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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!
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