clark gable loretta young key to the city

Earlier in the week we looked at the essay Clark Gable wrote about his co-star, Loretta Young, as publicity for Key to the City.

An innocent idea, certainly, except of course when said co-stars had a secret child fifteen years earlier.

So let’s see what Loretta had to say about Clark, shall we…

I first met Clark Gable about twelve years ago when we co-starred in a woodsy drama entitled “The Call of the Wild.” Although we were given top billing, the real star of the picture was a massive dog named Buck. The rest of us, compared to the instant attention Buck’s slightest bark commanded, were no more impressive than a chorus of gnats.

Buck lived in a steam-heated trailer; the rest of us shivered in the Summer quarters of a rustic hotel whose Winter quarters had burned the previous year.

When our picture company was marooned for nine days by twenty-one feet of snow, Buck was accorded the steaks our larder afforded whereas the rest of us were reduced to crackers, scrambled eggs and breakfast cereal.

After the storm had abated, we went to work in temperatures which ranged from ten to thirty degrees below zero. This is the way the scenes were worked out: the human members of the company were sent for, rehearsed, and stationed in their places. THEN the word would be sent out for Buck to be rushed from his cosy quarters into camera range. He would do his bit. The instant the camera stopped turning, Buck would be hurried back to his plush apartment while we chilblained actors flailed ourselves with our arms to keep from congealing. We also smiled wanly in Buck’s direction just to keep our facial muscles from freezing.

Throughout this murderous situation, the only person who never lost his temper, and who never looked at Buck and wondered how Huskie steaks would taste, was Clark Gable. No matter how trying the working and living conditions became, he was always the affable gentleman, who made no demands upon his fellow workers. He expected no favors—although he was a big star even then—and when tempers flared he would say peaceably, “We won’t remember what this was all about in a hundred years. Let’s get going and get this thing finished.”

I remember that he had brought along a supply of books and magazines, adventure stories, sports stories, westerns and the like, and that he served as a one-man library. At the end of nine days of enforced inactivity and imprisonment we would all have had what is known as “Cabin Fever” (the urge to kill) if it hasn’t been for that reading matter.

He could also be depended upon to start a card game when people became short-tempered and restless. He would play anything, could win when he wanted to, could lose when it seemed diplomatic.

Although I was only a careless youngster at the time—spending most of the time at the window waiting for the messenger boy, on snowshoes, to bring the mail in which I thought there might be a letter from a lad in Los Angeles in whom I was deeply interested—I was aware of the great diplomatic ability and keen sportsmanship of Clark Gable.

One of the things that is so admirable about Clark Gable is the consistency of his character. So she seems rather in awe of him, doesn’t she.

According to a friend who knows Clark well, he still carries a locket in which there is a soft, blonde curl—Carole Lombard’s.

The years have brought changes around Clark Gable, and they have brought changes within him. He is a better actor now than ever, and a wiser human being.

Before we started the picture, I had a print of that wonderful old picture, “It Happened One Night,” run for me so that I could study Clark’s comedy technique. He was impressive. However, when I saw the rushes of “Key to the City” I realized that he was even better than ever in the first comedy role he has assayed since “It Happened One Night.”

In closing, I would like to say that the Clark Gable who is called “King” in his studio is something far more important than a king to his fellow Americans: he is a real man.

It’s interesting she briefly brings up Carole Lombard, as apparently the news that Clark had married Carole deeply saddened Loretta, who had hoped that Clark would marry her when he was finally free.

You can read the article in its entirety in The Article Archive.

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clark gable sylvia ashley

From November 1953:

The former Mrs. Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Lady Ashley, etcetera, used the name Mrs. Clark Gable for her London social engagements and created no end of embarrassment for her ex-husband when he arrived in London en route to Hollywood and accepted party invitations. The “Mogambo” star had to send his regrets to several titled households when he cancelled out at the last minute because Sylvia Gable was to be among those present.

