Who is Clark Gable?
William Clark Gable (February 1, 1901 – November 16, 1960) was an American film actor, often referred to as “The King of Hollywood”. He had roles in more than 60 motion pictures in multiple genres during a career that lasted 37 years, three decades of which was as a leading man. Gable died of a heart attack at the age of 59; his final on-screen appearance was as an aging cowboy in The Misfits, released posthumously in 1961.
Born and raised in Ohio, Gable traveled to Hollywood where he began his film career as an extra in silent films between 1924 and 1926. He progressed to supporting roles for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and his first leading role in Dance, Fools, Dance (1931) was alongside Joan Crawford, who requested him for the part. His next role, in the romantic drama Red Dust (1932) with reigning sex symbol Jean Harlow, made him MGM’s biggest male star. Gable won the Academy Award for Best Actor for Frank Capra‘s romantic comedy It Happened One Night (1934), co-starring Claudette Colbert. He was again nominated for the award for his roles as Fletcher Christian in Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), and as Rhett Butler opposite Vivien Leigh‘s Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939). He found continued commercial and critical success with Manhattan Melodrama (1934), San Francisco (1936), Saratoga (1937), Test Pilot (1938), and Boom Town (1940), three of which co-starred Spencer Tracy.
Gable spent two years as an aerial cameraman and bomber gunner in Europe during World War II. Although the movies he appeared in following his return were not critically lauded, they did well at the box office. He experienced a critical revival with The Hucksters (1947), Homecoming (1948), and Mogambo (1953), which also featured newcomer Grace Kelly. Later, he starred in Westerns and War movies, such as Run Silent, Run Deep (1958) with Burt Lancaster, and in comedies and dramas that paired him with a new generation of leading ladies, such as Doris Day in Teacher’s Pet (1958), Sophia Loren in It Started in Naples (1960), and Marilyn Monroe in The Misfits (1961).
Gable was one of the most consistent box-office performers in the history of Hollywood, appearing on Quigley Publishing’s annual Top Ten Money Making Stars Poll sixteen times. He was named the seventh greatest male movie star of classic American cinema by the American Film Institute. He appeared opposite many of the most popular actresses of their time. Joan Crawford was a favorite actress of his to work with, and he partnered with her in eight films. Myrna Loy worked with him seven times, and he was paired with Jean Harlow in six productions. He also starred with Lana Turner in four features, and in three each with Norma Shearer and Ava Gardner.