“That’s what happened between me and Clark.”
Young died on Aug. 12, 2000, at age 87. The year before, she’d been photographed for Vanity Fair, still resplendent in beauty, with a caption that read, “She elected not to talk about whether or not her daughter was the child of Clark Gable, with whom she made The Call of the Wild in 1935. For that, much honor.”
Included in her obituary was a quote from Ed’s unpublished biography: “My appeal wouldn’t have been to the intellectuals or the neurotics. Nor to the shop girls and secretaries — that would have been Joan Crawford’s market. But there was an awful lot of women out there who were like me — who were willing to play by the rules, didn’t sleep around, and were very aggressive. A Loretta Young movie had a happy ending; that’s what it was geared to: a nice husband, nice lover, no abuse of any kind — that’s what the heroes and heroines were in those days.”
Over the weekend, Anne Helen Peterson published a crucial update to one of her most popular Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Loretta Young’s family came forward to say that Clark Gable, the “barrel-chested alternative to the fleet-footed likes of Fred Astaire and Cary Grant,” had date-raped her.
In Anne’s original essay about Clark Gable’s many scandals, she pointed out that:
For all of Gable’s bad behavior, he never got caught. Apart from whispers and scolds in the gossip columns, his image remained relatively untarnished. His affairs — and the fruit of those affairs — were kept under wraps by the skillful Fixers at his studio, MGM. An action is never de facto scandalous: It becomes scandalous when it challenges the status quo. What’s fascinating about Gable, then, is how a womanizing drunkard remained free of scandal — and what made it so easy to do so.
Alex wrote about similar revelations last week. Participating in popular culture, as she wisely stated, often feels like collecting revelations. We read and share and try our best to understand because, even after the fact, that’s all we can do! Otherwise, our ignorance makes us complicit in a broken system that rewards abusers and punishes the abused.