January 11, 2021 | Christine Tran

Dashing Facts About Clark Gable, The King Of Hollywood

Clark Gable didn’t become a five-times-married “King of Hollywood” without stepping on a few people on his way up. As the foremost leading man of Golden Age Hollywood, the world knows Gable best as Rhett Butler from Gone With the Wind. But to those close to him, his legacy was much more complicated. Was he a womanizer with a heart of gold? Or was his heart full of darkness? Frankly, my dear, here are suave facts about Clark Gable, the King of Hollywood.

1. Turmoil Filled His Early Years

Clark Gable’s entry into the world wasn’t exactly smooth. First, because of his doctor’s illegible handwriting, his birth certificate listed his gender as both male and female. Then just ten months after he was born, unspeakable tragedy struck his family. His mother passed on suddenly, leaving his family without a matriarch—and the heartbreaking loss stirred up a terrible conflict.

Clark Gable FactsGetty Images

2. The Family Was Furious

Gable’s father was Protestant while his mother was Catholic. After she passed on, he refused to raise young Clark in the Catholic faith. This infuriated her family, and they fought him on it, insisting that the boy spend time with his deceased mother’s family. Eventually, Gable’s father relented—after all, he was otherwise occupied, trying to support the family and remarry so that his infant son would grow up with a mother.

Eventually, he succeeded, and remarried when Gable was two years old. His new stepmother would have a great impact on his life.

Whoopi Goldberg factsPixabay

3. She Was A Huge Influence

If there’s one person in his life who could take credit for Clark Gable becoming the suave, debonair figure that the world came to love, it was his stepmother, Jennie Dunlap. She made sure that he was well-educated, well-dressed, and well-groomed. She also shared with him her love for Shakespeare. On the other side, his father made sure to develop Gable’s interests in more “macho” pursuits like hunting and hard physical work. However, Gable had his eye on something else…

Zendaya FactsShutterstock

4. Misfortune Came For Them Again

Clark Gable discovered his passion for acting when he was just 17, but there were a number of stumbling blocks in his way. Not only was his family was going through a rough time financially, but there was also another heartbreaking tragedy around the corner. When Gable was 19, his beloved stepmother Jennie Dunlap passed on at the age of 46. Still just a teenager, he joined his father working in the oil field, but he knew he wanted more.

Joan Crawford factsPixabay


5. He Struck Out On His Own

Gable left his father behind and headed out for the Pacific Northwest, where he took odd jobs. At one of these jobs, a co-worker encouraged him to try his hand at acting again—and also introduced him to a beautiful actress named Franz Dorfler. The new couple got engaged and joined a traveling theater group—but soon enough, something would tear their bond apart.

Bessie Blount FactsShutterstock

6. He Found A Patron—And More

After the pair moved to Portland, Oregon, Dorfler introduced Gable to a local acting coach named Josephine Dillon. It was a grave mistake. Gable began to work with Dillon. It quickly became apparent that she was interested in more than just his career. While Dillon did help Gable with his voice, diction, and body control, she also began to pay his bills.

Before long, Gable left his fiancée for his acting coach…who was ­17 years his senior. And he wasn’t even a star yet. Did they live happily ever after? Not quite…

Clark Gable Facts Wikimedia Commons

7. He Was Ready

After a long period spent grooming Clark Gable for Hollywood, Josephine Dillon finally decided that he was ready for the screen. She moved to Los Angeles to start a theater company in order to give him a stepping stone, and five months later, he joined her. The pair wed—and lied on their marriage certificate about their age difference, narrowing it down to a much more respectable ten years.

Dillon had taught Gable quite a few things—and he was about to put her lessons to scandalous use.

Hearst Castle factsWikimedia Commons

8. He’d Do Anything To Get To The Top

In his early years in the film business, Clark Gable had a dirty little secret. The “help” of an older mentor had already gotten him to Hollywood—so he repeated that pattern with anyone who would take him. He had extramarital affairs with both men and women in order to further his career, including star William Haines and wealthy actress Pauline Frederick, who not only gave him a part in her play, but also bought him a car.

If you can believe it, this was just the beginning of his wildly scandalous life as a playboy.

Clark Gable FactsGetty Images

9. He Found Another

Eventually, all of Gable’s bed-hopping took its toll on his marriage to Dillon, and the pair separated in 1929. Gable was doing whatever he could to climb to the top, and he showed no signs of slowing down. He finally got his first film contract, with Pathe Pictures, and even found another rich, older woman to seduce—an heiress named Maria Langham.

