This 1936 article isn’t earth-shattering by any means, but does contain a few interesting little tidbits:
Any time you can get Clark to taking about himself, you can depend on it that he’s kidding himself thoroughly, relentlessly, fiercely,
You know that typical Clark Gable expression that’s always on his face? A sort of grinning bewilderment? Mixed with a certain surprise and incredulity? Plus a dash of secret ridicule? Well, that “Clark Gable look” is perfectly indicative of what he thinks of himself. He’s constantly mystified at all the fame and good luck and popularity that stays with him, and he’s laughing at himself for it. He can’t take himself seriously.
He can’t ever forget the days he was so broke that he rode the brake-rods on freight cars, and starved. “I could have lost my sense of humor then,” he admits, “and I’d have stopped being Clark Gable and might have landed in the gutter or become a radical or something like that. But my sense of humor was all I had. And I clung to it desperately. I must have had some inward sense that once I lost it, I was done for. I didn’t lose it. And today, it’s a habit with me. I can’t look at me in a mirror, or consider Clark Gable, the star, without that sense of humor saving me from something that would have been worse—yeah, even worse than the gutter.”
I know certain stars in Hollywood who have their own pictures, portraits in oil or camera, hung in their homes and dressing-rooms. Gable’s dressing-room walls are lined with caricatures of himself—the most grotesque possible ones—the kind that show his ears, and his funny grin and accentuate the other points that make him anything, but handsome.
Of affectation, of poses, of snootiness, there’s no more in Clark Gable than there is in Li’l Orphan Annie. Even less. Whatever he does, it’s because he likes to do it. Whatever he doesn’t do, it’s because he doesn’t feel like it. Never does he do or NOT do something merely because “it’s the thing to do—or not do.”
Try to find unusual things to write about Gable, and a writer’s sunk. He’s so ordinary, so matter-of-fact, so regular, that there’s no “trick stuff” you can write about him. He’s just a sort of swell young fellow who lives in Hollywood and works in movies. And that’s the works. Somehow, naturally, you regard him as the personification of romance. You imagine, if you don’t know better, that his days and nights are just a 24-hour-round of “lady-killing.” You rather fancy he’s got luscious blondes, caloric redheads, smoldering brunettes heaped up in all manner of places. You’re surprised to find that he’s less involved with women than ninety-nine out of a hundred other stars—single or married! It’s so true that the studio, which really has to keep him billed up as America’s Great Lover, has to invent romancing for him, via the press agent routine.
It’s been said before–he’s just ordinary, like everyone else, he’s just like you and me! But still, I find it refreshing that articles about him are consistent in this. No details of diva behavior.
Just now, they’re kind of pumping up the Carole Lombard angle for all they’re worth. Carole’s a swell gal, if ever there was one, so she goes for it. Clark helps out. And the publicity boys can write and whisper romantic rumors about Clark and Carole. And Clark and Carole grin and have fun—being friends. Their biggest help to the campaign was that trick auto Carole sent Clark, remember?
For $25 or so, she picked up an ancient Ford runabout on a second-hand lot one night, had two big hearts painted on it with hers and Clark’s initials, and sent it around to his hotel, Clark had an awful time, They threatened to throw either him or the car out unless he did something. He did. The aftermath came the other day, when I drove into the Ford agency in Hollywood where I have to pay every month or they’ll take my giloppy away. There, in the workroom, stood Gable. He was dressed from head to foot in white—white shoes, white flannel trousers, white sweater. But the pretty white was all be-greased and be-grimed. He was helping the Ford experts put the finishing touches on the car Carole had sent him. He’d spent hundreds of dollars on it—new motor, new works, brand new all-white paint job, lots of new fitments including even an electric fan on the steering wheel to cool him while driving, new tires and new top. Must have cost him double what a new one would have. But he had a perfect little car—and now he uses it for his hunting and location car. It runs like a 17-jewel watch. And is Carole laughing?
Oh yes, Clark and Carole were just friends…just friends and nothing more. That angle is interesting, especially since it brings up the long-reported Valentine car story, because most publications were already heralding their romance as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Seems
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