Summary

Conflict Period:
World War II 1
Branch:
Army Air Forces 1
Rank:
Major 1
Birth:
01 Feb 1901 2
1901 3
Cadiz, Ohio 4
Ohio 3
Death:
November 16,1960 1
West Hollywood, California 1
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Personal Details

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Person:
Clark Gable 4
Level of Education: 2 years of high school 4
Marital Status: Widower or widow, without dependents 4
Birth:
01 Feb 1901 3
1901 4
Cadiz, Ohio 3
Ohio 4
Male 3
Death:
November 16,1960 1
West Hollywood, California 1
Cause: Coronary thrombosis 1
Burial:
Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale CA 5
Residence:
Place: LosAngeles County, California 4
Edit
Birth:
Mother: Adeline Hershelman 3
Father: William Henry Gable 3
Marriage:
Kay Williams 1
1955 1
Marriage:
Sylvia Ashley 1
1949 1
Divorce Date: 1952 1
Marriage:
Carole Lombard 1
1939 1
Spouse Death Date: 1942 1
Marriage:
Maria Franklin Prentiss Lucas Langham 1
1931 1
Divorce Date: 1939 1
Marriage:
Josephine Dillon 1
1924 1
Divorce Date: 1930 1
Edit

World War II 1

Branch:
Army Air Forces 1
Rank:
Major 2

World War II 1

Branch:
Army Air Forces 1

World War II 4

World War II 1

Branch:
Army 4
Enlistment Date:
12 Aug 1942 4
Army Branch:
Air Corps 4
Army Serial Number:
19125741 4
Enlistment Place:
Los Angeles California 4
Enlistment Term:
Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law 4
Source of Army Personnel:
Civil Life 4
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Occupation:
Actors and actresses 4
Race or Ethnicity:
White 4
Gone with the Wind:
1939 1
Source Information:
Box Number: 0311 4
Film Reel Number: 3.33 4

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Stories

The son of an Ohio oil driller and farmer, American actor Clark Gable had a relatively sedate youth until, at age 16, he was talked into traveling to Akron with a friend to work at a tire factory. It was in Akron that Gable saw his first stage play, and, from that point on, he was hooked. Although he was forced to work with his father on the oil fields for a time, Gable used a 300-dollar inheritance he'd gotten on his 21st birthday to launch a theatrical career. Several years of working for bankrupt stock companies, crooked theater managers, and doing odd jobs followed, until Gable was taken under the wing of veteran actress Josephine Dillon. The older Dillon coached Gable in speech and movement, paid to have his teeth fixed, and became the first of his five wives in 1924. As the marriage deteriorated, Gable's career built up momentum while he appeared in regional theater, road shows, and movie extra roles. He tackled Broadway at a time when producers were looking for rough-hewn, down-to-earth types as a contrast to the standard cardboard stage leading men. Gable fit this bill, although he had been imbued with certain necessary social graces by his second wife, the wealthy (and, again, older) Ria Langham.

A 1930 Los Angeles stage production of {+The Last Mile} starring Gable as Killer Mears brought the actor to the attention of film studios, though many producers felt that Gable's ears were too large for him to pass as a leading man. Making his talkie debut in The Painted Desert (1931), the actor's first roles were as villains and gangsters. By 1932, he was a star at MGM where, except for being loaned out on occasion, he'd remain for the next 22 years. On one of those occasions, Gable was "punished" for insubordination by being sent to Columbia Studios, then a low-budget factory. The actor was cast by ace director Frank Capra in It Happened One Night (1934), an amiable comedy which swept the Academy Awards in 1935, with one of those Oscars going to Gable. After that, except for the spectacular failure of Gable's 1937 film Parnell, it seemed as though the actor could do no wrong. And, in 1939, and despite his initial reluctance,Gable was cast as Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind, leading him to be dubbed the "King of Hollywood."

A happy marriage to wife number three, Carole Lombard, and a robust off-camera life as a sportsman and athlete (Gable enjoyed a he-man image created by the MGM publicity department, and perpetuated it on his own) seemed to bode well for the actor's future contentment. But whenLombard was killed in a 1942 plane crash, a disconsolate Gable seemed to lose all interest in life. Though far beyond draft age, he entered the Army Air Corps and served courageously in World War II as a tail-gunner. But what started out as a death wish renewed his vitality and increased his popularity. (Ironically, he was the favorite film star of Adolf Hitler, who offered a reward to his troops for the capture of Gable -- alive).

Gable's postwar films for MGM were, for the most part, disappointing, as was his 1949 marriage to Lady Sylvia Ashley. Dropped by both his wife and his studio, Gable ventured out as a freelance actor in 1955, quickly regaining lost ground and becoming the highest paid non-studio actor in Hollywood. He again found happiness with his fifth wife, Kay Spreckels, and continued his career as a box-office champ, even if many of the films were toothless confections like Teacher's Pet (1958). In 1960, Gable was signed for the introspective "modern" Western The Misfits, which had a prestigious production lineup: co-stars Marilyn MonroeMontgomery Clift, and Eli Wallach; screenwriter Arthur Miller; and director John Huston. The troubled and tragic history of this film has been well documented, but, despite the on-set tension, Gable took on the task uncomplainingly, going so far as to perform several grueling stunt scenes involving wild horses. The strain of filming, however, coupled with his ever-robust lifestyle, proved too much for the actor. Clark Gable suffered a heart attack two days after the completion of The Misfits and died at the age of 59, just a few months before the birth of his first son. Most of the nation's newspapers announced the death of Clark Gable with a four-word headline: "The King is Dead." ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The King

The definition of American masculinity, Clark Gable was officially proclaimed the "King of Hollywood" during his Golden Age heyday. Initially considered too rough-hewn to play the romantic lead, Gable's virile persona soon earned him scores of fans in films like "A Free Soul" (1931), "Red Dust" (1932) and "San Francisco" (1936). He won an Oscar for his role in Frank Capra's "It Happened One Night" (1934), made women swoon as Fletcher Christian in "Mutiny on the Bounty" (1935), and charmed as roguish Rhett Butler in the epic "Gone with the Wind" (1939). Gable's delivery of the latter film's classic line, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn," was soon among the most quoted in the history of cinema. An oft-married Gable briefly found romantic bliss with his third wife, comedienne Carole Lombard, whose premature death in a 1942 plane crash permanently dampened Gable's insatiable lust for life. After distinguishing himself in combat during World War II with the Army Air Corps, Gable returned to Hollywood in 1945, albeit with a noticeably diminished spark. Although many of his late-career efforts were unremarkable, there were exceptions, such as the jungle adventure "Mogambo" (1953) and the naval action-drama "Run Silent, Run Deep" (1958). His final performance, however, also proved to be one of his best, when he was cast opposite troubled co-stars Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift in "The Misfits" (1961). As befitting his iconic stature, America was informed of Gable's sudden passing with the reverent headline "The King is Dead."

 

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