Date of Birth
William Clark Gable
b. February 1, 1901
d. November 16, 1960
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CLARK GABLE BIOGRAPHY
The following biography is from Wikipedia.org “The Free Encyclopedia.”
William Clark Gable (February 1, 1901 – November 16, 1960) was an Academy Award-winning American film
actor and the biggest box office star of the early sound film era.
In 1999, the American Film Institute named Gable among the Greatest Male Stars of All Time, ranking at No. 7.
Birth name William Clark Gable
Born February 1, 1901
Cadiz, Ohio, USA
Died November 16, 1960
Los Angeles, California, USA
1934 It Happened One Night
Clark Gable was born in Cadiz, Ohio, on February 1, 1901 to William H. Gable, an oil-well driller and Adeline
Hershelman, a prospector. Gable had German ancestry from both sides of his family tree; his maternal
grandfather, John Hershelman, was German, as were Gable's paternal great-great-grandparents, Johan
Frankenfield and Catharine Haupt. Contrary to popular belief, Gable never had a middle name but was
registered simply as Clark Gable. He temporarily adopted his father's name as a teenager only to drop it again a
few years later.
When he was six months old, his sickly mother had him baptized Roman Catholic. She died when he was ten
months old, probably as the result of an aggressive brain tumor. Following her death, Gable's father's family
refused to countenance any notion of raising the child a Catholic, provoking an enmity with his late mother's side
of the family. The dispute was resolved when the Protestant side agreed to allow young William Clark Gable to
spend more time with his mother's Catholic relatives.
In April 1903, Gable's father, Will Gable, married Jennie Dunlap, whose family came from the small neighboring
Ohio town of Hopedale. Will purchased land there and built a house and the new Gable family settled in. By
1917, Clark was in high school when his father's business had financial difficulties. Will decided to try his hand at
farming and the family moved to Ravenna, just outside of Akron, but Clark had trouble settling down and soon
left school to work in Akron's tire factories.
Gable was inspired to be an actor after seeing a life-impressing play, but he was not able to make a real start
until he turned 21 and could inherit money that had been left to him. By then, Jennie had died. Deciding not to
follow his father, Clark found work with several second-class theater companies and worked his way across the
Midwest to Portland, Oregon, where he found work as a tie salesman in the Meier & Frank department store.
While there he met the grandson of well-known actress Laura Hope Crews, who encouraged him back onto the
stage and into another theater company. His acting coach was Josephine Dillon, who had his teeth fixed and
after some rigorous training eventually considered him ready to attempt a film career.
In 1924, with Josephine's financial aid, they went to Hollywood where she became his manager and his first wife.
Although he found work as an extra and bit player in such silent films as The Plastic Age starring Clara Bow,
Gable was not offered any major roles and so returned to the stage. It was only after his impressive appearance
as the seething and desperate character Killer Mears in the play The Last Mile that he was offered a contract
with MGM in 1930. Gable's first role in a sound picture was as the villain in a low-budget William Boyd western
called The Painted Desert (1931). He received a great amount of fan mail as a result of his powerful voice and
appearance, which forced the studio to take notice.
He worked mainly in supporting roles, often as the "heavy", building his fame and public visibility during 1931 in
such important movies as A Free Soul, in which he played a gangster who slapped Norma Shearer (Gable never
played a supporting role again as long as he lived after that slap), Susan Lennox: Her Rise and Fall with Greta
Garbo, and Possessed, in which he and Joan Crawford steamed up the screen with some of the passion they
shared for decades in real life. To bolster his rocketing popularity, MGM was now frequently pairing him with well-
established female stars, such as Jean Harlow. An enormously popular combination, Gable and Harlow were
paired together in six films, the most notable being Red Dust and Saratoga, during production of which Harlow
would die of kidney failure. In the following years, he acted in a succession of enormously popular pictures which
levitated him to megastar status, earning him the undisputed title of "King of Hollywood." Throughout most of the
1930s and 1940s, he was arguably the world's biggest movie star.
