I was in love, the first time I saw Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind. When Mom told me he was dead, I was crushed. I mean what a babe! I went on to watch all of his films - even the last one The Misfits with Marilyn Monroe - where she acted like a brat, was difficult with the crew and they were out filming in the HOT dry desert of Nevada. 2-3 weeks later, Nov 1960 Clark Gable died from a heart attack. He was 59.
He was from Ohio - 2 townships claim him as their own - He left home at age 17 and took up theater acting. Moved around and ended up in Portland Oregon where he met his acting coach Josephine Dillon. - In 1924 they wed. She was 17 years older. Talk about a cougar! Well not really. She wasn't very attractive or maybe she just wasn't very photogenic. As it was, she actually was good for him. He had a space between his teeth, and she help pay to have his teeth straightened. She taught him how to stand, walk and the social graces of Hollywood - taught him how to dress and paid for his entire wardrobe. Imagine, a female manager of a young teen doing that now. On second thought, it probably still happens.
Like so many Hollywood stars of that era, he divorced the cougar - It was not a match made in heaven. She was jealous and bitter and he resented her following him around. He started getting embarrassed at her matronly look. They divorced in 1930. In 1931, Clark remarried another older woman, Ria Franklin Prentiss Lucas Langham - a socialite from Houston, Texas.
Well I do know why he married these older women - it wasn't for their looks - it was for what they could do for him - they knew it and he knew but women being women, and Clark Gable being Clark Gable, both women fell in love with him. Ria loved "playing" the happy Mrs Gable around town in Hollywood, but the truth was, they slept in separate bedrooms and it was not a happy life.
Then enter - Carole Lombard - Some believe she was Clark's first and only true love. They were meant for each other and this time, he married for love. March 1939. However, like many love stories - this one had a tragic end. - Carole died in a plane crash in 1942. She was 33 years old. Clark was said to be devastated - he joined the army air corp - went to England. He was a aerial gunner and flew over a few bombing missions over Germany. Imagine a movie star NOW DAYS doing that!
Oh Clark, with his roving eye for a beautiful woman, he just couldn't keep it in his pants. While married to his 2nd wife he had a one-night affair with Loretta Young, who was said to be in love with him. She was a strict Catholic and she was pregnant. Back then, there was a stigma associated with an unwanted pregnancy and an unwed single Mom. In Nov 1935, Loretta gave birth to a daughter. Clark Gable's flesh and blood daughter. Judy Lewis. Of course her story is a mess - during a time, when her dad denied - her mother lied and said she was adopted but everyone knew. She was a dead ringer for her daddy, big ears and all.
In 1949, Clark tied the knot for the 4th time to Lady Sylvia Ashley. Apparently she was a prima-donna and there were tensions. Carole Lombard was a hard act to follow. They divorced in 1952.
Poor Clark, just had to marry again - for the 5th time - to Kathleen Williams (Kay) Okay GEAR UP for another sad ending. He had known Kay off and on - after Carole's death. But nothing came of it. 10 years later they marry and friends say, Clark was finally content. Not only was he married to a woman with similar traits as Carole Lombard but he was a step-father to her children and he loved it. When Kathleen was 43 and Clark was 59, they found out she was pregnant and he was thrilled. Clark never got to see his son. He died a few months later of a heart attack.
March 1961, John Clark was born. Kay never remarried. She died in 1983. She is entombed in the same wall as Clark and Carole in the Great Mausoleum, Sanctuary of Trust at Forest Lawn in Glendale, one row down and to the left.
It may have looked like he led this star-studden life, in some ways he did - but he wasn't happy for many years. Always looking for his love - He was blessed to find that with Carole Lombard and once again with Kay. Bless his heart - I still love Clark Gable - faults and all.
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