clark gable carole lombard

From April 1941:

If Carole Lombard calls you on the phone and tells you that she and Clark Gable would like to have you come up to their San Fernando ranch for dinner, by all means don’t get yourself all gussied up. When the Gables are at home, informality is the law. Clark likes to loaf around in gray slacks without any semblance of a press. Carole, while always smartly dressed, still gets a big kick out of being garbed like a rancher’s wife. 

Don’t tell Clark he is a great actor. He’ll think you’re kidding him. Do suggest seeing his newest car. He’s like a little boy about automobiles and personally loves to demonstrate every gadget on his jalopy.

clark gable robert taylor spencer tracy

From October 1939:

Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and Robert Taylor were discussing the war the other day in the studio cafe. Tracy said: “Well, Taylor, I suppose you’ll be the first to go if if the United States gets into this thing. Too bad. Gable and I are lucky. We’re too old.”

“Yeah, we’re too old,” echoed Gable.

“Yeah,” replied Taylor, ducking, “it took the war to bring that out.”

___

Gable was NOT too old, as it turned out a few years later…

clark gable norma shearer idiots delight

From February 1939:

Norma Shearer has found an acrobat is more popular than a queen, taking the grosses of “Marie Antoinette” and “Idiot’s Delight” into consideration.

Of course, in the latter, the ladies in the audience do nip-ups, too, because Clark Gable is in the cast.

___

I am not sure what “nip-up” is supposed to mean…

clark gable loretta young call of the wild

From January 1935:

Twentieth Century’s “Call of the Wild” went into production at the United Artists studios yesterday with Director William Wellman making something of a record by putting away his first shot at 9:45am. More than 300 but and extra players shared the scene with Clark Gable, Loretta Young, Jack Oakie and Katharine de Mille. The call was 9:00am on the set.

After two more days in the set, which reproduces Tex Rickard’s Skagway saloon during the Alaskan gold rush, the unit goes north January 3 in a Southern Pacific special of eleven cars, producer Darryl F. Zanuck stated.

Ed Ebele, production manager, has has a staff of fifty men on the location at Mount Baker, Washington, for the past 90 days working on set construction, a shooting stage and additional housing accommodations at the high location. Everything is in readiness for the beginning of shooting January 4. The schedule there is four weeks’ shooting.

Sixteen carloads of equipment and paraphernalia, the final consignment to the location, was shopped from Los Angeles today to Belligham from which point it will be trucked 65 miles to the location. Included in the shipment are 100 complete outfits of wearing apparel to clothe every member of the unit against the sub-zero weather.

clark gable

From January 1935:

Oddly enough, Hollywood, the film capital which is not a city, cannot be reached via railroad–except by freight train! Clark Gable and Jim Tully–one a screen idol, the other a noted scenarist and author–selected this unusual path to fame several years ago when they “hit the road” to study geography first hand.

The paths of these two men crossed one day, and they “threw in” with each other, traveling together across the western states, taking odd jobs and gaining an understanding of human nature that was to stand them both in good stead.

Tully has give the world many delightful and colorful stories based on his own first hand experiences in the art of hoboing and Gable’s human characterization on the silver screen have carried him to an envied stardom.

 

clark gable jean harlow

Here is the continuation of yesterday’s article, where Clark Gable wrote what he thought of Jean Harlow. Now it’s Jean’s turn to gush about Clark–and gush she does indeed!

I can’t imagine anyone I’d rather have for a friend than Clark Gable. He embodies all qualities which are necessary for true friendship.

Not more than half a dozen people in Hollywood, I believe, know Clark as he really is. He is so much deeper than people think. He won’t talk about himself—he doesn’t even seem to think much about himself. It’s not that he’s a Garbo. But he is always so interested in finding out about you that he never tells you much about Gable.

But I know him from the standpoint of one who has worked with him on many pictures. I believe that by working with a man you get to know him as well as anyone possibly can. If he stands well in the opinion of his fellow workers, he’ll be the same under any conditions.

We started our screen partnership several years ago in The Secret Six. It was my first picture after Hell’s Angels and it was, I think, Clark’s first important picture. Since then we have played together in Red Dust, Hold Your Man and now in China Seas. The most revealing comment I can make about Clark is that he is, today, the same human, natural, amusing chap he was in the beginning.

He has made a spectacular success. His rise to the top is breath-taking even in Hollywood, where overnight fame comes fairly often. He is probably ever woman’s ideal of a man, as a husband, friend or a lover. But Clark is no more conscious of this than he is conscious of the color of his eyes. Maybe even less so! Fame hasn’t changed him.

