Best Known For
Dubbed “King of Hollywood,” Gone with the Wind actor Clark Gable epitomized Hollywood's Golden Age, and was a legend for his on- and off-screen romances.
Watch a short video about Clark and learn how his life spiraled out of control after he became a legend with his role in "Gone With the Wind."
Clark Gable will always be best known for his performance as Rhett Butler in the 1939 classic "Gone with the Wind," despite his reluctance to take the role.
Born February 1st, 1901, Clark Gable moved away from his farm work life and relied on his charm and good looks to succeed.
Clark Gable became a Hollywood leading man despite lesser known earlier movies. It was the film, "A Free Soul," and films with Joan Crawford that made him a star.
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Born on February 1, 1901, in Ohio, Clark Gable initially had a hard time getting Hollywood roles, due to his big ears. After signing with MGM, he was cast with stars like Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford, and his popularity soared. He hit box-office gold with such films as It Happened One Night and Gone with the Wind. His final film, The Misfits,
was also Marilyn Monroe’s last film.
William Clark Gable was born February 1, 1901, in Cadiz, Ohio. His father was an oil driller and farmer; his mother died when he was an infant.
Gable dropped out of high school at 16 and went to work at a tire factory in Akron, Ohio. One evening he saw a play and enjoyed it so much that he decided to become an actor. He tried to work his way in by taking an unpaid job with a theater company, but his dream was temporarily derailed when his stepmother died in 1919 and he went to help his father in the oilfields of Oklahoma.
After three years there, he joined a traveling theater company, which quickly went bankrupt, leaving Gable stranded in Montana. He hitchhiked to Oregon and joined another company, where he met Josephine Dillon, the theater manager. Dillon, a former actress and respected theater teacher 17 years his senior, took an interest in Gable. She became his acting coach and paid to have his teeth fixed and his hair and eyebrows styled. Before long they were married, and Gable and Dillon moved to Hollywood, California.
Gable worked as an extra in Hollywood before turning his attention to the theater, first in traveling productions and then in the Broadway play Machinal, for which he got good reviews. After it wrapped, he returned back to California and appeared in a stage production of The Last Mile.
Back in Hollywood, Gable was rejected at screen tests because casting agents thought his ears were too big for a leading man. He managed to land his first speaking role in a movie in The Painted Desert in 1931, and after seeing him on the big screen, MGM offered him a contract. His first leading role was in Dance, Fools, Dance, with Joan Crawford. Gable was a hit, and the studio began casting him as a roughneck villain opposite starlets including Jean Harlow, Greta Garbo and Norma Shearer. By year’s end, he had made a dozen films and launched his career as a leading man. Ultimately, though, he became sick of playing the bad guy and made his displeasure known.
During the filming of Dancing Lady in 1933, Gable developed pyorrhea, an infection in his gums that required immediate removal of nearly all his teeth. The infection spread through his body and reached his gallbladder, and he was hospitalized. Because of delays in filming and necessary reshoots due to Gable’s illness, the film ran $150,000 over budget. When he returned to work, MGM loaned him to the then-low-budget Columbia Pictures for a Frank Capra comedy, It Happened One Night. It was widely rumored to have been punishment for either his bad attitude about his parts or the difficulty in shooting his last film, but in truth, MGM simply didn’t have a project for him.
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