Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Happy Birthday: Clark Gable!

Clark Gable (February 1, 1901 – November 16, 1960). Was nicknamed "The King of Hollywood". During his film career, Gable performed with some of the most famous actresses of the time: Joan Crawford, who was his favorite actress to work with was partnered with Gable in eight films, Myrna Loy performed with him seven times and he was paired with Jean Harlow in six films. He also starred with Lana Turner in four films and with Norma Shearer in three.

A young Gable wanted to become an actor after seeing the play, The Bird of Paradise. Gable first found work in small theater companies and he worked as a necktie salesman in a department store to help make ends meet. While there, he met actress Laura Hope Crews, who encouraged him to go back into acting.

His acting coach was a theater manager, Josephine Dillon. They traveled to Hollywood, where she became his manager and his first wife. He changed his stage name from W. C. Gable to Clark Gable. He found work as an extra in silent films, The Merry Widow (1925), The Plastic Age (1925), with Clara Bow.

Soon after, Gable returned to the stage, becoming lifelong friends with Lionel Barrymore. During the 1927-28s Gable acted with the Laskin Brothers Stock Company. Gable then moved to New York and Dillon found work for him on Broadway.

In 1930, after his wonderful performance in the stage production of, The Last Mile, Gable was offered a contract with MGM. His first role in a sound picture, The Painted Desert (1931). Gable's wonderful performance as Rance Brett, a criminal who does not feel sorry about the crimes he has committed, made him a very popular supporting actor.

Gable's timing in arriving in Hollywood could have not worked out better for him, as MGM was looking for more male stars. Joan Crawford asked for him as her co-star in, Dance, Fools, Dance (1931). A pre-code feature film about a reporter investigating the murder of a colleague. The film is loosely based on Chicago real-life events of the production's period such as reporter Jake Lingle's murder by underworld gangsters and the St. Valentine's Day massacre.

He also performed in the well known films: A Free Soul (1931), Susan Lenox Her Fall and Rise (1931), Possessed (1931), in which he and Joan Crawford steamed up the screen with the passion they shared in real life.

Unfortunately, Joan was still married at the time and Louis B. Mayer threatened to terminate both their contracts and for a while they kept apart and Gable shifted his focus on Marion Davies.

Gable's performance in the film, Red Dust (1932) made him MGM's most important star. After the film, Hold Your Man (1933), MGM recognized the goldmine of the Gable-Harlow pairing, putting them in two more films: China Seas (1935) and Wife vs. Secretary (1936). A very popular combination, on-screen and off-screen, Gable and Jean Harlow made six films together, the most popular, Red Dust (1932) and Saratoga (1937). The story about Carol Clayton the daughter of a horse breeder at Saratoga, who is engaged to wealthy Hartley Madison.

Gable was not the first choice to play the lead role in the film, It Happened One Night. A comedy directed by Frank Capra, a story about a spoiled rich girl who tries to get out from under her father's thumb and falls in love with a rogue reporter. The plot was based on the story Night Bus by Samuel Hopkins Adams. It Happened One Night was one of the last film romantic comedies created before the MPAA began enforcing the 1930 production code in 1934.

Robert Montgomery was originally offered the role, but he did not like the script. Gable won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his 1934 performance.

Gable also earned an Academy Award nomination in, Mutiny on the Bounty(1935). A story about a man named Fletcher Christian, who leads a revolt against Captain Bligh on the HMS Bounty. Bligh returns one year later, wanting revenge on his captors. Gable once said that this was his favorite film of his own, even though he did not get along with his co-stars Charles Laughton and Franchot Tone.

Even though Gable did not want to play the role, he is best known for his performance in one of my favorite films, Gone with the Wind (1939). A historical epic and romance-drama adapted from Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer-winning 1936 novel. Set in the 19th century American South. Costars: Vivien Leigh, Leslie Howard, Olivia de Havilland, and Hattie McDaniel.

The film received 10 Academy Awards (8 competitive, 2 honorary), a record that stood for 20 years. "Gone With the Wind" has sold more tickets in the U.S. than any other film in history, and is considered one of the greatest and most popular films of all time. Carole Lombard may have been the first to suggest that he play Rhett Butler and she play Scarlett.

Carole Lombard was quoted as comforting Gable after his loss, with the comment "don't worry, Pappy. We'll bring one home next year". Gable replied that he felt this had been his last chance to which Lombard was said to have replied, "Not you, you self-centered blankly blank. I meant me.

Gable's marriage in 1939 to his third wife, actress Carole Lombard, was the happiest time in his life. Lombard enjoyed hunting and fishing with Gable and his friends. Unfortunately, On January 16, 1942, Lombard was a passenger on Trans-World Airlines Flight 3. She had just finished her 57th movie, To Be or Not to Be, and was on her way home when the flight's DC-3 airliner crashed into a mountain near Las Vegas, Nevada, killing all aboard.

A month later, he returned to the studio to work with Lana Turner in the movie, Somewhere I'll Find You. Gable was devastated by the tragic death of his wife and he began to drink heavily. However, he carried out his performances without a hitch. He acted in twenty-seven more movies, and he re-married twice.

Gable is also well known for his wonderful performance in, The Hucksters (1947) and soon followed by, Never Let Me Go (1953), opposite Gene Tierney. A story about Philip Sutherland, who is an American news writer stationed in Moscow since the war. While there he falls for a Russian ballet dancer, Marya Lamarkins. They marry, only to find that the Soviet nation has become a police state. Sutherland is forced to leave without Marya, but he's determined to get her back. Tierney was a favorite of Gable and he was very disappointed when she was replaced in, Mogambo(1953) by Grace Kelly. Mogambo, was directed by John Ford and was a remake of his earlier film, Red Dust.

Gable refused to renew his contract with MGM, and began to work independently. His first two films were, Soldier of Fortune and The Tall Men.

In 1955, Gable formed a production company with Jane Russell and her husband Bob Waterfield, and they produced , The King and Four Queens. His next project was, Band of Angels, with Sidney Poitier and Yvonne De Carlo. Next he paired with Doris Day in, Teacher's Pet. The film was good enough to bring Gable more film offers, including, Run Silent, Run Deep. At 57, Gable said, "Now it's time I acted my age". His next two films were light comedies, But Not for Me with Carroll Baker and It Started in Naples with Sophia Loren .

Gable's last film was, The Misfits, written by Arthur Miller, directed by John Huston, and co-starring Marilyn Monroe, Eli Wallach, and Montgomery Clift. The Misfits takes place in Reno, about a chance meeting and friendship of a divorcee, Roslyn Tabor, and Gay Langland, an aging ex-cowboy who likes to gamble and makes a living by rounding up mustangs. This was also the final film completed by Monroe. Many critics believe this film to be Gable's best performance.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent bithday tribute to Clark Gable, Dawn. One of your bests.


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