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Clark Gable Biography: The King of Hollywood

Clark Gable, often hailed as the “King of Hollywood,” remains an enduring icon of the silver screen. His commanding presence, magnetic charisma, and unparalleled talent have left an indelible mark on the history of cinema. In this comprehensive biography, we delve into the life and career of the man behind the legendary mustache, exploring the highs and lows of Clark Gable’s fascinating journey.

Early Life and Struggles

Born on February 1, 1901, in Cadiz, Ohio, William Clark Gable grew up in a modest household. His mother, Adeline, was an oil-well driller, and his father, William, passed away when Clark was just ten months old. Raised by his mother and stepfather, Clark discovered his passion for acting during high school. However, his path to stardom was far from smooth.

Clark Gable

After a brief stint at Akron University, Gable worked in various manual labor jobs to make ends meet. The turning point came when he joined a traveling theater company, honing his craft and developing the resilience that would serve him well in the challenging world of Hollywood.

Breakthrough in Hollywood

Gable’s breakthrough came in 1931 when he secured a contract with MGM, marking the beginning of a prolific career. His early films showcased his versatility, from romantic lead roles to intense character performances. It was his role as the rogue Rhett Butler in “Gone with the Wind” (1939) that catapulted him to superstardom. Gable’s on-screen chemistry with Vivien Leigh became legendary, and the film remains a timeless classic.

The Mustache that Defined an Era

Clark Gable’s trademark mustache became as iconic as his performances. In an era dominated by clean-shaven leading men, Gable’s distinctive facial hair set him apart. Legend has it that MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer offered Gable a substantial bonus to shave the mustache for a role, to which Gable replied, “Nobody tells Clark Gable what to do.” The mustache stayed, becoming a symbol of Gable’s rebellious spirit.

Personal Life and Romances

Off-screen, Gable’s personal life often made headlines. He married five times, with his third marriage to actress Carole Lombard being the most publicized. Tragically, Lombard’s life was cut short in a plane crash during World War II, leaving Gable devastated. Despite the challenges in his personal life, Gable’s dedication to his craft remained unwavering.

Legacy and Later Years

Clark Gable’s legacy extends beyond his numerous accolades, including an Academy Award for Best Actor. He continued to deliver memorable performances in films like “The Misfits” (1961), co-starring Marilyn Monroe. Gable’s final film, released posthumously, immortalized his status as a Hollywood legend.

On November 16, 1960, the world mourned the loss of a cinematic giant when Clark Gable passed away at the age of 59. His impact on the film industry endures, and his influence can be seen in the leading men who followed in his footsteps.

Clark Gable Movies

Clark Gable, often referred to as the “King of Hollywood,” had a prolific film career that spanned several decades. Here is a comprehensive list of some of the most notable films in Clark Gable’s filmography:

  1. The Painted Desert (1931) – Gable’s early film where he had a supporting role.
  2. Dance, Fools, Dance (1931) – Gable continued to gain recognition in this pre-Code crime film.
  3. Possessed (1931) – A romantic drama featuring Gable alongside Joan Crawford.
  4. A Free Soul (1931) – Gable starred alongside Norma Shearer and Lionel Barrymore, earning him an Academy Award nomination.
  5. Red Dust (1932) – Paired with Jean Harlow in this steamy drama set in a rubber plantation.
  6. Hold Your Man (1933) – Gable and Jean Harlow teamed up again for this romantic drama.
  7. It Happened One Night (1934) – A classic romantic comedy that earned Gable an Academy Award for Best Actor.
  8. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) – Gable portrayed Fletcher Christian in this epic adventure film, earning another Academy Award nomination.
  9. China Seas (1935) – Gable starred opposite Jean Harlow and Wallace Beery in this adventure film.
  10. San Francisco (1936) – Gable, along with Jeanette MacDonald and Spencer Tracy, starred in this disaster film set during the 1906 earthquake.
  11. Wife vs. Secretary (1936) – Gable appeared alongside Myrna Loy and Jean Harlow in this romantic comedy-drama.
  12. Saratoga (1937) – Gable starred with Jean Harlow in her final film, which was completed posthumously.
  13. Gone with the Wind (1939) – Gable’s most iconic role as Rhett Butler in this epic historical romance.
  14. Boom Town (1940) – Gable collaborated with Spencer Tracy in this adventure film about oil drilling.
  15. The Misfits (1961) – Gable’s final film, where he starred alongside Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift.

This list only scratches the surface of Clark Gable’s filmography, as he appeared in over 60 films throughout his career. His charismatic performances and timeless appeal continue to captivate audiences, solidifying his status as a Hollywood legend.


Clark Gable’s life is a testament to the triumph of talent and determination over adversity. From his humble beginnings to his reign as the “King of Hollywood,” Gable’s journey is a captivating tale of resilience and charisma. His films continue to entertain and inspire audiences, ensuring that the legacy of Clark Gable remains eternally engraved in the annals of cinematic history.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about Clark Gable and their answers:

Who was Clark Gable?

Clark Gable was an American actor who was one of the most popular stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age. He was known for his good looks, charisma, and talent, and he starred in some of the most iconic films of all time, including “Gone with the Wind” (1939), “It Happened One Night” (1934), and “The Misfits” (1961).

What was Clark Gable’s most famous movie?

Clark Gable’s most famous movie is “Gone with the Wind” (1939). In the film, he played Rhett Butler, a charming and roguish Southerner who falls in love with Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh). Gable’s performance was widely praised, and the film was a critical and commercial success. It is one of the highest-grossing films of all time, and it won ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

How many times was Clark Gable married?

Clark Gable was married five times. His first four marriages ended in divorce, but he was married to his fifth wife, Kay Spreckels, until his death in 1960. Gable had two children: a daughter, Suzanne, with his first wife, Josephine Dillon, and a son, John Clark Gable, with Kay Spreckels.

Did Clark Gable serve in the military?

Clark Gable served in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. He enlisted in 1942 and was stationed in England. He flew 50 combat missions and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his bravery. Gable was discharged from the service in 1944.

When did Clark Gable die?

Clark Gable died on November 16, 1960, of a heart attack at the age of 59. He was buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills, California.

What was Clark Gable’s net worth?

Clark Gable’s net worth at the time of his death was estimated to be \$50 million. He was one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood during his career.

What is Clark Gable’s legacy?

Clark Gable is considered one of the greatest actors of all time. He was a charismatic and talented performer who starred in some of the most iconic films of all time. Gable’s legacy continues to inspire actors and filmmakers today.

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