From November 1938:
Tip: don’t do a pass-out with surprise if the next beeg (sic) change in who’s-whose-in-Hollywood pops right in the middle of the Clark Gable picture! It’s been so long the way it is that Hollywood can hardly picture things any different: Clark Gable and Carole Lombard clowning happily around movieland together, the merriest romance duo of Hollywood; while Mrs. Clark Gable remains obscurely but undivorcedly in the background.
However, there’s a change a-brewing. Long dormant financial settlement negotiations are steaming hot again between Clark and the missus, unless the inside information is all haywire. And so don’t be too, too amazed if all of a sudden, Clark Gable is a single man again, thanks to the divorce courts!
Along with 325 actors and technicians, the Clark Gables lived and worked for six weeks in a little movie boom-town especially built in the Colorado Rockies for Across the Wide Missouri. As newlyweds, the Gables were given a secluded two-room log cabin. At first Mrs. Gable, the former Lady Sylvia Ashley, set out to do all the cooking–but finally settled for a lone coffee-maker. The Gables, like the rest of the crew, in a mammoth tent dining hall accomadating the entire company at one sitting. On their first day off, Clark and Sylvia went by auto to nearby Durango to comb the local Woolworth’s for curtains, rugs, brooms to make their cabin “a home in the wilderness.” For recreation, Mrs. Gable was taught to fish. She was good enough at it to become a regular contributor to the commissary kitchen.
Despite how cozy Clark and Sylvia look here, this trip was where the cracks in their new marriage began to show. Sylvia was the one who wanted to make their cabin “homey” with frilly curtains and carpets; Clark would have just as well stayed in a tent. She did hang with the crew and tried her best at fishing, but always seemed out of place with all her jewelry on and carrying her little dog with the diamond collar. Clark received a lot of flak from the crew about her–they dubbed her “Her Highness.” He was beginning to realize that they were perhaps just too different. Well, at least Clark didn’t dislike Sylvia’s painting of them too much…it was used as their Christmas card that year!
From October 1936:
Talk of Hollywood at the moment is the new “Four-Day Diet.” It’s supposed to shuck off six pounds in four days!
Remember the famous 18-day-diet of a few years ago? Well, that died out.
But now, all of a sudden, a lot of the stars—the male stars, particularly—have startled their acquaintances by dropping poundage over week-ends. And they all followed the same regimen—and now the 4-Day Diet is as famous in Hollywood as the 18-Day Diet was a couple years back. Clark Gable knocked off half a dozen pounds in four days via the new route. Here’s the program he followed:
BREAKFAST : One large orange and one cup black coffee.
LUNCH: One large broiled lamb chop.
DINNER: Medium-sized broiled lean steak, salad of lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers with mineral oil dressing.
BREAKFAST: Same as first day.
LUNCH: Two broiled lamb chops, two sliced tomatoes with only salt and pepper, a half grapefruit.
DINNER: Two broiled lambchops, one boiled egg, spinach, half grape-fruit, cup of black coffee.
BREAKFAST: One large orange, no coffee.
LUNCH: Two scrambled eggs, spinach, three small saltines, small amount jam.
DINNER: Small tenderloin steak, broiled; two tomatoes with salt and pepper, half grapefruit, cup black coffee.
BREAKFAST:One large orange, no coffee.
LUNCH:Half broiled chicken, spinach, half grapefruit, two saltines.
DINNER: Two broiled lamb chops, two tomatoes with salt and pepper, half grape fruit.
Then, on the fifth day, there’s a sort of hangover treatment that consists of a dose of citrate-of-magnesia, and copious drinking of fruit juices, as you return to your regular meal routine. And that’s that.
Clark Gable was humble. This isn’t news to any fan of his, but this was new to those in the 1930′s used to worshipping screen gods put high up on unreachable pedestals. Clark’s “aw shucks” attitude was very different and at first MGM didn’t know how to publicize this kind of guy. Then they decided to go with it, and followed him around, posing him hunting and fishing and looking rugged.
When Clark first touched the fringes of fame, he avoided parties and admitted that he was uncomfortable in dress clothes. He appeared only at the important places where the studio requested him to go. I well remember seeing him at the premier of Grand Hotel in one of his rare personal appearances. During the intermission, Clark was surrounded by eager autograph seekers. He stood in the forecourt of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, flushed and perspiring, his immaculate collar slowly but surely wilting to a shapeless mass. He was a living picture of a man undergoing his most embarrassing and uncomfortable moment.