Their age difference? 17 years. You can’t say he didn’t have a type…

Clark Gable FactsThe Painted Desert, Pathé Exchange


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10. He Moved Quick

Just days after the courts finalized Gable’s divorce from his first wife, he tied the knot with Langham. And at first, his eyes stopped wandering…but not for long. Soon after their wedding, he got another film contract, this time with Warner Bros., a major player. More roles in films meant more proximity to starlets—but he couldn’t charm them all. In 1931, he appeared opposite Greta Garbo, who was already a megastar.

Garbo absolutely hated Gable, and thought that he was a bad actor. He shot back by calling her a snob. And she wasn’t the only enemy he made.

Clark Gable FactsGetty Images


11. He Wasn’t Exactly Popular

Warner Bros. had signed Gable, but he failed to impress one of their VIPs. In fact, his opinion on Gable was absolutely devastating. Studio exec Darryl F. Zanuck said that: "His ears are too big and he looks like an ape." It looked like it would be another long period of struggle to get good parts—but then, his luck turned around.

MGM was looking to expand its stable of handsome young actors, and Gable was in the right place at the right time. They signed him, and finally, his career began to take off.

Maureen O'Hara factsWikipedia

12. They Fell Fast

One of Gable’s early roles put him right on a collision course with destiny. His first starring role was in Dance, Fools, Dance, with Joan Crawford. She had specifically asked for him to be her leading man. Crawford famously had one piece of advice for other actors: Don’t sleep with your co-stars until you’ve made at least three movies together. Well, for Gable, she broke her own rule.

Clark Gable Facts Wikimedia Commons

13. They Riled People Up

It’s a good thing that the passionate affair between Gable and Crawford never led to a fiery breakup, as they would go on to star in a total of eight movies together. Still, no matter who either star was married to at the time, they tended to mix business with pleasure on set—even though MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer did his best to stop them.

Mayer hated the scandal, but he certainly couldn’t deny their chemistry. However, it was Gable’s chemistry with another actress that ended up making him a true star.

Joan Crawford factsWikimedia Commons

14. He Played A Bad Boy

When Clark Gable played a gangster who seduces Norma Shearer’s character in 1931’s A Free Soul, he whipped audiences into a frenzy. Soon, people who loved the film sent an avalanche of letters to the studio—but there was a chilling dark side to their fandom. The film was notorious for a scene in which Gable’s character violently shoves his love interest. This happened to be the scene that fans loved so much. Yikes.

Either way, the studio took notice of how much fans loved Gable—and finally, they began to give him his due.

Clark Gable Facts Wikimedia Commons

15. They Tried To Tear Them Apart

Gable was one of MGM’s top stars. He appeared in a number of films with the most famous starlets of the day—including, once again, Joan Crawford. Their on-again, off-again affair continued—until one day, when it reached a disturbing breaking point. Neither star tried to hide what was going on, despite the fact that they were both married to other people. One gossip columnist called it: "the affair that nearly burned Hollywood down."

MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer couldn’t ignore it anymore, and he threatened to fire them both. Gable may have been a womanizer, but he was no idiot, and he turned his attentions elsewhere…

Clark Gable Facts Getty Images

16. He Kept Carousing

Gable, still very much married to his older bride, Maria Langham, gave up his ongoing affair with Joan Crawford—only to find comfort in the arms of another starlet. Gable had a brief fling with Marion Davies, a popular actress who was the long-time mistress of Hollywood impresario Herman J. Mankiewicz. I believe that ticks all the boxes for a “six degrees of Old Hollywood affairs” game.

Gable’s affair with Davies didn’t last long—and he had a much more important relationship on the horizon anyway.

Marion Davies FactsGetty Images


17. He Had Chemistry With Every Starlet

Producers had cast Crawford as Gable’s leading lady for 1932’s Red Dust, but MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer booted her from the film in an attempt to stamp down their affair. Instead, he cast blonde bombshell Jean Harlow. Once again, Mayer didn’t miss. Gable and Harlow had great chemistry, and audiences loved them—but behind the scenes, Mayer had his hands full.

Clark Gable Facts Wikimedia Commons

18. He Couldn’t Avoid Scandal

Partway through filming Red Dust, a dark tragedy occurred, leaving everyone involved scrambling. Harlow’s husband took his own life during a break from filming—and the circumstances were extremely suspicious. Some suspected that Harlow had been the one to pull the trigger, while others speculated about a strange line from the note that he left.

