clark gable carole lombard

From October 1936:

Carole Lombard has found a “topper” for the wreck of a car she sent Clark Gable as a Valentine gift. It is an antiquated fire engine. 

When the star learned the fire engine was for sale she hurried out and took an option on it. What Gable will do with the engine is a question.

Gable turned the tables on Carole when she gave him the car, for he transformed the broken-down roadster into a snappy racing car. Carole feels that her latest gift will have him “stumped”!

clark gable paulette goddard

From January 1950, Hedda Hopper:

A legal barrier is Clark Gable’s greatest protection against a married man’s date. Paulette Goddard is still married to Burgess Meredith–otherwise, I think that clever gal would have been the King’s queen by now. I never sell Paulette short in getting whatever she wants, and it certainly looks as if she wants Clarkie. I’m keeping my fingers crossed there for a long time to come, because I think Clark secretly longs to be wed again and he’s going to fall pretty hard when he does at last.


Funny that by the time this issue hit newsstands Clark WAS married….to Sylvia Ashley! Sorry Hedda…

clark gable the misfits

Clark Gable died 55 years ago today, at the age of 59. A heart attack struck him just days after finishing his final film, The Misfits, and a second one stilled his heart ten days after that.

You can read more about his death and funeral here.

See where he is buried here.

The Misfits hit movie screens on February 1, 1961, on what would have been Clark’s 60th birthday. Clark had seen a rough cut and had declared it the best thing he’d ever done. Director John Huston and co-star Marilyn Monroe were both interviewed by the press around this time, and shared their memories of the late great Clark Gable.

clark gable arthur miller john huston the misfits

John Huston, Arthur Miller and Clark Gable on the set of The Misfits

Director John Huston Pays Warm Tribute to Clark Gable

by Bob Thomas

Associated Press, January 17, 1961

Hollywood–John Huston had just put the finishing touches on his two-hour tribute to Clark Gable.

The director had viewed the final version of “The Misfits” and made a few minor changes. Then it was sent to the labs to rush prints for a mass release next month. His work finally behind him, he relaxed over marinated herring and a beer and talked about what turned out to be the most publicized film in recent years.

“I think Clark is great in it,” said Huston, a man with a long, weathered face and a gray skull cap of hair. “He liked the part. He thought it was the best he had had in 20 years.

“Our first desire was to get the picture out in time for the Academy Awards because I felt sure he’d be nominated. It would have been nice to have it happen while his memory was still fresh. but the picture would have suffered if we had hurried that much. So next year he can be nominated.

“Marilyn Monroe is excellent in it, and Monty Clift is fantastic. Yes, I am very happy with the picture.”

Would he work again with Marilyn?

“I don’t think there’s much I can add to the vast literature about Marilyn,” he said evasively. “I can’t cure the world’s ignorance on this matter. When people talk about her, they are generally talking about themselves. They don’t really know her.”

About Gable, Huston said: “I had known Clark for a number of years but never very well. I had the impression of him as having a kind of implacability, even a lethargy. I discovered in working with him that this was only a facade.

“Underneath he was very earnest, even eager to please. Whenever he had a call, he was always on the set a half-hour early, always ready with his lines. Only once did he ever blow up.

“That was due to a misunderstanding about whether he was called for a rehearsal. His wife had to fly from Reno to Los Angeles to see the baby doctor, and he wanted to go with her; he was more excited about having a baby than anything in the world. She went alone, and he found out he wasn’t needed on the set after all. He blew sky high.

“The rest of the time, everything went smoothly. We started at 10:30 in the morning because of Marilyn and he was always there at 10. He worked until 6 but would have stayed later if we needed him. He was in his best shape in years and seemed extremely happy in marriage.”

Clark was not nominated for The Misfits, as it turned out. The film didn’t receive any nominations at all;  I think if Clark and Marilyn had both lived longer, it would not have the iconic position it does. It’s really just an okay movie if you take the cloud of death hanging over it away. Clark is excellent in it though and the Academy should have thrown a posthumous nomination his way; they have definitely wasted nominations on less worthy performances many times before and since.

Next, Marilyn Monroe:

clark gable marilyn monroe


Marilyn Monroe Tells: “I Remember Clark Gable”

By Victor Sebastian

Family Weekly, February 26, 1961

Thousands have asked her about the “King,” but she has remained silent; now she tells Family Weekly readers about the man who was her “only hero” as a lonely child—and as a famous actor.

It has been hard for Marilyn Monroe to bring herself to talk about Clark Gable. Since that shattering 4am phone call from a reporter who awakened her to announce Gable’s death, she has resisted press efforts to discuss what are very poignant memories to her.

She made one stunned, horrified statement at the time of the tragedy about what a wonderful man he had been—what a rich and rewarding experience it had been to work with him. But that was all.

Now she has been persuaded that there are many people who, not fortunate enough to have known him personally, feel deeply about him and were grieved at his passing. So she agreed that, if her own memories have such meaning to people, she would talk about him.

This what she recalls most vividly about Hollywood’s beloved “King”:

“There was never any impatience or annoyance in Clark. There was only concern—real concern for me. I remember the flowers Kay (Gable) and Clark sent to me when I was in the hospital—a huge bouquet, very elaborate. I remember there were pink doves—many of them. And such a sweet, warm note.

“I’ll remember these things. And I’ll remember his cheerfulness arriving at work early in the morning when nobody is cheerful. And his jokes—he always had a joke for me. I looked forward to them.

“He appreciated women. I think that was one of the strongest elements of his attraction to them. Nobody was more of a man’s man than he was—but he appreciated women.

“Most of all, he was a man. I don’t mean just that he was virile, exciting, vibrant—he was all of those things. But he had sensitivity, too, and tenderness, and he wasn’t afraid of those qualities.”

