How Would You Like to Be Mrs. Clark Gable?
By Gladys Hall
Modern Screen magazine, May 1932
An amazing and fascinating analysis of what your feelings might be if you were to become Mrs. Clark Gable
On page 80 is an item in our gossip section which tells of a rumor of trouble between Mrs. and Mrs. Clark Gable. This is not the first hint of trouble in the Gable household which has leaked out to the world since Clark’s meteoric rise to stardom.
What is at the basis of these rumors? What is causing these rifts of which rumors are frequently heard?
You, Mrs. or Miss Average Lady, you probably envy the present Mrs. Gable. And, if Clark did get a divorce, wouldn’t you be the first to see yourself as his new wife—if it were possible for you to meet and capture him?
But have you any idea of what it is really like to be the wife of Clark Gable? Consider for a moment—here is the screen’s most devastating lover. Here is the man over whom husbands and sweethearts are compared, not always to the credit of the less romantic gentlemen.
Here is the man who stirs the pulses, makes drab life adventurous and cruel and beautiful. Here is the man who promises delights unknown, undreamt of.
I have heard a woman, happily married, rather mature, sigh in my ear, “Imagine—having a husband who would make you think of love every time you looked at him, whether he was shaved or not!”
And there are, also, the more practical advantages of being married to the screen’s greatest idol. For here is not the passionately thrilling lover who would take you home to starve in a garret, but a man with a very large weekly income on which to support his wife. A man who has said repeatedly he loves his home life, quiet evenings of bridge, steak and onions, dogs and children, books and long, solitary walks. He has said those very things to me. Here is the man who can prove his love with another fire that burns, steadily on a hearth.
Why wouldn’t any woman want to be Mrs. Gable?
It would be marvelous, wouldn’t it, to be so envied of other women? It would be the consummate thrill to go out with Clark in the evening, to the theatre, to a café, to a party, and know that every other woman there was looking at him and envying you. It would be wonderful to wear his circlet of gold or platinum around your finger and know that it was there because he, who could have his choice of so many other women, had chosen you.
Every woman likes to feel proud of the man she has married. Every woman likes to feel that she has won what other people want.
Imagine the glowing sense of possession you would feel when you said “I want you to meet my husband…” and the thrill of pleasure that would go through you as some woman looked up into the face of Clark Gable.
Imagine sharing a home with Clark Gable. Let your mind dwell upon that! Imagine choosing chairs and tables and drapes and rugs with him, intimate things that you and he were to share together so long as you both shall live. Imagine discussing the servant problem with him, ordering his favorite things for sinner, sending his clothes to the cleaner, pouring his coffee in the mornings! Imagine having him tuck you into the roadster for a long ride in the hills or along the beach where he loves to watch the sun set and know that you would be coming home together, to sit before the fire, talking of little, homely things only he—and you—could know.
Imagine the secret smile his wife must know when she sees him making transient love to Joan Crawford, or Garbo, or Norma Shearer. That intimate knowledge that “This is only make-believe while his love for me is real.”
Oh, it would be tumultuous, it would be exciting, it would be prideful and dream-shot to be the wife of Clark Gable. Wouldn’t it? Or—would it?
There is another side to the question. You turn over in your hands the glittering silver cloud of your dream-marriage to Clark gable and you find a reverse side, as dark as sable, filled with forebodings, with jealousy, with a possessorship threatened by every ring of the telephone, every letter in the mail, every smile on every woman’s face, every burning sigh of envy and desire.
You try to live, day after day, with a man you know is desired by just about every other woman, known and unknown, and see and feel the doubts it gives you. Doubt of yourself. Doubt of him. You feel the adoring presence of all these other women, some younger than you, some not so young, some more beautiful, perhaps, some less so. Just imagine what that must be.