Either way, it was a huge scandal—which, as we know, was Mayer’s kryptonite. He tried to recast the role again, but an outpouring of sympathy for the newly-widowed actress convinced him otherwise. Sadly, the tragedy wasn’t over yet.

Jean Harlow FactsWikipedia

19. A Twist Of Fate Changed His Life

Around this time, Gable ran into a problem. None of the pictures that MGM had in development were interesting enough for him. They were paying him $2,000 a week just to sit around. As always, Mayer had a solution. He lent Gable out to another studio for a romantic comedy called It Happened One Night—and the film made him the biggest star in Hollywood by a mile.

However, it wasn’t an easy journey.

Claudette Colbert FactsIt Happened One Night,Columbia Pictures

20. It Was A Terrible Experience

Scores of Hollywood heavyweights had already turned down the role after seeing the script. On top of that, director Frank Capra didn’t even want Gable in the role. After a difficult on-set experience, everyone involved, especially Gable and co-star Claudette Colbert, just wanted to forget about it. It wasn’t a hit when it came to theaters, but it slowly gained traction.

Best Picture Winners facts It Happened One Night (1934), Columbia Pictures

21. They Thought It Was A Flop

Even when the film itself and its two leads received Oscar nominations, there was still doubt—Claudette Colbert didn’t even bother showing up to the ceremony, and an aide had to drag her off a train when she ended up winning. Against all odds, it became an enduring hit—and became a life-changing moment for Clark Gable.

Claudette Colbert Facts Wikimedia Commons

22. His Peers Finally Recognized Him

The Academy nominated Clark Gable for Best Actor for It Happened One Night, an award which he won. His reaction was utterly tear-jerking. Gable had spent more than a decade struggling for recognition in Hollywood, and now he had it. But when a young fan admired the award, he gave it to the child. Gable told the boy that it was the honor that mattered to him, not the stature. I’m not crying, you’re crying.

Clark Gable FactsGetty Images


23. He Destroyed An Industry

There was a bizarre side effect to the success of It Happened One Night. While filming a scene where his character undresses, Clark Gable found it difficult to remove his undershirt while also keeping the momentum going—so wardrobe took the undershirt out of the equation altogether. It started a huge trend among men, and led to a massive crash in undershirt sales.

Luckily for them, A Streetcar Named Desire came out just over a decade later—but I digress…

Shirley Temple FactsFlickr

24. His Friend Was In A Bad Place

As a follow-up, Clark Gable appeared in 1937’s Saratoga opposite his old friend Jean Harlow—but quickly, their time on set turned into a living nightmare. Harlow’s health began to mysteriously decline. Often, she was so weak while on set that Gable had to physically support her between takes. Harlow then took time off to recover. But when Gable went to visit her in hospital, he was in for a shock.

Clark Gable Facts Wikimedia Commons

25. He Lost A Friend

When Gable saw Harlow in her hospital bed, his heart broke into a million pieces. His old friend and co-star was severely bloated—and strangely, she had the smell of urine on her breath. Doctors gave her a devastating diagnosis: She was in the early stages of kidney failure. Soon after, she was dead. Harlow was just 26. Gable was bereft—but the tragedy didn’t end there.

Merle Oberon FactsPxfuel

26. The Loss Haunted Him

When Harlow passed, the film was 90% complete, so the studio insisted that it be finished. Gable tried his best, but when he had to film scenes without Harlow at his side, or with one of her body doubles, he said that it was like being in “the arms of a ghost.” Either way, Harlow’s fans crowded movie theaters to see her one last time, and the film was a massive hit.

Clark Gable Facts Getty Images

27. He Was Magnetic

Clark Gable could appear opposite a grapefruit on screen and manage to manufacture some chemistry out of it—and far too often, that chemistry percolated off-screen as well, despite his ongoing marriage with Maria Langham. However, he left one co-star in particular alone—at least at first. When Gable appeared with Carole Lombard in No Man of Her Own, he didn’t make a pass at her. Knowing his reputation, this surprised her.

As Lombard said: “We did all kinds of hot love scenes, and I never got any kind of tremble out of him at all.” Was he really that cool…or was he hiding something?