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Great News: FINALLY Gone with the Wind is being re-released on the big screen to commemorate the 75th Anniversary!

Fathom Events, Turner Classic Movies and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment invite you to celebrate one of the most beloved Hollywood classics when Gone With the Wind: The 75th Anniversary Celebration comes to select movie theaters nationwide on Sunday, September 28 and Wednesday, October 1. Experience the incredible story behind this 10-time Academy Award® winning masterpiece. Fully remastered and with a specially produced introduction by TCM host Robert Osborne, this event is one you will not want to miss.

The film will be shown in the same aspect ratio as it was originally shown 75 years ago. Bonus content not rated.

To see if it’s coming to a screen near you, visit: Fathom Events

clark gable loretta young key to the city

Sometimes work duties can be awkward. Like, say, when you are required to pen an essay detailing why your co-star is so great, and you and said co-star had a secret baby out of wedlock fifteen years earlier. Yeah. That’s awkward.

During the press circuit of To Please a Lady, Clark Gable and Loretta Young were asked to do just that. The whole story of their secret baby was known widely around Hollywood but not so much in the households of moviegoers. I’ve often wondered why the producers even proposed starring them together, if it was such a widely known fact. It doesn’t surprise me one iota that neither Clark nor Loretta hesitated to be reteamed on the screen; they were professionals and probably thought that them starring together would put to bed the old rumors.

Of course these articles are fluffy, fluffy fluff and of course the whole time you are reading them, you can’t help but smirk at what they are leaving out. But I do believe that ultimately Clark and Loretta did have respect for each other and did actually LIKE each other. In my opinion, as we can only speculate at this point, I have always believed that what went on between Clark and Loretta was a in-the-heat-of-the-moment thing, a fling so to speak. And once filming was complete and the company headed back to Los Angeles, I don’t believe that either one of them thought they’d make a go of a relationship. It just what what it was. I have no doubt in my mind that if Clark had been a single man when Loretta revealed her pregnancy that he would have married her. He would have done the right thing, certainly. But he couldn’t. So the both of them did what they had to do. She bore the child and pretended to adopt it later, he carried on with his life.

So, fifteen years later, here’s what Clark had to say about Loretta:

Before setting down a few observations on Loretta Young, I decided to check up on a few newspapers and magazines in which interviews were published, just to see how a guy goes about this sort of thing.

When I finished this research I was in more trouble than I had been when I started. Maybe that’s always one trouble with putting yourself wise—the more you learn, the less you know.

I found out that if you’re going to write a story about anyone, you should discover a few startling facts about your subject: like she had hunted tigers in Africa, or she paints portraits of Amazon savages, or she buys all of her clothing to match her mauve (whatever color that is) station wagon.

Well, Loretta simply doesn’t provide any startling facts. She is the nicest, sweetest, sincerest, most normal girl you would want to meet. If she were a man, her friends would say of her that she is a swell Joe.

I met Loretta about twelve years ago, when we were what is laughingly called “co-starred” in the same picture. The only star in that picture was the weather. We arrived in Bellingham, Washington, one afternoon in the midst of a blizzard which kept right on blizzarding for nine days. We were quartered, about thirty of us, in an airy building intended for use during the July heat wave. Brrrother was it cold!

We spent most of our time huddled around a stove, glaring at one another. After the first three days everyone had “cabin fever,” which is a polite term for the urge to kill. All except Loretta. My chief recollection of her at that time consists of seeing her standing at the window, nose pressed against a frosted pane, watching for Arvid Griffin to show up with the mail.

Arvid Griffin was, in those days, a Bellingham school boy who breezed in through the flakes and offered to be our emissary on snowshoes. All he could talk about was Hollywood. Most of us nodded and said, “Yeah, yeah,” from the depths of a book when he plied us with questions, but Loretta was genuinely friendly and interested.

