CAIRO – 16 November 2017: On November 16, 1960, the “King of Hollywood” Clark Gable passed away of a sudden heart attack at the age of 59. Beloved for his handsome charisma both on and off screen, Gable earned his title for starring in films such as "Gone with the Wind."
Born in 1901, the king’s birthplace was Ohio. His father was a wealthy oil businessman, and Gable never knew his mother as she died in his youth. Later in life when he was 16, Gable left high school in order to work at a tire factory. He did not even amuse the idea of being an actor until the fateful day he watched the play "The Bird of Paradise."
Gable loved it so much that it lit the passionate desire to act inside him.
It was not an easy start however. Gable was not considered conventionally attractive by Hollywood standards, and the traveling theatre company he had been touring with as a start had gone bankrupt. It was a meeting with acting coach Josephine Dillon, head of the next theatre company he joined, which began to see things turn around for him. Dillon helped get Gable into shape, fixing his teeth and hair. Despite being over a decade older than him, the two eventually married, and Gable was soon in Hollywood.
Gable’s start involved working as an extra in various movies; he soon caught the eye of MGM studios, who offered him a contract. He starred alongside acclaimed actress Joan Crawford in 1931’s "Dance, Fools, Dance," which won him critical praise, reassuring MGM that they had made a good decision on him. He would be cast in various villain roles for the rest of the decade, though eventually Gable desired something more.
Following a gum infection that landed him in hospital, Gable pushed back development for his latest film, 1933’s "Dancing Lady." When Gable recovered, MGM did not have any roles, so they had no choice but to loan him over to the low-budget studio Columbia Pictures. He was sent to act on Frank Capra’s 1934 romantic comedy "It Happened One Night." No one could have anticipated the massive success the film would rake in, especially for Gable, who earned his first Academy Award for Best Leading Actor.
Gable was now one of the brightest new names in Hollywood, with studios tripping over themselves to hire him. He had finally gotten his wish to star in wider roles, and starred in various successful films, but things were only just beginning to ramp up for the shooting star. By 1939, following a production history as grand and epic as the film itself, "Gone with the Wind" was released to critical acclaim, becoming the most celebrated movie of all time and turning Gable into a household name.
"The King of Hollywood" had been crowned.
Behind the scenes, the drama in Gable’s life was just as juicy as in the movies. He was a well-known womanizer, marrying over five times and constantly sleeping with as many women as he could. Thanks to MGM’s team of media fixers, Gable’s more unsavory aspects such as his alcoholism never made it to the public eye, ensuring his reputation would be untarnished.
One of Gable's biggest scandals involved the birth of his child with actress Loretta Young, whom he had slept with while still married back in November 6, 1935. Young feared the news that she had had an illegitimate child would ruin her career, and so pretended to adopt her own baby, who she called Judy Lewis, until revealing the truth decades later in 1966. The public would only learn of this after Young’s death in her memoir “Forever Young,” published in 2000.
As for Gable, "Gone with the Wind" would prove to be the absolute peak of his career, with his success only going downhill from there. The death of his third wife Carole Lombard in a plane crash devastated the actor, and he went on to enlist for WWII, perhaps not expecting to come back from the war. When he did, he eased back into acting but could never replicate the fame he saw in the Golden era.
His final role was alongside Marilyn Monroe in 1961’s "The Misfits," though he never got to enjoy the praise the film garnered as he died shortly after the film finished production. Gable also did not see the birth of his only other child, John Clark Gable.