As Marilyn Monroe talked about Clark Gable, it was obvious that this wasn’t just an actress talking about an actor who had played opposite her in a movie; Clark Gable meant much more than that to Marilyn Monroe. Actually, he never fully realized what it meant to his blonde costar to be playing opposite him in “The Misfits.”

“I always thought some day when Clark and Kay were sitting together—some relaxed time—I’d be able to tell him. I don’t know how he would have reacted if he had known how important he had been to me all those years. I think he would have understood. That was a wonderful thing about Clark. He understood me. I don’t know why. He cared about everything. I think he knew that I cared, too.”

Clark gable came into the life of Marilyn Monroe when she was seven years old.

“I was fascinated by Jean Harlow. I had white hair—I was a real towhead—and she was the first grown-up lady I had ever seen who had white hair like mine. I cut her picture out of a magazine, and on the back of it was the picture of a man, I pasted his picture in a scrapbook—just his picture. There was nothing else in the book. It was Clark Gable.”

Marilyn was a very lonesome little girl, and she was imaginative and idealistic, too. A child like this, with no father of her own, is apt to substitute a “father image”—a sympathetic teacher, a kind neighbor, someone who seems to possess the qualities of the idealized father she never had.

With Marilyn, this ideal was in the man grinning with such careless dash from the pages of that magazine. And then he was a shadow on the screen. In Clark Gable, the little girl saw all the strength, masculinity, and charm of any child’s ideal parent.

Screen shadow he may have been, but Clark Gable was much more real to this little girl than just a movie fan’s “crush”—and he continued to be as real to her through the movie years to come. “Mutiny on the Bounty” was the first. Later there was “Gone with the Wind.” Marilyn saw that epic over and over.

After Marilyn Monroe had become a star herself, she once told a reporter about Gable’s influence on her childhood years, but she had no idea whether Clark ever read the story. Even then, she had not met him. While she was making movies at 20th Century Fox, he was at MGM. Neither moved in Hollywood’s party circles.

“Once he signed a deal with 20th Century Fox for a couple of pictures,” Marilyn recalls. “I went to Darryl Zanuck and asked him couldn’t I please be assigned to a Gable picture. But nothing came of it.”

At Last They Meet

The time finally came when Marilyn met Clark Gable face to face. It was at a party given at Romanoff’s restaurant in honor of the opening of her movie, “The Seven Year Itch.” Marilyn was with a group of people when somebody tapped her on the shoulder and the unmistakable voice asked, “Miss Monroe, may I have this dance?”

Marilyn wheeled. Gable stood there grinning—not Rhett Butler or Fletcher Christian now, but Clark Gable himself.

“I nearly collapsed. I’m sure I must have turned the color of my red chiffon dress. I don’t remember what I said or if I said anything. But I remember thinking, wouldn’t he be surprised to know how I really feel about him?”

They danced. It was a very casual meeting. There were no others until last year when, in discussing “The Misfits,” which was being written by Arthur Miller and in which Marilyn was to star, it became obvious that the leading male character was developing in such a way that it could be played by only one star—Clark Gable.

Even after Gable had read the script, conveyed his excitement and enthusiasm about it to Miller and director John Huston, and agreed to play the role, he and Marilyn didn’t actually meet until they arrived in Reno, Nev. to begin the picture.

Then he came over to her. “I don’t know why this hasn’t happened before—our playing together. It’s really overdue.” He laughed as Marilyn told him about her meeting with Zanuck when she begged to be cast in a Clark Gable picture. “We’ll make up for it this time,” he promised her.

He Was All ‘King’

“He was everything I had expected him to be. They called him the ‘King,’ you know, and he was like that—he had a quality that commanded respect and admiration. I never saw anyone who had such an effect on everyone with whom he worked. The crew loved Clark. And he had that magnificent masculinity. But my biggest surprise was when we started our work together. That’s when I realized what a real actor he was. That’s when I became aware of his tremendous sensitivity. But, of course, that was what attracted me in the first place.

“Kay Gable and I became very close. She used to come out to the set and call to me, ‘Hey, how did Our Man do today?’

“I’d laugh, ‘Our Man? I must say you are generous, Kay.’ And it was a joke between us always. ‘Our Man!’

“There are so many things I’ll never forget about Clark Gable. Little things, incidents, moments. His unfailing politeness. He was one of the greatest gentlemen I have known. He had concern for everyone.

“I had gone direct to ‘The Misfits’ from another picture. I was exhausted. I fought illness most of the time I was working on the picture. I had to go into the hospital for a couple of days. ‘Rest yourself,’ he’d say. ‘Do like I do—take it easy.’

“He had a great interest and feeling for other actors. We talked about them. About Marlon Brando, for instance. I’ve always felt Brando had a Gable quality in his maleness, yet had complete individuality, too. Clark believed, too, that Brando was the finest young actor of our day.

“Clark saw a rough cut of ‘The Misfits’ on the next-to-last day of shooting. He was so happy and thrilled. I hadn’t been able to go, and he was so excited as he told me how well it had turned out. He told me that he thought it was the best thing I had ever done and that it was the best thing he had done since Rhett Butler.”

Marilyn Monroe remembers one more thing. It was the last day of shooting. Gable, whose last role was one of his most strenuous, had done something which Marilyn considered “valiant.”

She walked over to me. “Do you know something?” she said. “You’re my hero. And I never had a hero before.”

Remembering Clark Gable today, February 1, 1901-November 16, 1960.


One of the few pictures of Fieldsie and Clark together!

