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Facts on Gable

When and where was he born?

Clark Gable was born in Cadiz, Ohio, at 5:30 A.M. on February 1, 1901, weighing in at almost eleven pounds. The doctor's fee was ten dollars.

Where are the Gables coming from?

The name Gable was derived from Goebel. Clark's ancestors emigrated from Germany; here they joined fellow Germans in Pennsylvania, where they were known as Pennsylvania Dutchman. The majority of the Gables were farmers, but when oil was discovered in Harrison County, Ohio, at the turn of the century, Clark's father William abandoned agriculture, moved west to Ohio.

Who are his father and mother?

Clark's father is William Gable, and mother is Adeline Hershelman. Will is a Protestant and a truculent laborer. Addie is a Catholic, dabbled in painting and has the sensitivity of an artist. They settled in Cadiz to be near the oil fields where Will worked six days a week.

Who named him Clark?

His mother Addie who wanted her son called Clark, the family name of one of her grandmothers. She baptized Clark when he was three months old. She died at age of thirty-one, nine months after Clark's birth. Epilepsy was recorded as the cause of death.

Who is Jennie Dunlap?

Jennie was Clark's stepmother. She looked after him like a true mother. She encouraged him to take part in school plays and musicals, urged him to read good books and to study hard, to make something of himself. His father Will was often away from home working in the oil field. Jennie was the loving mother who took care of Clark, nurtured Clark, and educated Clark.

Why did Clark quit school at age sixteen?

Will sold his house in Hopedale and moved the family to start a farm in Ravenna, Ohio. Clark was traumatized leaving his friends and familiar surrounding. He was obligated to work in the farm with his father, and that means feeding hogs, plowing all morning and forking hay in the hot sun. Clark made up his mind he was going back to Hopedale. Upon returning Hopedale, his friend Andy Means told him there were good paying jobs in Akron, so Clark tagged along, and quit school to work in Akron.

Why did Clark want to become an actor?

In Akron, Clark worked as a timekeeper at the Miller Rubber Company for twenty-five dollars a week. He went to see a play called Bird of Paradise, and the stage thrilled him. He got a job as a callboy at the Music Hall just to hang around the theater. Gable described his first contact with the theater:" getting the actors on cue and even sewing buttons on customes. I slept in the theater and showered at the YMCA." Eventually, he got a walk-on part that required three words, "Good evening, Sir." At the Music Hall, Clark Gable fell in love with the theater and decided to become an actor. Though fame and money would be his eventually, he never forgot the exhilaration of walking onto a stage for the first time.

Why didn't Clark and Will get along?

Will thought acting was for sissies, and he wanted Clark to be like him. Clark reluctantly joined him to work at an oil field near Bigheart, Oklahoma after Jennie passed away. For twelve dollars a day Clark chopped wood to fuel the boiler fires, handled a jackhammer, and cleaned the stills in the oil refineries. Clark hated it, but he went along until he reached his twenty-one birthday --- to collect the three hundred dollars willed by him by his grandfather Hershelman. On Feb. 1, 1922, Clark collected his inheritance at the courthouse in Pennsylvania and left the oil field for good. Will later reported, "I told the stubborn mule if he left me this time, he need never come back. I was through with him." He called Clark a "sissy" for wanting to be an actor. Even when Clark's name appeared on movie-theater marquees years later, "Actors are sissies," Will maintained to the last.

I heard Clark once dressed as a baby in his early theater days. Is this true?

Believe or not, yes, it did happen. On stage in Astoria, Clark was dressed as a baby and was seen in a huge crib. He never minded that the audience laughed, as long as they reacted. Clark never felt humiliated, he never complained, and he was never discouraged. Anything, he thought, was better than working with his hands --- chopping wood, digging for oil, or plowing on the farm.

Who is Josephine Dillion, Clark's first wife?

Josephine was a drama teacher. She gives Clark early theater training, coached and mothered him. Josephine taught Clark social graces, the language of the upper class --- and how to hold his tongue under any circumstances.

Who is Ria Langham, Clark's second wife?

Ria was a Houston socialite. Clark's first hit came from play Anna Christie in Houston. Ria followed him to New York, where Clark was successfully casted for Machinal, another broadway hit. From there, Clark went Hollywood. Desperately wanting to marry Carole Lombard, Clark demanded a divorce. In 1939, Ria walked away with then record settlement of $260,000.

What movie is Clark's big break in Hollywood?

A Free Soul was the beginning of Gable's rough-diamond image -- the man who was raw and crude but had a heart of gold. After the release of A Free Soul, thousands of letters were addressed to MGM about "the guy who slapped Norma Shearer".

What about Carole Lombard, the love of his life?

Lombard is surely the most important woman in Clark's life. In her he found the female companion who always seemed his goal, on screen and off. They went hunting together and she camped on the ground with the men. When she died in 1942 in a plane crash during a War Bond tour, Gable was despondent and joined the Air Force.

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