The King became broken, dejected, and ultimately disillusioned enough to enlist in the US Army Air Corps. To this day, some say he went to Europe with a death wish, and in at least one bombing raid, Captain Gable almost got him because a Luftwaffe shell slipped right between his feet. .
The king and queen of hollywood
Women have always been easy for Clark Gable, and for a time wives have been too. The first Ms. Gable was Josephine Dillon, 17 years her senior, and she was introduced to her as an acting coach by another woman who was then his fiancée. As the stepson of an Ohio farmer, though unrefined, 23-year-old Gable was the perfect clay for Dillon. She turned him into his best student, teaching him to lower his voice and hold your attention. As patron and wife, Dillon also introduced Gable to all of his Broadway connections and adjacent joint-stock companies. It is even as a star of one of these companies that he meets Maria Langham, a wealthy widow and oil heiress who is also 17 years his senior.
As the second Mrs. Gable, Ria introduced Gable to Manhattan high society and exquisite living, teaching her social etiquette and the value of a finely tailored tuxedo. One woman taught him to play the actor and the other taught him to play the gentleman. They achieved their goals and they were both sidelined.
But Lombard? He could never push her away.
The first time Clark met Carole, it was a surprisingly chaste affair. Both were cast as the sons of 1932 No man to her. Unlike many of his leading ladies in the 1930s, Gable made no passes to Lombard, who was married to movie star William Powell at the time and intended to stay that way. Nonetheless, they got along well, as did with almost everyone the breathless Lombard.
Gable was not yet “the King of Hollywood” at the time, but he was on the right track. Two years later he would star in the movie that popularized goofy comedies, It happened one night (1934), which won him an Oscar for best actor, and two years later he would direct the grandfather of all disaster films, San Francisco (1936). In 38, he was already part of Tinseltown royalty when then-gossip columnist Ed Sullivan overheard Gable’s drinking buddy and rival Spencer Tracy affectionately calling him “King.” Sullivan immediately brought up the idea of holding a national ballot for the “King and Queen of Hollywood”.