The Clark Gable of today’s public appearance is a very different person. Even the crowds, which tore the buttons from his clothes and the handkerchiefs from his coat pockets, couldn’t ruffle his calm and sincere charm. Today he talks, he laughs, he answers questions and signs papers without one flush—except the flush of genuine gratitude.
Clark is no longer afraid of the business of making pictures. He takes his work seriously, but not too seriously. It is a job to him, a job which must be done to the best of his ability. He accepts the parts which are given him, without one word of complaint, even when he doesn’t like them. “ ‘The Front Office’ knows what it wants,” he says. “They pay me to work in front of the cameras, not to select the casts of the pictures.”
His tune changed a bit on the subject of “The Front Office” as the years went on, getting sick of being traded like cattle and thrown into the same kind of film over and over.
“The years before Hollywood were a sort of prep school course,” Clark said once, “Hollywood has been my college education. It has taught me to think seriously and I hope, sanely. Before I came into pictures, I didn’t give much thought to the future. I enjoyed gambling with life, living each day as it came along and not worrying about the tomorrows. Something was bound to turn up. It always had.
“But in Hollywood, I began to realize the shortness of the years of success and of youth. Today, you’re on top. Tomorrow, you’re forgotten. So now I am planning for that tomorrow as well as anyone can plan anything in this topsy-turvy world. I know that some day I’ll be washed up in pictures. Then what am I going to do? That’s what I’m trying to figure out.
“For a while, in my early Hollywood months, I concentrated on hunting and fishing, roughing it in the wilds away from people and all forms of civilization. Then, suddenly, I began to realize that social contact with other people was a vital and necessary part of living,” Gable said.
Finally, today, he has become himself—a frank, unassuming, honest and vital Clark Gable with the eager enthusiasms of the young Bill Gable of Hopedale, Ohio, and the mellow tolerance of a successful man of the business and social world. In these last, short five years he has completed a lifetime.
It’s so great to me that you can read quotes from Clark in 1932, 1934, 1937, 1945, 1949, 1955….and his answer about success and fame is the same: that he knows it will end some day and he will be prepared for when it does. He was all set to become unpopular and fade into an oblivion. Luckily for us, that never happened.
You can read the article in its entirety in The Article Archive.
This 1939 article, written soon after Clark Gable and Carole Lombard’s marriage, is very sexist. Okay, extremely sexist. But it was 1939 after all and so one has to quiet their inner feminist as they read things like…
Carole Lombard, who was born Jane Peters, decided early in life that she had to do things to get places. She has devoted herself, through every working minute, to that aim. She has always wanted to be a star. She worked at it, and became a star. She built up the most amazing make-believe personality Hollywood has ever known, but she did it because she wanted something and that was her analysis of the way to get it.
With that realization, you will realize that the creature you called Carole Lombard was just as make-believe a creature as the characters she played on the screen. She was acting the role of Carole Lombard off the screen precisely as she was acting the scenario-writer’s roles onscreen. And so, in the final analysis, the “screwball” Carole isn’t the real Carole.
Clark Gable, on the other hand, is legitimately Clark Gable, all the way through. Gable has never put on an act. He has always been himself—because that self was precisely what screen fans demanded. Clark Gable didn’t fit a screwy personality into a pattern. Clark Gable’s REAL personality fitted into the pattern of what the screen needed. And so the Gable you know is the real Gable.
So what?—so here you have two individuals, married and their lives joined. You have a make-believe personality hitched to a real personality. And it is simply and inescapably inevitable that the “screwball” personality is going to collapse under the strain. The dominant real personality of Clark Gable will absorb the brilliant make-believe personality of Carole Lombard. And what’ll happen—there’ll finally be just Clark and Carole Gable. There’ll be a swell guy and a swell woman—a woman who is the real girl that Clark Gable married; not the clowness (is there such a word?) as the Carole Lombard you’ve come to accept.
For underneath that trick Carole, you see there has always been a real woman. And it’s that real woman that few people in Hollywood knew or know. It was given Clark Gable to be one of those people. And it wasn’t the artificial Carole he fell in love with; it was the real woman underneath. And Carole, being above all a very smart woman, knows that—and what she’ll give Clark Gable as his wife will be NOT the phony Carole Lombard, but the real “Ma” that Gable loves.
She has confessed to her intimates that there’s nothing she’d like more than to have Clark ask her to quit the screen; to have babies; to just be his wife. After all, why shouldn’t she? All her life she’s worked. She never knew a free, unplotted childhood. She began making movies when she was just a kid in school clothes. She’s been acting ever since—working, always working, for this Hollywood racket isn’t just a 40-hour week; it’s a
24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week job. And Carole must be tired of working after all these years.
