Gable Denies Divorce Rumors
By Gladys Hall
Movie Classic magazine, August 1932
“Absurd!” says Clark, and explains why—so that you can’t doubt him. Moreover, he tells you just how he has changed in this past year—and how he hasn’t changed. He reveals how he figures his success and what his future plans are. In short, he TELLS ALL in this amazingly frank interview!
Clark Gable has given few interviews lately, as you may have noticed. For one thing, he has been too busy; for another thing, he doesn’t talk except when he has something to say. This interview, therefore, is in the nature of a “scoop.” He is getting some things off his chest that he hasn’t said before. He is absolutely frank. ~Editor.
“The divorce rumors about Mrs. Gable and me are absurd!” says Clark Gable. “They are really funny. Hollywood can never break my marriage. I say that positively. It is impossible. I certainly have not changed, so far as my personal life is concerned. I still want the things that are most important to me—my wife, my family. They are all that mattered to me then—and they are all that matters to me now.”
This is Clark Gable’s answer to those who say that a divorce is impending between his wife and himself. This is his answer to those who claim that he is no longer the Clark Gable he was a year ago. This is the upshot of a frank, straight-from-the-shoulder talk I have just had with him.
And if this man isn’t a square-shooter, happily married and totally unspoiled, then I belong in an institution for the blind. For I believe every word he said to me. I believe his honest, unwavering gray eyes. I believe that he tells the straightforward truth, and nothing else. I don’t believe that he is capable of beating about the bush, of evading, of fictionizing. I believe that, off the screen, he is no actor at all. That’s why men like him.
I asked him if he thought he had changed. I asked him what this year of fevered fame had done to him.
And he said, honestly, “Of course, I have changed. Bound to—a little. But I believe it is only a little—and in little ways. Some of the changes have been forced on me.
Things He Can’t Do Now
“For instance, I can no longer prowl up and down Hollywood Boulevard, the way I used to. I’m known, naturally. Also naturally, people stare. It makes me uncomfortable. I liked being unknown better than I like being known, at times like those. My freedom is curtailed. I have to stay away from public places unless I want to feel like an ass, which I don’t.
“Fortunately for me, I like to stay away from most public places. I dislike big parties. I dislike mixing with strangers. I never go to big parties and never give them. We go, Mrs. Gable and I, to see our friends, of course—Irving Thalberg and Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., the Beerys, one or two others. I still like to fool around in the garden, digging, planting things. I still prefer to take long rides in my car, play tennis, and ride horseback better than any other things I might do.
“I’ve changed in one other respect, very drastically. A year ago, when you first talked to me, I didn’t want a home. I didn’t want things. Now I do. I’m going to build a home, a place I can be proud of, a place the family will enjoy. Naturally, I’ve come to feel that I want to see some of the fruits of all this. I never get a kick out of doing things for myself alone. I can’t watch myself alone enjoying things. A home will be for all of us.
“And I’ve changed in one other particular—I know, now what it is all about.”
And that, I’m telling you, is a change. Because, just one year ago, Clark didn’t know what it was all about. He told me so. His exact words were, “I don’t know what to think—I don’t know what it’s all about—I’m just an actor with a job, that’s all—“
Now he does know. That sudden flare of fame, put on too hastily like some gaudy coat, ill-adjusted, first him now. He has shrugged his shoulders into place in it. He knows how to wear it, what goods it is made of, where the seams rub, how he looks in it…
How He Has Kept His Balance
He said, “If, as you are nice enough to say, I have kept my balance and why not, it’s probably because I’ve always had the faculty of distinguishing between sincerity and insincerity. I can tell in two minutes whether the person I’m talking to is telling me the truth or handing me a line. Most of ‘em are insincere. That doesn’t flatter me. I know, of course, that this fan favor I’ve found is sincere. It couldn’t e anything else. But I know, too, that it is just—a break. Oh yes, it is! There are thousands of better actors than I am. There are, God knows, thousands of men who are better looking. I just happened to have something—I don’t know what it is, and neither do you—but it was something that by some fluke happened to click. That’s all. It was just one of those things—it might have happened to anyone. It happened to happen to me.
“Fan favor is built, too, block by block, if you are versatile in the roles you play. I mean, you can figure it out, how it happens, how it increases and everything. It’s built, block by block, piece by piece, like adding one piece of a picture puzzle to another.
“I mean, I play a part, let us say, like I played in ‘A Free Soul.’ That sort of man happens to appeal to or interest a certain group, or groups of people. They become fans. Then I play a part like I played in, for instance, ‘Hell Divers.’ That type of man appeals to other groups of people—in this case mostly the kids, I figure. And they become fans. You haven’t lost your first group because they are still at least curious enough to see what you are going to do next. You haven’t lost them, you have added others. And so it goes.
