clark gable paulette goddard

From 1949:

Another lavish opening was at Mocambo, when Desi Arnaz opened, and, of course, everyone who loves Lucille Ball and Desi turned out. Surprise of the evening was Clark Gable’s first date with Paulette Goddard and I think the story of how this combination came about is most amusing.

A mutual friend has asked Gable to come to the opening, but Clark said he wasn’t too fond of night clubs and besides, he didn’t have a date.

The friend told Clark hat he knew just the girl. She was attractive, but new to Hollywood and didn’t know anyone. If Clark didn’t mind he was sure he could fix it up. So Clark called at the Shoreham Apartments and when the door opened, there was Paulette, bewitching in a pearl gray brocade, with a handkerchief ties over her eyes just to prove that she was a “blind date!”

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 paulette goodard

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.

 

1938– a year full of suspense and speculation in regards to Gone with the Wind. Who would be Rhett? Who would be Melanie? Who would be Ashley? And especially…who will play Scarlett? To call the book a sensation would be an understatement. In three separate celebrity interviews from that year, magazines stated that young Judy Garland “spent last Christmas reading Gone with the Wind,” Deanna Durbin “has read Gone with the Wind twice!” and–the horror–“Nelson Eddy admits he has not yet read Gone with the Wind!” There was a lot at stake for this cast…

In February, Photoplay magazine reported:

Our monthly “Gone with the Wind” Department…whispers now have it that most likely Scarlett O’Hara is that new 20th Century-Fox discovery, Arleen Whelan…Selznick wants her, but so far Zanuck won’t give…judging by her photography exclusively, I’d say she is much more Scarlett than Paulette Goddard, next most rumored candidate for the role.

Arleen popped up in Motion Picture magazine too:

arleen whelan

She is the girl who was chosen, months ago, to play Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind. And the only reason why she won’t be playing Scarlett is that the studio to which she is signed (20th Century Fox) won’t sell her contact to the studio producing the picture (Selznick International). Fifty thousand dollars were offered for her contract–and refused….

How did the Selznick-International people become interested in her–an untried newcomer at another studio?

“Sidney Howard, who wrote the script for Gone with the Wind, saw me in the Brown Derby. He thought I ‘looked like Scarlett,’ and he said he knew I was an actress ‘by the way I ate.’ I’ve been self-conscious about eating ever since. They arranged with Mr. Zanuck to test me. Then they set me to studying a Southern accent, learning how to wear those grand old Southern clothes. I’ve never enjoyed any experience so much as that. I’m still studying with the coach I had there–Gertrude Fogler.”

She isn’t breaking her heart over the impasse that prevents her from playing that other unpredictable Southern girl, Scarlett O’Hara. She told me, with a warm smile, “Everything always happens for the best.”

By March Motion Picture magazine declared:

paulette goddard gone with the wind

But by May, someone else seemed to be edging Paulette out:

We hope by the time you read this you will know more about the casting plans for “Gone with the Wind” than Hollywood does at present.

However, the  latest moves seem to indicate that Frederic March is a sure bet for Rhett with Katharine Hepburn nominated as the lucky Scarlett. But then, of course, Clark Gable and Paulette Goddard are also rumored “in the running”—STILL!

Photoplay followed that blurb up with a whole article about Katharine Hepburn being the most likely candidate for Scarlett– “What! Another Scarlett O’Hara?” In the article, they called her casting “inevitable.”

katharine hepburn scarlett ohara gone with the wind

Hepburn is Scarlett O’Hara at heart. George Cukor said in a recent interview: “Scarlett is typically Southern. That kind of woman couldn’t have happened anywhere else. She is very female and like the average woman has no abstract sense of proportion. She hasn’t much of a mind and has no nobility. Yet she has a lot of character. I know at least five woman in Hollywood and on the stage not as stupid as Scarlett, but who have her kind of temperament. They all came from the South and they have cut a wide swath.”

…Doesn’t a modern quote like this from Hepburn’s own lips sound a little as though Scarlett O’Hara might have spoken had she been a young star in Hollywood?

“I have moods,” said Miss Hepburn. “Well, they’re mine. Why should I change? If I don’t feel like having my picture taken at a tennis match, why should I? If I feel like putting my hands over my face, why shouldn’t I? Posing for pictures takes time. You know that I will not be anything but myself for anybody. Why don’t you leave me alone?”

Hollywood magazine made a case for newcomer Louise Platt (Stagecoach) who “turned down two screen tests to make the first screen test for Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind and waited six months for another Hollywood call.”

louise platt

They also gave their support to another new face, Susan Hayward. George Cukor offered her a screentest for Scarlett.

susan hayward

[Recalled Susan:]”They gave me a screentest in a Long Island studio and there must have been something about it that pleased them because they brought me to Hollywood where I was tested again and again. For some reason, never explained, they changed their minds, and I found myself in the ranks of the also-rans in the Scarlett race.”