She kept saying, “If you really want to get to Hollywood, you’ll get there. If the desire is planted deeply, and you won’t be distracted from your aim, you’ll succeed.”

There was something about the sincerity of her tone that would have convinced a totem pole.

So here’s an item: Arvid Griffin, once of Bellingham, Washington, was the second assistant director on “Key To The City,” the picture I just finished with Loretta. He regards her as a prophet—almost as a saint.

During the twelve years between “Call Of The Wild” and “Key To The City,” I didn’t see much of Loretta. I remembered her as a sweet kid, sort of carefree and good-natured, not too much interested in her career in spite of having plenty of talent.

I found out, during the first few days of the picture, that the carefree kid had matured into a great lady and a real trouper.

Clark’s voice is definitely in the writing. He’s probably right about research on Loretta not turning up much! “Didn’t see much of Loretta”—um, no you didn’t!

She’s a gorgeous soul. Instead of returning to her dressing room between scenes, she would join Ruth Roberts (the dialogue coach) and either go over lines, or chat. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the sound stage, with electricians moving huge light standards, grips moving walls, prop men bringing up fresh items of equipment, and foreman yelling directions, Loretta would be perched on a tall, wooden stool, watching the activity with as much real enjoyment as if it had been all new to her.

She has the happy quality of never being bored. Everything interests her and everyone interests her. She knows which gaffer is about to become a father, and whether he and his wife want a boy or a girl and what they plan to name the child; she knows whose mother is ill, and who is taking a vacation trip to Honolulu. What a memory! And what genuine interest in her fellow human beings!

Another Young attribute which appeals to a man is that Loretta is devoted to her husband and  her youngsters. She is that rare combination, a natural-born homemaker as well as a very successful actress.

Natural-born homemaker! I think nowadays that would be considered an insult! No, you are not going to find any nitty gritty here.

You can read the article in its entirety in the Article Archive and stay tuned for Thursday, when I have Loretta’s essay on Clark.

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clark gable station wagon

From November 1937:

Just before he left on his extended bear-hunting expedition, Clark Gable had a short wave radio set installed in his car. You’d never guess whom he wants to keep in touch with during his trip, would you?

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clark gable gone with the wind

One of the many random books I have on Gone with the Wind is “The Official Gone with the Wind Companion” by Stephen J. Spignesi. It’s a book of quizzes and random trivia;  I think my parents got it for me for Christmas when I was in middle school! My copy is tattered and has my childish handwriting scrawled everywhere. I thought to resurrect it though and see what compelling questions the Clark Gable quiz had in store. Pencils ready, everyone!

1. For the Clark connoisseur: Which of the following was not one of Clark Gable’s pre-acting occupations? Tire factory worker, oil driller, pharmacy clerk, department store salesman, telephone lineman.

2. How many times was Clark Gable married and to whom?

3. What did Clark Gable once do in a film that almost ruined the undershirt business?

4. Which of the following remarks did Clark Gable actually make about the possibility of him playing Rhett Butler?

A. “I’ve been preparing for this part for the past fifteen years.”

B. “Cast Carole Lombard as Scarlett and I’m all yours.”

C. “I don’t want the part for money, chalk or marbles.”

D. “Who’s Rhett Butler?”

5. What was the date on which L.B. Mayer signed the contract that allowed Clark Gable to make Gone with the Wind for Selznick International, even though Gable was an MGM contract player?

6. For the Clark connoisseur Part 2: What was the original name of the Gable family and why did they change it to “Gable”?

7. TRUE or FALSE: Samuel Goldwyn once said the following about Clark Gable: “When Clark Gable comes on the screen you can hear his balls clanking together.:

8.TRUE or FALSE: Clark Gable never actually worked with “the love of his life,” Carole Lombard.