How He Figures His Success
“The thing is, never to be typed, never to stick to one sort of character, never to play too long on one string. Because a certain type appeals mostly only to certain types of people and when you have exhausted them, you are done.
“I have played a gangster, a minister, an aviator, a doctor (in ‘Strange Interlude’) and I’m going to play another adventurous and colorful part in ‘China Seas.’ I’ve been able to keep on building. So long as a man is able to build, he is able to progress. It’s the same in any business. To keep on having new ‘customers,’ you must keep on increasing your stock, varying it, meeting new demands.
“I know that the popularity I have now must go. No question about that. It never has lasted for anyone—why should it last for me? But I may be able to vary that popularity.
“No, the stories that have been written about me, the talk, the gossip—none of this has changed me.
“I seldom read the things that are written about me anymore. I used to. At times, I was annoyed. At other times, amused. They still amuse Mrs. Gable. She doesn’t take them too seriously. She has a healthy sense of humor. She gets a kick out of it all. She knows that the kind of things written and said are a part of the game. She knows me. She knows she has nothing to worry about—“
“But,” I broke in, “there must be other menaces besides the things that are written and the things that are said. What about the jittering fools of women who must try to attract your attention—“
“They are fools, you say?” Clark smiled.
“Well, they’re not exactly sensible, are they?” I parried.
“Exactly—and wouldn’t I be the king prize fool of them all if I let him affect me?”
“Of course. But being human…”
“Oh human, yes. Like plenty of other men, I suppose. I’ve had my wobbly moments. Times when I’ve half-thought, ‘Gosh, if I weren’t married. I could do this—or that—or some other thing—‘ Then I’ve stopped and asked myself just exactly what I would so when I’m not doing right now. And I don’t know. I can’t answer. I can’t think of anything. Then I stop and think, ‘Well, which is more important to you—what you have—or what to may, just possibly, not have?’ And the answer is simple, easy and immediate. What I have is the important thing to me. The only really important thing.
“And, after all, you know, my family has as much right to these things that have come to us as I have. I had my family before I had all this. They went through those other times with me, too, you know. Mrs. Gable doesn’t have to thank me for sticking around, you know. If anything, she deserves credit for sticking around with me—“
There I agreed, rather. “It must be rather rough on her in some ways,” I said. “Women find it easy to be jealous, you know, whether there is any specific cause or not. You might have married some silly hysterical little person—“
“I know,” Clark said. He added, “I often wonder how anyone as dumb as I am ever had the sense—and the good luck—to marry the woman I did.”
There is another very sound reason why Clark has not changed since the spotlight of fame concentrated its fiercest rays on him. He remembers the lone days.
Some Things He Can’t Forget
He said, “I’ve been hungry—and I remember what it feels like to be hungry. I was unwanted and I remember the humiliation of closed doors and averted faces. I not only remember these things—they live with me. They are as much a part of the present as they were a part of the past. I know that a man who has been hungry once can be hungry again. I know that those of us who rise up can also fall down. I am not only what I am now, you know; I am also what I was then—“
I asked him if he had the same fiends as he used to have, in those lean days.
He said, “No. I’m sorry to say I haven’t. It is not my fault. That is, it is not by my desire. I suppose it is, in a way, my fault. Somehow, my old friends, with one or two exceptions, won’t come around as they used to. They seem to feel something—I don’t know what it is—some strange self-consciousness or embarrassment or something. I invite them to have dinner with us. Sometimes they accept—but very often they don’t show up. It’s one of the changes that have been forced on me—and I dislike it intensely.
“I don’t believe there have been any other changes. I suppose I like money and the things that money can do better than I thought I would a year ago. I’ve found what pleasant things it can do for other people. It’s fun having it.”
And that is a change, too. Because just one year ago he said to me (again I quote his exact words): “I don’t want money. Not a great deal of it. I don’t want things. I’m not that type of person at all. I wouldn’t be happy living as some of the stars out here live. I don’t care anything about luxuries and servants and swimming pools and big parties. I wouldn’t fit. I couldn’t handle them. It’s important to me to be happy—in my own way.”
Clark has changed only as any sensitive, developing human being would change. He has learned to fit—in little ways. He has learned to want things—more for those dear to him than for himself. Essentially and in all fundamental ways he is the same as he was a year ago. If his head is now among the stars, his wise eyes detect the tinsel from the gold. I believe him—don’t you?