Birthdate: February 1st, 1901
Location: Cadiz, Ohio, USA
Died: November 16th, 1960
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Cause of death: Coronary thrombosis
Best known for: Oscar-winning actor who was a matinee idol of both the silent and sound era, starting out in small parts in the 1920s before securing roles in classic films such as It Happened One Night (1934), Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) and Saratoga (1937). It is his iconic role as Rhett Butler in 1939's Gone with the Wind which secured his legendary status, after which he appeared in various war and Western films. He won an Oscar for Best Actor for It Happened One Night (beating Frank Morgan and William Powell) and was nominated for a further two (for Mutiny on the Bounty and Gone with the Wind). He was also nominated for two Golden Globes. He was married five times, most famously to the actress Carole Lombard, who died in an airplane crash in 1942.
In the 1950s, times were hard at Clark's home studio, MGM, thanks to the advent and success of television, and plummeting movie revenues. Many MGM execs were fired (including Louis B Mayer in 1951), and a number of stars considered to have excessive salaries were let go too, including Judy Garland and Greer Garson. Although Clark was not one of these stars, his salary was deemed excessive, and when his contract came up for renewal in 1953, he decided to go his own, independent way.
|Clark on March 26th, 1958, presenting|
at the Oscars at Hollywood's Pantages
Theater. He was 57 years old here.
Clark's penultimate film project was It Started in Naples, released in August 1960 and co-starring Sophia Loren. Filmed in Rome, Naples and Capri, it became the last of Clark's films to be released in his lifetime.
|Clark with Marilyn Monroe, his co-star|
in The Misfits (1960). The film would
be the last for them both.
On November 5th Clark suffered agonising chest pains while changing the tyre on his Jeep at home, and retired to bed early on his wife Kay's orders after the pain had subsided. He suffered further headaches and restlessness through the night, and finally got up at 7.15am the following day. When he tried to dress himself, he was wracked with pain once more.
|Clark at the press conference|
for The Misfits, 1960
What caused this sudden decline in Clark's health - between filming in baking heat in the desert to being hospitalised with a heart condition - is unclear. It could have been the stress of filming in such inhospitable locations, or his insistence on performing his own stunts. Or it could have been to do with the crash diet Clark went on prior to filming The Misfits, which saw him drop from 230lbs (104kg) to 195lbs (88kg), along with an over-consumption of Dexedrine pills.
|Mourners outside the Church of the Recessional on November 20th|
1960. Newsreel footage shows the arrival of stars such as Frank Capra,
Roy Rogers, James Stewart and Spencer Tracy. Clark's wife Kay is
pictured centre, in black.
On November 20th, Clark's bronze $4,000 casket graced a private service attended by 200 people (including Spencer Tracy, Robert Taylor, James Stewart, Norma Shearer, Robert Stack and Van Johnson) at the Church of the Recessional in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, where he was buried beside his third wife Carole Lombard, and eventually his fifth wife Kay (she died in 1983).
|John Clark Gable pictured|
in 2008, aged 47
On the up side, on March 20th, 1961 - just over five months after Clark died - his wife Kay Williams gave birth to his only son, John, at the same hospital where his father had died.