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Auction History Result

8s040 CLARK GABLE personality poster 1940s waist-high portrait of the handsome MGM leading man!

Date Sold 8/19/2018
Sold For: Login or Register to see sold price.

An Original Vintage Theatrical Unfolded Personality Poster (measures 21 3/4" x 28" [55 x 71 cm]) (Learn More)

Clark Gable was born William Clark Gable in Cadiz, Ohio in 1901. His mom died before he was one year old, and his dad re-married when he was two. His stepmom encouraged him to pursue singing, playing music, and acting. Gable left home at 16 and had odd jobs, but at 21 came into an inheritance and began trying to make a living acting. He moved to Oregon, where he met Josephine Dillon, a stage manager 17 years older than he was. She immediately recognized Gable's great potential, and became his personal "coach", teaching him acting, and also paying to have his teeth fixed and to dress better. In 1924 they moved to Hollywood and were married, and she also officially became his "manager". But Gable only got bit parts in movies, and he returned to the stage, first in Houston and then in New York. After he played a killer in The Last Mile on Broadway to much acclaim, he was signed by MGM to a contract, in 1930 and he also divorced his wife and immediately married again. In 1931, Gable was the lead "heavy" in in The Painted Desert, a cowboy movie starring William Boyd, and he also appeared in 12 other MGM movies that year! Most were pretty minor roles, but Joan Crawford had spotted him and asked for him to play a key role in Dance, Fools, Dance, and they ended up making a total of eight films together, and they had an on-again off-again affair for many years, including when one or both were married! Gable was the top male star of the 1930s, and his good friend Spencer Tracy dubbed him the King of Hollywood, and the nickname stuck. He co-starred opposite every top female MGM star, most notably Crawford and Jean Harlow. In 1934 MGM "loaned" Gable to Columbia to make It Happened One Night, and he won the Best Actor Oscar. In 1939 he was loaned to David Selznick to make Gone With the Wind, so ironically, even though Gable is strongly identified with MGM, his two greatest hits were made for other studios (although MGM did distribute Gone With the Wind). In 1935 Gable made The Call of the Wild with Loretta Young, and they had an affair, which resulted in a baby, and since that could have meant the end of both their careers, Young took a year off and pretended to adopt her own baby! In 1939 Gable divorced again and immediately married again, this time to film star Carole Lombard. By all accounts they were very happy together, but in 1942, Lombard was killed in a plane crash while selling war bonds, and Gable was devastated, and joined the Army Air Force at the age of 41. There he made recruiting films, but also went on five combat missions. After the war, Gable married two more times, in 1949, and in 1955. His post-War movies are mostly not very good, in part because Gable insisted on always playing a romantic lead, often with a much younger leading lady. In 1961 he was paired with Marilyn Monroe (and Mongomery Clift) in The Misfits, and that proved to be both Gable and Monroe's final movie. Gable had been a heavy smoker and drinker all his life, and he wanted to look his best opposite Marilyn, and he went on a crash diet, and soon after the movie was finished he had a heart attack, passing away in 1960 at the age of 59. Four months after his death, his wife gave birth to their son, John Clark Gable. If you want to understand why Gable was such an incredibly popular male star (maybe the greatest of all time) I suggest you begin with It Happened One Night. Gable is wonderful, as is the entire movie!
If you know who did the art (if any), please let us know.
Important Added Info: Note that this personality poster is printed on a heavier photo paper-like stock, not what the studios used in the 1920s and early 1930s. Since the poster clearly dates from either the late 1930s or very early 1940s, it probably just means that they found better printing technology at this time

Note that starting in the very early 1910s (around 1912, when studios realized that people were more likely to go to a movie if it had a star they liked in it), studios created sets of special "personality" posters, which theaters that showed their movies could hang in their lobbies. These had a big advantage over posters for specific movies, because they could be used whenever a movie with that star was shown, which meant they could be used over and over! Because studios realized this, they made these posters on a high quality paper stock, sometimes with a "linen" texture, and sometimes with elaborate border designs, and almost always with great quality color printing. They almost always measured exactly 22" x 28", the same as "half-sheets" (which were then known as "displays", except that they were taller than they were wide, and that the images almost always had a "full bleed", meaning that there were no blank borders. They almost always showed a head and shoulders image of the star, and the image on these posters is often very close to actual life-size! They almost always have the name of the star and the studio they worked for at the bottom. Even though there were many sets of these from many studios over a period of approximately 30 years (they were rarely made after the early 1940s), very few survive, likely partially due to World War II paper drives, and partially due to the fact that they were never folded and the paper they were made of sometimes aged poorly. We at were just consigned a very special collection of 99 of these "personality" posters, which we are auctioning in separate auctions. They were collected starting in the mid 1980s, and the collector who assembled this collection tried to "upgrade" condition whenever possible over the years, so many of them are in excellent condition (sometimes likely the best surviving example), and on the ones where they are in lesser condition, it is because the collector never could find one in better condition! Now he has consigned them to us, and they will find new owners. If they were kept together, they would surely make an incredible display for the walls of any place where lots of people gather, like a museum, a restaurant, or any similar place. Of course, it is more likely that these will find many, many separate new homes, but we hope that they end up publicly displayed wherever they end up!

Note that MGM became a major studio after its creation (through merger) in 1924, and at some point in the 1920s, they created two different sets of personality posters to promote their stars, and in the 1930s, when they had "more stars than there are in Heaven", they created four more sets! You can tell the sets apart in two ways. One is that all of the posters from a set have the same border design and the stars and studio names are written in the same font and layout. The other is that you can look at the age of the star in the image (although that might possibly be deceptive, because they might have sometimes used a slightly younger version of a star!). The MGM sets were likely made every two to three years, and some major stars carried over from set to set, but with the passing years, some stars would be dropped and new stars added. These posters are extremely rare as it is likely few theaters ordered them, and fewer still saved them, and in addition, they could be easily torn, and if they were not stored carefully, they would become fragile, and it is likely many were damaged and discarded for that reason! Note that the high quality paper stock these posters were printed on does not always age very well, and can become fragile (usually resulting in chips around the edges of the poster). Because of their fragile nature and their age, we intend to send all of these personality posters in large flat packages, and never roll them into tubes (unless the buyer insists)! PLEASE DO NOT BID ON THIS POSTER, UNLESS YOU ARE WILLING TO PAY THE COST OF SHIPPING IT IN A LARGE FLAT PACKAGE!

Condition: poor. There is major paper loss in the lower right, but fortunately, it doesn't affect Mr. Gable's face, and it only slightly affects his name at the bottom. Obviously, it would be a major undertaking to completely restore the poster, although one could do so if one located another example of this photograph of Mr. Gable. Another possibility would be to trim the poster. In any event, do not bid on it unless you can accept that it has major paper loss.
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