From 1948:

“I’m terribly sorry I won’t be able to be there for your birthday.” It was Clark Gable calling Mrs. Walter “Fieldsie” Lang from New York where he had gone to see “Command Decision.” (His next MGM movie). Eighteen hours later Clark walked in on the Langs–wearing a huge grin and carrying a magnum of champagne. “Fieldsie” Lang was Carole Lombard’s closest friend and secretary. Wild horses couldn’t have kept Clark away on that day. 

clark gable carole lombard
From November 1939:
Lately I’ve seen both Clark Gable and Carole Lombard at lunch at Ruby Foo’s (this is the old Vendome) with decorator Tom Douglas and a few days later with Bill Haines at the Victor Hugo. They are deep in the business of buying advice and decorations for their ranch home. I can’t quite see streamlined, brittle Lombard on a ranch, even a very exceptional one. But they seem happy as larks.

TCM has paired with Bonhams again for another classic-film themed auction, this time called “Treasures from the Dream Factory.”  Everything is up for grabs on November 23.

There are a few Clark Gable items; some of them I know I have seen sold at auction before, either on Ebay or in the 1996 Estate Auction.

Clark’s personal bound screenplay for “The Hucksters.” (est. $3,000-$5,000)

clark gable the hucksters script

Clark Gable bound screenplay of The Hucksters
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1947. Mimeographed manuscript, screenplay by Luther Davis, 135 pp, November 15, 1946 (with revision pages as late as April 2, 1947), housed in yellow Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer wrappers, with Script Department label to upper front cover, stamped “Complete,” with Script Department checkout notes to verso of cover, bound in calfskin with the film’s title gilt to upper cover and spine, “Clark Gable” to lower right, with eight 8 x 10 in. stills laid down to insert pages, and two loose vintage magazine clippings related to the film. In The Hucksters, Gable stars as an advertising man readjusting to post-War American life and fighting to keep his integrity. It costars Deborah Kerr, Ava Gardner, and Sydney Greenstreet.
A Clark Gable-worn collar from Gone with the Wind (est. $2,500-$3,500)
image (3)
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1939. A stiff white cotton collar with a label from tailor J.T. Beach, Los Angeles, inscribed in black ink, “Gable 20-108 M-124.” Together with two black and white stills of Gable and Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind.
Group of Three Clark Gable Membership Cards (est. $2,000-$3,000)
Comprising an American Federation of Television and Radio Artists membership card, paid to May 1, 1960; a Screen Actors Guild membership card, dated November 13, 1959; and an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences membership card for 1960, all displayed in acrylic cases. Gable died on November 16, 1960, so these were likely his last membership cards from these entertainment industry institutions.
Clark Gable-Gifted miniature Pen Knife/Corkscrew (est. $2,000-$3,000)
Gilt metal, engraved on one side, “R.L.,” and on the other side, “Xmas 58 / The Gables.” Accompanied by a photograph of Clark Gable.
Length: 2 in.
Wonder who “R.L” was?
Al Hirschfeld Drawing of Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind (est. $3,000-$4,000)
clark gable gone with the wind auction
Ink on paper, signed (“Hirschfeld”) at lower right corner, matted and framed. Depicting Gable as Rhett Butler, with cigar in hand.
Overall: 26 3/4 x 29 1/2 in.; within mat: 16 1/2 x 19 1/4 in.
Clark Gable’s Last Agent Contract (est. $900-$1,200)
 clark gable signature
Document signed (“Clark Gable”), MCA Artists, Ltd., 1 p, March 7, 1958, also signed by agent George Chasin, and additionally initialed by Gable and Chasin. Together with a portrait photograph and a program on an AMPAS exhibit of Engstead’s photographs picturing Gable. This is Gable’s final three-year renewal contract with MCA agent George Chasin, whom Gable credited with making his film career more financially successful than ever before.
Document: 10 1/2 x 17 in.
Clark Gable Signed Legal Document Concerning Carole Lombard
(est. $900-$1,200)
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Document Signed (“Clark Gable”) on verso of creditor’s claim of the Superior Court of Los Angeles, partially printed and accomplished in manuscript, 1 p, February 26, 1942. Together with a small vintage photograph of Gable mounted on construction paper, and a later reprint photograph of Gable and Lombard.
Actress Carole Lombard, Clark Gable’s beloved wife, died in a plane crash on January 16, 1942; it was a devastating blow for Gable. This claim was presented to Gable, acting as executor of Lombard’s estate, by florist Delmar Mote for a bill of $420.76.
judy garland wizard of oz
There are many interesting items for classic film fans: one of the infamous blue dresses worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz (estimated to fetch $800,00-$1.2 million!), George Cukor’s shooting script for A Star is Born, Marilyn Monroe’s suit from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Lana Turner’s nightgown from Honky Tonk, Rex Harrison’s coat from Doctor Dolittle, Sophia Loren’s wedding dress from Houseboat,  Frank Capra’s Golden Globe for It’s a Wonderful Life, Norma Shearer’s personally owned script of Romeo and Juliet signed by the entire cast, a signed photograph of Rudolph Valentino, a golden ticket from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie Chaplin’s working script for Limelight, original World War I photographs of Walt Disney, lots of original Disney drawings and celluloids, and three gorgeous never-before-seen original pictures of Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind. If you know a Natalie Wood fan, let them know as it contains many of her personal items: Her Golden Globes, high school diploma, Certificate of Nomination for an Academy Award, bound screenplays, passports, jewelry, and personal photographs and correspondence. There is much, much more!
vivien leigh gone with the wind
If you have deeper pockets than me, head on over to Bonhams on November 23, starting at 10:00am!

clark gable carole lombard

On January 16, 1942, a grim Clark Gable boarded a plane to Las Vegas to find out the fate of his beloved wife Carole Lombard, her mother Elizabeth Peters and his friend Otto Winkler after hearing that their plane had gone down at Mount Potosi.

Seeing the fire on the mountain at his arrival, he knew the news wasn’t good but still he wanted to go with the rescue team. He was persuaded not to, and considering the charred bodies that were found, it was certainly not a sight he would have wanted to see.

