“His ears are too big and he looks like an ape.”
Darryl Zanuck on Clark Gable’s screen test
“He was to the American motion picture what Ernest Hemingway is to American Literature.”
1960 Time magazine on Gable’s death
Before he was called “The King of Hollywood,” and long before he uttered the famous words in Gone with the Wind, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” Clark Gable was born in Cadiz, Ohio and raised about 80 miles northwest of there in Akron, Ohio.
Though not a writer, I thought that was an interesting find while doing some research on writer/director Jim Jarmusch also being from the Akron area. Gable even worked at B.F. Goodrich where Jarmusch’s father also worked, though in different eras.
Gable became interested in theater after seeing a play performed as a teenager in Akron. He later worked with a traveling theater group, did manual labor, worked on oil fields in Oklahoma, eventually finding his way to Portland, Oregon where he was a tie salesman and theater actor. After a few years he went to Los Angeles working on his craft on his way to becoming the star of It Happened One Night, Mutiny on the Bounty, and Gone with the Wind. He was in 65 films and was nominated for three Oscars and won one.
In Premiere magazine’s list of The 100 Sexiest Movie Stars of All Time they listed Gable at #13 and AFI’s 100 Years…100 Stars listed Gable as the #7 male legend. Not bad for a kid from Cadiz, Ohio.
“There’s no special light that shines inside me and makes me a big star. I’m just a lucky slob from Ohio who happened to be in the right place at the right time. I had a lot of smart guys helping me that’s all.”
Gable also won the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal when he was in the Army during World War II.
Tomorrow marks the two and a half anniversary of “Screenwriting from Iowa” and I’ll explain tomorrow why Clark Gable would have been attracted to screenwriting Diablo Cody.
P.S. Just to show you how times have changed in Akron, Ohio. Chrissie Hynde wrote about Akron in her 1982 song, “My City is Gone” (Pretenders):
I went back to Ohio,
but my city was gone.
There was no train station.
There was no downtown.
Akron was founded in 1825 and I’m sure there have been many changes over the years. Because of the advent of rubber, and Akron being a place where rubber was produced made it once the fastest growing city in America. Its wealth also brought the arts and fostered artists to one degree or another. The New Yorker says that poet Hart Crane “once worked behind a candy counter of a drug store in Akron, Ohio.” (Maybe Akron is what Francis Coppola had in mind when he made his famous comment about the future of filmmaking: “One day some little fat girl in Ohio is going to be the new Mozart.”)
The city being gone that Hynde refers to is I believe after some plants and buildings were torn down in the 80s due to economic change.
I went through Akron about 10 years ago and found a great minor league baseball field there (Canal Park) right off Main St. in the downtown area. These days many older buildings have been restored and there is even a Biomedical Corridor downtown.
In 2007, Hynde even opened a vegan restaurant called The VegiTerranean just north of downtown Akron. And I’ve read that she keeps an apartment in her old hometown in an urban renewal area known as Highland Square. This is the same Akron that basketball great LeBron James (the other “King”) said of just this weekend, “Akron is my home, it’s my life. Everything I do is for this city. I’m going to continue to do great things. I love every last one of you all. Akron is home.”