Recently, vintage photos have discovered that have shed some light on exactly what the Golden Age of Hollywood actor Clark Gable’s military service really looked like. The actor infamously defied a director order from his friend President Theodore Roosevelt in order to enlist in the United States Army after the tragic death of his wife in a plane crash. And Roosevelt subsequently gave him the job of making the pro-war propaganda film Combat America in order to keep him out of harm’s way. People have often wondered just how much action Clark actually saw while he was preparing to shoot Combat America. And these recently uncovered pictures have given us a much clearer idea! Join Facts Verse as we take a look at rare unseen photos of Clark Gable’s military career.
Recently unveiled photos of Clark Gable’s military days during World War II have given fans a much clearer idea of exactly what the movie star was up to overseas. Fans have often debated whether or not the Golden Age of Hollywood legend ever actually saw any combat. And we now know for a fact that he did. These new photos have revealed a great deal about Clark’s time in the military and should put naysayers to rest when it comes to doubting the actor’s hero status. Though Clark wasn’t the only actor to serve in World War II. And he saw more action than most of his contemporaries.
One of the revealed photos features Clark Gable sitting in a simulator designed to give the user the experience of firing a turret gun. In the picture with Clark is sergeant Bill Willan, who was assisting with Clark’s training. The picture taken in January of 1943 at a camp near Spokane. The camp’s name was Camp Seven Mile. And it was in an area that is now part of Riverside State Park. Many of the photos that have released feature Clark along with Bill and various other instructors at the camp.
After going through turret gun training at Camp Seven Mile, Clark eventually went on to get his hands dirty, serving as an aerial gunner on five combat missions. Clark felt that he needed the experience in order to play his part in the pro-war propaganda film Combat America. And which President Theodore Roosevelt had tasked him with making once the star enlisted in the United States Army against his orders.
Clark Gable was one of many famous Hollywood stars that served in World War II. And though it now seems as if Clark may have seen a good deal more action than many of his peers. This is despite the fact that the president had given Clark the duty of filming Combat America for the sole purpose of keeping the actor out of combat. Clark was one of the biggest movies stars around at the time. And President Roosevelt felt that losing the actor in the war would be too much of a boon on the morale of the public.
President Roosevelt had wanted Clark to stay out of combat. And Clark insisted on getting hands-on experience using a turret gun aboard a combat plane. This is what led Clark to fly on the five aforementioned missions during World War II. Although there was also something else that was driving Clark. Soon before enlisting in the United States Army, Clark had tragically lost his wife in a plane crash. Clark had already wanted to join the war effort before his wife’s death. And though kept from doing so at the request of President Roosevelt himself. It was after his wife’s death that Clark defied the president’s orders and enlisted anyways. Once President Roosevelt caught wind of the deceit, he tasked Clark with starring in Combat America as a compromise.
Clark’s late wife, who died just before his enlistment, was actress Carole Lombard. Carole had been the one to send a telegram to President Roosevelt asking if there was room for her husband in the war effort. While the president had allowed some celebrities to see active duty, he felt that Clark had too high of a profile to risk possible injury or death in the war. In response to Carole’s telegram, President Roosevelt requested she tell her husband to stay put. Clark then did so until Carole’s death, at which point he sprung into action.
Carole Lombard’s death occurred in January of 1942. The actress had been on a tour of the country selling war bonds and died on the flight home. Clark subsequently spent the next several months in squalor before pulling himself together and enlisting in the United States Army in June of that same year. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! Also, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!
Clark Gable was content to obey President Theodore Roosevelt’s orders to stay out of the United States Army until the death of his wife, Carole Lombard, in 1942. When he ended up enlisting, it was in direct defiance of an order that he had received from the president! Still, President Roosevelt forgave him, and even threw him a bone!
Before receiving his special assignment from the president, Clark received basic training in Florida. After he finished with training, he received the news that President Roosevelt wanted him to create a movie in support of America’s war effort. That movie ended up being Combat America, which depicted what it was like to be an aerial gunner in combat.
Clark narrated the film, and it ended up serving as a pretty solid recruitment tool! A big part of the film’s effectiveness was that Clark had made sure to get some hands-on experience doing what the film depicted. In preparation for the film, Clark served as an aerial gunner himself. In fact, Clark even received a Silver Wings Medal for his time serving as an aerial gunner during the war. Near the beginning of 1943, Clark made a first lieutenant. Although Clark’s military service may sometimes questioned. It appears that he did a lot more during his time overseas than many of his Hollywood peers.
If it hadn’t been for Carole Lombard’s death, Clark Gable likely would’ve sat the entirety of World War II out! Carole was an actress, known for her roles in classic comedy films like To Be or Not to Be and My Man Godfrey. She died while flying in an airplane traveling from Las Vegas to her home in Los Angeles when she was only 33 years old. As stated before, she was returning from a tour selling war bonds.
At the time of Carole’s death, her and Clark had known each other for around a decade. The two had met in 1932, while they were filming the feature No Man of Her Own together. At the time, Clark was a relatively fledgling star in the industry. And Carole mainly known for her comedic roles. Additionally, both of the stars were married at the time.
Clark was married to a well-to-do widow from Texas when he met Carole. The widow was 10 years older than Clark. And many speculated that the fledgling star was only with her for her money. Meanwhile, Carole was married to actor William Powell. Clark and Carole would later become married. There weren’t many romantic sparks between them on the set of No Man of Her Own. Instead, their romantic relationship didn’t begin until much later.
Three years after meeting on the set of No Man of Her Own, Carole was divorced and Clark was separated. When the two happened to run into other again, they realized that they shared mutual attraction and began dating. As soon as Clark’s wife granted him a divorce in 1939, Clark and Carole got married. They would subsequently stay married until Carole’s untimely death several years later.
In January of 1942, MGM’s publicity director asked Carole to go on a tour to help sell war bonds. She then went on a tour fundraising for America’s war effort, with much of the fundraising occurring in her home state of Indiana. Meanwhile, Clark stayed at home in Los Angeles, where he was preparing to film the feature Somewhere I’ll Find You with Lana Turner. Clark was also acting as the head of the Hollywood Victory Committee. And which was an organization gathering like-minded patriotic Hollywood individuals.
For most of her tour selling war bonds, Carole Lombard had made the decision to avoid traveling by plane as she felt that it wasn’t safe or reliable enough. However, she relented during her trip home because she was anxious to get back to her husband. Carole had been incredibly successful on her tour. And had managed to raise nearly $2 million in funds for the war effort. Sadly, she never made it home to tell Clark the good news. The flight from Las Vegas lost control and ended up crashing, killing Carole and the other passengers. Carole’s mother was also on board the flight, and the two were later buried together. Other people aboard the flight included Carole’s manager, as well as 15 army pilots.
After receiving news that Carole had passed away, Clark was devastated. He drank fairly heavily for a period of several months before pulling himself together. Clark would end up remarrying twice after returning from his time in service. And he was buried next to Carole Lombard.
Although most Hollywood celebrities who served in World War II didn’t get to see much action. And it appears that Clark Gable served as an aerial gunner on five combat missions. Now let’s hear from you: are you surprised that recent photos have revealed that Clark Gable saw more action in service than previously thought. Or did you always think that the film star was more of a hero than he let on? As always, like this video to show your support. And subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!