Clark Gable FactsGetty Images

28. He Met His Match

Years later, Gable and Lombard crossed paths at a ball. This time, he didn’t hide how he felt. In fact, he came right out with it and asked Lombard back to his hotel room. The starlet’s response was utterly legendary. Lombard asked him, “Who do you think you are, Clark Gable?” She may have had a witty comeback, but from that moment, the pair were rarely apart.

Carole Lombard FactsWikipedia

29. They Were Together But Apart

Gable’s first two marriages had been unions of convenience—at least, for him. They were wealthy and could help him, and he had needed the help. However, after his Oscar win, he didn’t need help anymore. Still, a messy divorce in the middle of a victory lap wasn’t a good look, so Gable and his second wife drew up a separation agreement…and then sat on it for a few years. Why mess with a good thing, right?

Carole Lombard FactsFlickr,kate gabrielle

30. He Nearly Missed The Opportunity Of A Lifetime

Lombard changed Clark Gable’s wife in more ways than one. When studio execs began to plan the film adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s best-selling novel Gone With the Wind, every actor and actress in Hollywood clamored for a part—but not Gable. Lomard, who had read the book and wanted to play Scarlett O’Hara, gave Gable a copy of the novel. Gable, characteristically macho, pushed the love story aside, and said that it would be a "women's picture"—but as well all know, the story didn’t end there.

A copy of the book 'Gone With the Wind'.Getty Images

31. It Was An Open Secret

Gable and Lombard didn’t really try to hide their romance. However, not everyone was on board. Gable’s second wife, Maria Langham, had expected that eventually he’d come back to her. She knew that he’d had scores of affairs, and she didn’t care—but this was different. Even the tabloids began to embrace Gable and Lombard as a couple, painting Langham as the villain instead of the victim. However, she wasn’t about to let him get off that easy.

Clark Gable FactsGetty Images

32. They Got Rid Of Her

Langham had supported Gable through the rocky early years of his career—and now, he was the world’s biggest movie star. She wasn’t about to let that go. Gable pushed her to go through with the divorce, which only made her angrier. MGM also wanted him out of the marriage, hoping to avoid further scandal. Finally, they came up with an ingenious plan.

If Gable accepted the role of Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind, MGM would pay him so handsomely that an expensive divorce settlement would be a drop in the bucket. It was a win-win for everyone—everyone except Langham, that is.

Clark Gable Facts Wikimedia Commons

33. He Moved Quickly

Langham tried to make it difficult for Gable by filing for divorce in California, which would mean that he’d need to wait before marrying Lombard. Eventually, she relented, and the courts granted Gable and Langham a divorce. During a production break from Gone With the Wind, Gable finally wed Lombard—just 13 days after his divorce. The man didn’t waste any time!

Clark Gable Facts Wikimedia Commons

34. She Was The Love Of His Life

With Lombard, Gable could finally be himself. They laughed together and played pranks on each other, and had similar tastes. While she was no stranger to Hollywood parties, she was also fine getting into the stables with Gable or accompanying him on any of his hunting trips. They were a perfect match—but not every fairy tale was a happy ending.

Clark Gable Facts Wikimedia Commons

35. It Was A Great Fit

He had been apprehensive at first, but even Clark Gable had to admit that he was the perfect fit for Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind. Not only that, he could tell that he was in good company from the first moment he stepped foot on set. Making a four-hour historical epic could’ve been a total nightmare, but Gable and the rest of the cast had the time of their lives making the legendary film—and for once, it was good, clean fun.

Clark Gable FactsGone with the Wind, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

36. They Had A Lot Of Fun

Before famous pranksters like George Clooney, there was Clark Gable. On the set of Gone With the Wind, he met his match. There was a scene where he was supposed to carry Olivia de Havilland’s character. Well, de Havilland had the crew actually fasten her body to the set. When Gable went to pick her up, he nearly threw out his back. However, it wasn’t all fun and games.

Olivia de Havilland FactsWikimedia Commons

37. He Pranked His Friends

Gable was at his best on the set of Gone With the Wind, and despite some early difficulties with a director who was later fired, he got along with everyone—especially Hattie McDaniel. In fact, he pulled one of his signature pranks on her. During a scene where their characters celebrate the birth of Rhett and Scarlett’s child, he covertly replaced the tea she usually drank with a stiff drank.

She didn’t notice until it was too late! Sadly, not everyone treated McDaniel as well as Gable.

