A Tribute to Clark Gable
William Clark Gable was born in Cadiz, Ohio on February 1, 1901, making February 1, 2001 the centennial of his birth. This article was originally written in July, 2000, and was updated several times since then, including on the centennial of his birth in 2001.
For a high school dropout with big ears whose mother died when he was a baby and whose first MGM screen test wasn’t exactly a raging success, Clark Gable ended up doing pretty well for himself. That’s assuming you think starring in the most popular film of all time and being named “King of Hollywood” can be called doing pretty well!
As a young man, Gable reportedly sold ties, worked in the oilfields and in a tire factory, and was a lumberjack and a telephone repairman. In 1918, he joined a stock company after seeing a performance of The Bird of Paradise, and went on to act in plays from New York to Oregon. In 1924 he found work as a movie extra in Hollywood, then returned to Broadway where his friendship with Lionel Barrymore and his performance in The Last Mile were enough to get him a screen test at MGM wth Irving Thalberg (who supposedly wasn’t impressed at the time).
Still, he made a lot of films (a dozen in 1931 alone), became a big star after Red Dust in 1932, and after winning an Oscar for It Happened One Night (when MGM loaned him out to Columbia as a “punishment”), he had become “The King.” The role of his life as Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind followed in 1939.
As if to balance the scales, tragedy soon followed when his wife Carole Lombard died in a plane crash in 1942. Gable joined the Air Force, rose to become a major, and was decorated for his combat missions from 1942 to 1944. After the War, his career never quite returned to its previous heights. He died in 1961, at the age of 59, right after filming The Misfits with Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift. During the filming, his doctors had warned him that he was suffering from a heart disorder.
Clark Gable remains one of the most beloved of all classic actors. In Parts II-IV of this article you’ll find links to many Web sites devoted to his life and his almost 70 films, as well as links to reviews, photos, poster pages, and more.
Part I: Introduction
Part II: Clark Gable Tributes and Other Pages
Part III: Movie Reviews & Where to Find His Movies
Part IV: Books, Photos, Art, and Posters