9. What was the last film Clark Gable ever made and with whom did he co-star?

10. Name the three films Clark Gable appeared in for which he was nominated for an Academy Award.

 

ANSWERS:

1. Clark Gable was never a pharmacy clerk.

2. Five. He was married to Josephine Dillon, Maria “Ria” Lucas Langham, Carole Lombard, Lady Sylvia Ashley and Katherine (says the book but it is Kathleen) Williams Spreckels

3. In It Happened One Night, Gable unbuttoned his dress shirt and revealed that he was not wearing an undershirt, American men, thinking it was more masculine to go bare-chested beneath their shirts, immediately emulated Clark by not wearing undershirts, and within one year, sales of undershirts plunged by 75 percent.

4. C. He made this remark to David Selznick.

5. August 24, 1938

6. The original family name was “Goebel,” which they changed because of its similarity to the name of Hitler’s chief of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels.  (Um, Goebbels held that post starting in 1933. Clark was already a famous film star at the time with Gable as his last name. Gable was his last name when he was born in 1901. In 1901 Joseph Goebbels was four years old!! Bogus trivia.)

7. TRUE. He made this remark to Hedda Hopper.

8. FALSE. They starred together in the 1932 comedy-drama No Man of Her Own.

9. The last film Gable ever made was The Misfits with Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift.

10. He was nominated–and won–Best Actor for the 1934 film It Happened One Night; he was nominated–and lost to Victor McLaglen–Best Actor for the 1935 film Mutiny on the Bounty; and he was nominated–and lost to Robert Donat–Best Actor for Gone with the Wind.

 

So how’d you do?!

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clark gable

From December 1949:

You can believe this or not—but we actually saw Clark Gable lunching alone in the MGM commissary—and all around him pretty gals who would have been delighted to keep him company. There was quite a glamour gang scattered around at the various tables—the three Taylors, Elizabeth, Bob and Don, handsome Barry Sullivan, Mark Stevens, Peter Lawford, Marilyn Maxwell, Bob Walker—looking fit as a fiddle—and the most beautiful girl in the room, Arlene Dahl, all excited about getting the lead in the Western “Outriders.”

____

This one made me sad. Like his heyday was over and there he is all alone while the new crop of stars takes over the commissary.

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clark gable vivien leigh gone with the wind

Clark Gable’s home state of Ohio will be celebrating the 75th anniversary of Gone with the Wind this October! Patrick Curtis and Mickey Kuhn (toddler Beau and child Beau in the film) will be in attendance!

 

Friday, October 3 at the Cadiz Country Club in Cadiz, Ohio:

5:30pm–Dinner, Play and Open Forum with Patrick and Mickey

 

Saturday, October 4 at the Tuscarawas County Branch of Kent University Performing Arts Center in New Philadelphia, Ohio:

11:00am–Exhibits and Sales Tables

1:00pm–Forum with Patrick and Mickey

2:00pm–Auction of Memorabilia

4:30pm–Screening of Gone with the Wind

For further information and to obtain tickets, contact the Clark Gable Foundation at (614) 942-4989.

I am happy to report that I will be attending this event! I am going to be cruising around through Cadiz (where Clark was born) and Hopedale (where Clark grew up)! I am hoping to hit all the Clark sites there are to see while I am there. I am so looking forward to walking in Clark’s footsteps through Ohio–and report back, of course!

 

clark gable salary

From September 1936:

Everyone thought Clark Gable was clowning when he remarked that he would like to sign a contract for twenty-eight days, starting with two cents a day. Each day’s salary to be multiplied by itself. In other words, the first day he would make two cents. The second day four cents. Believe it or not, by the end of twenty-eight days, it runs up in the millions. If you don’t believe Clark, get out your paper and pencil and start figuring.

 

 

clark gable photoplay gone with the windHere is an article from Photoplay magazine in February 1940 in which Clark dispels some rumors about Vivien Leigh, his feelings toward playing Rhett Butler, and his marriage to Carole Lombard.

Some quotes:

On the challenge of playing Rhett Butler:

“…my mind was preoccupied with Rhett Butler. He had me plenty worried, so worried that I didn’t want to play him.

