How To Get Your Own Clark Gable
By S.R. Mook
Movie Mirror magazine, June 1939
Be ultra-feminine! But be independent! Learn to add the grocery bills! Learn to break 100 in golf! Carole Lombard talking, with frankness that makes news
Carole Lombard has always been known around Hollywood as one of the most advanced, most modern women in the colony. It was, therefore, with a great deal of amazement I watched her recently at the Cocoanut Grove.
I watched Carole gliding around the floor in the arms of Mr. Clark Gable, the No. 1 man in her life. Never have I seen anymore with more feminine allure than she had. Fascinated, I continued to watch her during the evening. The eternal feminine.
She wasn’t exactly a clinging vine but, without demanding, she exacted all the courtesies and attentions men have been showering on feminine women since time immemorial. Her chair was pulled out every time she rose and pushed under her every time she sat down. (Take a bow, Mr. Gable, your manners are really sumpthin’.) Her cigarettes were lighted for her. She had to be helped on with her wrap. Tempus fugit.
I knew that dame when she had no wrap. But that’s another story.
This wasn’t the Carole Hollywood in general and studio executives in particular, knew. It wasn’t the Carole I knew. I have never known a more feminine woman than Carole but, at the same time, the Carole I know is a fun-loving, wise-cracking dame. This girl was Romance—with a capital R.
Next morning I ran into her at the studio. It was a vastly different Carole I encountered—brittle, crisp, shrewd, businesslike. The typical young woman of affairs—business affairs, I mean. I commented on the change. She might have been a totally different girl.
“Of course I’m different here,” she retorted. “In this generation there is no place for a clinging vine. We’re all—all women, I mean—on our own out here. Don’t be misled by our occasional lapses from self-sufficiency. When we go out at night we have to be strictly feminine. Our escorts expect it. They want to be flattered, to be listened to. They like to think we’re helpless little things—and so we play our parts. But we’re only playing.”
“It’s fun, all right, but many is the time I’ve wished I could really be like that. I can’t though, and if I tried it next morning I’d look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘Get you, Gertie, how do you get that way?’”
“When I come to work I have myself to look out for. No one else is going to do it for me. There are a thousand details of a career to be attended to.”
“Suppose a studio buys a story and intends putting it into production. They have a contract with me for a picture and, as they want a ‘name’ for a lead, they announce the story for me. I read the script and find the part doesn’t suit me. The studio isn’t concerned with that. They’re only concerned with turning out a picture that will be box office. Well I’m concerned with myself and not their pictures It’s u to me to turn businessman and convince them they’re not getting the maximum returns from the salary they’re paying me if they put me into a story that isn’t right for me. In other words, it would be the same as taking a markdown on an expensive coat when there was no occasion to do so. Suppose Travis Banton designs a new gown. It’s a knockout and, because people have been kind enough to say flattering things about the manner in which I wear clothes, he wants me to wear it in a picture, I try on the gown and find it isn’t becoming. The gown will photograph all right and Travis will receive credit for designing a beautiful number. But as far as I’m concerned, people leave the theater saying I looked like the devil. I have to talk Travis into either changing the lines to suit my style and personality or into using it for someone else.”
“It goes like that all the way down the line. The butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker all have axes to grind. They know, for instance, that women are notoriously poor mathematicians and, unless we’re on tour toes, it’s not uncommon to find mistakes in our bills—usually in their favor.”
“So, my lad,” Carole continued, “it’s up to every working girl, whether she earns ten dollars a week or a thousand, to be a regular businessman and she has to be prepared to face a roomful of men and tell them what’s what. And with no masculine shoulder to lean on, either.”
“Your little extra girl, wearing last year’s polo coat, may seem a pretty little empty-headed creature when she’s out driving with the boyfriend at night. But the next morning in a mob scene she’s finagling around so she’s right in the line of the camera. If there’s going to be overtime on any extra’s check it’ll be hers and no mistake about that. I don’t blame her, either.”
“The only time in Hollywood a girl can afford to be a hundred percent feminine is when she’s in front of a camera, or between the dinner hour and midnight. The day of the clinging vine is gone and I, for one, don’t mourn her passing. It’s one thing to let a man teach you to swim or play golf or tennis, but can you imagine what would happen if girls started swooning all over the place as they used to do? Or uttering silly little shrieks and jumping on chairs every time a big appeared?”
