Let’s begin our birthday month article-palooza with this one from 1935.
The focus here is that Clark wants a personal life and a professional life and he wants them separate!
No matter how pleasant the impression you get from the finished picture, it represents work, hard work, not only on the part of the director, cameraman, author, electrician, prop man and many others, but work on the part of the actor.
My feeling, therefore, is that we earn our salaries by our work in pictures, and we shouldn’t have to continue working every minute we are away from the studio. Don’t raise your eyes at that remark and say you didn’t know we worked away from the studio! No one will disoute the fact that it is the hardest kind of work to be forever appearing something that you are not. That is what is expected of us. We are never supposed to let down. Of course, there are a few people who play themselves on the screen; but they are in the minority. Lucky persons, they never have to put on any act when they appear in public. For myself, I’m anything but the gay Lothario that I sometimes play in pictures. I’m a plain man, with simple tastes, who doesn’t care for clothes or formal parties.
But the thing you wanted me to talk about today is just what part of our lives belongs to the public, eh? And what part of it belongs to us?
Well, perhaps only Garbo and Leslie Howard will agree with me when I say that only that part of us which is necessary for the making of good pictures belongs to the public. Now, don’t get excited. I’m not going to pull a Garbo on you. I’m not going into retirement and refuse to see interviewers, refuse to pose for pictures, refuse to answer my fan mail, or any other of a dozen things of this sort. I shall probably go right on doing them as long as my position on the screen seems important enough for these things to be desired of me. But you asked me to tell you what I think about it. This is what I am attempting to do.
To elaborate a little what I said about that part of us which belongs to the public: I mean by that, that it is imperative that we keep ourselves in good physical condition, so we can do our best work; that we shall keep our mental outlook as clear as possible, so that we shall approach our work with proper perspective. We should keep ourselves free from entanglements which would cause unfavorable comments and embarrass our producers. If we have built up a following on the screen, and have led our friends to expect a certain quality performance, we should not let them down, as it were. We owe a courteous, friendly consideration to the press who have publicized our good points and minimized our bad ones. We owe the finest possible co-operation to our producers who have given us such wonderful opportunities. But I do want to feel I can live my life like any other individual when I am between pictures!
Clark struggled with the press all of his professional life, kind of a love-hate relationship. He let them in but not TOO close.
To begin with, I have never recovered from my astonishment at the interest people from all over the world have in professional people. This is not just true of America. It is true in almost every country of the globe.
Undoubtedly, if the public never read anything about us, from the time we finished one picture until another was ready for release, they might not be so eager to see the new picture; so we should be, and I am, grateful that they write to know about our soap, our stationary, our books; but in the face of all this, I do want to live my life just as Tom Jones or Bill Smith in Oshkosh might do. Unless I do something that is so flagrantly immoral that decent people are offended, I don’t think my personal habits concern anyone but me.
What would Clark think today, with TMZ and paparazzi drones and Twitter and Facebook tracking every celebrity’s every move? Horrified, I imagine. He’d be one of those handful of celebrities who shuns social media. No Instagram posts of what Clark had for dinner!
One of the things that I am particular about is telling the truth. I was taught it from my youth. My father always said anyone who would lie would steal. Now, when I am asked a lot of personal questions, I feel if I answer them at all, I must answer them truthfully. If I don’t answer, they get the information elsewhere and it looks so little like the facts that it makes me feel I will answer all next time—no matter whom I offend. The space is so limited, a writer never explains all we say and invariably we are misunderstood.
This rang true for his whole life. He often would sidestep questions or just outright refuse. I find that the only “fibs” you see in Clark interviews are in the puff pieces.
You can read the article in its entirety in The Article Archive.
It’s Clark Gable’s birthday month around here!
Every year I fill the month of February with lots of new stuff and this year is no exception. I am inundated with articles so I figured it was the perfect opportunity to post them all. So all month long, look out for new articles from various stages of Clark’s life! I also will be putting up pictures from every one of Clark’s films om the site’s Facebook page, so “like” us if you haven’t already!
Clark Gable would be 114 if he was alive today. Last year, to celebrate his birthday, I complied 113 quotes that others said about Clark. So this year I gathered together 114 quotes from the man himself. So here’s what Clark had to say on a number of topics:
1. “What I want from life is what everyone wants—peace of mind, good health, a share of this world’s goods, friends—companionship. I’m not different from anyone else, for that’s what everyone wants.” (1948)
2. “Just don’t ask me for advice on staying married. I wouldn’t know the secret. I must have learned something about marriage since I went into it the first time—that was in 1924—but I couldn’t tell you just what.” (1953)
3. “Love is something that stays with a person all through his life. A man just gets rid of it periodically. To live is to love. Life without loving people is pretty worthless.”