For instance, his stand-in now is a man who worked with him on the stage some ten years ago. Clark’s attitude toward this chap is that of a friend and a fellow worker. He doesn’t seem to have a trace of a feeling that would be, after all, quite natural in the circumstances—“I’m the star and you’re the stand-in!”

There’s one exception, one change that has come inevitably with success. When Clark and I made The Secret Six we had no particular incentive because it seemed too wildly improbable that we would become stars. We regarded each bit of success as a lucky “break” and made the most of it. Our attitude was happy-go-lucky. We enjoyed ourselves as we went along.

Now Clark regards his work with an increased seriousness. He takes each part more intensely. The best way of putting it is to say that he has an increased application to his roles.

He is essentially a man’s man. His attitude toward me is that of a pal or a brother. With some men, you are made awfully conscious of being a woman.  You think, “Maybe my nose is shiny,” or “Does my hair look right?” or “What if my lips aren’t on straight?”

With Clark you don’t care if your nose is powdered or not, or whether you have on an old pair of slippers. You feel that he likes you because you’re a human being. You can be at ease with him, comfortable. This may seem a small point but it’s awfully important to me. Or to any woman—I’ve noticed the same reaction in others. I think it’s an important part of Clark’s charm.

He’s a completely natural person. He does all the little things for a woman that other men do—offers me a light for my cigarette, pulls out a chair for me, and so forth. But so many men have rather an air of preening themselves when they’re being gallant. Clark, quite naturally, wants to help you. And his unobtrusive way of offering the small courtesies represents true gallantry. Women must sense this through his screen performances. I believe it’s another explanation of his success.

He is highly considerate. He always seems, for instance, as vitally interested in my problems as his own. Sometimes when we rehearse I have difficulty with a bit of dialogue. A line won’t read in a way that sounds natural to me. Or perhaps it is out of character with the role I’m playing. Nine times out of ten Clark will say, “How would it be if Jean read the line like this?” Then he makes a suggestion that solves the problem.

I have the feeling that he is just as anxious for me to give a good performance as to give one himself. For instance, if we’re doing a scene which is more important to my role than his, he still gives of his best to help me. Even if it’s just a business of “feeding” me a line.

He is amusing, humorous. It is difficult to write of jokes and casual conversations—they always sound a bit flat when repeated. Between scenes we often talk of horses. I’m crazy about riding and of course polo is one of Clark’s min loves.

He is interested in all sorts of things, and all sorts of people. I believe this is another explanation of his charm. He loves talking to all kinds of men, learning their hopes and ambitions, the way they live. Often he goes over to the extras and chats with them. In our present picture China Seas, we have a lot of Oriental extras and Clark enjoys talking to them.

Of course they all think him a “velly nice man!” One of them spent hours whittling away on a bit of wood, making a curiously complicated puzzle which he presented to Clark.

Our sets always have this nice feeling of friendliness between the extras, the bit players, and all the others. It would be difficult to work under any other condition. With everybody Clark is kindly and understanding. And if he can be so considerate toward these people–who really mean nothing to him—how much more would he be toward a friend!

He is dependable, too—another important quality in friendship. I feel that he would be big enough to handle any situation with complete ease.  He never fusses or frets. He looks clearly at a problem and sees the right thing to do. He seldom argues. Quietly, he thinks things out, and then what he says always has real meaning.

He is, of course, an excellent actor. (And I believe it is an important indication of character when a man excels at his trade, whatever it is.) As a working partner, I couldn’t ask for more/ Je gives up so much to each part that I have to keep up with him. He constantly keys me up.

Today, for instance, we did a scene in China Seas in which the suspense is terrific. It was a difficult and dramatic bit. Yet Clark was so vibrantly master of the scene that he gave me something to shoot at.

Personally, he has more stability than many men I have known. You feel this when you talk with him. He seems to know where he stands, and where he is going. He won’t change.

Even more important, he has the ability to follow-through. I admire that tremendously. He has made a success and stuck with it, even though there have been times when it wasn’t easy.

I have seen him, for instance, work twice as hard for a role in which he didn’t quite believe as he would have worked for a role he really liked. He never quits on the job for any reason. He wouldn’t be a fair-weather friend.

