A very happy birthday to the third Mrs. Clark Gable, the love of his life, Carole Lombard!
It isn’t her birthday without this audio of Clark singing “Happy Birthday” to her:
Hard to believe Miss Lombard would be 106 if she was still with us today.
I’ve just returned from my trip to Ohio and I’ll be working on my blog posts from my trip, plus new Carole stuff so stay tuned!
Well, folks, it’s that time of year again–Carole Lombard Month here on DearMrGable.com!
October brings with it Carole’s birthday and a month of Carole-ful joy on the site–articles, photos and Gossip Fridays all about the love of Clark Gable’s life! I have been doing this for several years and fans of the site seem to love it more and more each year.
Two other things worth mentioning:
1. I have created a link to the “Nutshell Reviews” of each of Clark’s films that I did earlier in the year. It’s now included in the top menu.
2. I am headed off to the great state of Ohio–aka the birthplace of Clark Gable himself–this weekend! I am going to be tracing Clark’s footsteps around the state and so plenty of blog posts will be forthcoming. In the meantime you can follow what I am up to in Ohio by liking the site Facebook page–I will be updating it live!
Lots of work going on around here this month…
Over the years, I’ve chatted with Gone with the Wind fans about their favorite quotes. Many of them come from the spirited and somewhat heartless Scarlett, many from hilarious Mammy, even some from Melanie and Ashley. But, hands down, more people say that Rhett has all the best lines.
All year long, I have been posting some of them on the website’s Facebook page. And here are some highlights (Part 1):
“I think it’s hard winning a war with words, gentlemen.”
“Whewww…Has the war started?”
“And you miss, are no lady…I consider it a compliment. Ladies have never held any stole with me.”
“I believe in Rhett Butler; he’s the only cause I know. The rest doesn’t mean much to me.”
“With enough courage you can do without a reputation.”
“You little hypocrite. You don’t mind my knowing about them, just my talking about them.”
“No, I don’t think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly. That’s what’s wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.”
“I’m not asking you to forgive me. I’ll never understand or forgive myself. And if a bullet gets me, so help me, I’ll laugh at myself for being an idiot. There’s one thing I do know… and that is that I love you, Scarlett. In spite of you and me and the whole silly world going to pieces around us, I love you. Because we’re alike. Bad lots, both of us. Selfish and shrewd. But able to look things in the eyes as we call them by their right names. Scarlett! Look at me! I’ve loved you more than I’ve ever loved any woman and I’ve waited for you longer than I’ve ever waited for any woman.”
“Here’s a soldier of the South who loves you, Scarlett. Wants to feel your arms around him, wants to carry the memory of your kisses into battle with him. Never mind about loving me, you’re a woman sending a soldier to his death with a beautiful memory. Scarlett, kiss me, kiss me… once… ”
Part2 coming next Wednesday!
This month, Clark is a tough cattle baron and Ava Gardner is a sassy newspaperwoman in 1800’s Texas in Lone Star (1952).
In this semi-factual historical western, Gable is Devereaux Burke, a cattle baron enlisted by President Andrew Jackson (Barrymore) in 1845 to help convince Texas to become part of the United States. Gable encounters newspaperwoman Martha Ronda (Gardner) and her beau, Senator Thomas Craden (Crawford) who want Texas to become its own republic. Devereaux and Martha soon fall in love despite their differing opinions and he prepares for a final showdown with Craden.
This is definitely not Clark’s best Western….by a long shot. I daresay it’s his worst one. It tanked at the box office, with critics citing the lack of interest 1950’s audience had with a Western centering around Texas’ battle for independence.
What saves it from being entirely passable is his always reliable snap-crackle-pop chemistry with the lovely Ava Gardner. That chemistry is alive and poppin’ here, although one wonders why these two stars are wasted here with this mediocre plot and plodding script.
In fact, the best scenes of the film are the small little moments between Clark and Ava. I do like his line: “It’s convenient to have a woman you can take for granted. Not very exciting but convenient. I’ve never been that lucky.”
The brooding Broderick Crawford is the one-dimensional villain here, and he was as uninterested in the process as the rest of them. Director Sherman recalled that they all realized the film was awful during production, but being their assignment, got through it anyway without much gusto. Broderick Crawford was in a drunken stupor throughout filming and Gable and Gardner were just “showing up, reading lines and going home.”
The film has all the Clark Gable elements—he’s the rogue, wise crackin’ womanizer, full of wit and flirty lines, he punches a few guys out and wins the girl. But it all wasn’t cohesive here.
Clark was not in the best of spirits when filming began, as he had recently asked his fourth wife, Sylvia Ashley, for a divorce. His ranch home as in upheaval as she moved out and he began some construction to undo changes she had made. The stress of the situation caused him to drink more than usual and his head was not completely in the game on this one. Studio memos noted that “Gable doesn’t look like Gable anymore.”
This film marks the last screen appearance of the legendary Lionel Barrymore, who was wheelchair bound by this time due to arthritis and an injured hip. Clark and director Vincent Sherman convinced him to take the small role of President Andrew Jackson.
From May 1950:
For the first time in his life, glamour king Clark Gable attended a fashion show—and willingly yet. It was the big Adrian to- do which he has every year for the husbands of the gals he gowns and Mr. G. docilely escorted his bride to the shindig.
Gone with the Wind had an absolutely stellar cast, and as I have discussed with many a fellow film fan, it is a great launching pad for anyone to delve into classic films. You can start with any of the four leads–Leigh, Gable, de Havilland, Howard–and start diving into their films and you are awash with classic film fabulousness.