4. “There’s going to be six million eyes on me all daring me to fail [in GWTW].” (1939)
5. “I honestly never expected to win one of these. There are too many actors in this business. But I feel as happy as a kid and a little foolish they picked me.” (upon winning his Oscar, 1935)
6. “One of the things that I am particular about is telling the truth. I was taught it from my youth. My father always said anyone who would lie would steal. ” (1935)
7. “Sure I’ve got a few gray hairs. A lot of hard work helped make me gray. I just hope that I’ve got a little gray matter in this old head of mine. I’ve been lucky, I’ve got a good job, a good wife and a good home. What else does a man want?” (1940)
8. “The best thing for me at such times is just to get in my car, all by myself, and take a long ride. Then it’s only the tires and the brakes which take a beating—but they at least can be replaced. It’s not so easy to replace friends, or take back words.” (1938)
9. “What’s more important in life than its chuckles? Having fun is good sense. If a guy can’t laugh now and then, he’s not much good.” (1953)
10. “Rhett [Butler] was too popular, had fired the imaginations of too many people. Literally millions of people knew Rhett better than they knew George Washington. Everyone couldn’t be pleased, not even the majority. I knew that.” (1940)
11.”Actors who squawk about the hardships and the unfairness of screen work make me laugh. They don’t mean it, of course—not really. It’s a pose. Down inside they know just how lucky they are and how little they would have by comparison, if they were not in Hollywood. Movie-acting is the softest job in the world; it’s the best-paid job in the world—and if that isn’t an unbeatable combination, I want to know what is. The compensation received for the amount of labor involved cannot be exceeded anywhere, in any time.” (1934)
12. ““On the level, I don’t like to have people asking me about the women I’ve fooled around with, trying to dig into my past. I’m willing to talk to people, and the press has given me some great breaks—but whose business is it what I did before I got up out of the ruck? Why can’t they leave my past alone? And so far as that is concerned, whose business is it what I do now, after I take my greasepaint off?” (1932)
13. “[The divorce from Sylvia Ashley] was unfortunate. The faults weren’t all on one side, you know. It might have lasted, I suppose. I don’t ever go into marriage thinking ahead to divorce.” (1953)
14. “I don’t think that I’ll live on impulse when, if ever, I marry again. Right now I’d say that I never will because I might meet some girl and marry her within a month, but I don’t think so. If ever I marry again, I want to be sure that I know all about the girl—I want to know her for a couple of years—find out how she thinks and what she wants out of life, everything about her. It’s all right for a very young chap to fall head over heels. But an older man, a man who has been married, is a fool if he hasn’t learned to walk more carefully, to take more time, to test his own emotions.” (1936)
15. “I was lucky to get anywhere. It’s all in the luck of the game. But popularity in pictures is very temporary. It may be for this year, then it’s gone forever. You’re up today and down tomorrow. There’s no use trying to keep it up.” (1937)
16. “For the first time in my life I am absolutely content. I can’t explain the reason for it, nor give you the underlying cause. I only know that every one of my days is full and everything I do brings me happiness.” (1936)
17. “I don’t want the part [of Rhett Butler] for money, chalk or marbles.” (1938)
18. “You know I have everything anyone could want, except one thing. And all I really need and want is [Carole].” (1944)
19. “I never believed in that bunk about a man’s ideal girl. I’ve probably had a dozen ideals in my life, each one being the person I happened to be in love with at the time.”
20. “Boredom is the greatest sin in the world. And the only cure for boredom is hard work and an understanding marriage.”(1940)
21. “That’s what’s so strange about life. The brave ones don’t make it.” (1944)
22. “Show me a couple who do dishes together and I’ll show you a happy couple.” (1951)
23. “When I was here before, I could have walked down Hollywood Boulevard on my hands and nobody would have paid any attention. I wouldn’t dare walk down the same boulevard now with my aunt. They would say I had fallen in love with another older woman.” (1932)
24. “I honestly believe that I have lived a lifetime since I landed in Hollywood. I know that I have crammed an average lifetime of experiences, emotions and education into these last five years. I may look like the same man, outwardly. But inwardly, I’m changed. I think differently, react differently to the people around me, have a completely different viewpoint on life.” (1936)
25. “I had no difficulty visualizing Miss Leigh as Scarlett. My thanks here are publicly expressed to Miss Leigh for making it a pleasure to believe the part of Rhett.” (1940)
26. ““I don’t know and I’ve never heard of anyone who does know just how much of love is mental rather than physical, but speaking entirely for myself I know it is never love for me unless there is mental attraction in it.” (1939)
27. “Today, when I’m working in Hollywood, I’m still the homebody. Unless there is a special occasion involved I drive straight home from work, have my dinner, read and go to bed. If I go out at all it is on a weekend. Any time you read an item about my being seen in a night club you can pretty well bet it was on a Saturday night.” (1949)
28. “I think we actors with a touch of gray at our temples ought to have leading ladies who balance us age wise. It should be possible to find a leading lady who’s not too young or too old.” (1957)
29. “I like roughing it. Sometimes wonder why everyone makes such a project of making money, when it’s the things that money can’t buy that most of us want. Guess it’s the challenge to our ego and sense of achievement.” (1948)
30. ““I can see [Shirley Temple’s career] going on and on forever, till she’s playing grandmother parts, with her white hair still curly and the dimples still chasing each other ‘round her mouth. And the fans still loving her.” (1937)
31. “To tell you the truth, women scare me.”