“It’s a good thing times have changed, too! With women becoming more and more self-reliant you hear less and less about widows being cheated out of their inheritances. With their increased understanding of business, women have been able to inspire and prod their husbands on to bigger and better things.”
“Men are notorious for being disciples of the ‘Let well enough alone’ creed. Women have always been more adventurous than men. Back of every great man in history you’ll find some woman who spurred him on. Possibly the reason we hear about those women today is that their men happened to be more famous than the majority, or because the women were ahead of their times and, consequently, stood out from the crowd. But there they were.”
“And, with the passing of the clinging vine, such women are becoming more and more the rule. Not only are they helpmates now, but pals as well. The sporting sections of the papers are no longer written for and read exclusively by men. Women are just as interested in these things. They have to be in order to talk with even a semblance of intelligence to their boyfriends about the things in which the latter are interested.”
“The time has passed when men are satisfied to talk to women solely about things which they (the men) feel women can understand but with which they (the men, again) are not concerned. Conversation nowadays has to be on topics in which both are equally interested.”
“And the same thing is true of ‘dates’—whether the parties involved are single or married people. Men used to ask for a date and inquire where we wanted to go. If we wanted to see a Garbo picture they took us—whether they liked Garbo or not.”
“When a girl has a date now, her escort takes her to the fights, the wrestling matches, a six day bike race, a tennis tournament or a swimming meet—or some other place that attracts him. And, with the passing of the clinging vine, women have learned to like these sports. Moreover, they not only like them, they share in them. If HE plays golf, the chances are nine out of ten she plays, too. She may not always play in the same foursome with him, but she plays—and she can understand and appreciate his conversation.”
“If HE plays tennis, it’s more than likely she’ll play. You frequently see Jimmie and Bobbie Fidler or Bob Hope and his wife on the Lakeside Golf Course together. Bob Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck live, breathe and talk race horses, which they both raise. Clark and I frequently go skeet-shooting. How many times have you read of married couples going off on camping trips together? The woman who could stand the rigors of a camping trip used to be a seven days’ wonder—but no more, baby, no more.”
“The only marriages today that last are those where the husband and wife have a community of interest and you can’t have anything in common with a man if you’re constantly to be taken care of. They like to think they’re taking care of us and it’s up to us to let them believe it by exacting little attentions. But down in our hearts, we know what’s what and we’re careful to see that we don’t need too much taking care of.”
“This changed attitude on the part of women has resulted in wives’ spending much more time with their husbands than they used to and it’s a splendid thing for the children. Instead of mothers devoting all their times to their children, so that the latter are really carbon copies of their parents, the offspring are left more to themselves. They develop a spirit of self-reliance and grow up with personalities of their own, rather than their parents’.”
“Now,” she finished, “when there’s a ‘what do you think I ought to do?’ conference between a man and a woman today, nine times out of ten he’s asking her!”
A half-dozen pictures of Carole kaleidoscope across my vision; Carole as a mere kid keeping men twice her age on tenterhooks with her provacativeness. Carole turning Hollywood upside down with her pranks—and making them like it. Carole married to William Powell and forsaking night life to be a wife. Carole as a young divorcee whom Hollywood expected to go haywire and who turned the tables on them. Carole, who no one thought would ever be able to act but who became one of the finest actresses on the screen.
And now—the new Mrs. Gable.
“We have made no plans,” she promised the press, “but when Clark gets a few days off and I am not busy, perhaps we will sneak away and have the ceremony performed.”
It was characteristic of both that it happened just as they said. Three weeks after Clark was divorced by Ria Gable, he and Carole “sneaked away” on his first day off from “Gone with the Wind” and were quietly married in Kingman, Arizona, with only two witnesses—the minister’s wife and the high school principal.
This last picture seems most significant of all. Carole as a gallant modern girl who knows how to get her man—because she has the qualities to hold him and make him happy.
With them go all the best wishes of Hollywood, a town which takes as much delight as any other community in a happy ending for two of its most beloved citizens!