I honestly believe that these paragraphs would displease Carole. She was not fake! In fact, her least favorite kind of person was a phony. The screwball thing wasn’t some act she put on for show, it was who she was. I think it is understandable that as she got older and more mature and became a married woman, the “screwballiness” faded a bit. Just because she found a man she loved and wanted to marry him and stay home and have his babies does not mean that the person she was before that was fake. It’s right about Clark being completely real and taken at full face value, but boy do I find this wrong about Carole. “A make believe personality hitched to a real personality”? Harsh.
pal, the day after she and Clark got back from their elopement.
And right here and now, I imagine, it’s time to debunk a lot of the applesauce and hone you’ve been hearing about that wedding trip of Clark and Carole.
Why, over the radio only a few nights after the marriage, I heard a bleating that the reason Clark and Carole picked that particular day to elope was that most of the newspaper reporters and writers in Hollywood were away—they were up in San Francisco, on a studio-arranged junket to see a preview of Alexander Graham Bell and attend the San Francisco Fair.
And because of that, Clark and Carole sneaked away like a couple of guilty kids and married in a hush-hush atmosphere.
To that, I say HOOEY! I happen to know that Clark and Carole had it all planned out for weeks and that they knew they could get away with a quiet, dignified wedding any day they wanted to, even if all the reporters in the world were concentrated in Hollywood. It was purely coincidental that the day they finally did drive off and do it happened to be a day on which some reporters were out of town.
You see, Clark had picked Kingman, Arizona, months ago. He’d hunted and fished around that country, and he liked the town. He liked the little First Methodist Church there. And right there, notice this: Clark and Carole never had any idea other than to be married by a minister. This justice-of-the-peace stuff might be all right for Hollywoodsters who were just getting married for a gag, but for Clark Gable, a justice wasn’t enough. They’d decided, right from the beginning, on a minister.
Besides, both of them wanted to get away from the usual Reno or Las Vegas stuff. So many of Hollywood’s screwiest marriages have been what they quaintly call “solemnized” in these places that Carole and Clark, in love and feeling deeply about it, didn’t want any of the scent of that sort of thing to attach itself to their own wedding. So Clark picked Kingman.
So having picked the place, scanned the maps, and figured driving times, Clark and Carole knew very well that any day they felt like it, or the chance offered, they could drive to Kingman in a few hours, and get married without any of the phony fanfare that they both basically abhor. And there is another fine tip-off—that Clark and Carole, screwy as they’ve acted for the sake of publicity and fun in the past, wanted their marriage to be utterly dignified and plain and honest and sincere and fine. You see, this marriage is no gag!
Well, there came Clark’s awaited “day off” from being Rhett Butler in GWTW. Carole wasn’t working. So that night before, they made their last arrangements—
Clark, his heart thumping like a guy who hadn’t spent years playing torrid love scenes, went to a florist and bought a corsage and tow boutonnieres! He bought a plain corsage—two pink roses and a spray of lily of the valley—for two reasons: first, because it was to be in keeping with their simple, fundamentally nice and fine wedding, rather than “orchidy” and flamboyant; second, because a more fancy corsage might have been a tip-off to a snooping press.
You see, in Hollywood, even florists and florists’ attendants are paid for being sideline reporters; if they can slip a tip to a radio caster or a columnist, they get a few bucks. So Clark, wise in the ways of Hollywood, bought a simple corsage that wouldn’t occasion any wonderment.
The two boutonnieres—one pink rose was for himself, and the other for his friend, Otto Winkler, a former newspaperman who has become one of Clark’s intimate friends and companions. It was Otto who was to go with them and help drive those few hundred sandy, hot dusty miles to Arizona.
They shoved off at 8:45 that morning. They got to Kingman seven hours later. All the way, they weren’t recognized, even though they weren’t hiding behind dark glasses. It was only a few minutes’ activity in Kingman that finished the business—a very thrilled girl named Viola Olson, clerk in the courthouse, gave them their license.
Then they hurried over to Dr. Engle’s parsonage at the Methodist Episcopal Church. Otto was the best man. Mrs. Engle was bridesmaid. The city clerk and Viola Olson and a Fred Cate served as witnesses, and they’ll probably be talking about it for the rest of their lives. That was all. It was simple; it was dignified; it was so doggone clean and sweet and unphony that Otto said it was all he could do not to bawl.
Afterward?—well, Clark and Carole called up a few people. They called the studio and told them what they’d done. They called a few close friends among the news folks and told them. They sent a few telegrams. By then, a couple of press-service correspondents in Kingman had heard about what was going on, and Clark and Carole told them the details. Then they got back in their car, and hurried back to Hollywood. No honeymoon; not yet.
