When Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941, Clark Gable was at the height of his Hollywood fame. He called Franklin Delano Roosevelt to offer his services for the war effort, which FDR took him up on, but it was to be in a Hollywood role. Gable was 41 and in a position to publicize whatever the president needed -safely in California. But that was to change.
Gable had success, Gable had power, and for the first time in his four decades on this earth, Gable had something approaching peace thanks to his marriage to Carole Lombard, the firecracker screwball star. Yet in less than a year, all of those things turned to ash following Lombard’s violent death. When her plane went down in a fiery blaze, it was treated as a national tragedy around the country, and for her husband it was the beginning of the end.
The King became broken, despondent, and finally disillusioned enough to enlist in the U.S. Army Air Corps. To this day, some say he went to Europe with a death wish, and on at least one bombing raid, Capt. Gable almost had it granted as a Luftwaffe shell passed right between his feet.
Lombard was decorated after her death, since she had been on a mission to raise war funds. Despite Gable’s fear of flying, he became an officer and a gunner with the 351st Bombardment Group. It was rumored that he did not care whether or not he survived the war. Read about Clark Gable’s military service at Den of Geek.
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