Gable’s Bachelor Dates
By Ben Maddox
Screenland magazine, June 1936
Who’s the lucky girl Clark Gable is dating? You’d better read SCREENLAND’S story about Gable’s bachelor fun-life. It’s no fake “revelation,” but the real thing, without trumped-up trimmings. Clark admits plenty, denies some more, but always talks with terrific frankness. Don’t miss our feature here.
So now how’s about the Great Gable’s bachelor freedom?
It’s the one remaining thing about him that hasn’t been satisfyingly explained. The papers headline his occasional jaunts away from Hollywood. Whenever he has his next real vacation Clark intends to board the China Clipper. And then what excitement there’ll be in the Orient!
Meanwhile, he’s staying in Hollywood and the columnists are coy in their hinting. The candid cameras snap his photo here; they snap it there. Evidently Gable is what’s going ‘round and around still, and a pretty damsel’s always astutely lurking alongside.
Let’s plunge right into this new private life he’s having for himself and learn All. Maybe your imagination turns riotous at the very idea of his amusement program. Since he’s single again our most popular actor ought to be having a hot time in the swanky Beverly Hills every night. With his appeal, his money, and his screen halo, his leisure divertissements should be just colossal.
Oh, no doubt Clark has to pop over to the studio to be glorified. But as soon as the director yells quits the lucky egg can come out of a clinch with a stream-lined siren and begin cutting up in grand and glorious fashion. From then on likely it’s every ambitious gal for herself-and-Gable. And curfew dare not ring on love.
But let’s jump right into the specific, without further haggling. I swear, invariably, that there’s nothing more enlightening than the exact data on certain people’s affairs. Henceforth, no hedging from the Gable front—what is he doing for his relaxation seeing that he’s back in the bachelor ranks? You know he isn’t the stuffy type who’d want to devote himself completely to his Art.
I’ve checked his lighter moments, both by a little detective work of my own, and by asking Clark pertinent, point-blank questions, and receiving point-blank replies.
“You suppose I might be partying every weekend?” He chuckled at this and reached into his right coat pocket for a cigarette and a lighter. Said gadget eventually flamed. “Well,” he retorted, “I did begin on that scheme! I was introduced to many fascinating persons in Hollywood. I’m awfully human, and I confess readily that I’m intrigued by a lot of action. Only I discovered, said to have to report, that I couldn’t take it! I can’t be up half the night and be any good the next day. I tried—and that’s precisely why I’m not continually on the go!”
He hasn’t been rushing any one beauty, contrary to all printed innuendos. Indeed, he hasn’t dated a one of his eligible leading ladies. I wouldn’t want you to brand him a hermit, however. While Clark’s no Lothario on the loose, he’s not vaccinated against feminine charms.
His latest move is into a smart apartment. For almost half a year after he and Rhea Gable separated he resided contentedly in a Beverly hotel. It was pleasant for a while not to bother with details.
“But I want to entertain some,” he told me. “On Saturday evenings it’s nice to invite ten or twelve folks in for dinner. I serve them a cocktail and afterwards we debate everything from cabbages to dictators. Or indulge in contract or backgammon. I’m crazy about both.”
The Gable headquarters were rented furnished. Clark doesn’t require tricky interiors. He’s in tune with any room that’s tasteful to the masculine eye. The apartments isn’t vast; in fact, it’s so compact it borders on the cozy. And there’s no imperial retinue. Clark prefers to wait on himself as much as possible. One efficient servant attends to the housekeeping.
His marital split hasn’t changed his circle. Gable’s friendship is a sincere, lasting thing and he continues to pal with the same crowd of married couples. He does his social whirling with the Wesley Ruggleses (Arline Judge), the Richard Barthelmesses, the Donald Ogden Stewarts, the Phil Bergs (Leila Hyams), the Bob Leonards, the Sam Woods, and the Hunt Strombergs.
“They don’t object to my tagging along as ‘odd man,’ and I don’t mind.” When he’s on a picture he accepts week-night dates only at homes of these close friends. “They realize I’m not being deliberately rude when I want to leave by ten. I can walk out, with no qualms. You can’t be that informal with everyone.”
Clark is thoroughly impulsive. He hates to budget any portion of his life, to be tied down to a grind. This characteristic is carried into his play.
“My fun-formula?” He repeated my query. “I take my fun on the run. I have to sandwich it in, instead of scheduling it, because of the nature of my job. We’re never positive when we’ll be through, pr how much time we’ll have off. But I’d detest figuring out how to allot my spare hours, if I could. Fun’s got to be spontaneous, or it isn’t. At least, to me.” His willingness to join a party at the last minute makes him the ideal guest. Gable plus such a superb disposition—and he’s away out in Hollywood, darn it!
“Out last night and out the night before? You mean in bed sleeping and the same any number of nights before. I’m employed in a picture, currently, fellow!”
I didn’t doubt that, for I’d caught up with him between earthquakes. While they were readjusting the “San Francisco” street set for another sudden catastrophe, Clark sprawled in a canvas chair on a bit of lawn on MGM’s back lot. He was quite masterfully disheveled, having been appropriately damaged by the quaking. Yet even though his clothes were torn and spotted, and a bloody gash was dobbed on his face, he remained Gable. I think he’s swell because he’s never acquired that ennui which afflicts many of these babies who’ve skyrocketed. I don’t even mind that devastating dimple which is automatic with every grin.