Of course, by the time they got home, the news hounds were hot on their trail. Clark and Carole ducked to Carole’s house, which they’ll call home until they move into the house Clark bought from Raoul Walsh, out in San Fernando Valley. So many reporters clamored for interviews that Clark and Carole had to have two open hearings, taking them in relays. They posed for endless picture-taking. They answered questions. And that was all.
Clark himself said that they had not planned their wedding day, it just happened to be his day off from Gone with the Wind. And they weren’t married by a minister in a Methodist Church! They were married by a justice of the peace! Well at least this article didn’t start the rumor that Clark and Carole spent their honeymoon in Kingman, like is still believed.
You can read the article in its entirety in The Article Archive.
From July 1936:
Now what’s all this between Carole Lombard and Clark Gable anyway? It’s getting so that you can’t read or hear about one without hearing about the other one at the same time, too. They guffaw loudly at romance-whisperers and they deny there’s anything to it–and yet they’re about as inseparable as a couple of newlyweds! (and incidentally wouldn’t they make a swell pair of brand new Mr and Mrs?)
Last double appearance was ar the circus when it played Hollywood–and Clark and Carole were as much eyed, if not more, than the rest of the show, the night they hand-in-handed it in the big top!
Marry? Heck, I wouldn’t bet a tin dime on it either way! They’ve both been through the mill. And anyway, it will be quite a while before that Gable decree is final.
Talking about Clark’s ex-Mrs., I see she just returned to Hollywood from the East, where she helped welcome a new grandchild. Since the divorce isn’t final, does or doesn’t that make Clark a grandpappy? Or who cares? Including Carole!
On March 29, 1939, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard were finally married, after three years of will-they-or-won’t-they by the press and their fans. Clark, who emerged on the Hollywood scene just eight years earlier, had been saddled down with an older wife nobody could quite figure out and some secret lovers the press helped him keep hidden. Carole, around Hollywood since her teens, had long been America’s beloved screwball and everyone was breathlessly anticipating her next chapter.
Here is Photoplay magazine wishing Carole best wishes on her new role as Mrs. Gable:
The little guy who spills the moonlight
Over every garden trail,
Who plugs our hearts with silver darts,
And weaves of dreams a bridal veil;
That little guy writes the rules
For Love’s sweet and exotic fable,
Can scribble, with flourish, now,
“Finis: Miss Lombard…Mr. Gable.”
Your Hollywood which manufactures
Reels of Romance by the day,
Which gives us love in plain and fancy
Styles from Nome to Mandalay,
Which serves us thrills in double features,
Now, it seems, has turned the tables;
One slice of Paradise released,
Not for the world…but for the Gables!
A grin…a pair of ears… and then
A dinner…orchids…tender sighs…
A girl who found new ecstasy
With looking into someone’s eyes…
A ring…a promise…can she cook!!!
But never mind, if Love be able
To capture all the joy we wish
For Mr. and Mrs. Gable
Since Clark Gable and Carole Lombard were married 74 years ago this week, here is a vintage article I found that lists the celebrity couples that were newlyweds in 1939. So let’s see who else would be celebrating 74 years together this year…
Ronald Colman and Benita Hume
They were included in this article, but apparently they were married in September 1938, so not sure why they were included but…
Benita was Ronald’s second wife. They were married until his death in 1958, and had one daughter, Juliet.
Nelson Eddy and Ann Denitz
Married in January 1939, celebrated singer Nelson and Ann were married until his death in 1967. They had no children.
Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck
Taylor and Stanwyck rivaled Clark Gable and Carole Lombard as the top celebrity marriage of 1939. They were divorced in 1952, sadly. He later married actress Ursula Theiss and had two children. Stanwyck had been married once before, to actor Frank Fay, but did not marry a third time.
Louis Hayward and Ida Lupino
Director Hayward and famed actress/director Lupino were married in November 1938.It was the first marriage for both. They were divorced in 1945 and both of them went on to marry twice more.
Leo Gorcey and Kay Marvis
“Bowery Boy” Leo was 21 when he and Kay were married in May 1939, his first of five wives. She was 17. They were divorced in 1944 when she left him for Groucho Marx.
Tyrone Power and Annabella
Hearthrob Power and French beauty Annabella were married in April 1939, the first for him, second for her. They were divorced in 1948. He went on to marry twice more, having three children. Annabella did not remarry.
Alexander Korda and Merle Oberon
Hungarian director Korda and British actress Oberon were married in June 1939. His second marriage, her first. They were divorced in 1945. He went on to marry once more, her three times.