When MGM head Louis B. Mayer decided that Gable was getting difficult and ungrateful, he loaned Gable out to
the lower-rank Columbia studio. That would teach him a lesson. The result: Gable won the Academy Award for
Best Actor for his 1934 performance in the film It Happened One Night. He returned to MGM a bigger star than
In 1930, Clark and Josephine Dillon were granted a divorce. A few days later, he married Texas socialite Ria
Franklin Prentiss Lucas Langham. After moving to California, they had to be married again in 1931, possibly due
to differences in state legal requirements.
Most Famous Roles
Despite his reluctance at the time to appear in the role, Gable is best known for his performance as Rhett Butler
in the 1939 classic Gone with the Wind, which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. At the
time, Gable was wary of potentially disappointing a public who had decided no one else could play the part.
A few years before, Gable had also earned an Academy Award nomination for his role as Fletcher Christian in
1935's Mutiny on the Bounty. In addition, Gable was one of the few actors to play the lead in three films that won
an Academy Award for Best Picture. Decades later, Gable would say that whenever his career would start to
fade, a re-release of Gone With the Wind would instantly revive everything, and he continued as a top leading
man for the rest of his life.
Marriage to Carole Lombard and World War II
Gable's marriage in 1939 to his third wife, successful actress Carole Lombard, was reportedly the happiest
period of his personal life. They purchased a ranch at Encino and once Clark had become accustomed to her
often blunt way of expressing herself, they found they had much in common.
Then, on January 16, 1942, the idyll ended. Lombard, who had just wrapped her 57th film, To Be Or Not To Be,
was on a tour to sell war bonds when the twin-engine DC-3 she was travelling in crashed into a mountain near
Las Vegas. Upon hearing the news, Gable flew to the scene and had to be forcibly restrained from climbing the
snowcapped mountain himself in an effort to rescue her. After Carole's body was recovered, he
reportedly sobbed, "Oh, God! I don't want to go back to an empty house..."
Lombard's death, declared the first war-related female casualty the U.S. suffered during World War II, was the
worst loss her husband ever endured. Gable lived out his life at the couple's Encino home, made 27 more
movies and even remarried twice. "But he was never the same," said Esther Williams. "His heart sank a bit."
Devastated and inconsolable at the loss of Lombard, Gable soon joined the U.S. Army Air Forces. As Captain
Clark Gable he trained with and accompanied the 351st Heavy Bomb Group as head of a 6-man motion picture
unit making a gunnery training film. While at RAF Polebrook, England, Gable flew five combat missions,
including one to Germany, as an observer-gunner in B-17 Flying Fortresses between May 4 and September 23,
1943, earning the Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross for his efforts. He left the Army Air Forces with
the rank of Major.
After World War II
His first movie after returning from service in WWII was the 1945 production of Adventure. It was a critical and
commercial failure and, despite some subsequent popular successes such as Mogambo (a remake of Red Dust,
which he had made two decades earlier), Gable became increasingly unhappy with the mediocre roles offered
him by MGM as a mature actor. He refused to renew his contract with them in 1953 and proceeded to work
In 1949, Clark married Sylvia Ashley, a British divorcée who also was the widow of Douglas Fairbanks.
Unfortunately, this relationship was profoundly unsuccessful and they divorced in 1952.
His fifth wife, married after an on-again, off-again affair spanning thirteen years, was Kay Spreckels (full name
Kathleen Williams Capps de Alzaga Spreckels), a thrice-married former fashion model and stock actress. She
was the mother of Gable's son, John Clark Gable, born on March 20, 1961, four months after Clark's death. She
also had two children from her third marriage, Joan and Adolph Spreckels III (nicknamed "Bunker").
Gable also had a daughter, Judy Lewis (b. 1935), the result of an affair with actress Loretta Young, begun on
the set of Call of the Wild. In an elaborate scheme, Young took an extended vacation and went to Europe to give
birth. On her return, she claimed to have adopted Judy (a gambit that got stranger when the child grew to look
eerily like her mother, only with ears sticking out like Gable's).
