clark gable

As I mentioned earlier this week, this article is the first one on Clark Gable to appear in Photoplay magazine. Clark’s ascend to fame wasn’t very gradual–one month he was completely off the radar and the next the fan magazines were frantically scrambling to find out his backstory so they could put together an article.

Well, every time a group of Hollywood’s prettiest get together these days, they say it’s a Gable Club. They’re all gabbling about Gable. It seems the lad has captured the fancy, not alone the screen fannettes, but also of the loveliest of the screen stars themselves.

It is a remarkable thing, but typical of Hollywood, that a few years ago Gable was working in inconspicuous and unpublicized parts at the same studio where he is now the sensation of the lot. Even the waitresses in the commissary wouldn’t give him a tumble then. He was just another ham actor. Now the feminine stars who wouldn’t give him a nod are using their coyest come-hither glances to get him to play as their leading man.

The parts he has played have brought him the popularity that caused the hysterical writers to proclaim him as another Valentino. That is all applause and no discredit to Gable.

Soon some fan magazine will come out with a story on “The Love Life of Clark Gable.” It will tell of his great lure and all that sort of rot. He never had it until he played sex-appeal parts in pictures, and up to that time he was about as deadly as the nice lad who measures out your gasoline at the filling station.

Hollywood never made a fuss over Rudy either until he got those great roles in “The Four Horsemen” and “The Sheik.”

I think it’s funny it says “a few years ago”…more like just a few weeks ago, really! And the comparisons to Valentino are rather silly, I have always thought. The two are very different–Valentino was a foreign, smooth type with an accent. Clark was, in his words, “like the guy would come move your piano.” I suppose the comparison arrose because of the way he quickly nabbed female’s hearts.

When Clark Gable marries, he marries women quite a bit older than himself. The current Mrs. Gable is more than a decade older than he. She’s in her forties, while Gable is thirty or thirty-one. She’s got a daughter old enough to be Gable’s wife.

There’s also in Hollywood an ex-Mrs. Gable. Her name is Josephine Dillon. She’s a voice culture expert, and insists she did much to train Clark for the talkie fame that he’s achieved. Josephine Dillon, too, is in her forties—more than a decade older than the lad who divorced her a few years ago. When she was Mrs. Gable, Clark was just another actor trying to get a job in Hollywood.

And there’s another ex-Mrs. Gable in existence somewhere, although the facts are a bit vague. Close friends of Clark tell of how, on his birthdays, for instance, he gets telegrams from a nine or ten year old son of his, in school somewhere.

But whether he’s been married three times, or three hundred, that indefinable quality called sex appeal certainly does currently belong to Gable. It’s manifest off-screen as well as on, those women who have met and talked to him admit. It’s as synthetic quality in Gable, compounded by a number of ingredients.

There is, for instance, a sort of confidential “just-between-you-and-me” way he has of talking to girls he’s just been introduced to. It makes them feel, somehow, that here’s a man who understands them deeply.

Besides, he’s got two of the most intriguing dimples women ever laid their eyes on.  He has a strangely frank, disarming smile, that’s appealingly ingenuous.

He has an air of sincerity which women suspect isn’t true, so they’re interested in finding out what he’s covering up with that air of sincerity. His personality is a strangely paradoxical combination of the “lady-killer” women ought to run away from, and the “little boy” type women love to mother, as they call it.

He’s not handsome, in the conventional meaning of the word, but he challenges a woman’s interest at sight.

Hedda Hopper, for instance, put it neatly when she saw a photo of Gable astride a splendid thoroughbred steed. “When you can look at a man on a thoroughbred,” she remarked, “and not say ‘what a good-looking horse,’ then the man has ‘It!’”

It’s kind of funny, actually, how they mention Ria and Josephine almost in a completely unromantic way. I wonder how the paragraph would have been different if he was married to a 20 year old blonde starlet? And about this ten year old boy—um what? Don’t think so. First I have heard of that. Trying to stir up drama.

The article repeatedly says “he’s not handsome,” which I find rather funny as the article is written by a man—I think it would have been different if the article was penned by a woman, probably more gushy.

As has been remarked before, Gable isn’t handsome. But he’s considerably less unhandsome than Nature originally made him.

One of the things people notice about him when he smiles that dimply smile of his are his exquisite teeth. They ought to be—they cost him enough. It was Pauline Frederick’s personal dentist who made Gable’s dental equipment what it is today.

Gable played a small part in one of Pauline’s companies some years ago, when he became aware that his teeth would certainly be a handicap against screen close-ups.; So Polly arranged to have her own dentist fix them up.

Gable’s ears used to stick out a great deal more than they do today—like Eddie Cantor’s. But that’s been overcome, too. It was easy. Gable may not be handsome—but he’s a beauty compared with the Gable as was. He’s a worthwhile lesson to any man or woman who is ambitious enough to overcome facial defects.

He has a noticeable measure of self-consciousness. His hands, for example, are rather large. He is patently worried about what to do with them. He is keenly clothes-conscious, and always dresses well. He liked to dress up. The biggest surprise that ever hit one of his acquaintances who “knew him when” came on Broadway one evening when Gable had just gotten out of the press-your-suit-while-you-wait ranks. The acquaintance beheld Gable resplendent in full evening dress—not tuxedo, but tails—with all the trimmings; high silk hat, white gloves, silver flask (filled) and even a cane. The acquaintance will never be the same.

Now that he’s making his money, Gable buys clothes in quantities. He’s fair game for the haberdashers of Hollywood. Clark may go unto a store with the intention of buying nothing but a necktie; when the salesmen get done with him, he’s probably bought three or four hundred dollars’ worth of clothes.

A lot of women have laid claim to fixing those teeth! I have heard that Josephine scraped together money to get his first set of dentures, I have heard that his teeth were one of the first things Ria threw money at him for,  and now Pauline Frederick gets the credit.

Clark dispelled the rumor that he had had his ears fixed in this candid 1957 article. Never happened. They tried to tape them back at first, but he had none of it and the ears remained as they were. If he had undergone surgery on his ears, wouldn’t he have had them pinned all the way back? Why would they stick out so much afterward? Makes no sense. And if you look at early pictures, those are the same ears.

You can learn more about this budding star Clark Gable by reading the article in its entirety in The Article Archive.