Weird History

The Many Affairs Of Clark Gable 

Erin McCann
Updated June 2, 2020 15.3k views 13 items

Gone with the Wind ended when Rhett no longer "gave a damn" about Scarlett, but the story of Clark Gable's real-life romances followed a different path. Gable, who won the hearts of many moviegoers and Hollywood alike with his style of rugged yet sensitive charm, allegedly took as many lovers as he could, including a large number of his female co-stars. Gable was dubbed "King of Hollywood" as a result.

Born in 1901, William Clark Gable worked his way up from working-class Ohio, theater troupes in Oregon, and the New York stage to become Hollywood royalty. Gable reportedly slept with many stars; co-workers often hooked up in Hollywood's Golden Age. He married five times, though the love of his life was reportedly his third wife, Carole Lombard.

Although rumors and gossip spread about secret pregnancies or otherwise, Gable managed to remain scandal-free throughout his life. Perhaps the lack of internet accountability or the skill of "fixers" in 1930s Hollywood kept stories quiet, but the list of Gable's relationships off-screen proves he likely gave a damn about sex.

Gable And Joan Crawford Had An On-And-Off Affair For Many Years
Gable And Joan Crawford ... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Many Affairs Of Clark Gable
Photo:  Possessed/Warner Bros.

As Gable became more popular in Hollywood, he paired with many leading actresses, including Joan Crawford. Though married and already having an affair with another woman, Gable began a relationship with Crawford. At one point, MGM discovered their secret relationship and threatened to end both of their contracts. Gable and Crawford kept a lower profile for a while, but they never allegedly never stopped sleeping with each other.

Their on-and-off affair lasted through nine films in which they appeared together, and spanned almost 30 years. In 1931, Crawford became pregnant and thought the child belonged to Gable, as she was estranged from Fairbanks at the time. She allegedly underwent a secret abortion and claimed she lost the child after slipping on a boat deck while filming a movie.

His Third Wife Carole Lombard Was The Love Of His Life
His Third Wife Carole Lo... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Many Affairs Of Clark Gable
Photo:  No Man of Her Own/Paramount Pictures

When Gable and Carole Lombard made 1932's No Man of Her Own together, they showed no signs of romantic interest in each other. When they met again in 1936 at a party, though, the pair clicked. In 1939, three weeks after the completion of Gable's divorce to Maria Langham, he used a break during the filming of Gone with the Wind to marry Lombard.

Most people consider Lombard the love of Gable's life because she reportedly brought out his playful side. They referred to each other as Pa and Ma, and they went on fishing and hunting trips together. Many believe Gable continued to sleep with other women throughout their marriage, and though Lombard reportedly grew angry with him, she likely tolerated his behavior.

Lombard died in a plane crash in 1942, which likely was the driving force for Gable to join the Air Force and cope with the grieving process. Friends and co-workers felt Gable never got over Lombard's death. He received his final wish of being buried next to her.

Gable Allegedly Slept With Many Of His Female Co-Stars
Gable Allegedly Slept Wi... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Many Affairs Of Clark Gable
Photo:  Mogambo/Warner Bros.

According to rumors, Gable slept with many of the actresses with whom he worked. Jean Harlow and Ava Gardner allegedly spent intimate time with him. While filming Mogambo, Gable and Grace Kelly became an item. According to gossip, though, they broke up due to Gable's unwillingness to get married.

While married to Carole Lombard, Gable allegedly carried on an affair with Lana Turner, along with several other women. Mamie Van Doren, Virginia Grey, Paulette Goddard, and Evelyn Keyes (whom Gable starred with in Gone with the Wind) all supposedly slept with the star at one point. 

His First Wife, Josephine Dillon, Helped Him Become Clark Gable
His First Wife, Josephin... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Many Affairs Of Clark Gable
Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Contributor/Archive Photos/Getty Images

While Gable struggled to make a living as an actor in Oregon, he met Josephine Dillon. More than 10 years his senior, Dillon became Gable's teacher and coach after seeing his potential as an actor. She encouraged Gable to change his hair and get cosmetic work done on his teeth, which she paid for herself. Dillon also convinced him to go by the name Clark, rather than William.

After she helped Gable adjust his voice and mannerisms, the pair moved to Hollywood and married in 1924, when Gable began to win roles in silent films. He continued to sleep with other women, and after they divorced in 1930, Dillon claimed she and Gable never consummated their marriage.