32. “I’m happy if I have a jacket and a clean pair of trousers; some people worry about clothes or money or how the next race is going to finish. If I do bet on a race I consider the money’s spent before the race is run.” (1953)
33. “It’s silly to be too persistent about everything. It’s silly to be pigeon-holed when you know you damn well you don’t belong. It’s foolish to woo success too hard—if you do, it slips out on you.” (1936)
34. “I’m getting literary.You know, the missus is just about the best literary critic in town. She reads every play and book she can get her hands on. I’m learning to be a kind of assistant critic.” (1941)
35. “I never look on anyone playing with me, or for the same producing company, as a rival. No good actor is a rival, he’s an asset. Everyone has his own individual way of doing things, and I never felt I had something that no one else had.” (1937)
36. “There is nothing holding me and Carole together but love.” (1939)
37. “I let the television people know where I stood right away. I said it emphatically. I said it was a medium I didn’t intend to try. That word got around very quickly.” (1957)
38. “By the time I’m ready to settle down a bit—at fifty or so—I want to have seen every country on the globe and to know the people.” (1936)
39. “Sometimes I wonder how [Carole would] take things the way they are today, and I always come up with the same answer–with a laugh. She’d get through it better than me.” (1954)
40. “I’ve given no thought to whether I make friends slowly or fast. I don’t have a lot of friends; I do have a lot of acquaintances. Friends are something else.” (1957)
41. “Luxury has never been a part of my life. I’m a simple Joe. I like to hang around a garage, tinker with motors and engines in automobiles. Get my hands and face spattered with grease and go without a shave for a day. Now, that’s not romantic…[but] that’s me.” (1948)
42. “Some people may say I’m crusty, but I take life easily. I like to get way and relax with a few of the boys and fish and ride.” (1953)
43. “I’ve never understood why men want sons. If I ever had a child then maybe I could be convinced.”
44. “I’m not a King in a true sense, maybe in a Hollywood sense, which doesn’t amount to much outside of here!” (1938)
45. “When I was a kid in Cadiz it was my greatest ambition to get on the neighborhood sandlot baseball team. I was a big, ugly rawboned kid and didn’t look like material for the Cleveland Indians.” (1941)
46. “This is a swell way for a grown man to earn a living, isn’t it? Just standing around for hours with a smirk on my map and getting paid for it. [But] I realize what a lucky guy I am to fall into a job like this. Where else could I earn as good a living? What could I be, if I weren’t an actor? A truck driver, maybe, or an oil field worker. Boy, the cards sure were stacked in my favor.” (1936)
47.“There’s something in a man’s eye which gives a woman reason to know she is safe or reason to suspect almost anything.”
48. “I always have lived on impulse, more or less. But I’ve always felt guilty about it, too.” (1936)
49. “I’m a very happy man. What can I say about Kay. She’s a wonderful woman and a perfect companion.” (1956)
50. “I have never recovered from my astonishment at the interest people from all over the world have in professional people. This is not just true of America. It is true in almost every country of the globe. ” (1935)
51. “Bob [Taylor]’s a fine boy, a fine-looking boy, a young, healthy, virile, clean, intelligent American boy, and God knows we need more of them in this business.” (1937)
52. “We haven’t enough young actors to fill the bill. It is because of the lack of them that there are so many foreign actors in American pictures. Not that I object to them generally. But I don’t think it a good idea to have foreigners play American characters, for no matter how good they are they can’t be convincing.” (1937)
53. “I respected my father and wanted his blessing. It was [my stepmother] who convinced him to let me go in peace. If it hadn’t been for her, I’d probably still be pitching hay in Ohio.”
54. “Death is not something to think about on a daily basis. It happens, you know? What can you do.” (1957)
55. “I’m more at home with men than I’ll ever be with women and of late that’s truer even than it was before. I’m almost afraid to speak to a girl off the screen for fear somebody will say it’s a ‘budding romance’ and spread it all over the newspapers. For myself, it doesn’t matter. But it’s embarrassing for the girl.” (1936)
56.”Rhett always will remain among the most memorable roles I have played on the screen, although I sincerely believe that Fletcher Christian in Mutiny on the Bounty was a part of equal caliber.” (1940)
57. “It’s a dumb guy who is flattered by the girl he goes with being a half-wit. I’m dumb in plenty of ways, but all baby talk from a girl does to me is get in my hair. I want none of it–and I’ll certainly never get any from Carole. That one’s right in there with the brain every minute.” (1939)
58. “A friend is someone is someone in whom you can confide. You can say to him, ‘I’m going to tell you something just between us,’ and you know that it’ll be just between you. Then, when you get down to the short rows and the going gets rough, a friend is someone who will help you. And he also knows you’re available if things get rough with him. I don’t mean in a monetary way, but in a companionship way or any other way you need.” (1957)
59. “In my vacation I may fish, I’ll play golf, but I won’t hunt. I won’t hunt because somehow I have lost my taste for it, especially deer hunting.” (1949)
60. “I don’t like jewelry, either on the screen or in real life.” (1933)
61. ““I’m not a business man and I have no profession or training except for the stage and screen. So, I don’t know what kind of work I can do when I’m washed up in the only line I know.” (1937)
62. “It seemed to me that the public’s casting [of me as Rhett Butler] was being guided by an elaborate publicity campaign.” (1957)
63. “Peace of mind is a great thing. Once you gain the knowledge of understanding what you really want, then you go after it and there is no problem.” (1948)
