How Clark Gable was punished by MGM for complaining
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One of Hollywood’s most iconic figures, William Clark Gable, known as “The King of Hollywood,” rose to fame through the studio system.
He began his career with supporting roles before being signed by MGM in 1931 to a two-year contract at $350 a week.
Over the next few years, Gable starred in multiple films for MGM and Warner Bros, often playing the part of a savage and sadistic man towards women on screen.
In 1932, Gable famously said, “I have never been consulted as to what part I would like to play. I am not paid to think.”
When Gable objected to being typecast, MGM punished him by loaning him out to Columbia Pictures to work on the film It Happened One Night.
Despite initial reluctance from the studio, the film was a success and Gable won an Oscar for Best Actor.
As a result, MGM signed him to a seven-year contract in 1935 with improved terms. However, Gable was still a salaried employee and did not receive a percentage of the grosses until 1946.
Gable’s career spanned over 60 films, including notable performances in Gone With the Wind, Mutiny on the Bounty, The Hucksters and The Misfits.
He is perhaps best remembered for his role as Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind, which did not earn him an Oscar, but his performance in It Happened One Night did.
It was not uncommon for Hollywood studios to own their actors and actresses during this time.
The studio would hold exclusive rights to the actors’ name, image, and voice, and if the actor were to be injured or disfigured, they could be suspended without compensation.
Actors were required to work 40 weeks annually and perform in up to three movies per year. This was the reality for even the most successful actors like Gable.
When America entered WWII, Gable had established himself as Hollywood’s biggest star and box office draw. He decided to take a break from Hollywood and enlisted in the military.
Despite MGM’s reluctance, Gable served in the US Army Air Forces as a captain, and flew on bombing missions over Europe.
He was honorably discharged in 1944 and returned to Hollywood, where he continued to star in successful films.
Gable’s last film, The Misfits, was released in 1961, a year after his death. His death was a significant loss to the film industry, and his legacy continues to live on.
Gable’s impact on Hollywood and his enduring popularity are a testament to his talent and the enduring appeal of the films he starred in.