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.