64. “The big idea is that Carole and I are two individuals. There’s no phony baloney between us, none of that mystery routine, none of that so-called allure. Don’t forget that with us make-believe is something we do all day at the studio, a way of making our livings. We need none of that at home. We’ve got every worthwhile interest in common, our home, the country, our work.” (1939)
65. “…in Hollywood, I began to realize the shortness of the years of success and of youth. Today, you’re on top. Tomorrow, you’re forgotten. So now I am planning for that tomorrow as well as anyone can plan anything in this topsy-turvy world. I know that some day I’ll be washed up in pictures. Then what am I going to do? That’s what I’m trying to figure out.” (1936)
66. “My thinking about it was this: [Gone with the Wind] was one of the all-time best sellers. People didn’t just read it, they lived it. They visualized its characters, and they formed passionate convictions about them. You say a lot of people thought I ought to play Rhett Butler, but I didn’t know how many had formed that opinion.” (1957)
67. “Now, how is it possible to turn down a lady’s proposal and still be a gentleman? I’ve wondered about that.” (1948)
68.“Plans? I have ideas but no definite plans to carry them out. I never make any—because things shape themselves better when I let them alone! Believe me, what success I’ve had has been a surprise package out of the bag. I did have a neat little plan once. It was when I was working in a hit-or-miss stock company in the middle west and I had it all mapped out how to save my money for seven weeks so that I could startle Broadway. But the manager lit out with the company funds in the third week. Since then, I haven’t tried to plan.” (1936)
69. “[Gone with the Wind] was a challenge. I enjoyed it from that point of view. But my chin was out to there. I knew what people expected of me and suppose I didn’t produce?” (1957)
70. “I knew I was ‘typed’ as the heavy lover but everybody seemed to think I was so lucky being cast opposite stars like Garbo and Shearer and Davies and Crawford, I didn’t have the nerve to complain. I would have been crazy to expect the studio to write down the parts of such stars in order to give me a chance to do something—so I just went along.” (1934)
71. “If you map out a goal for yourself and say, ‘That’s where I’m going’ and keep plodding on, you’ll get there. Things happen that may make your progress more difficult or easier, but you can arrive if you keep on trying.” (1935)
72. “Love-making is a normal part of an active he-man’s life, isn’t it?” (1933)
73. “I don’t have to say anything about [Kay]. I’m a very happy man. I reflect that, don’t I?” (1957)
74. “When the picture I am working on is over and done with, I can’t stay put any longer and I’m off. Why? Why not stick home? I don’t know. Iron bars do not a prison make, as the old saying goes, and my trouble may be that neither does brick or wood make a home. It just makes a house. There’s a difference.” (1949)
75. “Acting has always been and still is with me a profession, not an easy one to learn. I learn something new in every picture. I do not know what they mean by a finished actor. As far as I know, finished is when you can’t get a job.” (1960)
76. “Frankly I was one of the last few millions to read Gone with the Wind. When people first started talking about the book and Rhett, I wasn’t impressed. Everybody in Hollywood has the greatest story ever written. I am constantly asked to read novels, plays and originals that will make screen epics.” (1940)
77. “I intend to live with a free rein now and always. I’m planning the future with an open mind and I’m going to live every minute of it!” (1936)
78. “Getting a kick out of life, and especially out of what you do nine hours out of ten, is as good a religion as any I know. It’s stupid to be unhappy.”
79. “I won’t build a wall of rules and regulations around me. They’re stifling and ridiculous. I won’t assume any more obligations than I have to.” (1936)
80. “I’d come and [first wife Josephine Dillon] would start teaching. I wasn’t walking right, I wasn’t breathing deeply, or I entered the kitchen all wrong, my voice was too high. She never did anything but teach, teach, teach!”
81. “[Jean Harlow] never wanted to be famous. She wanted to be happy.” (1937)
82. “If it hadn’t been for that damn picture [GWTW] nobody would want me anymore. In fact they wouldn’t even remember who I was.”
83. “I do resent having every writer I meet question me about how many women I have loved. A bank president is not any better banker, nor any worse, for having been engaged three times or for never having been engaged. Why should it mean more in an actor’s life? Any man who reaches maturity and has never imagined himself in love is a funny sort of man. On the other hand, a man of any age who boasts of his conquests is about as despicable a human being as can be found.” (1935)
84. “Well, we’ve won the war and there’s peace now everywhere. Everywhere except here in Hollywood, where the fighting for good scripts, good billing and good dressing rooms never ends!” (1945)
85. “I believe that our destiny is more or less chartered out for all of us. We are born in a certain environment and turned in a certain direction. Things happen to us frequently over which we have no control. Sometimes we want t turn in a certain way and we are forced by circumstances to take another path.But, whenever we are forced to change our way, we don’t need to quit or turn back. We can always manage somehow to keep going on, if we try hard enough.” (1935)
86. “Some of the happiest moments of my life have been spent renewing old friendships.” (1933)
87. ““I don’t want, and I can’t afford, to be just an idler.” (1937)
88. “I’m chore boy. Like to get up early and get things going, make fires on camping trips and get things started. But noooo, I don’t say I cook well!”(1948)
89. “I’m going to enlist in the Air Corps but not until I get my head together and sort things out. I don’t expect to come back and I don’t want to come back.” (1942)
90. “Sure, I’ve been unhappy, too, at times. After marriage has failed, for example. But you can’t go on being miserable.” (1953)