 

Gee, I hope this whole Scarlett casting thing works out…

vivien leigh

clark gable paulette goddard

In the post-war, post-Carole years, Clark Gable had a full dance card—dating actresses, script girls and socialites. And one former Gone with the Wind hopeful: the spirited Paulette Goddard.

Paulette, blessed with a gorgeous face, was probably best known for comedies, such as the Charlie Chaplin classics Modern Times and The Great Dictator, as well as sparky Miriam in The Women. She had been around Hollywood since the early 1930’s, first as a blonde Goldwyn girl. She proved herself a dramatic force in films such as Kitty and her Academy Award nominated performance in the war drama So Proudly We Hail!. But she could also dance and sing, as she did with Fred Astaire in Second Chorus and Jimmy Stewart in Pot o’Gold.

Late in the casting process, Paulette was a front-runner for Scarlett in Gone with the Wind but producer David Selznick hesitated on signing her because she couldn’t produce a marriage license to prove she was married to her longtime housemate, Charlie Chaplin. He wanted his Scarlett to be “pure.” In swept Vivien Leigh from England and Paulette’s hopes were shattered (In an effort to keep the married Vivien “pure,” he kept her from her married lover, Laurence Olivier, during filming) . It’s been said that after hearing Vivien had been signed that Paulette stayed in bed crying for days. If you watch her audition tapes, she’s really not bad. And her looks fit the part—much, much better than others who were considered, such as Bette Davis, Lana Turner or Lucille Ball!clark gable paulette goddard

 By 1949, married or not, the relationship with Chaplin was over and so was her subsequent marriage to Burgess Meredith. Clark was back on the dating scene as well and they had known each other for years and decided to give romance a go. Paulette was very much a brunette, against Clark’s apparent taste for blondes. But she did have that frisky spirit he seemed to enjoy. She seemed to be a lot of fun, which was something Clark needed at this time.

A 1949 article tellingly titled “If She Wants Him, She’ll Get Him!” describes the beginning of their affair: 

Cagey hints at inside information by the columnists would have you believe that Goddard and Gable met last summer at a Hollywood party, and that long warm glances passes across cocktail glasses saying eloquently, “Why haven’t we two met before?” These speculations are off by several years. Clark and Paulette met for the first time ten years ago, in 1939, when Paulette was working at MGM in The Women.  They became friends, but nothing more because both had other commitments at the time. They met again a few years ago, at a party it is true, but under rather dramatic circumstances.

It was a foggy night. Gable was driving through Bentwood on his way home when another car came charging toward him on the wrong side of the road. Clark hit the ditch, skidded across a wide lawn and came to a halt with his front bumper well up on the porch of a large house. A party was in progress, but in thirty seconds the guests were all on the lawn to see what happened. Paulette was one of the guests, and Clark became one immediately. After all, how often does Clark Gable run into the front of your house when you have friends in? Paulette and Clark had a grand time that night, and even though circumstances kept them separated until this summer, they never forgot it.

Then came the Hollywood party the columnists tell you about. It was one of those large affairs that everyone who is anyone in Hollywood attends. Across the cocktail glasses, Gable saw Goddard and Goddard saw Gable. For the first time in ten years there was nothing to stand in the way of their getting together. So they got together. It was as simple as that. Then came the secrecy for which Paulette is so famous. Although rumors of a wild passion filled the town, the only glimpses of the lovers together were occasional and quick flashes of them driving down a quiet road, and that highly publicized picture taken at the airport when Gable saw her off to Mexico. (picture above)

 

They did frequent restaurants and night clubs, often discreetly. He also cooked for her at the ranch on several occaisons and she praised his culinary talents! They were dubbed “Hollywood’s atomic couple” during their brief romance because they seemed to always be fighting. Clark couldn’t have had much patience for this as he wasn’t the type who liked to hang his dirty laundry in public. At a resort together one time it is reported that they had a big public quarrel by the pool and ended up falling in fully clothed!

The fan magazines were all aflutter at this romance, but I sincerely doubt that either of them considered a marriage; the differences were too great. Paulette was known to be kind of a diva, uppity and rather demanding on set. Ray Milland, her co-star in four films, described her as the most difficult actress he had ever worked with. Clark was the exact opposite, a professional always on set and never puffed himself up as being “the star.” Paulette was known for her secrecy but she also sometimes liked publicity and wasn’t against giving the gossip columnists nuggets here and there, something Clark despised. They got in a fight after he took her to the airport to meet her plane to Mexico because she wanted him to give her a kiss for the photographers and he refused.clark gable paulette goddard

 Money was also a big dealbreaker. Paulette had it and liked to spend it. She especially adored jewelry and had several million dollars worth from past lovers and husbands. Clark was notoriously a spendthrift and was not known to buy his women expensive jewelry (five wives and none had engagement rings!). The beginning of the end was Clark’s gift to Paulette: a gold St. Christopher medallion that made her skin turn black when she wore it–signaling that it wasn’t real gold. She kidded him about it and told everyone how cheap he was. That was the final straw for Clark.

 The break-up was not friendly, apparently, with Paulette snickering about Clark’s penny-pinching. Paulette went on to marry German writer Erich Remarque in 1958 and eventually retired to Switzerland, where she died in 1970.