El Rancho Las Vegas

El Rancho Las Vegas


After some time spent at the nearby Pioneer Saloon,  Clark was taken to the El Rancho Vegas Hotel to await news on his wife, his mother-in-law and his friend, staying in a private bungalow under guard from the press and curious fans. The news he received: “No survivors. All killed instantly.”

An emotionally shattered Clark insisted on remaining at the El Rancho until all three bodies were taken down the mountain; he wanted to accompany them on the train back to Los Angeles. His time in his bungalow was spent pacing, chain smoking, not eating, not sleeping and barely speaking.

From this article:

One of the friends who’d accompanied Clark met Eddie [Mannix, MGM publicity):
“He hasn’t eaten since we got here. Go see if you can get him to eat.”

“If you can’t, I can’t–”

“Maybe a new face–”

He went in. “Hello, Clark.”

Gable lifted his ravaged face. “Hello.”
His eyes returned to the window. But the sight of Ed seemed to have dragged him back to the incredibly beautiful time when there had been a Carole in the world–back and then forward. He looked up again. ‘We didn’t meet the plane, did we, Ed?”

Ed’s heart turned to water. “No, Clark,” He said quietly, “we didn’t meet the plane.”

Then, a little later, “Want something to eat?”

“Mind if I eat something?”

He ordered a hamburger sent to him there. Maybe it was a lousy idea, but what could he lose? It worked. “Think you could get me some stewed fruit?” asked Clark. Ed was out of there like a bat out of hell. He wasn’t leaving this to the telephone. With the fruit, he brought back a bottle of milk. Clark finished the bottle, by which time Ed had stealthily introduced another. Clark finished that, too. No general ever got more satisfaction from a well-planned maneuver than strategist Ed.

Clark kept himself going till everything was done that had to be done. Otto was buried the day after Carole and her mother. He insisted on going. He went with Jill. Then he relapsed into what seemed a kind of stupor. They couldn’t get him to love; they could hardly get him to speak. He just sat.

Gable’s been rated a tough guy, who could take what blows fate handed out and come back for more. Those who wondered over his collapse are those who confused toughness with lack of deep feeling. Sure, Gable’s tough, none of which precludes the softer emotions. Tenderness is none the less tender when wrapped in a gag. One day there had been Carole, warm, alive, the dear companion of today and all the years to come. Next day there was Carole, a searing pain. She’d woven herself into every fiber of his being. Torn out, he was left bleeding. She’d been the heart of his world. When it stopped beating, the world crumbled. He was in no stupor. He’d crawled into the hole of himself, because every outside contact flayed his raw grief.

I’ve said before that I have a lot or random Gable related stuff. Well, one of those random items is an original picture of the bungalow Clark stayed in at El Rancho, taken right after he left. You can see, they have typed on the photo as well as written on the back. This was taken by an employee of the hotel, who sent it to her sister, apparently a Clark Gable fan.

clark gable el rancho las vegas


When Clark left El Rancho to head back to Los Angeles with three bodies, he was never the same.

The hotel largely burned to the ground in 1960, and then the remnants were bulldozed in 1978, so this is a rare glance of where Clark was during the worst days of his life.

Clark leaving El Rancho Las Vegas

Clark leaving El Rancho Las Vegas

We interrupt Carole Lombard Month to bring you this post, which is part of the Classic Movie Blog Association’s Planes, Trains and Automobiles Blogathon.

clark gable myrna loy spencer tracy test pilot clark gable spencer tracy myrna loy test pilot

I’ve selected Test Pilot to talk about because, in my humble opinion, it should be the third Clark Gable movie you ever see if the first two are Gone with the Wind and It Happened One Night. Here are the reasons why:

1. It is truly a textbook example of a Clark Gable film. It’s got it all: adventure, romance, comedy, snappy dialogue and some intense drama. Clark is Jim Lane, a boozing, womanizing army test pilot who walks to the beat of his own drummer. On one trip, his plane starts leaking  gas and he lands on the field of a Kansas farm, where Ann Barton (Myrna Loy) lives with her parents. Their sparring turns to mutual attraction soon after and by the time Jim’s best friend and mechanic, Gunner Morris (Spencer Tracy) arrives to help fix the plane, they are in love. When Jim brings the plane home to New York, he has Ann in tow, as his new wife. Jim has a lot of adjustments to do to get used to being a married man and Gunner is jealous as it has always just been the two of them and now he is the third wheel.

Although Ann was at first thrilled at her husband’s exciting profession, she learns quickly how dangerous it is. She hides her true feelings from Jim and puts on a happy face with each new mission he takes on. Gunner, who has grown to admire Ann, grows more and more bitter as he watches Ann suffer behind Jim’s back.


2. It is directed by Victor Fleming, Clark’s longtime pal and a man who had previously directed Clark to greatness in Red Dust and The White Sister. He would later also direct him in Gone with the Wind and Adventure.

clark gable spencer tracy

3. It co-stars the great Spencer Tracy. Tracy plays Clark’s best friend and mechanic, Gunner. They had previously been paired in San Francisco. They admired each other but ultimately had a sort of “frenemy” relationship–Clark was often jealous of Spencer’s serious acting ability (this stemming from Spencer being nominated for San Francisco and Clark being ignored). Spencer was envious of Clark’s great popularity. Their last pairing was Boom Town in 1940.

clark gable myrna loy test pilot clark gable myrna loy test pilot

4. Clark’s love interest is the divine Myrna Loy; this was the sixth of their seven films together. Clark’s pairings with Joan Crawford and Jean Harlow get more attention, but him and Myrna had this great, easy chemistry. They were never romantically involved–she claimed their relationship resembled more of a brother-sister camaraderie–but their chemistry was always evident.


