Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Clark Gable

When Clark Gable (at left, circa 1927) first arrived in Hollywood in 1925, he would do anything or use anyone to advance his career. His first two wives were decidedly unglamorous older women; he was a kept man living the lifestyle of a star. As soon as Gable touched the limelight, he abandoned his second wife and followed wherever his penis led. He tore through Hollywood’s women with the appetite of a starving teenager, with one notable exception.

Gable had one homosexual encounter that is well documented. The great silent film star Billy Haines, who was the most popular male film star of 1930, was the hub of gay Hollywood. He told all his friends about his sexual hookup with Clark Gable in the late 1920s, which was unusual, since Haines never bragged about such things. Haines knew first hand the damage that could be caused by a public knowledge of homosexuality. Joan Crawford confirmed the story, and her testament holds up under scrutiny because she was the lifelong best friend of both men. She had no reason to lie about either star, and she cherished the friendship of both. 

More than ten years later Gable avenged his gay encounter. Hollywood was awash with both homosexuals and Jews, and Gable let it be known that he held both in disdain. By 1939 Gable had come to personify the image of a super macho male star. During filming of Gone with the Wind, Gable was uncomfortable by the presence of Billy Haines, who visited the set as a guest of director George Cukor (who was both homosexual and Jewish). When Gable overheard the comment, “George Cukor is directing one of Billy’s old tricks,” Gable walked off the set and vowed not to return until Cukor was replaced. A little too sensitive, perhaps?

MGM decided it needed Gable more than Cukor for this project, and Victor Fleming was ushered in as replacement director, even though Cukor had already worked for two years on preproduction and early filming. Although Gone with the Wind became one of the great films of all time, the incident didn’t harm the career of George Cukor, who immediately began working on The Women and continued to make top grossing films.

Gable, below, circa 1931, without a moustache (or cigar). Gable died at the age of 59 in 1960, before his last film The Misfits (with costar Marilyn Monroe) was released.

From a 1939 press report:

Clark Gable and Carole Lombard met first in 1932, while making a picture called No Man of Her Own. Gable was then a novice leading man, only four years removed from the career of bumming, lumberjacking and cheap stock company acting. Carole Lombard was an ex-Mack Sennett comedienne trying hard to make a reputation as a serious actress. Both were married to others. Gable's wife was a well-to-do Texas widow ten years his senior. Lombard's husband was Actor William Powell. At this first meeting, neither Gable nor Lombard showed any interest in the other.

Their next meeting of importance occurred at a party given by Hollywood's famed Countess di Frasso in 1935. By this time, Carole Lombard had divorced William Powell and Gable was no longer living with his wife. Countess di Frasso's guests had been asked to come in something white. Carole Lombard arrived in a white ambulance, wearing a white nightgown, lying on a white cot which was carried in by three white-clad interns. She and Gable danced together all evening. Later, Lombard had the ambulance decorated with a red heart and sent it to Gable. He had the motor supercharged and drove about in it for two years.

Later on, to show her affection for Gable, Carole Lombard sent him hams with his picture painted on them. He reciprocated with a gift of a fire engine. Soon Gable and Lombard called each other "Ma" and "Pa."

The progress of the Gable-Lombard romance was apparently impeded by Mrs. Gable until January, 1939, when she announced that she would sue for a divorce. When the divorce was granted, March 7, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard at last admitted they would marry, without saying when.

In March (1939) Clark Gable got into his cream-colored roadster, picked up Carole Lombard and drove 350 miles east to Kingman, Ariz. There they bought a license from an awestruck clerk named Viola Olsen, and proceeded to the home of a Methodist Episcopal minister named Kenneth M. Engle. In the presence of his wife and a high-school principal named Cate, who later defined their behavior as "lovey-dovey," Mr. Engle made Clark Gable and Carole Lombard man & wife. Gable wore blue, Lombard grey.

Immediately after the ceremony, Mr. & Mrs. Gable started back to Hollywood. They told reporters they would not take a honeymoon until Gable was through making Gone With the Wind, and Lombard her next picture, Memory of Love, for RKO. They expected, within two weeks, to move into Gable's ranch house in San Fernando Valley. They did not expect to call it "the House of the Seven Gables." Asked whether she would retire and have children, Carole Lombard blushed.

Next day, Gable was back at work and the Gable-Lombard romance took its place among Hollywood classics of its kind – Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford (divorced), Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Joan Crawford (divorced), John Barrymore and Dolores Costello (divorced), Charlie Chaplin and Paulette Goddard (undefined).

Trivia: After Gable was crowned "The King of Hollywood", Carole Lombard joked, “If his c*ck 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 the town.”


  1. So cute..loved them both...crying here just a bit

  2. innocent bystanderJuly 19, 2014 at 2:59 AM

    I'd heard the same Lombard comment, only differently: it was Tallulah Bankhead saying "If his dick was one inch shorter, his name would be Betty Grable, not Clark Gable." Who knows? Maybe they both said it. Maybe Brando, Newman and Dean said it, as well!