91. “The tremendous popularity of [Gone with the Wind] inspired many myths. One of these, frequently repeated, contends that Miss Mitchell had me in mind to play Rhett on the screen when she wrote her book. This is not true. She got her idea for the book and was writing it while I was a four-dollar-a-day laborer in the Oklahoma oil fields. I could have been an inspiration to no one, except possibly a soap salesman.” (1940)
92. “I see all my pictures, and I never miss an outstanding movie. I enjoy pictures and I can always learn by watching my own mistakes and other actors’ work.” (1933)
93. “I’ve spent a lot of time learning to be an actor. I’m still learning. I don’t know how you go about learning to be a personality but I do know how you learn to go about being an actor and I work at that. Everyone has a right to his opinion, even me. Not matter what I was, I’d work at being as close to the best as I could get, and I choose to think of myself as an actor. It’s a profession I’m proud of. It’s my job, not that I’m the best, but I try.” (1957)
94. “My dad once said something to me I’ve never forgotten.’Son,’ he said, ‘I’m too old for the girls. I’ll leave them to you. But remember one thing. You can’t tell a package by its wrapper. The truly attractive girl is the one whose good looks start [at her heart].” (1951)
95. “People often have asked me what I get out of it all—you know, being a movie star, making money, all the prerequisites. I don’t get out of it what a lot of people would, that’s a fact. I’m not luxury-minded. I don’t give a hoot for swell houses, swimming pools and entertaining. I don’t like big parties. I have no use for a yacht.” (1936)
96. “I like the idea of acting my age. I have no idea if I can attain the success as a character actor as I did playing the dashing young lover–it’s a chance I have to take. Not everyone is able to do it.” (1959)
97. “I think Miss Garbo is one of the great actresses and a very magnetic personality. Personally, she is charming.” (1933)
98. “People say that ‘life begins at forty’. They tell us that the years before that age are merely a preparation, that our forties are the golden years when we will have adjusted all our values of living and can honestly enjoy life. That’s probably true in the life of the average business man. During his forties he eats the financial fruits of the work he has done during his twenties and thirties, while he goes on building toward more mature successes.But it won’t be that way with me. My career will be ended. There will be no place to go in pictures, except down the ladder.” (1937)
99. “One reason Carole and I can be happy is that she has the greatest sense of humor of any girl I ever met and she is one of the kindest people I know.” (1939)
100. “Sometimes people should just mind their own damn business.” (1939)
101. “Death is something none of us can avoid. I suppose it’s pointless to worry about it, just live your life how you want and hope somebody remembers you fondly.” (1958)
102. “You shouldn’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself. No actor is.” (1936)
103. “I’m just lucky.” (1936)
104. “My stepmother was a wonderful and kind woman. She proved all through her life that I meant as much to her as if I had been her very own. She was good and true.”
105. “I don’t want a lot of strangers looking down at my wrinkles and my big fat belly when I’m dead.”
106. “We are all about the same in the beginning. We have about the same amount of instincts, desires, and capabilities. It is up to us whether we keep them alive or not. I don’t believe anybody was ever born mean or pessimistic or under-privileged. We all have the seed of greatness within us. I know I’m no better than anybody else. I’ve had pretty good luck and good health and I’ve learned to keep plugging away.”
107. “We all just want to be happy, don’t we?” (1954)
108. “This ‘King’ stuff is pure bullshit. I eat and sleep and go to the bathroom just like everyone else. There’s no special light that shines inside me and makes me a star. I’m just a lucky slob from Ohio.”
109. “I’ve got a stubborn Dutch streak. It’s been the cause of most of my mistakes.”
110. “I think the only religion is a good man in love with a good woman.”
111. “When [GWTW] was being written I was a four-dollar-a-day laborer in Oklahoma and not in anybody’s mind for anything.” (1938)
112. “I’d like enough money for security and not a penny more. Five hundred a month will do. I wouldn’t cross the street to make more, if I had that much. Then I want to travel while I’m still young enough to enjoy it. I want to see all there is in this world to see. I want to go on that big game hunt in Alaska and to Africa on another, where I’ll only have No. 1 lions to wrestle with instead of No. 1 movie stars. I don’t want to wait till I’ve reached the age when I can’t lie down on the ground without getting lumbago. I don’t want to wait till doctors start telling me: ‘Better not fly, old man. Your heart won’t stand it.’ I’m going while I can do all the things I want to do as I want to do ‘em.” (1937)
113. “A man my age has no conception of what is happening now. We are left out of society. These atom bombs–that’s another world–one we don’t understand. I grew up with the automobile. Now it’s as antique as the horse. ” (1960)
114. “I don’t want to stay around long enough to bore people, and I won’t. They have their own way of expressing themselves, and unless an actor deliberately looks the other way, he can see the warning. But, after all, it’s their own money people are spending to go to my pictures, and as long as they still do it, I’ll do my best to entertain them.” (1957)
From February 1936:
Clark Gable returned to town from another “duck hunt”—and there is a reason for those quotes—and is dashing hither and yon in a very handsome new car. Mrs. Rhea Gable gave a very handsome dinner party on a recent evening, and one of the guests was a Mary Taylor. One of Clark’s late rumored romances was with some one of the same name, and that ought to stymie that.
Yeah, probably not.
From September 1934:
There is no accounting for strange accidents. Take what happened to Clark Gable for example. Clark has hunted bears and lions in the most dangerous mountain-lands. He has enacted scores of hazardous stunts for movie cameras. Throughout these experiences, he has never been scathed.
