Life and times of Hollywood heartthrob
Source: THE PLAIN DEALER, Monday, February 05, 2001
1901 - William Clark Gable is born Feb. 1 at 5:30 a.m., weighing almost 11
pounds, to William H. Gable, who worked in the oil fields of Cadiz, and his wife
Adeline (who dies of epilepsy when her son is only 9 months old). His father
remarries in 1903 and moves to Hopedale, Ohio, where Clark is raised by his
stepmother, Jennie Dunlap.
1917 - After his father leaves Hopedale to start a farm in Ravenna, Gable
drops out of school and takes a job at the Miller Rubber Co. in Akron. There, he
sees his first stage play and falls in love with the theater; working backstage
and making his first walk-on, three-word ("Good evening, sir") acting
debut at the Akron Music Hall. His father never loses his stated belief that
"actors are sissies."
1921 - A succession of jobs - in lumberyards and oil fields, selling neckties
and working as a telephone repairman - takes Gable across the country where he
meets Josephine Dillon, drama coach for an Oregon theater company, while fixing
her phone. She grooms Gable as an actor, and becomes his first wife.
1924 - Work as a stage actor and movie extra leads to a screen test before
Darryl F. Zanuck at Warner Bros., who rejects Gable, saying, "His ears are
too big. He looks like an ape."
1931 - Gable establishes his screen persona as a gruff, manís man, after
roughing up Norma Shearer in "A Free Soul" and sharing steamy love
scenes with Jean Harlow in "Red Dust" (1932). He becomes MGMís top
1934 - Gable gets an Oscar for his role in "It Happened One Night,"
in which he shares a cabin with Claudette Colbert (their beds discreetly divided
by a blanket slung on a rope) and nearly kills the undershirt industry by
revealing that he doesnít wear one.
1939 - If a 1938 national newspaper poll didnít establish Gable as
"the King" of Hollywood (a monicker predating Elvis), his role as
Rhett Butler in the epic "Gone With the Wind" cemented that title, and
an Oscar nomination.
1942 - After his third wife, actress Carole Lombard, is killed in an airplane
crash, Gable enlists in the Army Air Forces and flies combat missions in B-17s
out of England.
1953 - Gable continues to star in box-office hits, such as "Mogambo"
and "Command Decision," and marries for the fifth (and last) time to
Kay Spreckels .
1960 - Shortly after finishing his 67th film, "The Misfits"
(co-starring Marilyn Monroe), Gable suffers a heart attack and dies. Pallbearers
include Jimmy Stewart, Spencer Tracy and Robert Taylor. A son, John Clark Gable,
is born four months later.