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The 3 Roles That Defined Clark Gable's Career

By    |   Monday, 06 April 2015 03:43 PM

Clark Gable was dubbed the “King of Hollywood” for good reason. Gable’s movies topped U.S. box office sales 16 times in his illustrious 30-year film career. The iconic leading man performed in 67 films, including some of the most popular movies of all time.

The three Clark Gable roles that shaped the American actor’s public image and filmography more than any others are led by his most famous performance, as Rhett Butler in “Gone with the Wind.”

The 1939 Civil War drama co-starred Vivien Leigh and is considered the most beloved film in Hollywood history, making over $1.67 billion when adjusted for inflation, according to Box Office Mojo.

1. "Gone With the Wind" (1939)

Gable was initially reluctant to play the role, fearing he wasn’t up to the task of meeting the high expectations of his fans, according to the ClassicFilm.com. But he didn’t disappoint, helping the three-hour historical epic win the Academy Award for Best Picture.

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The movie was so revered by the public that MGM re-released it in 1947 and 1954, and Butler’s famous line said to Scarlett O’Hara, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” is seared into America’s cultural conscience.

2. "It Happened One Night" (1934)

Gable’s first performance in an Academy Award Best Picture was in “It Happened One Night,” the 1934 screwball road comedy that made him a bona fide star. Ironically, Gable’s appearance in the film as out-of-work reporter Peter Warne was initially a form of punishment by MGM.

After two serious bouts of pyorrhea — a gum infection — which caused Gable to lose most of his teeth and lose his gallbladder, production of his 1933 movie “Dancing Lady” had to be halted, and the film went over budget by $150,000, according to Biography.com. MGM subsequently loaned Gable to Columbia Pictures, one of Hollywood’s smallest studios, to star in the Frank Capra-directed comedy with Claudette Colbert.

The decision paid off handsomely for Gable, who won his first and only Oscar for Best Actor. The Academy Award-winning movie also displayed Gable’s comedic and romantic acting chops for the first time, enabling him to land a greater range of roles, including the part of Rhett Butler five years later.

3. "Mutiny on the Bounty" (1935)

The role that demonstrated Gable’s talents for action-adventure films came a year after “It Happened One Night.” In 1935, Gable starred in “Mutiny on the Bounty” as Fletcher Christian, the naval officer who sparks a successful revolt to overthrow the tyrannical Captain Bligh (Charles Laughton) on the HMS Bounty.

The movie won the Oscar for Best Picture, the second of three Gable films to take the Academy Award. It was the most successful of the “Mutiny” movies; remakes were made in 1962 and 1984.

The role of Christian led to other action-adventure roles for Gable over the next 25 years, particularly in westerns.

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Clark Gable was dubbed the “King of Hollywood” for good reason. Gable’s movies topped U.S. box office sales 16 times in his 30-year film career. The three Clark Gable roles that define the American actor’s career more than any others are led by his most famous performance as Rhett Butler.
clark gable, roles, defined, career
Monday, 06 April 2015 03:43 PM
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