William Clark Gable (1901-1960) was born on this day in Cadiz, Ohio and his birth certificate erroneously listed him as a female. Boy were they wrong! The 6'1" Midwest farmboy became "the King of Hollywood" and one of the most popular stars of his time.
"I eat and sleep and go to the bathroom just like anyone else," he once said modestly about his great fame. "Just a lucky slob from Ohio" who "happened to be in the right place at the right time."
Gable won an Oscar for the Frank Capra comedy It Happened One Night (1934) and set the world on fire when he removed his shirt in the film and bared his chest. The sex symbol of the 1930s was born. He continued the mystique with his unforgettable role as Rhett Butler (1939) in Gone With The Wind.
Gable served in the Army Air Force during World War II in honor of his late wife, Carole Lombard who had died in a plane crash while on tour selling war bonds. Like fellow actor Jimmy Stewart, Gable flew dangerous bombing missions over Europe and rose to the rank of major. His discharge papers were signed by a Captain named Ronald Reagan.
"The things a man has to have are hope and confidence in himself against odds," Gable said. "And he must be ready to choose death before dishonor without making too much song and dance about it."
Against all advice, he performed his own stunts in his final film, The Misfits (1960, w/Marilyn Monroe), then suffered a life-ending heart attack shortly after shooting was completed. Gable once told a reporter his epitaph would read, "He was lucky and he knew it."
More Film-Making Quotations
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