But recently, working on a sequence for his new film, an unexpected noise behind him caused Gable to jerk his head around quickly. The twist sprained the muscles of his neck and shoulder, and the pain of the contracted muscles was so great that Clark was rushed to a hospital.
Carole Lombard Gable died 73 years ago today, at the young age of 33. Her sudden death in a plane crash shocked the nation, stunned Hollywood and devastated her husband.
This article that was published a few months after Carole’s death, appears in the Article Archive, What the Loss of Carole Lombard Means to Clark Gable:
Gable was working on that fateful afternoon of January 16, 1942. He felt wonderful about it. He’d had five months lay-off since the production of “Honky Tonk,” the longest vacation he’d experienced since his first real click in 1931. It was swell to be back and he liked the new picture. It was called “Somewhere I’ll Find You.”
Gable had also, that afternoon, finished up his sixth day of separation from Carole Lombard, the longest time they two had parted since that flashing night in 1936 when they’d met at the white Mayfair call and had fallen hilariously in love. Now it was keen to be getting Carole back again. He had not known, until they went through that Monday-to-Friday stretch, how intensely he could miss her.
He was mighty proud of that vivid wife of his. She had been over in her hometown of Indianapolis, selling defense bonds for what she, typically, called “the best damned land there is.” And had she sold them! She’d hit the town in a blaze of glamour and nicked it for some $2,017,513 worth of patriotism.
Ever since the war began, he and Carole had been restless. Carole was really the family thinker. He was the natural doer and he’d had some lousy moments since the studio had told him that he simply could not enlist. He couldn’t talk about it generally. It looked like publicity stuff to let it be known how wild he was to get into service, so he had told the studio to shut up about it. They had had to do a lot of talking to dissuade him from joining up. Even when they had wished Lowell Mellett, out from Washington, on him and Mellett had said that Gable’s real job was to provide entertainment, to keep up morale by his comedy and his dame appeal, plus paying his gigantic taxes, he’d been only half-persuaded. Now Carole had scooped him on the bond-selling, but she’d also shown him the way he, too, could work for the government.
A publicity man stuck his head in at the Gable dressing room door.
“Ready to go to the airport?” he asked.
“And how!” Gable said. “Drive over with me, will you?”
The publicity man’s name was Larry Barbier and like everyone else at MGM, straight from the lowliest grip to Louis B. Mayer, there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t delight in doing for Gable. So, of course, he went to the airport and, on arriving there, he suggested the star stay in his car until he, Barbier, found out just when the plane was to arrive.
Thus it was that Larry was the first person at MGM to sense the tragedy that had happened against the wild sides of Table Mountain in Nevada.
Not that the airport officials told the truth. They themselves didn’t know it then, but they were evasive about where the plane was, when it was due to come in. Larry knew something was wrong, so, stalling for time, he went outside again to Gable in the car.
“Plane had to make an unexpected stop in Las Vegas,” he said. “Looks like they’ll be at least an hour and half late. Why don’t you go out to the ranch and the moment I get any definite news about its arrival I’ll call you and you can hop right over.”
“Fine,” said Gable. “I’ll go home and work up a few more gags.”
That was already an old family custom with Clark and Carole. Whenever they were separated for even a day, they gave each other presents, strictly goofy ones, strictly for laughs, like the ham she had originally sent him when he was courting her, or the cast-iron, life-sized statue of himself he had sent her. Now he had every nook of the ranch house loaded with such nonsense gifts and he could fairly hear the hoots of robust laughter that she would yip forth at sight of them.
It was an hour later that Larry phoned him and told him to come over to the airport quick. Larry didn’t add that meantime he’d engaged a transport plane to fly to Nevada and that he’d rounded up Eddie Mannix, the vice-president of Metro, and Don McIlwaine, a Metro publicity man who just happened to be dining at the airport and that Howard Strickling, the MGM publicity head and one of Gable’s closest friends, was speeding toward the airport, too.
The most popular man in the movie world got gaily into his car and turned on his radio to a record station to listen to some nice sloppy, sentimental tunes, right in key with his mood. Carole, who didn’t go in for that sentimental slush, who in contrast to his fans and other women he had known didn’t visibly adore him but who called him “Pappy” or “Mr. G”, Carole would kid the pants off him about that. But he didn’t care. He drove up to the airport in a welter of sweet swing. As he drew in smartly to the curb the voice of an announcer cut sharply in. “We interrupt this broadcast to bring you an important news announcement,” the voice said. “The transport plane bearing Carole Lombard and twenty-one others has been found. They are all believed dead.”
It was then that Gable paid one of the prices of fame, the inability to get even the most horrible news quietly and privately. He walked into the crowded airport that was sinisterly quiet. Hundreds of eyes hung on his haggard face, watched his every move. But he was unaware of them. He aged in that instant, aged incredibly, but all he said was, “Where’s the plane? When do we take off?”
Out on the runway, an agitated official was bustling about. Wartime regulations made a thousand new details necessary. “Gable must sign for the plane. Gable must sign for it,” the official kept insisting. Typically, he had never heard of Mannix, the million-dollar executive. Mannix tore the sheet from his hands and scrawled a signature. “This will be good for the price of the ship,” he said. He pushed Gable into the cabin of the plane and got in after him.