There! When your editor suggested that I do this story telling “what I think of Clark Gable,” I warned him that it might sound like a Pollyanna yarn. Perhaps I’ve been too darned complimentary. But anyone who knows me will realize that I couldn’t say such things unless I wholeheartedly meant them. And sincerely I think Clark Gable is the grandest guy in the world.

clark gable jean harlow

This is article appeared in Hollywood magazine in 1935, as publicity for the upcoming China Seas. Clark Gable and Jean Harlow were buddies, and the publicity team at MGM liked to circle that around.  Here on the site we’ve got this article about them on the set of Wife vs. Secretary.  And This one behind the scenes of Hold Your Man is fun too.

The endearing way he talks about Jean is so sweet. So difficult to wrap your head around the fact that she would be dead in two years, at the age of 26.

Here is what Clark had to say about his buddy Jean in 1935 (Jean’s part about Clark coming up tomorrow!):

 

To me, Jean always seems to have rather a man’s attitude toward life. I don’t know just how to explain this, but I always feel it when I’m with her. You can talk to her so naturally. She understands and appreciates the things men are interested in. Of course this appeals to any man.

Instead of the slinky evening gowns and bizarre costumes you might expect her to wear, after seeing her on the screen, she usually goes around in a pair of slacks, or a sports skirt, short socks, and sneakers. She seems utterly unconscious of her beauty.

She adores golf. She is an expert fisherman. She loves riding. And she makes no allowances for herself as a woman in these sports. She plays them on an equal basis with men—and discusses them more intelligently than one woman in a hundred.

She never uses her femininity in conversations—to win arguments, for instance, or to put over a point. So many woman suddenly “go feminine” when they think it will turn the tide their way, but I don’t think Jean even thinks of her sex in such circumstances.

She has, too, a complete sense of fairness. I don’t know anyone, man or woman, who is more of a straight shooter. She is fair in the things she does and the things she says. I have seen her, on one occasion, give a bit player an unusual break. The girl had a short line to speak, and then Jean was supposed to interrupt her. The girl had tried awfully hard, but as the scene was to be played she would be hardly noticed. Jean said, “I was an extra myself once, so I know what this means to her. Couldn’t we change the script a little so my line can be delayed—and I won’t have to walk in front of her?”

I’ve never known Jean to “go temperamental,” and when you consider the number of days we have worked together, this is a real tribute. I have seldom seen her out of spirits. Of course, she’s human, and she has occasional flare-ups. But they last only a short time and are always directed where they belong. Usually she is right.

She’s a swell sport. For instance, if I have to “sock” her in a picture—and believe me, it is done with the utmost reluctance!—she never asks me to take it easy. She doesn’t expect me to. When I “dunked” her in the barrel of water in Red Dust, she didn’t seem to mind at all. I’m always a bit embarrassed about such scenes, and her attitude helps. It’s just part of the business to her, and she goes through the retakes, if they’re necessary, like a trouper.

Again, during the making of China Seas, she had a bad cold, and right in the middle of it we had another scene where she had to be soaked. She didn’t complain once, though I’m sure it was anything but pleasant for her. And if she didn’t have such radiant health, it would take her weeks to break up the resulting cold.

One of the characteristics I have in mind when I say she has a man’s attitude is her amazing sincerity. She is always perfectly frank. There is no halfway about her, she treats everyone the same way—director, producer, or fellow actor. When we were making The Secret Six, Wallace Beery once criticized her for some minor detail of her performance. Without hesitation she flared right back at him. Remember, at the time, her position wasn’t nearly so important as his. But he admired her frankness—I believe their friendship dates from that day.

She never keeps things pent up inside herself. She doesn’t nourish a grudge. If she has anything to say, she brings it out into the open, and then forgets about it. I like that.

Looking back on our first picture together, the talks we had will always stand out in my mind. After her success in Hell’s Angels, she was a step ahead of me on the way to success, yet she never made me feel that it was her picture any more than mine.

Neither of us knew much about the business, and we tried to figure things out together so the rest wouldn’t realize how awfully green we really were. I remember Jean would ask me at the end of every scene—“How’m I doing?”

And I asked her the same.

We criticized each other, trying desperately to learn. Nobody else seemed to pay much attention to us. We were not among the chosen few who saw the daily rushes. Every good word Jean heard about me, she would rush to repeat to me. And things that weren’t so good, too, because she knew that is one way of progressing.

We used to plan, jokingly, what we wanted if we ever did get to the top. Jean never particularly wanted fame. The lights and the crowds and the glamour of being a star never seemed to mean much to her, even before she had them. She wanted, sincerely, the happiness of knowing she had done a job well.

