didn't want to stand around while co-star Jeanette MacDonald sang
to him. "It's one thing if you have a voice and can sing back and defend yourself,"
he explained to MGM production chief Irving G. Thalberg. "It's another if
you don't, and I don't." He changed his mind when he learned that MacDonald
had taken herself off salary while waiting for him to accept the role. Thinking
he was over the hill, MGM executives refused to renew Gable's contract in
1954. To their embarrassment, Mogambo, one of his last pictures there, was
a major hit that made it possible for Gable to command top dollar as a free
agent in Hollywood.
While filming San Francisco , Gable forged a close friendship with co-star
Spencer Tracy. Gable admired Tracy's dramatic versatility, while Tracy envied
Gable's romantic allure. The friends would re-team for two more films, Test
Pilot (1938) and Boom Town (1940), with Gable taking top billing both times.
The situation was so rough on Tracy's ego that the two never worked together
Gable hated period pictures, convinced he only looked good in modern roles.
He tried to turn down Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), another of his biggest
hits. After the failure of Parnell , in which he played a crusading Irish
politician, he swore he'd stick to contemporary stories. As a result, he fought
to get out of his most famous role, Rhett Butler in Gone With The Wind .
Gable finally agreed to play Rhett Butler on one condition. He forced MGM
to pay off his second wife, Rhea Davis, so she would divorce him, thus leaving
him free to marry Lombard.
Gable's reputation for romancing his leading ladies was so notorious that
when he was cast opposite Lana Turner for the first time (in Honky Tonk ),
Lombard personally warned Mayer that if she caught the two together she'd
make sure Gable could not show up for work.
After Gable's romance with Joan Crawford, the two remained friends for years,
appearing together in eight films, most of them with steamy love scenes. It
wasn't until they made Strange Cargo (1940), however, that they ran afoul
of the censors, and then it wasn't over their love scenes. The story of convicts
escaping from Devil's Island included a character played by Ian Hunter who
thought he was Jesus. The Catholic Church's Legion of Decency threatened the
film with a condemned rating if his scenes were not toned down.
After Lombard died in a plane crash on her way back from a personal appearance
tour to sell war bonds, Gable enlisted in the Army Air Corps even though he
was too old for the draft. After the war he married twice. Each woman bore
a strong resemblance to Lombard.
Contrary to rumor, Gable's death from a heart attack was not caused by strenuous
work on his final film, The Misfits (1962), which co-starred Marilyn Monroe.
At the time, gossip-mongers claimed that Monroe's erratic behavior led to
exhausting re-takes of scenes in which he had to rope and tie down wild horses
in the Nevada desert. A close examination of the film reveals that Gable didn't
have to perform any strenuous shots. Footage of him handling the rope was
simply intercut with location footage of the horses.
Gable's only legitimate child, John Clark Gable, was born posthumously.
As an adult, he worked as a race car driver and refused offers to go into
the movies until 1990 when he agreed to play an outlaw in the western Bad
Jim. The film's star, James Brolin, had played Gable in the disastrous 1976
biography Gable and Lombard.