Test Pilot 5

Test Pilot 2

5. The supporting cast is no slouch, either. We have Lionel Barrymore as Clark’s grumpy boss, and Marjorie Main as his huffy landlady. Plus Clark’s future off-screen girlfriend Virginia Grey has a small part at the beginning of one of his character’s many girlfriends.

clark  gable myrna loy test pilot

6. It was one of Myrna’s personal favorites of all her films. “It really stands as an example of what big-studio film making could be: the writing, the directing, the photography, the technical expertise, the casting of that impeccable stock company.

clark gable test pilot

7. Clark’s technical advisor on the film was  Paul Mantz, who was a onetime copilot and navigator for Amelia Earhart. Clark was fascinated with Mantz’s work. Later, Clark took some flying lessons to pursue a pilot’s license, but never completed them–due to Carole Lombard’s death in a plane crash.

clark gable test pilot clark gable test pilot

8. The script is great. Some of Clark’s truly “Gable-esque” quotes include:

“Say, I’m just in the mood for a bull, sister. You go get him; I’m liable to pick him up and throw him right back in your lap!”

“Do all the girls around here look like you this early in the morning? Every girl I’ve ever seen this early…”

“She’s crazy, I broke all the records too! I entered high school a sophomore and came out a freshman!”

Test Pilot 7

9. Clark is handed one of his best emotional scenes and he hits it out of the park. After [SPOILER] another pilot dies, Clark gets drunk and laments, “The sky looks sweet and wears a pretty blue dress, doesn’t she? Yeah well don’t kid yourself. She lives up there, she invites you up there and when she gets you up there, she knocks you down!” Myrna Loy remembered, ” In Test Pilot, [Clark] had a moment when he talked about the girl in the blue dress–the sky. That scene terrified him, scared him to death. He got so upset when we shot it I had to keep reassuring, comforting him. Not that he couldn’t do the scene–he did it beautifully–but he was afraid it would make him appear too soft. He had this macho thing strapped on him and he couldn’t get out of it.”

Test Pilot 12 Test Pilot 12

10. Myrna is also given a great dramatic scene, near the end of the film. Tired of constantly worrying about him when he’s in the air, she cries and yells at Clark, “Why won’t you just die already and leave me alone?” I’ve heard people say before Myrna had no dramatic chops and I wouldn’t agree!

Test Pilot 3

12. The scenes of Clark and Myrna’s day out together are adorable–they go to the movies and a ballgame–and how I’d like to imagine they would have hung out in real life!

clark gable myrna loy test pilot

13. It’s one of the few times that you get to see Clark in the role of a father–albeit briefly. To be the onscreen spawn of Clark and Myrna! Lucky kid!

clark gable spencer tracy myrna loy test pilot

14. It is one of only four Clark Gable films that were nominated for Best Picture. It was also nominated for Best Film Editing and Best Writing, Original Story but walked away empty handed.


15. It was filmed right when Clark was at his prime–in love with Carole Lombard and happy, the film started a swing of hits for Clark at the end of the 1930’s. He followed it up with Too Hot to Handle, Idiot’s Delight and Gone with the Wind.

myrna loy clark gable test pilot

Clark and Myrna on the set

Clark Gable makes a great addition to this blogathon. For Planes, Hell Divers and Night Flight would qualify as well, for Automobiles To Please a Lady all the way (or you could pick It Happened One Night because of the bus scenes), and there are great Train scenes in No Man of Her Own, Saratoga, Idiot’s Delight and Honky Tonk.

You can read more about Test Pilot here, my formal review here and my nutshell review here.

You can read the rest of the blogathon’s entries here.


joan crawford clark gable

From 1946:

Joan Crawford, who never gives big parties, really went the works on a welcome to Hollywood for Viveca Lindfors, the new Swedish importation. There was a dance floor, orchestra, bar and complete buffet service, all under a huge cellophane tent in Joan’s yard. Every guest showed up but Bette Davis and Clark Gable. Believe it or not, Bette got smacked in the head with a moving camera and went to Laguna Beach to recuperate. Clark didn’t get back in time from a fishing trip. Cutest couple present was Ann Blyth and John Compton, the “daughter” and “son-in-law” of “Mildred Pierce.”


Anyone else not surprised Bette Davis didn’t attend?

gable and lombard 1976

Part Two of me watching Gable and Lombard (1976) again and reporting back on how terrible it is. Here’s Part One.

(I am quoting a movie that is Rated R so please pardon the language)

Having decided to make a go of their relationship and to keep it under wraps, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard are now disguising themselves as Western Union delivery boys and cab drivers to sneak off together. Aren’t those Clark’s pre-denture teeth?

gable and lombard 1976 gable and lombard 1976 gable and lombard 1976

He calls her “Ma” here for the first time, but she still shrieks “Gable” all the time.

In reality Clark and Carole were seen everywhere–premieres, auto races, horse races, restaurants, parties–everywhere. They received lots of press and fans were thrilled. I suppose  that wasn’t enough drama though; in the film she laments that they can’t even go to a movie together and eat popcorn like a real couple.

So they make the big tragedy of this film the fact that they have to hide their romance, when in reality that was never the case. There was frustration that they couldn’t get married because of Ria, but there was not a big secret romance.

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Now they’re out on a fishing trip. She’s in a big hat and sitting with a cigarette at first but eventually out-fishes him.

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I appreciate they included the wood-paneled station wagon.

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Their rendezvous is broken up when reporters find out Clark’s up there and so she has to go back to town before they’re discovered.

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Suddenly we’re in late 1938/1939 (I guess?) with Hedda Hopper, Clark and Carole pretending they don’t know really know each other.

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Like her hair and dress. That is all.