And for many of these players, it wasn’t their first time sharing the screen. Let’s see who Clark Gable met up with elsewhere:
Clark and Laura Hope Crews (Aunt Pittypat) also co-starred in Idiot’s Delight (1939), which they made just prior to GWTW.
In A Free Soul (1931), (SPOILER ALERT) Leslie Howard (Ashley) ends up killing Clark, all for the love of Norma Shearer.
Ward Bond (Yankee Captain) was uncredited as a bus driver in It Happened One Night (1934).
Thomas Mitchell (Gerald O’Hara) and Clark were pals in real life, and he was Clark’s sidekick in Adventure (1945).
Harry Davenport (Dr. Meade) also played a doctor in Adventure (1945). (Random fact: he was yet again a doctor in the Carole Lombard film Made For Each Other (1939)!)
There are several stories that have floated around over the years of Clark Gable being at the outdoor barbecue scene set in Busch Gardens in Pasadena. Well, in the final film Clark isn’t in any of the outdoor barbecue scenes. Inside, yes, gazing up the stairs at future wives and having things thrown at him. But not outside. So what is he doing there, in full costume?
Filming a scene that ending up on the cutting room floor, that’s what. There was a scene shot for the film, called “A Young Man Talks to Rhett,” in which Rhett converses with a heavily-whiskered man (listed in studio records as being played by someone by the name of S. Jackson), a close distance from where Scarlett sits perched on her bench and surrounded by buzzing beaus.
Unfortunately for us all, this cut scene is lost forever (didn’t they know one day they would need things like that for special features on special edition Blu Ray sets??!) but this still exists:
And also this behind the scenes shot of Clark and Mr. Jackson waiting for their scene (director Victor Fleming behind them):
This Jackson fellow probably was all excited to get a chance to work with Clark and on GWTW and the poor thing ended up on the cutting room floor! Oh well, the movie did end up rather long, even without this scene, after all!
Earlier in the week we looked at the essay Clark Gable wrote about his co-star, Loretta Young, as publicity for Key to the City.
An innocent idea, certainly, except of course when said co-stars had a secret child fifteen years earlier.
So let’s see what Loretta had to say about Clark, shall we…
I first met Clark Gable about twelve years ago when we co-starred in a woodsy drama entitled “The Call of the Wild.” Although we were given top billing, the real star of the picture was a massive dog named Buck. The rest of us, compared to the instant attention Buck’s slightest bark commanded, were no more impressive than a chorus of gnats.
Buck lived in a steam-heated trailer; the rest of us shivered in the Summer quarters of a rustic hotel whose Winter quarters had burned the previous year.
When our picture company was marooned for nine days by twenty-one feet of snow, Buck was accorded the steaks our larder afforded whereas the rest of us were reduced to crackers, scrambled eggs and breakfast cereal.
After the storm had abated, we went to work in temperatures which ranged from ten to thirty degrees below zero. This is the way the scenes were worked out: the human members of the company were sent for, rehearsed, and stationed in their places. THEN the word would be sent out for Buck to be rushed from his cosy quarters into camera range. He would do his bit. The instant the camera stopped turning, Buck would be hurried back to his plush apartment while we chilblained actors flailed ourselves with our arms to keep from congealing. We also smiled wanly in Buck’s direction just to keep our facial muscles from freezing.
Throughout this murderous situation, the only person who never lost his temper, and who never looked at Buck and wondered how Huskie steaks would taste, was Clark Gable. No matter how trying the working and living conditions became, he was always the affable gentleman, who made no demands upon his fellow workers. He expected no favors—although he was a big star even then—and when tempers flared he would say peaceably, “We won’t remember what this was all about in a hundred years. Let’s get going and get this thing finished.”
I remember that he had brought along a supply of books and magazines, adventure stories, sports stories, westerns and the like, and that he served as a one-man library. At the end of nine days of enforced inactivity and imprisonment we would all have had what is known as “Cabin Fever” (the urge to kill) if it hasn’t been for that reading matter.
He could also be depended upon to start a card game when people became short-tempered and restless. He would play anything, could win when he wanted to, could lose when it seemed diplomatic.
Although I was only a careless youngster at the time—spending most of the time at the window waiting for the messenger boy, on snowshoes, to bring the mail in which I thought there might be a letter from a lad in Los Angeles in whom I was deeply interested—I was aware of the great diplomatic ability and keen sportsmanship of Clark Gable.
One of the things that is so admirable about Clark Gable is the consistency of his character. So she seems rather in awe of him, doesn’t she.
According to a friend who knows Clark well, he still carries a locket in which there is a soft, blonde curl—Carole Lombard’s.
The years have brought changes around Clark Gable, and they have brought changes within him. He is a better actor now than ever, and a wiser human being.
Before we started the picture, I had a print of that wonderful old picture, “It Happened One Night,” run for me so that I could study Clark’s comedy technique. He was impressive. However, when I saw the rushes of “Key to the City” I realized that he was even better than ever in the first comedy role he has assayed since “It Happened One Night.”
In closing, I would like to say that the Clark Gable who is called “King” in his studio is something far more important than a king to his fellow Americans: he is a real man.
It’s interesting she briefly brings up Carole Lombard, as apparently the news that Clark had married Carole deeply saddened Loretta, who had hoped that Clark would marry her when he was finally free.
You can read the article in its entirety in The Article Archive.
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