If you talked to her directors and other fellow stars, I think you’ll find that she feels the same way today.

She was, I remember, terribly afraid of being typed in “vamp” roles. She was afraid that her part in Hell’s Angels would mark her forever in the eyes of the fans. Red Dust wasn’t much better. But she didn’t complain.

She is, in my opinion, one of Hollywood’s best comediennes, and I feel that she is right in wanting to do more comedy. Certainly few stars in Hollywood could have equaled her wonderful performance in Bombshell. I hope she is given the chance to do more pictures like that.

She is a thoughtful person, considerate of those around her. Every morning she has coffee and doughnuts on the set. Instead of ordering one cup of coffee and a couple of doughnuts sent to her dressing room, she orders a huge pot of coffee and a couple of dozen doughnuts for the entire company.

Because of little things like this, every extra I’ve ever talked with adores her. Sometimes they are critical of other stars, who may be, in their eyes, ritzy or up-stage. But Jean stands ace high with all of them.

Having grown out of the extra ranks herself, she has not forgotten her friends and acquaintances among them. Out of every crowd, on our pictures, she will find a familiar face or two. It’s always—“Hello, Eddie!—“Hi, there, Janet!”

She has boundless enthusiasm—a quality so many people outgrow. In many ways she is like a kid in her pleasure over little things. Just the other day a property boy who had worked with her on Bombshell brought her a live rabbit. She couldn’t have been more pleased if it had been an expensive gift.

Because they like her, everyone who works with her tries to make things easier for her—even though she isn’t a demanding person, and prefers to do things for herself. She has told me of making the dance scene in Reckless. She had never danced for the camera and was terribly nervous. She had to do her stuff in front of a hundred or so but players—all of them chosen for their expert dancing. If they had so much as whispered a word of criticism, she told me, she wouldn’t have been able to go through with it. Instead they applauded her, and kept crying out, “That’s the stuff, Jean! You’ve got it now!”

And their enthusiasm meant so much to her that by the third “take” she was dancing like a professional!

It has always been a bond between us that we started at about the same time, and our progress has been more or less parallel. Neither of us can remember “way back to the silent days.” We went to the same class in the same school, in other words, and we’ve been promoted in the same pictures. Of course, in between, we each went separate ways, she with other leading men and I with other leading ladies. After a picture, we make no effort to keep up our friendship. But when we see each other again, we seem to pick up where we left off, regardless of what has happened to us in the meantime. It’s marvelous and rare to have a friend like that. Most friendships are lost unless they are kept alive.

Probably this outburst puts me in the class of her fans. I am. And I think you’ll find that everyone who really knows Jean feels just the same way.

clark gable father

From 1948:

Very little has been written about Clark Gable’s devotion to his father. Seldom, if ever, did they pose for pictures together. And all for good reason. Clark’s dad was proud of his son, but wanted no part of the spotlight. He lived close to the Gable ranch with Clark’s adored stepmother. She died recently and while Clark was in Europe, his father followed her. Clark hurried home for the funeral. There were no crowds, no clicking cameras. That was the way Dad Gable would have wanted it. During all his years in Hollywood, unless he was out of town, Clark never missed Sunday night dinner with his family. Thus continues the Gable legend.

___

What fluff. He and his father were not really that close and bumped heads often. He took care of his father, but they weren’t best buddies. And I sincerely doubt he had dinner with his father every Sunday!

I have always wondered why Clark’s father was cremated and is in a mausoleum at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. In 1948, Carole had already died and Clark had purchased the plot next to her for himself, at Forest Lawn in Glendale. So why was his dad put in Hollywood Forever? Hmm.

clark gable

From April 1935:

Clark Gable had his troubles when he boarded a plane at Dallas, Texas, en route for Hollywood, for a mob of his admirers, mostly women, burst through the police lines and surrounded the machine. Finally the pilot was able to get sufficient space to take off.

The women certainly were frantic to see Gable. 

clark gable boatFrom October 1936:

Clark Gable is in the market for a yacht, with a globe-circling cruise in mind. Hollywood rumor has it that he will purchase John Barrymore’s “Infanta”, said to be up for sale. 

From a reliable source, I hear that Gable’s proposed trip will be for business, as well as pleasure, and that he will be accompanied by W.S. Van Dyke, adventuring director who filed “Trader Horn” and other notable films.