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Clark Gable: A Biography Hardcover – March 26, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While throngs of female fans may have worshiped Gable, Harris illustrates that the "King of Hollywood" 's true self was barely visible beyond the camera's glare. Born in 1901 in rural Ohio to a "wildcatter" father and a mother who died not a year after he was born, Gable seemed more suited to becoming an oilrig operator than a movie star. But by the early 1920s, he had found his road to the big time: women. Harris pulls no punches in describing how the man who would become the "King" used many a queen including his first two wives to reach the status of celebrity. From Gable's early days with traveling stage shows to his fast climb up the Hollywood ladder, Harris (Gable and Lombard) presents a not-so-attractive side of Gable to combat his romanticized star image. His never-ending womanizing, utter denial of an illegitimate daughter and his insecurity over his acting abilities are qualities never before so illustrated in print. To most, Clark Gable stood alone atop the motion-picture world in 1939. He'd won an Oscar for his performance in It Happened One Night, had just completed his role as Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind and had finally settled down with actor Carole Lombard, his third and he was sure would be final wife. Three years later, Lombard died in a plane crash. Her death changed everything. While Harris never says so explicitly, his description of Gable's string of box-office bombs, increased appetite for Scotch, and bitterness toward MGM executives make it plain that Gable had lost his one true love and his vigor for life. Those who wish to keep Gable on the pedestal Hollywood built for him should beware. Harris isn't as kind as Hollywood. Agents, Dan Strone and Owen Laster.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

A recent trend in Hollywood biographies is to abandon the tabloid style in favor of a more scholarly approach. These two new biographies on Clark Gable follow this trend. Harris (Gable and Lombard) has produced a thoroughly researched account of Gable, complete with facts on the writers, producers, studios, costars, and Gable's many lovers. The biography also offers a history of how Hollywood moguls controlled every aspect of a star's creation. The most appealing chapters are on the Gable-Lombard romance, which tragically ended when Lombard perished in a plane crash. Spicer, who teaches professional writing at Victoria University, Australia, offers a take on Gable that is close to Harris's in style and content, sometimes even using the same quotes and description of events. Factual inconsistencies do exist e.g., Harris states that Gable's best friend, Eddie Mannix, called him with the news of Lombard's death, while Spicer has the call coming from Gable's publicist, Larry Barbier. But both bios follow the same format and progression of Gable's life and career, and both offer new information not found in what are at least 15 previous biographies on Gable, one of the best being Lyn Tornabene's 1976 Long Live the King. There are, however, differences between the two books. Harris used his previous research, which includes mostly firsthand accounts from Gable's associates, while Spicer relied heavily on secondary sources that include newspaper and magazine articles as well as Harris's Gable and Lombard. Harris's filmography is more detailed, and he includes an eight-page photo spread, while Spicer's book features photos throughout. Finally, Harris's style is crisper, faster paced, and more interesting; Spicer adds too many little details and becomes too wordy. Both books are recommended, but considering writing style, content, accuracy, and price, Harris's work should be first choice. Rosalind Dayen, Broward Cty. South Regional Lib., FL
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony Books; 1st edition (March 26, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609604953
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609604953
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #130,721 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By G.I Gurdjieff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Warren G. Harris has put together a very readable book which devotes itself almost exclusively to Gable (his previous book Gable and Lombard basically chronicled the relationship of Gable and third wife Carole Lombard). While there is still a lot of information about the spectacular Lombard in this book, the thrust of this book concentrates on the time before CL and after CL.
In spite of the fact that Gable has been dead for over forty years (and you might have figured that there is nothing more to say about Gable), this book still covers a lot of material that I was not aware of. Author Harris has dispelled rumors that Gable killed a woman in an auto accident which was covered up by his studio MGM. Harris also provides a lot of information regarding Gable's three failed marriages which ended in divorce, the inner-workings of the studio system and MGM's publicity department.
This book is extremely well written and very difficult to put down. It is the compelling story of a man who quickly overcame a humble midwestern upbringing to meteorically rise through the ranks to genuine super stardom. Along the way, Harris also allows us to glimpse at the personalities that Gable knew and interacted with. The book is rich with anecdotes about some of stars of Hollywood's Golden Age and leaves one with the feeling that you actually knew these people.
In spite of the time which has passed since Gable's somewhat premature death, his charisma still grabbed this reader. To me, no one that I can think of in terms of today's cinema even comes close to grabbing the title "KING". This book secures his reputation and legend.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Harlow Fan on January 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
"Clark Gable : A Biography" by Warren G. Harris offers a readable yet incomplete glimpse into the life and career of the undisputed King of Hollywood, the late Clark Gable.

At no point does this biography bore the reader. On the contrary, it is packed with gossip about Gable's affairs with such actresses as Joan Crawford, Marion Davies, Merle Oberon and Grace Kelly while also giving us a glimpse of his professional relationships with fellow actors like Spencer Tracy and John Barrymore. Also highly enjoyable were the chapters alluding to Clark's marriage with beautiful Carole Lombard.

However, these interesting passages hardly manage to fill in the voids in this bio caused by the author's apparent ignorance as to Clark Gable's real personality and by the author's limited vocabulary. (He seemed to have a passion for calling any event that ever occured throughout Gable's life as 'ironic'. One felt like handing the man a dictionary, as he clearly had no idea of what the word actually means.)

I myself am a huge Gable fan and therefore was shocked at the way he was presented in this book. Even though there were certain passages refering to his nice personality, for the most part he was portrayed as an impatient and grouchy old man. Perhaps these negative things about Gable are true, but it is highly probable that many positive things were omitted from the book in order to make for a more interesting or controversial read.

When summarizing the movies Gable made, the author tended to misquote characters from the movie and even wrongly sum up the plots. I had to ask myself if he had even watched these movies.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By C. Chandler on September 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
.....Warren G. Harris gives a superficial and not too admirable view of the man who was sold as "The King of Hollywood". How much of Gable was real and how much a product of MGM's PR Dept is not known and Harris does not provide much insight as his book is skimpy on cited facts and references.

.....One thing seems certain, Gable was driven at an early age to become a success in his chosen field and was not above using people to achieve this end and then tossing them aside when they were no longer useful to him.

.....His first victim was Franz Dorfler, an aspiring actress, whose family took him in when he was penniless and sick and whom he wanted to marry until he found a better prospect in Josephine Dillion, a much older woman who promised to make him a star. When he felt he no longer needed her he dumped her for Maria Langham a wealthy socialite who was also much older. This marrige was one of convience for Clark partially pressured by his studio to cover his many indiscretions with multiple woman.

.....One such woman was his co-star, Loretta Young when they were making the movie "Call of the Wild". To Clark, Loretta was just another conquest to be discarded when she was no longer convient. What he didn't count on was that she would get pregnant and seek marriage. Clark tried to pressure her to have an abortion and when she would not, he refused to acknowledge the child. He saw the child, Judy Lewis, twice in her lifetime, once when she was a baby and he gave Loretta $400 to buy her a decent bed, and once when she was fifteen. The reason for his second visit is left to the reader to try to figure out as he never saw her again or acknowledged her in any way. When she got married he did not go to her wedding or even send a gift.
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