By Gladys Hall
Movie Classic, January 1933
As the curtain falls on 1932, everybody is wondering what the year’s Greatest Hero—namely, the two-fisted Mr. Gable—intends to do next year. Here is the answer, in Clark’s own words. Moreover, he’s the kind who’ll live up to his intentions!
Clark Gable came into his dressing room at the noon hour, dusty from the set of “Red Dust.” His shirt was open at the collar. His hair was ruffled. He looked healthy and happy and hard-working and—still—completely unchanged after the fires of fame and fortune that would have burned a lesser man to a papery cinder.
Honest to goodness, moviegoers, he is a swell guy. I mean it. Unaffected, regular, genuine, one of the realest human beings you could ever meet, anywhere, under any circumstances.
He laughed as we shook hands. “I’m glad to see you,” he said, “but what are we going to talk about this time? In the past year or two we’ve discussed everything under the sun—love and acting and Hollywood and marriage and divorce and pasts and futures, and men, women and children. We’ve gone over the whole fabric of life, thread by thread. You know that I am happily married, fond of home life and contract bridge, dogs and motoring and polo and books. You know that I know I’m an ugly mug who happened to get the breaks and am grateful for them. What now?”
I said, “Now we’re going to talk about New Year resolutions—yours.”
Clark laughed again, that hearty, masculine laugh of his. He said, “I’m afraid I haven’t any. I don’t even know that I can make any.
“You see, I’m totally and completely happy in every way that it’s possible for a man to be happy. I wouldn’t change one thing in my life worth mentioning, if I could. There is absolutely nothing I want that I haven’t got. There is nothing I know about, in any way, that I could ask for or wish for. And do happy and perfectly contented people think about making resolutions? I wonder!
Makes a “Daring Statement”
“I lead ‘the Perfect Life.’ A daring statement, which I dare to make. Wait, now I have it—here is my resolution, the big one, covering all the others! I resolve to continue to lead the life that is perfect for me, and to allow nothing in heaven or hell to interfere with it.
“I realize that I am one of about four people in the world who can say what I’ve just said—that I lead the perfect life. I resolve not to forget those millions of others who must cry while I laugh.
“I do believe, though, that there are a great many people who are leading nearly perfect lives and are unaware of it. They don’t realize their own good fortune or they won’t admit it to themselves. There is such a disease as chronic dissatisfaction, and it’s about the most insidious and fatal disease any man or woman can have. So many people do not know until it’s too late how splendid things have been for them.
“It’s like the story of the man who traveled the globe ‘round and ‘round in search of the most beautiful thing in the world. After many years of searching and after great hardships and long after age had settled upon him, he found the most beautiful thing right in his own front yard—his daughter’s eyes. He hadn’t thought to look right under his nose, you see. He hadn’t realized until it was almost too late—
“I resolve never to be blind to the fine and precious things that are mine right now.
“I resolve to keep my eyes open, and my heart, to the things that are with me here and now, today.
“I resolve to pass this particular resolution on to all who will listen to me: Look in your own front yard for beauty and for happiness.
“I resolve to let Tomorrow take care of itself. It always has.
Won’t Forget He Had a Break
“I resolve never to forget that Yesterday I once told you about—when I was unwanted, when doors were closed in my face, when I was hungry and friendless and alone. I resolve never to forget that the man I was then is also the man I am now.
“I resolve never to let the little, petty things annoy me; never to destroy the whole because of the pin-pricks.
“I resolve to continue to be grateful for the break I have had, never to allow myself to forget that it was a break and might have happened to any one of thousands of fellows and just happened to happen to me. I am no Valentino, despite the ridiculous comparison that was attempted when I first started on the screen. If I can be compared to any type at all it would be much more to—let’s see, I haven’t thought about it before—but it might be to the late Milton Sills or Charlie Bickford or George Bancroft or—“ (It was ridiculous that he should be compared to anybody, and I said so.)