Clark Gable FactsGone with the Wind, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

38. …And He Also Stood Up For Them

When Gone With the Wind began filming, Gable walked on set for the first time—and immediately, he nearly walked right off. He saw that the bathrooms had been segregated by race, and he was utterly enraged. He insisted that the producer change it, or he’d leave them without a Rhett Butler. And the troubles didn’t end there.

Clark Gable FactsGone with the Wind, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

39. They Enraged Him

When it came time for the studio to release the film, they had big plans for a huge premiere that would reflect the film’s grandeur. But when Gable found out, he was disgusted. The studios had scheduled the premiere to take place in Atlanta, which was at the time still segregated. When Gable realized that McDaniel wouldn’t be able to attend, his reaction was chilling.

Clark Gable FactsGone with the Wind, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

39. He Tried To Back Her Up

The studio’s mistreatment of McDaniel made Gable so angry that he told them he’d be boycotting the premiere. However, McDaniel begged him to go. He looked on proudly when McDaniel went on to win an Academy Award for her performance. The two remained lifelong friends—but not all of Gable’s Oscar moments were as golden-tinged.

Hattie McDaniel FactsWikipedia

40. They Were Always Joking

The Academy nominated Gable for Best Actor for his performance in Gone With the Wind. While the movie swept the awards that year, Gable lost. Apparently, Lombard comforted him by saying, "Don't worry, Pappy. We'll bring one home next year." He explained that he thought it was his last chance to win one—and her response was utterly hilarious.

Lombard looked at Gable and said "Not you, you self-centered [bleep]. I meant me." Amazing. Unfortunately, the good times couldn’t last forever.

Horror Movies factsGetty Images

41. They Helped Out

By 1941, many US stars had been galvanized to join the war effort, and Lombard was among them. In fact, she was so enthusiastic that she sent a letter to the President volunteering her husband for active duty. He replied and told the celebrity couple that their efforts could be better used at home. Lombard tirelessly began organizing and appearing at bond drives.

Travel took up most of her time—but sadly, catastrophe was lurking around the corner.

Clark Gable FactsGetty Images

42. He Lost Her

In January 1942, Lombard had traveled to her home state of Indiana to appear at a bond drive. She was returning home to Los Angeles with her mother and her press agent when a tragedy of the most devastating kind struck. Lombard’s plane crashed, taking the lives of everyone on board. When Gable found out, he rushed to the mountain in Nevada where it had happened.

His reaction was truly heartbreaking.

Clark Gable Facts Getty Images


43. He Was Grief-Stricken

Friends had to restrain Gable from scaling the mountain where the crash had occurred. When the search team finally located her body, he proclaimed through sobs: “Oh, God! I don't want to go back to an empty house.” He proceeded to reside at the Encino home they had shared for the rest of his life. On paper, Gable may have moved on—but for the rest of his life, his heart was only with Lombard.

Clark Gable Facts Wikimedia Commons

44. He Did It For Her

When the US entered WWII, Lombard had of course encouraged Gable to enlist, and following her untimely passing, he finally did. Gable joined the United States Air Force, and joined a unit that had him flying a plane equipped with a camera that filmed aerial gunners in action. He flew five missions—but he also caught the attention of the enemy.

When Did WWII EndWikimedia Commons

45. He Was In Grave Danger

It turns out that Adolf Hitler was a huge fan, and when he learned that Gable was fighting with the Allies, he offered a reward for his safe capture. Regardless, Gable made it out unscathed and the US awarded him multiple honors for his service. He returned home and briefly rested before resuming his career—and his love life.

Medical Practices factsGetty Images

46. Life Got Back To Normal

When Gable returned home, he found comfort in the arms of actress Virginia Grey. The pair had an on-again off-again relationship before his marriage to Lombard, and they began spending so much time together that the tabloid began to speculate that she’d be the fourth Mrs. Gable. Well, they were all in for a shock.

Clark Gable Facts Wikimedia Commons

47. He Turned On a Dime

They’d spent years together throughout the 40s, and Grey patiently waited for a proposal even as Gable dated others—only to one day be confronted with a devastating surprise. In 1949, Gable suddenly married Lady Sylvia Ashley, leaving Grey heartbroken. It was actually a surprise to everyone—when Gable called a friend and asked him to help organize a private wedding ceremony for him and Sylvia, the friend asked “Sylvia who?”

It wasn’t a great start—and it certainly wasn’t a great ending.

