Clark Gable

Clark Gable

Adolf Hitler esteemed the film star above all other actors, and during the war offered a sizable reward to anyone who could capture and return Gable, who had enlisted in the Army Air Corps and was flying combat missions over Germany, unscathed to him.

11/16/60: Gable sat up in his hospital bed while reading a magazine and suffered his fourth and final heart attack. He was dead within seconds and attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.

11/5/60: His heart attack happened when he was changing a tire on his jeep. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a close friend of Gable's, sent him a message of support wishing him a speedy recovery.

11/6/60: Gable was devastated to learn of the unexpected death of his close friend Ward Bond from a heart attack. Shortly afterwards Gable himself suffered a massive heart attack, and died ten days later in the hospital.

1933: Underwent cosmetic surgery on his ears and teeth.

1938: In a poll of entertainment readers, he was overwhelmingly selected "King of Hollywood" and was officially crowned by columnist Ed Sullivan.

1939: Part of Gable and Carole Lombard's honeymoon was spent at the Willows Inn in Palm Springs, CA. Today the Inn continues to operate and anyone can stay in the same room, which is largely unaltered since that time.

1942: He enlisted in the army in honor of his late wife, Carole Lombard. She had been killed in a plane crash while on tour selling war bonds.

1948: Proposed marriage to Nancy Davis.

1952: His widow, Kay Williams, divorced her previous husband, Adolph Spreckels Jr., heir to the Spreckels Sugar fortune. In the divorce papers she alleged that he beat her with one of her slippers.

1970s: His Encino, CA, estate was subdivided and turned into a very upscale tract development called "Clark Gable Estates.".

1995: Chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (#36).

1999: The American Film Institute named Gable among the Greatest Male Stars of All Time, ranking at #7.

3/15/46: Was injured in a car crash at the traffic circle at Sunset Blvd. and Bristol Ave. in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood. According to a press release from MGM, Gable was driving east on Sunset Blvd. and had entered the south half of the traffic circle when he was struck by another car, whose driver apparently had become confused by the "round-about" and was driving in a westerly direction on the same arc of the circle. Gable drove his car over a curb to avoid hitting the the other car, and it struck a tree, throwing him against the steering wheel. He was treated at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital for a bruised chest and a cut on his right leg that required stitches. The driver of the other car drove away from the site without checking on Gable or reporting the accident. The hit-and-run accident gave rise to the urban legend that Gable had struck and killed a pedestrian while driving drunk, an incident that allegedly was covered up by MGM. Though reported in several biographies, there is no basis in fact for the allegations.

6/11/33: He was hospitalized for an infection of the gums the day before he was to begin shooting Dancing Lady (1933). He was hospitalized for several days, after which most of his teeth were extracted. Afterwards, he went on a vacation to Alaska and Canada with his wife, as it would take a couple of weeks for his gums to heal enough so he could be fitted for dentures. MGM shot around Gable until he returned and was fitted with a dental plate, but on July 30, after one day's shooting, the infection felled him again. In the days before antibiotics, the infection was so serious Gable's gall bladder was removed. Out another month, the film had to be shut down and went $150,000 over budget. MGM boss Louis B. Mayer docked Gable two weeks pay, which caused bad feelings between the studio and its top star. In order to teach him a lesson, Mayer lent him to Columbia Pictures, then a poverty-row studio, to make a comedy. The movie, Frank Capra's masterpiece It Happened One Night (1934), swept the Academy Awards the next year and brought Gable his only Oscar.

A few months after his death, his wife gave birth to John Clark Gable. John is into racing and has appeared in at least one film.

A persistent legend has it that Gable had a profound effect on men's fashion, thanks to a scene in It Happened One Night. As he is preparing for bed, he takes off his shirt to reveal that he is bare-chested. Sales of men's undershirts across the country allegedly declined noticeably for a period following this movie.

Actress Judy Lewis is Clark's out-of-wedlock daughter by actress Loretta Young. The two had a romance during the filming of The Call of the Wild (1935).

Although discharged from the US air force early in 1944, he refused to make another movie until the war had ended.

Although he was never crowned #1 at the Box Office in the Top 10 Poll of Money-Making Stars, as ranked by Quigley Publications' annual survey of movie exhibitors, he made the list a then-record 15 times from 1932 to 1949, and a 16th time in 1955. Gable, "The King", was ranked in the top four of Box Office stars every year from 1934 to 1939 (the "Golden Age" of Hollywood), ranking #2 in 1934 and 1936 through 1938, inclusive, when he was topped by Shirley Temple. After ranking #3 at the Box Office in 1940, he slumped to #10 in 1941, a position he also held in 1942 and 1943. After returning from the war, he took the #7 spot in the Box Office poll in 1947 and 1948, before again slumping to #10 in 1949. He made his last appearance in the Top 10 in 1955, when he again placed #10.