Lawrence Spangard and Sigrid Gurie
“The Norwegian Garbo” Gurie married Dr. Spangard in August 1939. They were divorced in 1948 and she went on to marry once more.
Gene Markey and Hedy Lamarr
Exotic Lamarr married screenwriter (and ladies man) Markey in March 1939. They adopted a son together and were divorced soon after, in 1941. They had both been married once before, him to actress Joan Bennett.
Lamarr was married four more times, Markey twice more–his third wife was Myrna Loy.
Jackie Westrope and Nan Grey
30′s and 40′s actress Grey married jockey Westrope in 1939. They had two daughters and were divorced in 1950. She married once more. I am not too familiar with this couple but their picture is very sweet!
Oh and the last one….
Since Clark and Carole were married 74 years ago this month, here’s one from November 1936:
London, of all places, has the cutest new betting game. They’re betting, over there, on whether or not certain film couples will marry! ! !
They’ve even got a set of standard odds, like this: even bet that Bob Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck will wed; 90 to 1 against George Brent taking the leap with Garbo; 5 to 1 that Clark Gable and Carole Lombard will; 10 to 1 that Bill Powell and Jean Harlow won’t; 5 to 3 that Ann Sothern becomes Mrs. Roger Pryor; 7 to 4 against the Jackie Coogan-Betty Grable merger; 20 to 1 against Tom Brown and Eleanore Whitney; 6 to 1 against Ginger Rogers saying her I-do’s with Jimmy Stewart; 4 to 3 that Gene Raymond and Jeanette MacDonald do it; 9 to 4 against Cary Grant and Mary Brian; 15 to 1 that George Raft finally does wed Virginia Pine despite hell, high water and Mrs. George Raft; and, finally, 100 to 1 that Ariel and Caliban never become Mr.-and-Mrs.
Let’s do a check to see what bets won:
Bob Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck did wed, but not until 1939.
George Brent never married Greta Garbo (I found that one quite random!)
Clark Gable and Carole Lombard were, of course, married in 1939.
Bill Powell and Jean Harlow never wed, as she died less than a year later.
Ann Sothern and Roger Pryor were married by the time this blurb went to press.
Jackie Coogan and Betty Grable were married in 1937.
Tom Brown and Eleanore Whitney were never married.
Ginger Rogers and Jimmy Stewart were never married (Imagine though!)
Gene Raymond and Jeanette MacDonald were married in 1937.
Cary Grant and Mary Brian were never married.
…and I don’t know who Caliban and Ariel are!
Oh and out of all the couples above who actually were married (besides Clark and Carole, who we all know how that ended, sadly), Jeanette MacDonald and Gene Raymond were the only ones who didn’t divorce.
This article from 1932 is mainly focused on Clark complaining about how reporters dig into his past…to a reporter. There isn’t a lot of substance here but it is interesting to hear Clark’s own voice saying what he feels about fame and it’s pitfalls. Unlike many articles of this period, it is at least filled with direct quotes and not fluffy backstory. Here are some quotes by Clark from the article:
“I don’t like to have people asking me about the women I’ve fooled around with, trying to dig into my past. I’m willing to talk to people, and the press has given me some great breaks—but whose business is it what I did before I got up out of the ruck? Why can’t they leave my past alone? And so far as that is concerned, whose business is it what I do now, after I take my greasepaint off?”
“I am glad I got a break, but I worked hard for
it. And I’m glad I can give people something they like on the screen, but
outside the studio I do want to live my own life. My wife and I live quietly,
we don’t go to many parties, and we feel that we have the same right to privacy
as the surgeon across the court of the lawyer down the hall.”
“Out here in California in the old days, a man’s past was his own affair and it was as much as your life was worth to be too inquisitive about such things. It wouldn’t be a bad idea if that was still the fashion. A man comes out here and gets a break. The next day the whole world demands to know every detail of his history. If, while we were on the way up, all of us knew that some day our past would be of so much interest, we might be more careful. But we don’t, and once we’ve arrived, why don’t people give us a break and, so long as we please ‘em on the screen, take the attitude they did in ’49—that it’s not what a man was that counts, but what he is?”
Clark struggled with the battle for privacy all his life. He always did remain a certain level of it–staying withdrawn from social events for the most part, not allowing photographers inside the ranch house, always giving interviews about what he wanted, when he wanted. I’ve always thought that if Clark was around nowadays, he would be like a George Clooney–no Facebook, no Twitter, not commenting too much on personal issues, living remotely, still with an air of mystery.
You can read the article in its entirety in The Article Archive.
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