John Wayne called Clark Gable a ‘handsome jerk’ after fight with John Ford

John Wayne said of Clark Gable: “[He’s] extremely handsome in person. That’s a guy who doesn’t need Hollywood to look good. But Gable is an idiot. Do you know why Gable is an actor? He’s the only thing he’s smart enough to do.” This was his assessment of the star of Gone with the Wind, which he had worked with longtime Duke collaborator, director John Ford.

In 1953, Clark Gable, who died 62 years ago today, starred in Mogambo alongside Ava Gardner and Grace Kelly. The romantic adventure was shot in Equatorial Africa and was a Red Dust remake of the lead, in which he played the same big-game hunter role two decades earlier.

The film’s director, Ford, was a notoriously short-tempered character who often humiliated and provoked his cast in order to get better performances from them. During production, he would comment on Gable’s age and weathered appearance. The actor even left the set in protest of the filmmaker’s treatment of Gardner.

Wayne saw himself more as a star than an actor, which was in contrast to Gable’s view of being an actor.

Duke said: “I don’t act at all, I react. In a bad image, you see them acting all over the place. In a good picture, they react logically to a situation they find themselves in so that the audience can relate to them. All I do is sell sincerity, and I’ve been selling a lot since I started. I was never one of the little kids of the theater. That artsy crowd only has superficial gloss on it anyway. True art is basic emotion. If a scene is handled simply, and I don’t mean simple, it will be good and the audience will know it.”

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