  3. I also heard he was bad in bed -- but what a hunk!

  4. My understanding about MGM's dismissing Cukor as director was that it was because filming was far, far behind schedule, and what he had shot had no energy, no pacing. Add to that the fact that Gable was unhappy being directed by a "woman's director", and Cukor was out - Gable's hunting buddy Victor Fleming was in. I knew Gable was a vocal homophobe, using his clout to have obviously gay men thrown off the set, but I had never heard of him having had a homosexual encounter. Makes sense in a way though, it's usually those men who are deeply closeted who are the most vocally homophobic.

  5. The way you have written this about Lombard & Gable is amusing & inaccurate. They were all ready sharing an address at the *Gable ranch house* that you mention & in fact it was bought with Carole Lombard's money. Because Gable would cry *poverty* where cash was involved, so
    in addition to being a dud in the sack seems the *king* was also a cheap
    *rick & notorious womanizer. I m currently reading a bio by Hardy on Gable
    and it is loaded with *dirt* on this guy. Also Loretta Young who bore their secret daughter was visited by him when the child was a newborn, Young forwarded info about a bank account for the little tyke & gable never contributed a single dime ! He never had much appeal for me, his head is disproportionately large, ears protrude & has a very *oily* appearance, a good actor though !

  6. Gable wanted to know his daughter. He wasn't allowed to see her, because of the moral codes in Loretta's contract. Gable wasn't the least bit gay! He had 2 stars who had inordinate crushes on him...Crawford and Haines who conjured up a story as a result of being rejected by him. He had bad teeth and bad breath according to another starlet, Lana Turner, who was also rejected by him. Gable had the longest relationship of his life with a women through 4 marriages, including his with Lombard's. She was the gorgeous Virginia Grey, with whom she was madly in love . So check the facts and learn the truth with those who are really in the know, instead of hack writers who weren't even born when he The King of Hollywood was alive.

    1. From your blogger: OK, Ms. Bradshaw, I get so tired of this. So YOU were there first hand to know that Billy Haines and Gable never engaged in a homosexual act? I am so happy when an absolute authority responds to my posts. First of all , my post never said Gable was gay - not even a little, a lot, or otherwise. Billy Haines was a powerful man in Hollywood, successfully transitioning from silents to talkies,and he knew every power broker in town. Many unknowns participated in a bit of casting couch activity to get ahead. That certainly did not make them gay.

    2. By the way, Billy Haines was never the most popular male film star in any era. He had a bit of a run in the Silents and later became a pariah as a result of his relationship with another man. I appreciate and acknowledge he was open about his homosexual relationship as were many others pre WW 2, but he violated the moral codes of the old Hollywood system and became a very successful furniture maker and interior designer to many of the stars.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. From your blogger:
      Our dear Ms. Bradshaw. Your ignorance is again showing. The 1930 Quigley Poll, a survey of film exhibitors, listed Haines as the top box office attraction in the country. Read my post about William Haines - link is in the sidebar at right.

    5. I also read David Brets's "Clark Gable" and he states that Clark had an encounter with Billy Haines...however he also states that Billy himself was the origiantor of this statement...I personally dont believe it nor do I believe what was said about Clarks uncomfortable feelings about CUCOR...I have seen numerous cast members of gone with the wind talk about what caused cukor to leave and it had nothing to do with Clarks supposed embarrasment....of a gay encounter with Billy Haines, also when and where did Joan Crawford co sign that B.S about Billy haines and Clark.....I ahve seen numerous Joan Crawford interviews and nothing was ever said about Clarks supposed gay encounter in fact Joan raved about Clarks sexual prowess for her...not Billy always have an idiot out there either starting these stupid rumors or agreeing with them...I doubt very much that Clark would of consented to another mans advances...i do however believe many gay men would of tried to pull it with clark...because he was just that handsom.

  7. So what? The Quigley was just one poll. He was losing his steam by the early 30s.

    1. Well, I'll tell you what. My post says that Haines was the most popular male star of 1930. You made the statement that Haines was never the most popular male star of any era, and I mentioned the Quigley Poll refuting your claim. Even Wikipedia mentions that fact that Haines was the most popular males star of 1930. My post on William Haines states clearly that he was on the wane by the early thirties. I never implied that Haines remained the most popular male star after 1930. What is your point, other than refusing to admit that you were wrong about Haines? I read every word of Wm. J Mann's 400+ page 1998 biography of Haines: "Wisecracker." It was not some salacious hack job. Most of the information in this post comes from that book. I've revealed my sources. What are yours, other than a snooty attitude and a refusal to admit you were wrong? You have yet to state a source - just your sharp opinions. An opinion does not make anything true or false.

    2. your pretty insistant that Clark had a gay encounter...I have seen many interviews with Crawford, Cukor,Okie, and other cast from various Gable films..and have read 3 different biographies ...the only time a gay encounter is mentioned is when the author himself is gay