1901-02-01

CLARK GABLE, an American actor and Hollywood legend was born on this date.

When Gable first arrived in Hollywood in 1925, he would do anything and anyone to advance his career. His first two wives were decidedly unglamorous, much older women; he was a kept man living like a movie star. When he started to get good film roles, he abandoned his second wife, and began a series of affairs with female stars, with one important exception.

Gable had at least one gay encounter for certain. The great silent film star Billy Haines, the most popular male film star of 1930, was an out and proud gay guy. He told his friends about his hookup with Gable in the late 1920s, which was unusual, because Haines was known for being discreet. Haines knew better than anyone the damage that could be caused by the public knowledge of gayness. No less than Joan Crawford confirmed Haines’ story, which holds up under scrutiny because she had a lifelong friendship to both men; she loved them both dearly.

A decade later Gable avenged his assignation with Haines. Hollywood had more than a few homosexuals and Jews in the biz, and Gable let it be known that he held both in disdain. By 1939 Gable had become the personification of the macho male star. During filming of a little picture titled Gone With The Wind, Gable was made to feel uncomfortable by the presence of Haines, who visited the set as a guest of gay, Jewish director George Cukor. When Gable overheard someone on the set comment: ”Cukor is directing one of Billy’s old tricks…”, Gable walked off the set and vowed not to return unless Cukor was replaced.

MGM decided it needed Gable more than Cukor, and the far less talented Victor Fleming was brought in to replace Cukor, even though Cukor had worked for two years on preproduction and had already had done some filming.

Gable was crowned “The King of Hollywood”, but Carol Lombard joked: “if his cock was one inch shorter, they’d be calling him “the Queen of Hollywood. God knows I love Clark, but he’s the worst lay in town.”

And, never at a loss for words, Tallulah Bankhead commented, “if his dick was one inch shorter, his mname would be Betty Grable, not Clark Gable.”