According to Lewis, Gable visited her home once, but he didn't tell her that he was her father. While neither
Gable nor Young would ever publicly acknowledge their daughter's real parentage, this fact was so widely
known that in Lewis's autobiography Uncommon Knowledge, she wrote that she was shocked to learn of it from
other children at school. Loretta Young would never officially acknowledge the fact, which she said would be the
same as admitting to a "venial sin". However, she finally gave her biographer permission to include it only on the
condition the book not be published until after Young's death.
Gable's last film was The Misfits (written by Arthur Miller and directed by John Huston), which co-starred Marilyn
Monroe and Montgomery Clift. The Misfits would prove not only to be Gable's swan song, but it would also mark
the final completed performance by Marilyn Monroe. Many critics regard Gable's performance in his final film to
be his finest. Gable died in Los Angeles, California in November 1960, the result of a fourth heart attack.
There was much speculation about Gable's physically demanding Misfits role (which required yanking on and
being dragged by horses) having contributed to his sudden death soon afterward. In a widely reported quote,
Kathleen Gable blamed it on stress caused by "the endless waiting... waiting (for Monroe)". Monroe, on the
other hand, claimed that she and Kathleen had become close during the filming and would refer to Clark as "Our
Man". (Spicer, Clark Gable, McFarland, pp. 300-301). Support for Monroe's claim may be found in that Kathleen
Gable specifically invited Marilyn to Gable's funeral and the two of them sat together in the church during the
service, as shown in contemporary newsreels. Others have blamed Gable's crash diet before filming began; for
years, Gable's head would sometimes shake from the diet pills he would take to strip off pounds before making a
film, a practice which may have contributed to his early death.  It should be noted that Gable
was in poor health when filming began from years of heavy smoking and drinking, and in the previous decade
had suffered two seizures which may have been heart attacks. 
Clark Gable is interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California, beside his beloved
White Man (1924)
Forbidden Paradise (1924)
The Merry Widow (1925)
The Plastic Age (1925)
North Star (1925)
The Johnstown Flood (1926)
One Minute to Play (1926)
The Painted Desert (1931)
The Easiest Way (1931)
Dance, Fools, Dance (1931)
The Finger Points (1931)
The Secret Six (1931)
Laughing Sinners (1931)
A Free Soul (1931)
Night Nurse (1931)
Sporting Blood (1931)
Susan Lenox (Her Fall and Rise) (1931)
Hell Divers (1931)
Polly of the Circus (1932)
Red Dust (1932)
No Man of Her Own (1932)
Strange Interlude (1932)
The White Sister (1933)
Hold Your Man (1933)
Night Flight (1933)
Dancing Lady (1933)
It Happened One Night (1934)
Men in White (1934)
Manhattan Melodrama (1934)
Forsaking All Others (1934)
After Office Hours (1935)
China Seas (1935)
The Call of the Wild (1935)
Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
Wife vs. Secretary (1936)
San Francisco (1936)
Cain and Mabel (1936)
Love on the Run (1936)
Test Pilot (1938)
Too Hot to Handle (1938)
Idiot's Delight (1939)
Gone with the Wind (1939)
Strange Cargo (1940)
Boom Town (1940)
Comrade X (1940)
They Met in Bombay (1941)
Honky Tonk (1941)
Somewhere I'll Find You (1942)
The Hucksters (1947)
Command Decision (1948)
Any Number Can Play (1949)
Key to the City (1950)
To Please a Lady (1950)
Across the Wide Missouri (1951)
Callaway Went Thataway (1951) (cameo)
Lone Star (1952)
Never Let Me Go (1953)
Soldier of Fortune (1955)
The Tall Men (1955)
The King and Four Queens (1956)
Band of Angels (1957)
Run Silent, Run Deep (1958)
Teacher's Pet (1958)
But Not for Me (1959)
It Started in Naples (1960)
The Misfits (1961)
Documentaries and short subjects
The Pacemakers (1925) (short subject)
The Merry Kiddo (1925) (short subject)
What Price Gloria? (1925) (short subject)