Don’t think that was because I didn’t realize what a fat part he was. Rhett is one of the greatest male characters ever created. I knew that. I’d read the entire book through six times, trying to get his moods. I’ve still got a copy in my dressing room and I still read it once in a while, because I know I’ll probably never get such a terrific role again. But what was worrying me, and still is, was that from the moment I was cast as Rhett Butler I started out with five million critics.

About all the handicap an actor ordinarily has is two or three professional critics to a city which adds up for the whole world to about one large theater’s matinee business. Those birds may rap you and while you’d prefer their praise, still you can take those raps, if need be, hoping that the public which makes up all the millions of other movie-goers will like you regardless. But five million people have read “Gone with the Wind” and each must have his or her own idea of how Rhett should be played.

There was not only that, but I had an accent to think of, long hair to wear, and twenty-six costume changes—more than Carole has ever had in any one of her pictures (which brought me in for lots of ribbing from that one, too).”

On his wedding to Carole:

It has been written since then that Carole and I had that wedding day planned out for months in advance, but that’s not true. It happened this way. On the afternoon of March 28, I was finished with my scenes about three in the afternoon. While I was taking off my make-up, the assistant director came over and said I didn’t need to work the next day. I called Carole at once and with the aid of a close friend, we headed put that night to Kingman, Arizona. We took Otto along, not only to untangle any difficulties we might get into, but because he had a new car without license plates which meant we wouldn’t be spotted.

We were married at three-thirty that afternoon and left at five-thirty, getting home the next morning at three. Carole’s mother was there, all excited, which kept us up till five. Finally we got to sleep, only to be awakened at nine to discover forty cameramen, three newsreel men and twenty reporters waiting out in the front yard to interview us. Under the circumstances, David gave me another day off.

But the next morning when I reported at the studio, ready for the prison sequence, I discovered Vic had switched things on me and was prepared to do the wedding scene, only this day my bride was Vivien. David had engaged a full orchestra which was gurgling through the wedding march and whole I knew it was all a rib on me, I blew up in the first take. The stage hands all groaned, Vivien asked solicitously what was the matter with me, and Vic said, “It’s just that Clark has always been shy of girls.”

On Vivien Leigh:

As for any possibility of Vivien Leigh’s falling in love with me I knew that was out from our first glance. For never have I seen any girl more completely in love than that one is—with Laurence Olivier. It’s as visible as a Neon sign that she can’t think or talk of or dream about anything or anyone else on earth—except when she’s on the set. When she’s on the set, she’s what a good actress should be. She’s all business.

As for my falling in love with her, I’m sure that could have been plenty pleasant except that, added to her lack of interest in me, I didn’t have any heart to give away, either. Mine was staked out to that Lombard girl who is mighty beautiful and brainy. Carole and I weren’t married when Vivien and I first met, but we did marry while I was working on the picture and there’s a story about our wedding that has never been told and which I’ll get to presently.

I’ll be truthful about it, however; I’ll confess that the first time I saw her I doubted that Vivien could really play Scarlett. That reaction shows I’m no casting director. But, accustomed to the more abandoned and superficial personalities of Hollywood girls, Vivien seemed too demure to me, at that first meeting, for the vivid, relentless Scarlett.

David Selznick introduced us to each other at a dinner party at his home. Vivien was wearing a very plain, tailored dress. She’s much tinier in real life than she appears on the screen, and since she uses little make-up she has a very young, unsophisticated air. Besides, she had all the fires banked that evening and that Olivier guy was her escort.

Now I know I should have stopped to consider all that. But having seen Vivien only in “A Yank at Oxford”, in which she didn’t have a lot to do, I just looked at her that first evening at David’s and wondered if that keen-minded producer had gone haywire when he signed her.

I knew he hadn’t the first day Vivien and I got on a set together.

Read the article in its entirety in The Article Archive.