By Den Ardinger 32° KCCH
Hollywood actor Clark Gable was born William Clark Gable in Cadiz, Ohio on February 1, 1901. He was the son of William Henry Gable and his wife, Adeline Hershelman. His mother died while he was an infant of seven months, and his father sent him to be raised by his aunt and uncle in Pennsylvania until his father could care for him again at the age of two.
He quit school at 16 and decided to become an actor. He worked odd jobs and acted in stock companies to make ends meet. In 1924, at the age of 23, he married his acting coach, Josephine Dillion. They moved to Hollywood so that he could pursue his acting career. Six years later, they divorced, just as he was put under contract by MGM. In 1931, Clark married Maria Franklin Langham.
In 1933, Clark Gable became a Freemason. He was initiated an Entered Apprentice on September 17, 1933. On October 17th he was passed to Fellowcraft and was raised a Master Mason on October 31st. He was a member of Beverly Hills Lodge No. 528 in Beverly Hills, California.
After acting in four films, he quickly became MGM’s most important star. He was loaned out to Columbia and in 1934 won an Oscar Award for his performance in “It Happened One Night.” In 1935 he starred with Loretta Young in “Call of the Wild”. They had an affair and had a daughter, Judy.
He acted in many hits including “Mutiny on the Bounty” in 1935 and the Oscar Award winning “Gone with the Wind” in 1939. Adjusted for inflation, this film is the top-grossing movie of all time.
He divorced Maria Langham and married Carole Lombard in 1939 but she and her mother were killed in a plane crash in January, 1942 when the plane crashed into Table Rock Mountain in Nevada while on tour selling War Bonds.
Gable then enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps, became an aerial gunner, and flew combat missions in Europe with the 351st Bombardment Group of the 8th Air Force during World War II. Adolph Hitler was a fan of his and offered a reward to anyone who captured him alive and brought Gable before him. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal. He rose to the rank of Major and when he was discharged in 1944, his separation papers were signed by Captain Ronald Reagan.
After the war he returned to films. He married Sylvia Ashley in 1949. She was the widow of Douglas Fairbanks. They divorced in 1952. In July 1955 he married Kathleen Williams Speckles (a.k.a Kay Williams).
In November of 1960, after just finishing “The Misfits” with Marlyn Monroe, he suffered a heart attack and died within the month. The movie was released in 1961. At the time of his death, his wife Kay was pregnant and their baby, John Clark Gable, who was born in March 1961.
Clark Gable died November 16, 1960 and was buried with his former wife, Carole Lombard, in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California.
The American Film Institute named him the seventh greatest male star of classic American cinema. In 1990, he was on a 25 cent U.S. postage stamp with Vivien Leigh for the film, “Gone with the Wind.” Entertainment Weekly voted him the eighth greatest movie star of all time and he was awarded his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in February, 1960.
Clark Gable, more than a man, a Mason.