Clark Gable FactsGetty Images

48. They Weren’t A Match

Lady Sylvia Ashley was the polar opposite of Carole Lombard—she was an extravagant spender, loved lavish Hollywood parties, and didn’t participate in any of her husband’s hobbies. Soon, their mismatch began to wear on the couple, and not long after their first anniversary, Gable demanded a divorce. Ashley was heartbroken—but clearly, Gable wasn’t.

Clark Gable Facts Getty Images

49. He Fled

Gable couldn’t get out of the marriage fast enough. After Ashley tearfully testified at their divorce hearing, Gable told friends that he “must have been drunk” when he proposed to her. When the courts finalized their divorce, he was visibly relieved. This restlessness wasn’t just confined to his married life, however…

Partners Cheating FactsPickPik

50. He Was Too Big

After his iconic performance in Gone With the Wind and his heroic turn fighting in WWII, MGM had trouble finding roles that were good enough for Gable, his star power, and the attention that he garnered from fans and the media. Gable noticed, and grew more and more frustrated with the studio that had made him a star. It all culminated explosively with the film Mogambo.

Ava Gardner FactsWikimedia Commons

51. He Stood Up For His Co-Stars

From the moment that Gable walked on set, his experience on Mogambo was a disaster. He clashed with director John Ford over Ford’s poor treatment of Ava Gardner, and Ford would openly insult Gable’s appearance in front of the crew. He also fell ill on set and had to leave temporarily to treat a painful infection. Things weren’t always terrible, though—sometimes, they were downright scandalous.

Westerns FactsWikipedia

52. He Found A Friend…And More

While on the set of Mogambo, Gable was delighted to learn that his much younger co-star, Grace Kelly, also enjoyed hunting. Soon after they went on a trip together, they began an affair. When the production moved to London, he got them a hotel room so that they could continue seeing each other—but it didn’t last much longer.

Grace KellyGetty Images

53. He Got Cold Feet

Grace Kelly’s mother came to see her in London and expressed approval at the match between her daughter and Gable. The actor realized he’d gotten in a little too deep and panicked, leaving Kelly devastated. I don’t think the phrase “he left a trail of broken hearts” quite does it when it comes to Clark Gable—and he wasn’t done yet.

Clark Gable Facts Getty Images

54. The Ground Was Moving Under His Feet

Things were changing quickly in Hollywood, and in 1951, MGM fired Gable’s old boss Louis B. Mayer. While the two had often been at odds, Gable was disturbed by the news—and by the lack of roles coming his way. In 1954, after 23 years with MGM, Gable left the studio. While it was certainly the right move, Gable would never again capture the success he’d had in earlier years.

Gloria Grahame FactsFlickr, Marco Verch

55. He Found Love Again

However, there was one bright light. In 1954, Gable reconnected with an old flame who had recently divorced her third husband. Her name was Kay Williams, and before long, they were off to the races. They eloped in Nevada, with just a few friends and family members present. This match was different from his other, ill-fated marriages—and he seemed happier, as he’d been with Lombard. However, happily ever after wasn’t in the cards.

Clark Gable Facts Wikimedia Commons

56. He Wanted A Family

When the pair appeared together at one of his movie premieres in 1955, Williams was visibly pregnant—but sadly, tragedy struck and she miscarried soon after. Gable was a doting stepfather to her children, but he wanted one of his own, and they kept trying. Williams became pregnant again in 1960. Unfortunately, their bliss wasn’t meant to be.

Agrippina The Younger FactsShutterstock

57. He Floundered

After leaving MGM, Gable didn’t really give any truly remarkable performances—not totally his fault, as most of the movies he appeared in were middling. However, there was one notable exception. In 1960, Gable began working on The Misfits opposite Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift. The film would eventually reach icon status—but it was a long road to get there, and not everyone made it through.

Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable in The Misfits.Getty Images

58. It Was A Difficult Shoot

The Misfits was filmed in the desert in blistering heat, and despite his age, Gable insisted on doing his own stunts. On top of that, doctors had to constantly be on set to monitor Monroe, who was going through a divorce from the film’s scriptwriter, and Clift, who had heart problems. Somewhat ironically, they wouldn’t end up being the ones in need of a doctor.

Marilyn Monroe FactsWikimedia Commons

59. He Fell Ill

Two days after completing filming on The Misfits, Clark Gable had a heart attack. Many had speculated that he’d been in ill health on the set, as his voice had drastically changed, and the insurance company had only approved his casting after he quit smoking and drinking for a week. Gable wound up in the hospital, with his devoted wife by his side. While Gable was already 59, no one could’ve predicted what happened next.