The plane taxied down the field, rose swiftly, while on the ground flags began fluttering frantically. Those were for Strickling who had just rushed through the gate, so the ship came down again and picked him up and then soared off again, that planeload of men and one woman, Mrs. Jilda Winkler, the wife of Otto Winkler, who was not only Gable’s press agent but a very dear friend.
It was not until the moment when the men sought to comfort the sobbing Jilda that they realized Gable’s double loss. Otto had been Clark’s pal. He had always been with him in everything. It was Otto who had been with Carole and Clark when they eloped in Kingman, Arizona, in March, 1939. Otto was Clark’s “front man”, his “other brain,” the one person who could most have helped him now.
But Otto was gone, too. He had been with Carole because Clark had sent him along on the Indianapolis trip to take care of her and protect her. Now Clark moved over to Jill and sat close to her, letting her sob her grief out against him. But he said nothing. The MGM crew in the background stayed silent. They knew that characteristic in him. Whenever anything bothers him, he becomes completely mute, and this was the most fearful thing he had ever had to face.
Two hours later they were in Las Vegas. Gable spoke then. “How do we get up to that mountain?”
They tried to dissuade him. They told him how the cactus-studded slopes of Table Mountain, strewn with boulders, sheer ridges and snowdrifts, was an almost impossible climb even for experienced Indian guides and hardened trackers. They told him how one tracker had already come back, the shoes torn from his feet by the rough wilderness. For an hour or so, while they told him there was still some hope, they persuaded him to wait in the Rancho Vegas for news.
Rancho Vegas is one of the gayest hotels on earth, a glittering, gambling casino sprawled in defiant luxury against the sterile desert. It’s like the setting of many a Gable film, of “Honky Tonk” particularly, but now it was chosen because of its nearness to the scene of the tragedy. They managed to hold Gable down there for nearly an hour, but then he revolted. “If those Indians can go on horseback and on foot, I can go on horseback and on foot,” he said and he went out and joined them.
It wasn’t until then that the MGM crowd, who all worshipped him, realized the triple loss Clark has suffered, the loss of the only mother he had ever known, his mother-in-law, Mrs. Elizabeth Peters, who had also been with Carole.
They did not abandon hope even when Friday night was gone and the cold, clear dawn of Saturday fell bright upon the desert. They toiled on through that impossible wilderness and the hours waxed and it was noon and still they climbed up and up and their hope flamed above their heartsick certainty. They went on until they began to see pitiful bits of wreckage of the plane scattered about them and then a merciful official stopped them. Just a little farther on, he said, were the bodies of fifteen brave young pilots who were en route West for war duty, and Otto Winkler, and Mrs. Elizabeth Peters and the ship’s pilots, and the stewardess and the gay young wife of an Army officer who had been speeding to his side, and Carole. You see, being wartime, you either had to be in the service or have an awful lot of drag to get on that plane. Somewhere, ahead, they were all lying, mingled in death, mingled in heroism, but the dearly beloved features that each of them had possessed were lost now to all save memory.
It was only then that Gable could be made to turn back. And then it was that his devoted friends knew the absolute devastation of his loss. For of course, being as devoted to him as they are, they all knew the story that up until now could not be told.
This was that, behind all their laughter, all their glorious love and warm compatibility, behind all their fame and wealth and the trips they had together and the sports they shared, Clark and Carole had one tragedy and one fear. They wanted children and they were denied them and they both worried about Carole’s increasingly frail health.
People told them to adopt a child, but they shook off that suggestion impatiently. They wanted their own. They couldn’t help knowing what a beautiful, amazing pair they were and they wanted their own youngsters to carry on those super-luxurious, super-sharp, super-glamorous characteristics. For this reason Carole went to doctor after doctor, tagged along when Clark had to go to Johns Hopkins for an operation for his shoulder and herself went under observation.
The sadness that many a queen of old experienced hung over the bright spirit of this golden queen of a modern world. With her whole passionate soul, Carole hoped for the maternity she could not know. Perhaps that was why Carole always laughed so much, laughed to hide this deep sorrow of hers. Perhaps it was why, in the last few years, she had sought for deeper meanings in her films, even essayed tragedy in “Vigil in the Night” and “They Knew What They Wanted.” The last couple of years she had taken the most faithful care of her health, but it had not improved. Always precarious, it was made more delicate by the continual recurrence of one of those persistent fevers travelers frequently pick up in Mexico and which Carole had contracted when down there on a hunting trip with Clark.
Motherhood was the only thing she had ever wanted in her thrill-packed thirty-two years that was denied her. She got her way about everything else. She even got about returning to Hollywood by plane.
Otto Winkler tried to talk her out of it, begging her to go by train. She finally tossed a coin with him and Otto lost. Her mother tried to talk her out of it. Otto had offered good sound reasons against flying in winter; her mother had admitted she was merely superstitious. She had good reason to be, for on Monday, the day they had left Hollywood, she and Carole had decided to call upon a fortuneteller they often consulted, just for the fun of it.
The psychic read Mrs. Peters’ hand, then read Carole’s. She shook her head. “Keep out of planes in 1942,” she ordered. “There is danger in them for you.”
On January 15 in Indianapolis, eager to get home, Carole never thought of that remark.