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Of course by now they were America’s favorite couple, photographed everywhere. Nobody cared anymore that Clark was still legally married.But instead of trumping up the glamour and the cuteness of their courtship, we have Clark on a fake date with Vivien Leigh [NEVER HAPPENED], with Carole looking on from a distance in dismay.

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And then Clark is filming Gone with the Wind, with Carole visiting the set dressed up like a Confederate soldier, whiskers and all, to check up on him.  He accuses her of being jealous of “my love scene with that British dame.”

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He undresses her as she mocks him as “Mr. Butler” and even says “Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn.”  She leaves half-dressed, in part of her silly costume. Nobody’s going to notice her walking out of Clark Gable’s dressing room like that?

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Next, Carole is in the bathtub at Paramount. This time Clark’s spying on her because he’s jealous she’ll be in a bathtub with another man.What movie is this supposed to be? In what 1930’s movie do men get in bathtubs with women?gable and lombard 1976

Clark spies on her,  watching her shriek and go on and on like a banshee in the tub, in one of the worst cases of over-acting I’ve ever witnessed.

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Then they’re in bed together and she says she wants to make a baby with his ears. I’m growing tired. Tired and restless at the pointlessness of it all. Doesn’t this movie seem ungodly long? (This coming from someone who loves Gone with the Wind)

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Sweeping  music interrupted by knocks at the door. It’s  Louis B. Mayer, head of MGM,  there to lecture them on being immoral.

“It’s immoral to be in love? It makes me so damn mad, all this phony bullshit!” Carole shrieks.

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Mayer informs Carole that Ria is indeed willing to divorce Clark for the right price. This starts a fight after Mayer leaves, of course. Which is ridiculous, as Carole always knew what was delaying the divorce is that Ria wanted a huge lump sum. Timeline is again skewed, as Clark got the lump sum as a bonus for signing onto Gone with the Wind, which is the film he is already shooting at this point.

“Forgive me if I show my naivete as I was living under the delusion that underneath this self-righteous stud was an honest man. I’m a fool. I think he’s happy with me, it’s a joke. What is it baby, the money, the convenience, the steady lay? I hope it’s not the Sunday morning biscuits because if it is, all this time you could have been screwing Betty Crocker!” Carole cries.

Somebody wrote that. In a script. And was paid to do so.

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More shrieking at him. So much shrieking.

Prepare yourself for Clark’s sappy monologue:

“Let me explain. Mayer’s right. For a price, Ria’d give me a divorce. All I’ve got to do is give her the moon. If I gave her everything I saved, and most all my future income, I’d be a free man. I suppose if I really wanted a divorce I’d do it.  I guess down deep I don’t really want one. Well, it’s not you, baby. You’re everything a guy could hope for. It’s just that I’ve tried it twice before, I was married once before Ria. It didn’t work out. I’ve never been able to make it work out with anybody. I guess I don’t got what it takes to make a woman happy.”

He admits he doesn’t have the guts to try it again, that he’s scared. Whatever. Clark was never worried about that; his two previous marriages were both marriages of convenience, not of love. But true that what Ria wanted would literally have cleaned him out.

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She reassures him.

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Since it’s been 1.5 seconds since their last fight ended, they start another one–now over the fact that Clark never says “I love you.”

“You know how I feel, baby. I’m just not the kind of guy that can say those things. Some guys can say them. I can’t, so what?”

More shrieking.

“You’re not frightened of marriage, that’s a crock of shit. You’re frightened of yourself. You’re frightened of your feelings for a woman because you think it makes you less of a man. You and your phony image of what a man is supposed to be–just screw ‘em and leave ‘em! Well I’ve got news for you, honey. You can plant all the hair in Hollywood on your chest and that still doesn’t make you a man. It makes you just what you are right now–nothing.”

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Then she declares she’s taking the next train to Indiana to see her mother. Carole’s mother had lived in California with her for years but whatever. I guess it was an excuse to do a sappy train scene where he runs to the train station after her, pounding on her stateroom door and yelling “I love you!” at the top of his lungs. Oh and it’s suggested he goes to Indiana with her.

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Oh yeah, did I forget to mention all of this is completely made up. It’d be easier actually for me to point out what’s true in this movie rather than what’s made up. Brolin does look a lot like Clark in that coat with the sunglasses and hat, I must admit.

It’s bothering me so much that he calls her “Ma” and she calls him “Gable.”

Now we finally meet Ria, which I find long overdue. Wouldn’t it have held more dramatic weight to paint the picture of this loveless marriage he was trapped in earlier? Instead of throwing it in there 45 minutes in and then making it the backbone of the whole movie with no backstory whatsoever?

Ria is shown living in a lavish mansion with a huge yard and pool and butler. Which isn’t exactly true. Her house was nice but they have her living at Buckingham Palace.

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The depiction of Ria is way off base but of course they’d have to have given some backstory to explain why he was in a loveless marriage to a homely much older woman, so instead they have Ria looking like a typical Beverly Hills society wife. She also has very 1970’s hair.

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She refuses his divorce offer, now that a story has come out about Clark and Carole’s love nest. “You’ve defiled me in public and you’ll have to pay for it!’

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In reality this article called Hollywood’s Unmarried Husbands and Wives had come out, and that is what angered Ria and Mayer, urging the divorce along. It was about several Hollywood couples, not just Clark and Carole.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know what the word love meant before this. And now I do. For the first time. And I’m asking you to understand,” he pleas. Oh my lord, what prose.

Carole’s house apparently had a grand view of the ocean? (No) I guess this is their new love nest.

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I wish they’d included all of her animals that were always running around.

Clark and Carole were always giving each other crazy gifts and so many of them would have made great scenes (like what about the doves he woke up to find in his hotel room?) but of course the one gift that this trashy movie chooses to include is….

