Yes, that is actually the title of this article! It is about the horrendous working conditions the cast and crew faced on Washington state location shoot for Call of the Wild.
Most of it is a brief interview with Loretta Young:
“Nobody expects to believe that a pampered film player ever is exposed to real hardships,” Loretta told me, “but if you could have seen what we went through–! It was no press agent’s dream, the rigors of that location trip.
“It might not have been so difficult for me had I been accustomed to cold. Although I was born in Salt Lake City, where winter is frigid enough, I was brought to Hollywood when very young, and lived all my life in sunshine and palms. When we got to the jumping off place near Mount Baker, I was unable to adjust myself to the cold. And it was bitterly cold, with worse to come.
“When we attempted to make the location camp on Mount Baker, our part had no sooner been bundled into cars when we met the studio trucks returning. Snowslides had blocked the roads. There was no hotel at the little settlement at Glacier. We were stumped.
“Fortunately Mr. and Mrs. Graham of Glacier made room for Mr. and Mrs. Reginald Owen, my companion, Mrs. Frances Earle, and me. Bill Wellman and Dorothy, his wife, pushed on by dog sled the next morning, and then a snowplow cleared the way for the rest of us. That was our introduction to the hardships to follow.
“A flimsy sound stage had been built near the summer lodge on top of Mount Baker, in case of blizzards. We drew a blizzard immediately, and tried to work on this stage. Wind whistled through it. My nostrils frosted shut, my feet seemed like cakes of ice. In that bitter cold, we could shoot for only a half hour at a time.
“We slept in the cabin annex to the hotel which had burned down, with little heat and all sorts of discomforts, but not a soul complained. Mrs. Clark Gable stuck it out valiantly, but she and I almost lost heart when one night the power plant broke down. Without lights or electric heat, we were ready to freeze to death for dear old 20th Century. I felt so sorry for the crew sent to repair the plant that I forgot my own discomfort and how we cheered them when they returned, successful, after battling three solid hours to reach the power plant through the snow. One of the boys passed out, and came very close to giving his life to save the rest of us from surely freezing.
“Clark and Jack Oakie and Director Wellman made life bearable with their unfailing good humor—though sometimes Jack also made life almost unbearable with his gags. But you have to forgive him—he is so contrite and innocent looking when he confesses a prank.
“We had plenty of frozen meat, but we were soon starved for fresh vegetables. I developed a tremendous hankering for a stick of celery—just one little piece of celery would have made me happy. For five days, we couldn’t even leave our cramped quarters, with the snow over the tops of windows and a howling blizzard raging. The partitions that divided our chicken-coop rooms where as thin as paper and afforded only visual privacy.
“Mrs. Earle had a birthday, and the chef stirred up a cake. We had speeches and celebrated grandly. Then Clark announced his birthday, and we celebrated again. I regretted that my own birthday, on January sixth, had arrived before our location trip. These little parties were a god-send to keep our minds off the privations.
“Making our way about camp required a guide to get us through the maze of deep cut snow paths. They seemed to lead everywhere. One night, we tried to find our way to the mess shack without our guide, Harvey, and became lost. Finally, we saw a light and got back to the cabins, but we were as frightened as we were frozen.
“There was real danger—avalanches for one thing—all about is, as we all knew, but the players and crew never became discouraged nor lost heart. Wellman kept things in an uproar. There was never a dull moment if he could help it.
“After Mrs. Earle sprained her ankle and another member if the party crushed a knee cap on the slippery paths, we went around with ski sticks to keep from falling. It was a thrilling experience, but I’d hate to repeat it!”
Ok, so let’s get this part out of the way and say that Loretta of course doesn’t mention one way she and Clark had of staying warm up there in the freezing snow… Loretta would have been pregnant when she gave this interview, if she knew it or not. I was quite astounded to hear her mention “Mrs. Clark Gable.” I have NEVER heard of Ria accompanying them to Washington for the shoot. Never. It has always been said it was when Clark returned from the location shoot (after “spending time” with Loretta) that he went home and told Ria he was moving out. I am wondering if that little nugget was planted here because of all the rumors that were swirling about Clark and Loretta. By the time this article was published, the Gables weren’t yet separated, so there was still a marriage at stake here. Maybe she said that to deliberately point out that his wife accompanied them up there. Interesting.
You can read the article in its entirety in the Article Archive.
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