The memory of it, however, haunts Gable. When, finally, Saturday and Sunday he had to accept his heart’s devastation, he shut himself up alone in his hotel bungalow. Spencer Tracy drove out the three hundred miles from Hollywood to try to comfort him. A doctor stood by wanting to prescribe sleeping tablets. The entire MGM group stayed close, wanting desperately to do anything from working miracles merely to getting meals for him. But Gable stayed alone, appearing only once in a long while, on the bungalow porch, striding grimly back and forth. To all the solicitous attentions, he had only one answer. “I don’t want to go back to an empty house in Encino. If I had gone with Carole on this trip all this might have been avoided.”
Even when the broken bodies were finally brought down from the mountain, he could hardly be persuaded to leave. It was not until the following Wednesday at the burial service for his wife and his mother-by-marriage and his dear friend that he finally seemed able to gain some strength and courage to go on with life from the very heroism of Carole’s death.
It was only then that he comprehended the shrine in the world’s memory that she will forever occupy, this laughing tomboy, this Sennett bathing beauty who rose to make the highest salary any girl star ever earned, who married and divorced Bill Powell and then married the most sought-after man on earth, this girl who, through death, became the first heroine of the Second World War. She was all flame and passion and generosity, this Lombard girl, and she died as she had lived, gallantly, heroically, doing her duty by her country.
Meanwhile the Encino house is up for sale. Jessie, the cook whom Carole had had for years, Miss Garceau, the secretary, are devastated. The little gag presents have all been destroyed and even the very horses in their stalls and the hand-groomed cows and the cackling chickens seem to sense that desolation has enveloped them.
Shooting on “Somewhere I’ll Find You” has been suspended indefinitely.
At MGM and in Hollywood you will find those who say there will be no tying Clark down to acting now, that he will insist upon going into direct war service. In Hollywood they are talking about “The Carole Lombard Memorial Bond Drive” and some argue that Gable will go on tour, selling bonds in her name.
But the other half of Hollywood, those who know Clark best, argue that he will do both, war work and his own work, and I, personally, side with them.
Clark has long been very aware of his duty to his public and in this loss he will be doubly conscious of the loss in millions of homes today. He will be conscious that that one plane, which destroyed his heart’s security and rent asunder twenty-one other families, is only one small incident in days that are darkened with the memory of Pearl Harbor, and Manila, and the siege of Singapore and the blood on the snows of Russia.
Clark Gable has in him the power to make people forget these things for a little while. That is his responsibility—and his cure.
He will, I am convinced, go on with it after a little while, go on with his handsome head held high and with Carole’s beautiful, heroic image locked within his heart. And may God bless him and keep him while he walks this lonely road.
From June 1954:
Clark Gable and Virginia Grey have resumed their long, long romance. If there is to be a fifth Mrs. Clark Gable this year, the Grey lass seems to be leading the field.
There was quite a lot of excitement around when Clark Gable sent flowers to Virginia Grey when she was in the hospital as a result of an automobile accident. Virginia was one of his more serious romances, you know. But nothing happened except that Virginia got well, thank heaven, and Mr. G. went back to his Arizona ranch.
This cartoon appeared in Screenland magazine in 1933:
Just as sure as not
You’ll find John on his yacht
Developing seaworthy legs.
And spending his time,
Without reason or rhyme,
With his rarest collection of eggs.
You cannot ignore,
In this group of four,
The personal hobby of Joan.
She considers it play
To model in clay
And even to chisel in stone.
If you can’t analyze
The charm of her eyes
Of the glamorous lure of her tresses–
You, at least, should have known
That Miss Shearer is prone
To designing her very own dresses.
Here is a man’s man,
A cinema-fan’s man,
An actor in sweater and jeans.
When off of the lot
You Can see Clark get hot
‘A-fishing for whales and sardines.
From November 1949:
Paulette [Goddard], of course, has found her true love at last, or so she claims, in Clark Gable and this romance, which started with a gag blind date, has flourished so that Paulette didn’t even want to leave for Mexico for a picture commitment. However, when Clark escorted her to the plane in that maroon Rolls Royce,she was loath to kiss him in front of the photographers.
All she did when she got to the top of the ramp, was turn to Clark and shout, “Be seeing you, Sugar!” and then disappeared into the plane.
I think every year I say that it was a busy year around the website, but this year it really was!
This year marked the 75th anniversary of Gone with the Wind, and around here we celebrated with a GWTW item every Wednesday–
Gone with the Wednesdays:
Notably this year, I hopped on a plane and took a visit to Clark’s home state of Ohio, something I have wanted to do for years!
This year also marked the 75th anniversary of the marriage of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard:
I also devoted the month of October to Carole, which I do annually:
Also noted was the 80th anniversary of It Happened One Night:
New Articles that were added to the site this year:
Movie of the Month:
February, March and April–Nutshell Reviews of every Gable film
August–San Francisco (1936)
September–Lone Star (1952)
October–Manhattan Melodrama (1934)
November–It Started in Naples
New Years Resolutions for the Site:
I was lousy at Movie of the Month this year. (hangs head in shame) I do re-watch the films I choose and re-read my research on them before I post about them so it does take a good amount of time. I vow to do better in 2015!
I have nearly 80 articles in a pile waiting to be typed for the site. Articles are going to be a big focus here this year!
Thanks everyone for your continued support as the site enters its sixth year!
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