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“To the King. That part of you more precious than gold, this will protect from catching cold.” Yup, a sweater for his penis. We have to endure a whole process of her trying it on him while licking his ear and telling him she had to tell the lady who made it that it was for keeping cucumbers cool in the summer. (Facepalm)

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She lights candles on the cake she’s had made for them to celebrate getting rid of Ria. It has a car on it with hearts all over it. Which would be the Model T that she gave him as a Valentine’s Day gag in 1936. Only they didn’t show that in this film thus far, skipped over it, even though it was a cute story about how they got together in the beginning. And now we’re in 1939, as he’s already filming Gone with the Wind, and we see cast members from Wizard of Oz roaming around.

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A press conference is called to deny the claims of the magazine that Clark and Carole have been shacked up together. Carole arrives in a stylish tailored suit and hat.

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Clark starts reading the script that was prepared for him for the press, which ticks Carole off and she decides she’s had enough of this charade.
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In what is the absolutely most garish, disgusting and vomit-inducing scene in the entire crappy film, Carole changes out of her suit and waltzes into the press conference, wearing a revealing red dress reminiscent of the dress Rhett picks out for Scarlett to wear to Ashley’s birthday in Gone with the Wind, and yells, “Well there’s my horny little hunk of horsemeat! Where you been, angel ass, you know you’re late for your ten o’clock screw, mama can’t wait all day, she’s got customers! Oh hiya dolls, how ya doin’, you must be the new shipment they sent over to keep Gable happy!” as she grabs her chest and shimmys in her lowcut prostitute dress. “What do you get, ten bucks a trick? Five would be highway robbery!” “You just keep that log rollin’ honey because the oven’s hot and the rooster’s ready to crow. He calls me rooster because of my motto–Cock a doodle doo! Cock a doodle doo! Any cock will do!” she shrieks and shrieks.

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Want some horrible GIFs of it? Here you go.


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I am sorry but I cannot imagine any fan of Carole Lombard defending this scene. What an utterly disrespectful, trashy, and absolutely ridiculous display. Portraying Carole as some kind of slut, out parading like that and shrieking “any cock will do!” is a direct insult to her as a person and it makes me angry. She may have “cursed like a man” but she was still a lady. A very respectable lady in Hollywood. What was the point of this entire scene!

And then Clark  chases her down and says he’s proud of her. “I’d have done it myself but I couldn’t find a red dress to fit.”

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He reminds her, “I just want you to know that whatever dumb thing you ever do I’m always going to be right there with you.” How romantic. I am so done with this film. How much longer do I have to endure this?

Oh, and nothing comes of that scene at all. We see no reverberations from it whatsoever.

After that tomfoolery, we immediately go into a completely made-up paternity suit on the front pages of the paper: A cocktail waitress claiming that she is four months pregnant with his baby.I suppose that this is a strange slant on the 1937 paternity trial that Clark endured when a British woman claimed he had fathered her teenage daughter. Why throw this in at this point in the movie? Why include it at all? I do not, for the life of me, understand the script of this movie.

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Clark and Carole meet with the publicists and Mayer, trying to do damage control.

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Clark proceeds to convinces Carole that the story is actually true, all because she threatens to call the District Attorney and say that it can't be true because she has been with him every night. So he chivalrously sacrifices their relationship so she can have her career and reputation.

When Carole shows up at their “love nest” later that day, she runs through the house looking for him and calls him Pa! Finally.

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Clark proceeds to convinces Carole that the story is actually true, all because she threatens to call the District Attorney and say that it can’t be true because she has been with him every night. So he chivalrously sacrifices their relationship so she can have her career and reputation.

Clark proceeds to convinces Carole that the story is actually true, all because she threatens to call the District Attorney and say that it can't be true because she has been with him every night. So he chivalrously sacrifices their relationship so she can have her career and reputation. Clark proceeds to convinces Carole that the story is actually true, all because she threatens to call the District Attorney and say that it can't be true because she has been with him every night. So he chivalrously sacrifices their relationship so she can have her career and reputation.

I like his pinstripe suit. The whole suit and tie is very Clark-like. I’m trying to be positive, see?

Clark proceeds to convinces Carole that the story is actually true, all because she threatens to call the District Attorney and say that it can't be true because she has been with him every night. So he chivalrously sacrifices their relationship so she can have her career and reputation.

But then Carole shows up at the trial anyway, prim and proper in a suit with hat and gloves. “Me and that big ape over there have been hitting the sack every night and I have the sore back to prove it!’ she announces on the stand. More ladylike behavior. For some reason now everyone thinks that her admitting that they slept together every night is funny rather than shocking. She even describes his butt and says she’d know if he ever moved it.

Clark proceeds to convinces Carole that the story is actually true, all because she threatens to call the District Attorney and say that it can't be true because she has been with him every night. So he chivalrously sacrifices their relationship so she can have her career and reputation.gable and lombard 1976gable and lombard 1976

Didn’t everyone already know they were together after the article was published and after her display at the press conference? Why was her testimony at the trial the defining moment when everyone figured it out? That doesn’t make sense!

They leave the court room and their getaway vehicle is a white car painted with red hearts. So the car she gave him in 1936,now she gave him in 1939 after this made-up court case. Wouldn’t it have been cuter to have shown her giving it him early on as part of their courtship? Why did she give him a cake with the car on it earlier in the film when she hadn’t given him the actual car yet? This script gives me a headache. I think I have read more comprehensive writing when I used to grade eighth grade English essays.

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Now they are packing up his dressing room and moving off to a farm apparently, since she torpedoed both their careers with her testimony.

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Change of heart! They suddenly decide to attend a premiere together to prove they don’t care what everybody says. They get out of the car and are met with silence, then everyone claps. Oh, now they are accepted!

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Everyone stands and claps for them when they arrive in the theater. Love is victorious! His wife is granting a divorce!

