clark gable

In this 1937 article, a reporter follows Clark Gable around for an entire day (on one of his days off from the studio) and fills you in on every exciting detail! Not very exciting, actually, but nonetheless…

He sent me a wire saying, “The Irish are fighting without me tomorrow. I will give you a ring when I wake up. I am going to sleep as late as possible.” Signed Clark. (He addresses you by your given name and likes to be called by his.)

It was 10 am when my telephone buzzed loudly.

“Man, have I been sleeping! That’s my idea of fun when I don’t have to roll out at dawn. But skip over!”

I speeded over. Clark resides at Beverly Hills’ best hotel, but although he is the most illustrious guest he is by no means the most elegant. In some ways I’ll bet he’s quite embarrassing! He could be the world’s most pampered collar-ad, but it seems he’s kind of stubborn about being Exhibit A. He behaves, in fact, in an astonishingly non-ritzy manner. As you shall learn.

Recently he moved into a four-room suite on the eighth floor back, to get away from the noise of street traffic. He isn’t cramped, but he certainly isn’t rattling around in regal style either. Since this seems to be a fairly permanent residence you might suppose he’d have ordered an expensive decorator to satisfy his whims. But aha—! Here is where I do get going on this devil-may-care gallant.

He whisked his door open. “There’s no stooge to do it,” he explained. “My morning clothes!” he exclaimed when he caught my wonder at his garb. He had on cowboy overalls, vintage boots, and a yellow turtleneck sweater that had seen better seasons. He hardly matched the background.

“What’s the gag?” I asked.

“Gag nothing! These are my riding clothes, and we’re off for a canter or two.”

I managed to gasp,” Do you venture forth on the Beverly bridle paths like that?”

Clark laughed in that irresistible, explosive manner of his. “Bridle path? Say, you’re in for a jolt!”

Meanwhile he showed me around. “The hotel has good taste, so why the heck should I try to improve on what’s already comfortable? I’ve got some books, these hunting prints, my guns, and this Capeheart.” No special stellar interior-decorating, no bending under a yoke to possessions. He patted his mahogany radio-phonograph and then admitted honestly, “Most of my records here are jazz. I hate to dance. Always have. But I enjoy listening to hot rhythms. I buy a lot of the new recordings. Go into some music store and get rash. Oh, and I’ve quite a few foreign gypsy records, too. Hungarian and Russian string effects—I go for them. I guess I started loving gypsy strains when I was wandering around the country myself, and this is the hangover!”

He’s too thoroughly he-man to fret about particular period pieces or special star color-scheming. He’s virile instead of arty, discriminating without being spoiled into demanding modes for moods.

He has no secretary in attendance, no servants. The Park Avenue boys may have their staffs, but Clark with every excuse to be grand employs neither valet nor butler. “I’m not helpless,” he states succinctly. The man who cares for his dressing-room at the studio drops up several times a week to see that the dry cleaners and laundry lads are playing ball properly.

He had shaved and bathed and had been reading the morning newspapers.

“What did you read first?”

“Oh, that item about David Windsor and Mrs. Simpson,” he replied. Demonstrating that Clark’s as human as the rest of us! “Then Louella Parsons’ column. After that the sports pages.” Of course he’s intrigued with the racing reports at the moment.

When I started this “pot-luck” approach on the stars I didn’t suspect I’d practically starve to death to begin with! Taylor only had orange juice and toast and coffee for breakfast, but Clark beat that. “Breakfast?” he queried. I insisted I’d have what he did. A bell-boy brought up two cups of delicious coffee for us and—as you used to phrase it when you were tops, Ethel Barrymore, “That’s all there is, there isn’t any more”—for Gable. No, he isn’t dieting; he isn’t hungry until he’s swung through a lot of action.

We were off then for the promised horseback ride. A Los Angeles attorney, whom Clark has known ever since he broke into pictures, has a barn out in the San Fernando Valley, and Clark stables Southern Son, his sorrel horse, there.

The elevator shot us down to the basement garage, where gleaming limousines vied with streamlined roadsters. I was led, however, to a 1928 Ford!

“Yeh,” Clark nodded, “this is the one Carole gave me last Valentine’s Day.” He had it painted black, has purchased a new motor, a new top, new tires, and fenders. Consequently, it runs like a top and it’s his regular runabout.

Clark had no staff, likes jazz and “gypsy” music, was interested in the Wallis Simpson scandal and only has coffee for breakfast. Riveting!

Everyone knew, even though the article doesn’t specifically say it, that Clark was living at this point at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, now located right at the end of Rodeo Drive.

I love that he used the car that Carole gave him for Valentines Day!