Interesting fact: Around the same time Clark was dating Paulette, she was also seeing his buddy, director John Huston. Huston was married at the time to Evelyn Keyes, who played Suellen in Gone with the Wind.

Some of my favorite finds when I am scouring through old fan magazines are candids of random stars together. “I never knew that Blank ever even met Blank!” I often think, particularly now during “awards show season”, how the generations to come won’t feel similar joy, since there are thousands of pictures taken at every red carpet event, awards show and party and so thus the surprise of seeing stars posing together has dwindled.

Here are some shots of Clark with other Tinseltown folk…

clark gable robert taylor

with Robert Taylor

george burns gracie allen clark gable

with George Burns and Gracie Allen

clark gable errol flynn

with Errol Flynn

clark gable judy garland

with Judy Garland

clark gable margaret o'brien

with Margaret O'Brien

mickey rooney clark gable

with Mickey Rooney

marlene dietrich clark gable

with Marlene Dietrich

paulette goddard clark gable

with Paulette Goddard

jack lemmon clark gable

with Jack Lemmon

marilyn maxwell clark gable

with Marilyn Maxwell

roy rogers clark gable

with Roy Rogers

clark gable ann dvorak

with Ann Dvorak

clark gable susan peters

with Susan Peters

clark gable elizabeth taylor

with Elizabeth Taylor

clark gable ginger rogers

with Ginger Rogers

clark gable ann sheridan

with Ann Sheridan

clark gable shirley temple

with Shirley Temple

clark gable jayne mansfield

with Jayne Mansfield

clark gable marie dressler

with Marie Dressler

clark gable katharine hepburn

with Katharine Hepburn

clark gable james stewart

with Jimmy Stewart

 

nancy davis clark gable

with Nancy Davis

gary cooper clark gable

with Gary Cooper

clark gable bette davis

with Bette Davis

clark gable spencer tracy robert taylor william powell

with Spencer Tracy, Robert Taylor and William Powell

See more in the gallery.

 ccarole118

If you’ve read any biography of Clark or Carole, you’ll come across a mention of a certain Photoplay Magazine article titled “Hollywood’s Unmarried Husbands and Wives”. This seemingly innocent article caused quite an earthquake among the studios. It lists Hollywood couples who conduct themselves as if they are married—but they aren’t!  The article scolds:

And that, it seems, would point a lesson to the unique coterie of Hollywood’s unwed couples—Bob Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck, who could get married if they really wanted to; George Raft and Virginia Pine, Carole Lombard and Clark Gable and the other steady company couples who might swing it if they tried a little harder. You can’t take your happiness with you.

 For nobody, not even Hollywood’s miracle men, has ever improved on the good old-fashioned, satisfying institution of holy matrimony. And, until something better comes along, the best way to hunt happiness when you’re in love in Hollywood or anywhere else—is with a preacher, a marriage license and a bagful of rice.

You can read the article  in its entirety here as it is the latest addition to the ever-growing Article Archive.

This article and the resulting public uproar sped up the marriage plans of Clark and Carole (much to MGM’s urging) and led to their March 1939 nuptials.

What became of the other couples mentioned in the article?

fe67_1

Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck felt the pressure from the studio as well and were married on May 13, 1939 after months of speculation. Close friends of Clark and Carole, their union seemed happy for many years. But apparently not always. Barbara filed for divorce, supposedly tired of Bob’s cheating, and it was granted on February 21, 1951. Barbara never remarried. Bob married actress Ursula Theiss in 1954 and they had two children.

 geovirg

George Raft and Virginia Pine (pictured with her daughter Joan) never did make it to the altar. I’m not sure when exactly they broke up, but I do know that by late 1939 George and widowed Norma Shearer were the hot couple of the moment. And after their breakup, George courted Clark’s ex-wife Ria for a bit!  By 1942, George was hot and heavy with Betty Grable. Despite his many high profile romances, he remained married to Grace Mulroney from 1923 until her death in 1970.

congil

Gilbert Roland became Constance Bennett’s husband #4 in April of 1941. Their marriage lasted until 1946, and they had two daughters. She married an Army Colonel two days after her divorce from Gilbert was final. Gilbert remarried in 1954.

paulchar

Charlie Chaplin and Paulette Goddard were a complicated pair. Together for a few years,  they remained mum on their relationship status and seemed to be unmarried and living together. Charlie sent shockwaves through the gossip columns when he called Paulette his wife at the premiere of his film “The Great Dictator”  in 1940. But they never could produce a marriage certificate and no reporter could dig one up either. Supposedly, this inability to prove she was married to the man she was living with is what caused Paulette to be eliminated from consideration for her dream role, Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind”. Married or not, by 1942, they were through. Charlie married 17-year-old Oona O’Neill  in 1943 and they had eight children.Paulette went on to marry actor Burgess Meredith in 1944 and writer Erich Remarque in 1958. She also dated Clark after her separation from Meredith in 1948.