I Had a Date with Clark Gable
By Mary Thompson
Screen Play magazine, October 1936
Mary Thompson of Detroit, winner of Screen Play’s picture personality contest and a date with Clark, writes her own story of that exciting occasion
Well, I can die happy—when the time comes. I had that date with Clark Gable!
And when I went over to the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios, and found him waiting there for me—tall, smiling and so darn good looking—well, I certainly was glad my kid sister had submitted my picture in Screen Play Magazine’s Picture Personality contest! I scringed when I think how close I came to missing this grand free trip to Hollywood and my date with Clark. You see, this kid sister of mine had been after me to send in my picture but I wouldn’t because I didn’t think I had a chance to win. So, she sent it anyway…
But to get back to Clark. As I said, he was waiting for me in a sort of little reception room at the studio. Naturally, I knew him right away, and—would you believe it?—he acted as if he knew me, too.
He came up and shook hands and said, “Hello, Mary.” Thrilled? Of course I was thrilled. Anyone would be, I’m certain.
For one thing, Clark is a lot better looking off the screen than on the screen, particularly on account of his eyes. He has fine eyes and they’re a lovely color…sort of gray-green. And his teeth are very white and his skin burned bronze, which gives him a particularly effective smile. Oh, he’ll look grand in color pictures, all right!
We had luncheon together in the studio commissary, and was I the cynosure of all eyes as we walked in! I was as proud as a peacock. Of course, I wasn’t fooling myself that it was I who was attracting the attention. It was Clark, of course.
Clark had a table all reserved for us and the minute he sat down half a dozen visitors who were lunching came over and asked him for his autograph.
Well, he was nice about that, too. He was about everything that day.
“Pardon me, Mary,” he said. And took out his pencil and wrote his name. One lady gave him a blank check to write on. He looked up at her, quizzically, then tore the check in two and wrote his name on one of the pieces.
“Of course,” he said to the woman, “I know you aren’t trying to get my name on a blank check for ulterior purposes—but it’s been done. So you don’t mind?” He grinned at her so engagingly, that of course she wasn’t a bit put out.
After we’d ordered—Clark had fruit salad and I can’t remember what I ate—I expected Clark to talk about himself. Certainly, I had a lot of questions I wanted to ask him about himself, but he began to talk about me, instead. He wanted to know where I was from, if I had gone to college, if I had a father and mother and all about the kid sister who had sent my picture in to Screen Play.
He seemed really interested. All through that exciting luncheon, he acted as if he had known me a long time, and really liked me. It was as if he’d actually called me up over the phone and said: “How about having lunch with me today?”
And I found myself telling him lots of things you wouldn’t expect to be telling Clark Gable the first time you met him—how my kid sister cried with excitement when the telegram came announcing I’d won Screen Play’s contest and would have a date with him; how my mother was so flustered that she couldn’t sleep that night; how proud my dad was that his daughter had been selected for such an honor…At that Clark grinned, again.
“Honor, my eye,” he said. “Honestly, Mary, we actors are just guys…And most of us hams, at that…”
During luncheon various waiters came up and told him how glad they were to see him, and he shook hands with them and seemed as pleased as they.
After we were through lunch—all too soon for me even though we’d been together more than two hours—and Clark had to go back to work, we had our picture taken together and then he wrote his name in my autograph book and something else which wasn’t sappy, or anything like that, but which I’d rather not quote here. Then we shook hands—and my date with Clark Gable was over.
A thrill? Of course it was a thrill. Any girl would say so, I think. But it was more than that to me. It was a fine, wholesome experience which has taught me something I hope I shall remember all of my life…And that is: the biggest people are the simplest and friendliest.