NAME: Clark Gable
OCCUPATION: Film Actor
BIRTH DATE: February 01, 1901
DEATH DATE: November 16, 1960
PLACE OF BIRTH: Cadiz, Ohio
PLACE OF DEATH: Hollywood, California
Best Known For: Gone With the Wind star Clark Gable epitomized Hollywood’s Golden Age, so much so that the movie star was often called the “King of Hollywood.”
William Clark Gable, known as Clark Gable, was an American film actor most famous for his role as Rhett Butler in the 1939 Civil War epic film Gone with the Wind, in which he starred with Vivien Leigh. His performance earned him his third nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor; he won for It Happened One Night (1934) and was also nominated for Mutiny on the Bounty (1935). Later movies included Run Silent, Run Deep, a submarine war film, and his final film, The Misfits (1961), which paired Gable with Marilyn Monroe, also in her last screen appearance. In 1999, the American Film Institute named Gable seventh among the greatest male stars of all time.’
Gable appeared opposite some of the most popular actresses of the time. Joan Crawford, who was his favorite actress to work with, was partnered with Gable in eight films, Myrna Loy worked with him seven times, and he was paired with Jean Harlow in six productions. He also starred with Lana Turner in four features, and with Norma Shearer and Ava Gardner in three each. In the mid-1930s, Gable was often named the top male movie star, and second only to the top box-office draw of all, Shirley Temple.
Why He’s A Style Icon
One mention of the name Clark Gable immediately triggers thoughts of a Southern gentleman dressed to the hilt: pristine suit, ascot tie and a waistcoat. You know, the usual mode for men of means during the Civil War era — or at least for the cast of Gone with the Wind. To classify Gable as a one-trick plantation pony would be a mistake worse than the pedophile-like moustache that became one of his trademarks. Indeed, the razor-thin landing strip reads more retro porn star than romancer by today’s standards. However, despite the fact that his facial hair proclivities (yes, he donned the dingy ‘stache off-screen too) were a grooming fail of epic proportions, Gable managed to make his mark on men’s style. It just happened to come from outside the Rhett Butler role for which he is arguably most famous.
In fact, Gable’s first major contribution came five years before his portrayal of the Southern-styled character. In the 1934 romantic comedy It Happened One Night, his unbuttoned dress shirt revealed skin rather than the usual undershirt of the day. The move was bold, brave and as rumor has it, economically devastating for the male undergarment industry. Estimates of sale declines hover in the 75% range, and although there isn’t any hard evidence to back up this dramatic claim, no one can deny that Gable going shirtless gave men everywhere the green light for freedom from an extra (oftentimes unnecessary, sometimes unsightly) layer. Gable’s second influence is one that’s typically overlooked. The 1953 African adventure Mogambo features Gable garbed in safari-wear. And although the look is admittedly contrived in a colonial conquistador sort of way (a “tally ho” wouldn’t have been out of line), it was an appropriate attempt at meshing an ensemble with the environment — the true sign of a gentleman — Southern, safari or otherwise.
Dress The Gable Way
Clark Gable became the serendipitous ringleader of the bare-chested brigade, which should serve as a healthy reminder: Undershirts aren’t required. They tend to turn looks from tailored to frump at the speed of white. But if you insist on wearing an undershirt out of habit or to soak up sweat, there are a few rules to abide by: 1) Wear a V-neck with button-downs; 2) Mow the lawn on your chest, and; 3) Replace your assortment frequently. As for Gable’s safari style, saying that anything with epaulets is good to go these days wouldn’t be far from the truth. However, it’s the montage of pockets that makes this look one for the outdoors. Try a belted, longer-length jacket from British outerwear brand Belstaff. After all, who better to ask about safari suiting than the self-proclaimed tamers of the jungle themselves?