Clark Gable was the archetypal male star of Hollywood's heyday - he gambled, he drank and he womanised on an heroic scale. No wonder that when Spencer Tracy, only half in jest, starting calling him 'The King' the tag caught on. Born in 1901, the son of an unsuccessful Ohio oil prospector, Gable was a country boy who got bitten by the acting bug at ...Read MoreClark Gable was the archetypal male star of Hollywood's heyday - he gambled, he drank and he womanised on an heroic scale. No wonder that when Spencer Tracy, only half in jest, starting calling him 'The King' the tag caught on. Born in 1901, the son of an unsuccessful Ohio oil prospector, Gable was a country boy who got bitten by the acting bug at the age of seventeen. But he might never have got further than playing bit-parts in small-time touring companies had it not been for the help provided by two older women, who also became the first and second Mrs Gables. The first of these, Josephine Dillon, was a professional drama teacher and she made it her mission to transform Gable into a leading stage actor, but it was the second, a wealthy Houston widow, Ria Langham, who finally contrived to get him, first, to Broadway and then to Hollywood - the rest is history. Quickly taken on to the MGM payroll he was soon playing leading roles opposite some of the studio's major stars such as Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford and Garbo herself. Crawford was the first, but by no means the last, of Gable's leading ladies to continue her role offscreen, their affair would last, on and off, for several years. But it was another star, Carol Lombard, who for the first, and perhaps also last, time won his true and enduring love. Her tragic death in a wartime plane crash shortly after their marriage dealt him a blow from which he never fully recovered - though there would be two more marriages and numerous affairs. Warren Harris's lively and entertaining biography not only reveals hitherto unpublished information about his private life - two illegitimate children, a clandestine fourth marriage - it also describes an incredibly long, varied and successful professional life that included a best actor Oscar (for It Happened One Night), cinematic immortality as Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind and The Misfits, the last, sad instalment in Marilyn Monroe's screen career.Read Less
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