Magazine article Book

The Private Life of a Public Image. (Hollywood Spotlight)

Magazine article Book

The Private Life of a Public Image. (Hollywood Spotlight)

Article excerpt

IN 1931, LEGENDARY FILM PRODUCER Jack Warner viewed a screen test for an unknown actor named Clark Gable for a part in Little Caesar. "Didn't you see those big ears?" Warner screamed, "not to mention that ugly face of his." Douglas Fairbanks Jr. got the part, but Gable would have the last word. Over the next twenty-nine years and a sixty-six-film career that included the role of Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind and a 1934 Oscar for It Happened One Night, Gable became one of the most celebrated entertainers of his generation, earning him the title "King of Hollywood."

"Gable is the actor most symbolic of the Hollywood that got me interested in the movies," says Warren G. Harris, a former Paramount publicist who has written about Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren. Harris' entertaining biography, Clark Gable, follows the young actor's transformation from a big brute with bad teeth--as an acquaintance described him--to international sex symbol.

Harris recounts how Gable, born poor in rural Ohio in 1901, dropped out of high school to move to Akron, taking odd jobs at a rubber plant and a tire factory before landing a bit part in a play. "I thought I'd die while I was waiting to go on," Gable recalled years later. …

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