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They finally get to eat popcorn together!

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We are given no scene of their wedding at all. Nope, next scene they are already married (we only know that because they call each other Mr. Gable and Mrs. Gable) and have the ranch (I guess, we don’t see the house, just open pasture and horses).

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And here’s where he tells her he’s joining the Army. And she says she’s going off to sell war bonds. Very non-dramatic scene; seems thrown in. Oh, and this conversation starts with her asking him if he’s heard on the radio about the battle of Corrigedor, which took place on May 5, 1942. Carole died in the plane crash on January 16, 1942. (Facepalm). It’s called FACT CHECKING! She could have just mentioned Pearl Harbor, couldn’t she have, just to be realistic? Oh no, realism wasn’t the name of the game, I forgot.

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That’s it. Now we are back at Clark waiting for word on the plane crash. No word of her mother going with her or his pal Otto Winkler. Nope. We don’t get to see him pacing at the bar waiting for news, none of it.

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He’s told she didn’t survive. We don’t even get the drama of it being night and the flames blazing on the mountain. He gets back in the car and says, “Hey, I heard a good one today….” tells a bad sex joke and then says “My wife told me that one,” as he cries and laughs at the same time.

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And that is the end.

Truly more horrible than I even remembered.

Why not show Clark and Carole happily married on the farm with the chickens and horses? A montage even, of them riding horses and hunting and fishing together? You could even include the post-wedding news conference of them all happy, them attending the premiere of Gone with the Wind arm in arm, etc. Then later show them struggling to have a baby and the arguing that ensued–real conflicts in the marriage, but the love shining through. How about her selling war bonds to big crowds, sending him telegrams along the way? Him regretting not taking her to the train? Him preparing this big party for her when she returns? No, we have none of that. They weather a bunch of made-up scandals while sneaking off to sleep together and then she dies. We don’t even get the satisfaction of seeing their wedding–that could have been a great scene, them sneaking out of town to Arizona and surprising a small town minister. The absolute travesty of this movie is that they took a great love story–one that without much embellishment or made-up scandals would make a wonderful movie–and made it a bunch of nonsense. A bunch of made-up nonsense with their names on it.

The film was critically panned and largely forgotten, thank goodness, except for it popping up on late night cable here and there. Thankfully the careers of James Brolin and Jill Clayburgh survived the wreckage.

Roger Ebert said of it:

Gable is ready to drop everything for a little farm in Ohio, and Lombard doesn’t give a damn about fame and fortune, and the high point of their day is when she comes banging through the kitchen door with an armload of groceries. Lombard and Gable in real life were apparently somewhat like this – he always said acting was a little silly and so he just tried to act natural, and she was an unaffected free spirit – but by limiting itself to this aspect of their lives the movie never deals with the reasons we find them interesting in the first place. The witty and sensual Lombard of “Twentieth Century” and the sly Gable of “It Happened One Night” would hardly recognize themselves as the innocents portrayed by Furie and his actors, Jill Clayburgh and James Brolin. Real people grow older and more complicated.

The movie spans nearly a decade, but they never seem to grow older and hardly ever seem to work (the movie takes a fan-magazine approach to filmmaking – it’s all dressing rooms and autograph hounds and world premieres). We learn that Gable and Lombard had to live together secretly because Gable’s wife wouldn’t give him a divorce – but the movie never admits what an open secret theirs was. And there are so many dumb practical jokes and would-be risque innuendoes that any concern for their real thoughts and feelings is lost, So we don’t get a notion of their private lives, and we don’t even remotely learn from this movie what made them great stars and personalities. Brolin does, indeed, look a lot like Gable – but imitation here has nothing to do with flattery.

The screenwriter, Barry Sandler, did an interview a few years ago where he said, “You know, the critical reaction was tough. I took certain liberties which you have to do when you’re doing a biography. You can’t stick to every specific detail. You have to shape it into a dramatic narrative that’s going to engage an audience even if you have to eliminate or consolidate or compress or rearrange whatever. So, you know, I got some critics criticizing me for that. I also took a more fun, sexual kind of approach to the relationship, and the critics thought that was being sacrilegious or whatever. Nonetheless, I’m very proud of the film. I had a great time making it and have some very fond memories of it.” You took events of their lives and threw them up in the air, put them in random order and filled most of it with made-up scenarios.

He also said, “I did a lot of research. I remember studying for hours in the Academy library, going over old newspaper articles and new stories, and just reading all the material I could read about that. So, you know, all of that is true: the paternity suit, the sock thing, and obviously the plane crash.” Yeah like none of it is true. Seedlings of truth. What research did you do exactly. Yes, she did die in a plane crash, but the surrounding story of that is missing. The paternity suit was nothing like it was portrayed in the film, for starters–instead of a 4 month pregnant cocktail waitress, it was a middle-aged woman with a teenage daughter she claimed Clark fathered in the 1920’s in England–long before he even met Carole or became a star. Carole had nothing to do with the trial when it took place in 1937.

When asked why they chose to make Clark Gable already in the Army when Carole died, his response was: “That’s the thing about doing a biography. If you want to make characters sympathetic and likable, you have to sort of forge it a bit. If that had been the situation, he would have lost the respect of the audience. So in a way, it’s making him the one who decides that he wants to go fight. It makes him more admirable, I guess, in the eyes of the audience.”

Wouldn’t it make him more sympathetic to show the truth–the 41 year old widower showing up in the same suit he wore to his wife’s funeral, with tears in his eyes, taking his oath to join the Army and declaring “I don’t care if I come back.” ??

You can read the whole interview here. Vincent, over at his divine blog Carole & Co, did a piece about the interview a few years back here.

If you really want to subject yourself to this, the film is on DVD and is available for streaming on Amazon for a low price.