“I resolve,” Clark went on firmly, his attention evenly divided between resolutions and a large piece of apple pie and cheese, “I resolve never to cease being grateful to the people all over the world who have liked me and manifested that liking.
“I resolve never to whimper, whine or kick when I begin to take the long toboggan into oblivion. It has, perhaps, begun for me. I know that I am not what I was, or perhaps I should say where I was a year ago. That’s all right. I don’t expect to be. There are those who say that I should never have played the minister role in ‘Polly of the Circus,’ or the white-haired conversational man in ‘Strange Interlude’—but who knows? It’s all experience. Some of it good, some of it not so good, perhaps. Here and now I am concerned only with my resolution—which is to continue to be grateful for what I have had and still have and never to show the white feather about what is to be.
Defines “the Perfect Life”
“Before I go on resolving, I think I’ll stop right here and tell what this perfect life I’ve been talking about really means to me.
“First and foremost comes good health. No one can lead the perfect life unless he is sound of body. And right now I am ore fit, in better condition, than I ever was in my life before. I certainly resolve to keep that way—and to keep that way means plenty of good food and sleep and exercise, no worry over trifles, a decent amount of pleasure and social activity, and there you have it.
“Next in a man’s scheme of the perfect life comes his work. If a man is not happy at the thing he is doing, the whole system of his life is basically wrong. The work a man does is the foundation upon which rest his home and his family. It must come first. And I am perfectly happy in my work. I wouldn’t leave the screen for all the theatre calls the world might have to offer. It’s easy for me to say here that I resolve never to leave the screen. Not, certainly, for the term of my contract.
“I have no patience with those in the profession who profess to look down on what they are doing. I have no patience with those who say that they are in the movies only for the money there is in them and would not be here an hour if it were not for just that. I think it’s fun. I think it’s satisfying. And more than that, it can lead to the third factor in the perfect life which is—
“A normal life. No man can be happy if his life does not run along normal lines. He may be happy for a few weeks or for a few months if he lives in hotels, works all night, sleeps all day, that sort of thing. But not for long—not if the man, himself, is normal, which I trust I am. As my work is now, I leave my home in the mornings and return to it in the evenings, entertain a few friends, go out with my family. I can be normal—and I resolve to stay that way.
Will Not Act Off the Screen
“I NEVER want to be an actor off the screen. There are some splendid people here in Hollywood—some of the best in the world. There are also some who make me feel ashamed for them when I watch them. Men, for instance, who are regular fellows when you are off with them somewhere alone—unaffected, honest-to-goodness guys until some other actor or actress or some member of the press comes along. And then it’s amazing and sickening to watch them put on the greasepaint, strike an attitude, take out their little bag of tricks, change completely.
“The fourth essential to the perfect life is, of course, perfect contentment with one’s home and family. I am perfectly contented with me. I wouldn’t change my home for Buckingham Palace and I wouldn’t change my wife for all the Scheherezades rolled into one. As I have resolved to continue to be grateful for the break I have in my work, so I resolve to continue to be grateful for the break I have had in my personal life.
“There are so few changes I could wish for, so few resolutions I can make along lines of change. Naturally, there are the purely personal ones. The resolution to work harder than I have ever worked before, to give more, to think more deeply, to build more securely. I would like to be able to resolve to have something to say about the stories I do and the way I do them during 1933. Not that I have any complaint to make about the past. I couldn’t have asked for a voice in choosing my own stories then. I was new to it all. I was raw. I was green. Now I have learned something and have had experience and attained to a knowledge of myself, and I should like to be able to have some say in the choice of my stories and the way I play them.
“When my contract—a seven-year contract—is at an end, I resolve to change my life and my mode of living completely. What I am doing now is perfect for me at this time. It may not be so then. I believe I shall be through with the screen. I believe I shall go back East to live and the work I choose to do will be entirely apart from anything I am doing now or have ever done before.
“But that is Tomorrow—a good many Tomorrows away—and my resolution was to let Tomorrow take care of itself. I shall not break that resolution nor any of the others I have made.”