James Brown FactsShutterstock

60. He Didn’t Make It

At first, Clark Gable’s condition seemed to be improving. One night, Williams left his side to get some sleep. A few hours later, a doctor woke her up to tell her the devastating news: Gable had passed on. He’d had a second heart attack, and his body simply couldn’t hold out. Williams was four months pregnant at the time.

In March of 1961, she gave birth to a boy, who she named John Clark—Gable’s only son, and one he never got to meet.

Funerals FactsPxfuel

61. He Was With Her For Eternity

As per his wishes, Clark Gable was laid to rest alongside the love of his life, Carole Lombard. Over 200 people attended the funeral, including an honor guard, and Spencer Tracy and James Stewart attended. Soon, the tributes began to pour out—but there was a dark side to it all.

Clark Gable Facts Wikimedia Commons

62. She Blamed Someone Else

Following Gable’s passing, gossip columnist Louella Parsons spread a series of vicious rumors about the star’s final days. Parsons claimed that Monroe had caused so many problems and delays on set that Gable had become enraged—flat out suggesting that the blonde bombshell was responsible for the star’s untimely end. This story couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Hollywood factsWikipedia

63. He Had A Big Fan

Making The Misfits had been a living nightmare for Marilyn Monroe, but she had an important ally on set: Clark Gable. Monroe had been so nervous to meet the star, let alone act with him, that she’d had to take a tranquilizer to calm down the night before their first day. This made her late to set, and she immediately apologized to Gable. He graciously said: he simply said, "You're not late, honey," and led her aside to talk.

The Misfits.Getty Images

64. He Was A Gentleman Through And Through

For the rest of the shoot, Gable was always there to talk to her and help her through her difficult time. Sadly, the vicious gossip got to her, and she did wind up blaming herself for Gable’s loss. The Misfits would actually be the final film that either actor appeared in. Monroe passed on in 1962 after an overdose.

Usa, Crowd Attending The Funeral Of Marilyn Monroe. August 14Th 1962.Getty Images

65. It Was Their Swan Song

While Gable didn’t live to see The Misfits become a success, there was one bright side to the horrible timing of his heart attack. Gable was able to see a rough cut of the film before he passed—and what he said about it was utterly heartbreaking. Screenwriter Arthur Miller reported that Gable said: "This is the best picture I have made, and it's the only time I've been able to act."

Clark Gable Facts The Misfits, United Artists

66. He Had A Secret Love Child

Everyone in Hollywood knew Clark Gable was a womanizer—but after he passed, many of his darkest secrets came tumbling out. While making a film in the early 1930s, Gable had impregnated his co-star, Loretta Young. The studio covered it up, and Young went away for a few months, later pretending that she’d adopted the daughter she gave birth to. Gable never acknowledged the child. Young only told the girl about her true parentage after Gable had passed—but the story gets darker.

Clark Gable FactsWikimedia Commons, The New Movie Magazine

67. Their Allegations Are Horrific

Loretta Young passed in 2000, and her daughter with Gable, Judy Lewis, lost her life to cancer in 2014. It was then that Young’s granddaughter-in-law revealed the family’s most disturbing secret. She said that Young had told her that her tryst with Gable hadn’t been consensual—a secret she’d hidden for nearly her entire life. The family chose to remain silent until after Young and Lewis had been deceased.

Clark Gable Facts Getty Images

68. She Was Rushing Home For A Sad Reason

When Carole Lombard perished in a horrific plane crash, Clark Gable was devastated—but few know that he may have played a dark role in her passing. At the time, Gable was filming a series of movies with starlet Lana Turner, and soon, the gossip columnists began to spread rumors that the two were having an affair. Fearing the worst, Lombard immediately made plans to fly home to Los Angeles, and Gable—but she never made it.

Clark Gable Facts Wikimedia Commons

69. He Put Himself In Harm’s Way

After losing Lombard, Gable was utterly heartbroken, and since Lombard had been traveling to see him, he blamed himself. When the tormented actor enlisted to fight in WWII, many saw his eagerness to put himself in dangerous situations as a self-inflicted form of penance for his role in Lombard’s untimely death.

Clark Gable Facts Picryl

70. He Was The Once And Final King

During his lifetime, people regularly called Clark Gable the “King of Hollywood.” The title went to the grave with him. Many think that the Golden Age of Hollywood died with Gable too.

Clark Gable FactsWikimedia Commons

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

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