Much has been written about his being a plain man. He is down-to-earth in his honesty, but Clark’s also a gentleman. He plugged devilishly hard to improve himself and consequently he’s poised, well-informed, and altogether a genuinely fascinating individual. And, by the way, he doesn’t consider himself thrilling. He is, nevertheless, for he’s a vital, adventurous soul if there ever was one.
“Why don’t you give them the whole truth?” he challenged me, “Why assume I must be either anxious to dress up in a dinner jacket or that I’m a bull in a china shop? I don’t deny that some parties are nifty, and I like them. Yet who’d describe those formal parades as fun? I relish casual gatherings. I see as many movies and plays as I can. But I’m a bitter pill to friends when we venture forth on first nights. My comrades mutter, ‘Oh, let’s not go with him. He’ll stand around signing autographs for hours!’”
With this parting crack Clark hopped over the cameraman’s paraphernalia that was strewn about, and into the midst of more hectic turmoil. Loud-speakers blared directions to a hundred terrified men and women, done up in the snappiest modes of 1906. Debris started falling, and next the electric light poles crumpled. As the wires entangled, fire burst skyward. There was more screaming and dashing and fainting than I’d seen since Pompeii’s memorable calamity. Gable staggered through the middle of all this, and then braced up and returned to where I was waiting.
“Be big and actually tell All. Love’s fun, sure! But so are other things.”
I rallied nobly. “Such as what?”
He was quick with his answers: “I get a kick from watching the boxing, wrestling, and polo matches. Yes, and the major tennis tournaments. However, I don’t suspect I’ll develop into a tennis champ I didn’t start at it young enough.” There was a mischievous but of banter to that.
“I was remembering when I was in high school; how I obstinately refused to try tennis. It was a mining community and I had an overpowering hunch that tennis was slightly lah-de-dah—even though my best friend, the bank teller, had a distinct edge with the town belle, the dentist’s daughter, because he took her out so frequently to the tennis court. Come to analyze it, I’ll bet her fastidiousness steered me away from participating then. She always tied a pink satin bow to her racket!
“Exercise is keen fun to me. I’ve a friend who functions as kind of a trainer. When I’m coming to the studio I must begin my day very early. He has a key to the front door and he arrives at 5:30am to haul me out of bed. At that unearthly hour a hefty tug cab do wonders towards awakening you! We have a few sets on a neighboring tennis court and then box some fast rounds. A shower and breakfast finish us up. That’s recreation I hate to miss.
‘When I can wrangle a week free I run out of the city. A fellow in the wardrobe department here is a pal of mine who’s fond of hunting. We climb into the car and head for the mountains or the desert. We camp out, and that marvelous, clear air and calm is elegant. I’m not so wild about hunting as I am about those wide, open places.
“I enjoy meeting people who’re in a different line, too. I believe that’s the finest rest cure—mixing with those whose work is totally dissimilar to your own. For instance, in Arizona I’ve a friend who is a game warden. On my last trip there I was interested in his particular problem. The situation isn’t so promising where he is. No future. He fancies he’d do better in Mexico. When I got home I rounded up all the information I could find on the prospects there are for him further South.
“Skeet-shooting’s my chief hobby. I belong to a gun club that isn’t a movie organization at all. The members are men from every sort of business—doctors, lawyers, merchants, salesmen. The one point we have in common is that we each own a gun. Oh, and dogs. We bring our dogs to the range and argue whose is superior. These men never discuss Hollywood.”
Sheer necessity drives Clark into escaping the pressure of Hollywood fame. No one could bear under the strain without a lull from the constant display. But he isn’t one to shriek about getting away from it all. He claims he’d not be having half so much fun if he hasn’t been so fortunate in pictures.
“Why, the movies have enabled me to afford riding and golf. When I reached Hollywood I could stick on a horse, but I was minus any form. As soon as I was on a regular salary I went to the Griffith Park academy. They had ‘musical rides,’ the theory being that you should have rhythm when you’re in the saddle. They put a loud-speaker in the riding ring. When they played a waltz record you slowed to the proper gait. Then you’d trot and canter to jazzier melodies. The firemen’s ball medley inspired you to gallop. I spent two nights a week there. Golf is fun, in my opinions, also.
“Don’t ignore reading as a pastime. Not that I wasn’t to brag that I’ve read a book! I don’t pretend to be a serious student of literature; on the contrary, I’m not. I delve into topics that sound alluring, but generally magazines are more to my measure. I choose those dealing with business events, sports, and those with satirical sketches.
“Here’s a final thought while we’re would up on this tack.” The mob was milling for still one more “take” and everything was in readiness for the star. “I have a considerable part of my fun here, during the making of a film. I can’t tell you what special incidents give me a lift, for they’re foolish little things, committed on the spur of the moment. To an outsider they’d seem absolutely dumb. But when you’re at a tension—and we are even when we’re doing gay scenes—you’re able to laugh at the silliest stunts anyone can pull.”
Over his shoulder the Great Gable tossed this topper: “Don’t paint my fun-life as model. I’m one of those birds who has a yen to jack up the wheels of prominent people’s cars!”
I wouldn’t doubt that, either. Today’s leading lover can’t resist being a right guy.