clark gable

From July 1941:

[I’m a prop man at MGM and] would you believe it, I’ve actually seen that big he-man Clark Gable halt production on a picture while he was allowed to leisurely indulge in a bottle of pop.

At MGM, I was filling the bookshelves on one of the adjoining sets and from this vantage point was watching a scene being filmed which called for some fast talk on the part of Clark. One of the sentences had turned out to be a tongue twister, and he stumbled on it over and over, becoming more annoyed at himself each time. Finally he went over and said something to the director. I saw him nod his head in the direction of the “candy man” who was just coming on the set with his little rubber-wheeled cart.

The director pondered a moment, and then turned and announced to the company that there would be a short recess.

What followed was comical. It was as though school had been let out. As the electricians scampered to switch off the big lights, the script girl put down her pen and pencil, the sound men abandoned their posts, and everyone flocked around the “candy man” like a bunch of kids. And Mr. Gable had his bottle of pop.

Then, in a short while, they were ready to go back to work. In a few minutes the camera was rolling again, the “mike” was cocking its sensitive ear at the players as they spoke—and the scene was recorded without a hitch.

Such is the life of a prop man, one of the unsung workers in the maelstrom called the movies. One of the thousands whose part in the world’s most glamorous industry is always behind the camera range.