The very depth of your love would make the burden heavier to bear. You would not dare to have a sulky mood, to feel fretful and complaining as every wife must feel once in a while. You would not be like Mrs. Average-Wife who, after a perfectly normal scene with a perfectly normal husband, might think, “That pretty stenographer of his—how do I know she isn’t after him?” If you were Mrs. Gable you would know that not one pretty stenographer but thousands of them and all their sisters were after him, too. If you were ill, if you were not looking your best, if the new hat was horrible or the new gown fitted badly, if you gained five pounds or lost a tooth or something, you would see, as in a mist, the faces of thousands of women rise up before you…looking provocative, enchanting, beckoning…
If you were Mrs. Clark Gable you would have to fight every minute to hold him. Every man and every woman must fight some sort of fight to keep the flame of love burning, steadily—and exclusively. Love is a living thing. It must be fed. It is rank nonsense to say, as some women do say, that if they had to fight for a thing, then they don’t want it. Anyone would fight for anything that is precious—be it a diamond ring or a husband. But there might be fighting to the death. There might be fighting that would exhaust, that would make the combat not worthwhile. There is no sort of sense in fighting, I suppose, when you know the odds are against you. One man would be a fool, not a warrior, if he undertook to engage an army in single combat. One woman would be a fool to resist all other women. And the wife of Clark Gable is, pretty literally, fighting against all other women.
I am minded of a party I once attended where Mr. and Mrs. Gable were among those present. And every woman in that large room, from the most prominent stars down to the least significant debutante was ogling and pawing and using all but physical violence to get near Clark Gable. He was surrounded. He was besieged. He was drowned in a sea of perfumed flattery and eyes and lips and would-be caressing hands. He did the best he could. He didn’t seem to be enjoying it. He was dignified and shy and naïve. But there he was. All mean are sensitive to flattery. And Clark would have been a stone man—a robot—not to have felt the adoring flattery that was being lavished upon him. And on the sidelines sat Mrs. Gable, doing her very clever best to looks as if she were enjoying herself, wearing what became a fixed and artificial smile.
This same sort of thing takes place everywhere they go. When the attended openings, Clark is all but knocked down by autograph seekers. Young, flower-like girls stand watching him, with half-opened buds of mouths and misty eyes staring at their incarnate dream. Some few will crane curious heads to look at Mrs. Gable. A voice or so will murmur, “I don’t know what he ever saw in her…”
Which isn’t any reflection on Mrs. Gable. It wouldn’t be any reflection on you. So high runs the temperature of fan fever that Gable could be married to Lorelei, to Venus, to Garbo and Crawford and Shearer rolled into one and still those thousands of other women would shake deprecatory heads and say, “I don’t know what he ever saw in her…”
Nor is Mrs. Gable immune from this sort of thing even in their own home. Women call him on the phone. Women write him letters, the fervid words of which shrivel the scented paper. The perfume of them fills the house even though the words are never read.
If there is ever that dark thing called “trouble” between Clark Gable and his wife, the cause will be not one woman, but thousands. The pressure of all this feminine adoration, the embarrassment it causes, the humiliations it brings—the spotlight in which they live and in the searching light of which any Mrs. Gable would play so silly a role—all of these things will cause “trouble” if trouble ever comes.
Jealousy—helplessness-awkwardness—lack of privacy—one woman must grow very tired of fighting with such wretched weapons. Fighting in the dark. Fighting the unknown. Fighting, not even the potent face of a Garbo or a Crawford, but the hidden faces of all other women.
Clark is sound and sane and sensible—to date. But he is also human. And how can any one man be impervious to this adoration?
If one lives under the shadow of death, I am told, one wants to go. If you have to have an operation you want it done, over with. So, perhaps, would you wish the continual gnawing apprehension over with if you were Mrs. Gable. Is it possible that it is these emotional conflicts which are at the basis of the persistent rumors of a rift in the Gable marriage?
It isn’t Clark’s fault, if there is any fault to be found. It certainly isn’t Mrs. Gable’s. It wouldn’t be the fault of any Mrs. Gable, no matter who she might be. It probably is not the fault of thousands of Other Women who turn to him asking for Danger…or a Dream… It may be the fault of the American Man who leaves so great a lack in the life of his woman that she turns—starving, more passionate than proud—to a Clark Gable.
Would you like to be Mrs. Gable?