The Christmas Party (1931) (short subject)
Jackie Cooper's Birthday Party (1931) (short subject)
Screen Snapshots (1932) (short subject)
Hollywood on Parade No. 9 (1933) (short subject)
Hollywood Hobbies (1935) (short subject)
Starlit Days at the Lido (1935) (short subject)
Hollywood Party (1937) (short subject)
The Candid Camera Story (Very Candid) of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures 1937 Convention (1937) (short
Hollywood Goes to Town (1938) (short subject)
Screen Snapshots: Stars on Horseback (1939) (short subject)
Hollywood Hobbies (1939) (short subject)
Northward, Ho! (1940) (short subject)
You Can't Fool a Camera (1941) (short subject)
Combat America (1943) (documentary)
Show Business at War (1943) (short subject)
Wings Up (1943) (short subject)
Screen Snapshots: Hollywood in Uniform (1943) (short subject)
Screen Actors (1950) (short subject)
for The Private Life of Henry VIII Academy Award for Best Actor
for It Happened One Night Succeeded by
for The Informer
In order to meet Wikipedia's quality standards, this article's trivia section requires cleanup.
Content in the trivia section should be integrated into other appropriate areas of the article.
The 6 feet 1 inch (185 cm) Gable had dark brown hair and hazel eyes. He had a muscular build, and weighed
about 190 pounds (86 kg) at the time of Gone With the Wind. He wore a 44-long suit. Later in life, his hair
grayed, his face weathered, and he put on considerable weight (in his late 50s, he weighed 230 pounds). He
chain smoked and liked whiskey. To get in shape for The Misfits, he went on a severe diet and dropped to 195
Gable had a reputation as an outdoorsman. At first, it was an image conceived by the MGM publicity
department, but Gable found that he liked the lifestyle, and spent time in the outdoors whenever he could.
During the filming of Gone With the Wind, Vivian Leigh complained about Gable's bad breath, which was
apparently caused by his false teeth. They otherwise got along well.
The sixth track on the The Postal Service's debut album, Give Up is entitled "Clark Gable." The song includes
the lyric "I kissed you in a style Clark Gable would have admired (I thought it classic)," paying homage to Mr.
Gable's film career.
His name was part of the inspiration for the name of Superman's alter ego, Clark Kent, the other half coming
from Kent Taylor.
Clark disliked Greta Garbo and the feeling was mutual. She thought he was a wooden actor while he considered
her to be a snob.
During production of Saratoga, co-star Jean Harlow died of kidney failure. Ninety percent completed, the
remaining scenes were filmed with long shots or doubles. Gable would say that during the remaining ten
percent, he felt as if he were "in the arms of a ghost".
In the British comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the knights of the round table mention that they enjoy
impersonating Clark Gable.
Adolf Hitler esteemed Gable above all other actors, and during the Second World War offered a sizable reward
to anyone who could capture and return Gable unscathed to him.
On his tombstone, it reads, "Back to silence."
He is mentioned in Monty Python and the Holy Grail in the knights of camalot song where they sing "And
impersonate Clark Gable"
1. Spicer, Chrystopher J. (2002). Clark Gable: Biography, Filmography, Bibliography. McFarland & Company, 7,
30. ISBN 0-7864-1124-4. But another biography says,
His original name was probably William Clark Gable, but the usual authorities in such matters — including birth
registrations and school records — contradict one another. The first name must have been in honor of his
father, William Henry Gable. . . "Clark" was the maiden name of his maternal grandmother. In childhood he was
almost always called "Clark," although some friends called him "Clarkie," "Billy," or "Gabe."
Harris, Warren G. (2002). Clark Gable: A Biography. Harmony, 1. ISBN 0-609-60495-3.
2. Harris, p. 179.
3. Harris, p. 268.
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