“How’s it happen you haven’t the back-to-the-farm bug like the rest of the stars who are settling out here?” I probed.

“Because I’m not built to settle down,” Clark replied pithily. “The peace that comes from rocking by your own fireplace, from the knowledge that you are anchored there, isn’t for me. I know, fellow. I’ve tried to squelch my impudent craving for freedom. But whenever I’ve endeavored to settle down it—well, it hasn’t clicked.”

He stopped to dicker with a roadside Japanese fruit grower. “A box of carrots—the ninety-cent size!” The Japanese didn’t recognize him as a personage, but he greeted him as a steady customer.

Clark intended the carrots for the horse, but he ate one himself and handed me one. I wasn’t proud—especially since I’d had no breakfast!

At the stable Clark told the groom to saddle a horse for me; he wanted to attend to his own horse. Smokey, his dog, dashed out affectionately and raced us as we aimed towards the foothills.

Silence swamped him. A girl who is fond of dancing can understand. She wants to sway with the melody. When Clark is on his horse he suddenly has no chatter in him.

In twenty minutes we were in cattle-grazing land, Smoky was searching for gophers and snakes, and Clark was apparently completely happy. It was winter, but the California sun was warm and the rim of purple mountains was a marvelous sight.

That’s interesting that here in 1937 he’s saying he doesn’t want to settle down on a farm. Two years later, he’d have a new wife and a little ranch to call his very own!

I don’t think there’s a lot of space to go horseback riding like that in the San Fernando Valley anymore…sad, really.

“Southern Son’s calmed now so I’ll let him do what he prefers.” Whereupon the groom wheeled out a brand new two-wheel cart—a Christmas present from Miss Lombard! “They don’t make many of these any more—this came all the way from the East.” Clark asserted, his eyes shining with joy. He changed Southern Son’s harness, I got up on the narrow seat beside him, and away we went. Well, until you’ve whizzed down a country lane with Clark Gable in his feather-weight cart you haven’t lived—Mr. Taylor, park that mechanical gadget and get yourself a whiff of a buggy like Gable and grandpa chose!

I popped the question about what he prefers in women then. He swerved the cart. “I’ve always wanted to have you birds in a spot like this when I’ve been asked that!’” he cried. We lurched from side to side. “I don’t care!” I shouted. So he slowed down. “I notice first is a woman is well-groomed and secondly if she’s dumb,” he stated, chuckling at my sigh of relief. I was going to live to tell this tale! “Heaven preserve me from one-track ladies who never read or observe or gather a little idea of what life’s all about.”

Clark was always consistent with that answer. He stated throughout the decades that he liked women who were not stupid and well-groomed. I think Carole Lombard fit the bill!

Leisurely we returned to the hotel, and to the front. The chauffeurs of the luxury automobiles gaped. But the doorman nonchalantly snapped his fingers for an attendant, who promptly departed with the conveyance. We walked through the lobby. People did a “double-take” upon glimpsing The Great Gable in costume—no doubt! Of course Parnell, champion of Irish freedom, never had to wear cowboy overalls, but obviously the greatest male box-office magnet in America was in character for something. No women made a rush attack, because Clark kept striding.

“You know, I like people, and I’m not bothered when I stumble upon the good news that they like me. Only you feel darned embarrassed when a crowd begins gathering, or in a lobby like that.”

Upstairs he changed into veteran slacks and dug out a leather jacket. He got his rifle, a 30.6 Springfield which he had made to order in Philadelphia in 1932, and polished the telescope sight with loving hands.

Love? Oh, yes—love and Lombard!

I’m sure you’ve been anxious for me to get to this. Carole won’t utter one word for publication as to how she regards Clark, but everyone can tell you that he’s the apple of her eye. They send each other great bouquets of red roses practically every other day, and when a guy like Gable will have a vase of red roses in his studio dressing-suite, then is he sunk? Or is he? You won’t be knowing by asking his directly.

Hadn’t he even telephoned her yet? Not since I’d been on hand. I wouldn’t put it past him to have called her before I arrived because, after all, she was working that day.

There sure isn’t a lot of juicy romantic tidbits about Clark and Carole in this article, only this:

The telephone, which had not been ringing every other second because the hotel protects him from pests, rang then.

“I’m glad you can make it,” I overheard him say. He seemed interested in whoever was accepting an invitation he’d undoubtedly proffered for dinner. I needed but one guess as to who she was—do you need more than one?

“Are you transforming yourself into dinner clothes?” I ventured.

Clark shook his head vigorously. “I haven’t been in a night club for more than a year, and I haven’t struggled into a dinner jacket for six whole months!”

So Carole Lombard, who is feminine fashion incarnate, hasn’t made Gable over. He remains magnificently untamed.

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