Clark Gable died 57 years ago today, at the age of 59. The King was gone and would never be replaced.
Read about Clark’s death and funeral here.
See Clark’s final resting place here.
Here is an article made up of little tidbits about Clark; it was syndicated in newspapers the following week:
Gable’s Label Truly Earned
by Leonard Lyons
Syndicated Press, November 23, 1960
Gable…No matter what the Box Office records showed each year, Clark Gable was Hollywood’s unchallenged King. Tyrone Power once told a group of us about a lesson from an advertising man concerning the significance of movie-billing: “The only names which matter on a movie marquee are of any two stars the public would like to see embrace. The Ideal Man is Gable.”
Director William Wyler once advised a screenwriter about selling a story for Gable: “Bear this one thing in mind; he’s at his best and most popular in a movie where everything can be solved by his punching someone in the nose.” And director Raoul Walsh, who directed Gable and Jane Russell in “The Tall Men,” said “Good dialogue is part of the action, but no substitute for it. It’s all right for Boy to tell Girl he loves her, with a Browning sonnet–but when you have Gable and Russell, poetry shouldn’t overlook their bodies.”
And Joe Mankiewicz described a film he wrote for Gable and Joan Crawford: “If Clark Gable started walking uptown from 34th St. to Times Square on New Year’s Eve, and Crawford walking downtown from 59th St.–with a million people between them–the audience will know from the start that they’d fall in love. The writer merely must show how and where they are to meet.”
His personal popularity in Hollywood was due not alone to the money he made for his employers but to those rare thoughtful gestures which stem from a certain kind of security. When he moved to Encino he visited each home in the neighborhood on horseback, introduced himself and said, “I hope we’ll all be happy here and that you’ll like us as good neighbors.” Carroll Baker, who co-starred with him, said he was the friendliest and most approachable of stars: “Gable not only knows everyone by their first name but also their first movie.”
On the day after Buddy Clark, the singer, died in a plane crash his widow received a visit from her Encino neighbor, Gable. He rang the doorbell, walked in and then talked to her for three hours. “I know how you must feel,” he began, for he too had suffered such a loss when his wife, Carole Lombard, was killed in a plane crash. He talked to her till dusk, then said goodbye and walked back to his home.
One night he and Miss Lombard dined at the Alfred Hitchcock’s. Gable mentioned a trip he’d once made to Quito, where he purchased a shrunken human head and brought it back to Hollywood. A series of mishaps befell him and, suspecting a jinx, he decided to dispose of the souvenir from Ecuador–by tossing it into a ravine. But then his conscience troubled him, for this after all had been the head of a human being.
“I retrieved it the very next day,” said Gable, “and then Carole and I buried it in the garden of our house.” And then the Gables gasped; for this was the very house, now the Hitchcocks’.
Gable was brought to Hollywood by Carols Navarro, an MGM substitute talent scout who saw the actor in a West Coast production of the play “The Last Mile.” Navarro screen tested him, gave him $100 advance as an inducement to forego the play’s tour, and then signed him for $350 a week. MGM also signed the actor who played the role on Broadway, Spencer Tracy.
In wartime London he and another officer made a noon visit to Pamela Churchill’s home. She apologized for being unable to invite them to stay for lunch, because she didn’t have enough rations. Gable said he didn’t mind skipping lunch: “Just a cup of tea will do.” Mrs. Churchill told her cook, “Major Gable and his friend will just have tea.” But the cook, anxious to see and serve the screen star, said she’d find enough food. The cook did find enough food, and served and met Clark Gable: She’d opened the one can of tinned ham Pamela Churchill had been saving for V-Day.