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Clark Gable’s Teeth Were Replaced by Dentures at the Age of 32 - Sad Story Behind Iconic Smile

Camila Santiago
Sep 18, 2021
06:00 P.M.
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Considered the “King Of Hollywood,” Clark Gable was a legend and the highest paying freelance actor of his days. The actor, who later became a war Veteran, was famous for his on and off-screen romances and lack of hygiene.

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After having a hard time landing a contract with a Hollywood studio due to his big ears, Clark Gable became one of the most important names of the silver screen alongside stars like Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford.

Gable decided to become an actor when he was just 16 years old, but he soon had to postpone his dream after his stepmother died. He had to move from Ohio to Oklahoma and help his father at the oilfield.

The American actor Clark Gable had changed his haistyle and fixed his teeth before he became the "King of Hollywood." | Source: Getty Images

The American actor Clark Gable had changed his haistyle and fixed his teeth before he became the "King of Hollywood." | Source: Getty Images

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After his third attempt at acting, he was finally able to join a theater company. He met the respected and talented Josephine Dillon, a theater manager and former actress.

Dillon took an interest in Gable and decided to become his coach. She even paid to have his teeth fixed and hair styled. Before long, they got married and moved to Hollywood.

Gable often got rejected at screen tests because his ears were too big for a leading role. His first speaking role was in “The Painted Desert” in 1931, but it was in “Dance, Fools, Dance” with Joan Crawford that made him a hit.

Headshot of Clark Gable (1901–1960), US actor, smiling in a publicity portrait issued for the film, 'Gone With The Wind', USA, 1939. The 1939 drama, directed by Victor Fleming (1889–1949), starred Gable as 'Rhett Butler'. | Source: Getty Images

Headshot of Clark Gable (1901–1960), US actor, smiling in a publicity portrait issued for the film, 'Gone With The Wind', USA, 1939. The 1939 drama, directed by Victor Fleming (1889–1949), starred Gable as 'Rhett Butler'. | Source: Getty Images

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The actor had been cast in several other movies until an illness delayed the filming of “Dancing Lady” in 1933. Gable had a terrible infection in his gum that required the removal of his teeth.

The teeth removal caused him to develop halitosis. That granted the actor negative fame within Hollywood sets and comments around his stenchy breath.

Vivian Leigh, the co-star of “Gone with the Wind” with Gable, complained about his bad breath:

Clark Gable (1901–1960), US actor, and Vivien Leigh (1913-1967), British actress, in a publicity still issued for the film, 'Gone with the Wind', 1939. The drama, directed by Victor Fleming (1889-1949), starred Gable as 'Rhett Butler', and Leigh as 'Scarlett O'Hara'. | Source: Getty Images

Clark Gable (1901–1960), US actor, and Vivien Leigh (1913-1967), British actress, in a publicity still issued for the film, 'Gone with the Wind', 1939. The drama, directed by Victor Fleming (1889-1949), starred Gable as 'Rhett Butler', and Leigh as 'Scarlett O'Hara'. | Source: Getty Images

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“Kissing Clark Gable in ‘Gone with the Wind’ was not that exciting. His dentures smelled something awful.”

However, as Gable said himself, he didn’t “give a damn” about it. In the “Clark Gable: A Biography,” the Hollywood actor would make fun of himself about it.

In fact, that didn’t go on his way to stardom either. Clark Gable won the Academy Award for “It Happened One Night,” made many successful movies, became a symbol of masculinity, and was adored by women.

American actor Clark Gable (1901 - 1960) as he appears in 'Gone With The Wind', directed by Victor Fleming, 1939. | Source: Getty Images

American actor Clark Gable (1901 - 1960) as he appears in 'Gone With The Wind', directed by Victor Fleming, 1939. | Source: Getty Images

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During the production of one of his famous movies, Gable was struck by a tragedy. His third wife died in a plane crash. The man got devastated and ditched his fame to become a war veteran in Germany.

He enlisted in the Army at 41 years old and was discharged in 1944, two years later. When he returned to the studios, his career would never be the same.

 Clark Gable (1901-1960), who portrayed Rhett Butler in 'Gone With The Wind'. He received an Academy Award in 1934, and was crowned 'King of Hollywood' in 1937. | Source: Getty Images

Clark Gable (1901-1960), who portrayed Rhett Butler in 'Gone With The Wind'. He received an Academy Award in 1934, and was crowned 'King of Hollywood' in 1937. | Source: Getty Images

Though carrying the movie star status with him, he lost his momentum and decreased the number of movies from a dozen per year to one. The actor’s last performance was in “The Misfits,” alongside Marilyn Monroe; he passed away two days after the movie’s completion from a heart attack.

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