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Hitler Greatly Admired Clark Gable and Offered a Sizable Reward to Capture him Alive

Katie Vernon
Photo by Getty Images
Photo by Getty Images

Even though he never even wanted to star in Gone With the Wind, Clark Gable is mostly remembered for that role, appearing as Rhett Butler. His charisma, charming smile, and sublime masculinity have etched themselves into Hollywood lore.

He was admired by both women and men alike, and was dubbed by Ed Sullivan as “The King of Hollywood.”

Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in Gone With the Wind.

Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in Gone With the Wind.

He appeared on screen alongside some of the most popular actresses of the time, such as Ava Gardner, Marilyn Monroe, Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo, and Vivien Leigh, many of whom claimed to have had romantic affairs with Gable.

Publicity photo of Clark Gable.

Publicity photo of Clark Gable.

Privately, Gable was very down to earth. When he won an Oscar, not for Gone With the Wind, but for It Happened One Night in 1934, he gifted the statuette to a child who said it was pretty.

As reported by Classic Hollywood Central, Gable said “it wasn’t owning the statue that mattered, but winning it.”

Clark Gable in It Happened One Night.

Clark Gable in It Happened One Night.

Adolf Hitler was an avid admirer of movies. He had had a thing for the arts since his youth, but through the years, he became obsessed with movies.

Out of all the Hollywood stars that were popular, or gained their popularity during his regime, Hitler’s favorite was Clark Gable. He enjoyed watching Gable’s movies at private screenings.

Clark Gable.

Clark Gable.

While on her way home from a war bonds tour in January 1942, Gable’s third wife, Carole Lombard, was killed in a plane crash of a DC-3 airliner.

Her death was declared to be the first war-related American casualty of World War II.

Studio publicity photo of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard after their honeymoon, 1939.

Studio publicity photo of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard after their honeymoon, 1939.

After that tragedy, Gable was emotionally devastated and gave himself to alcohol. Believing that the only reasonable thing would be to take a role in the war effort, he wrote a telegram to President Franklin D. Roosevelt asking to be enlisted in the army.

Dedicated to the idea, on August 12, 1942, Gable became a gunner it the U.S. Air Corps. At that time the U.S. Air Force needed a propaganda film to help them recruit gunners, so Gable was sent to Britain, to make the movie Combat America.

Adolf Hitler was a big fan of Clark Gable. Photo by Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H1216-0500-002 / CC BY-SA 3.0 de

Adolf Hitler was a big fan of Clark Gable. Photo by Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H1216-0500-002 / CC BY-SA 3.0 de

He remained in Britain and served with distinction, taking part in flying combat missions over Germany.

Knowing this, Hitler ordered for Gable to be brought to Germany unscathed. As weird and funny as this sounds, Hitler was serious about getting Gable.

He became frustrated that the Germans weren’t able to capture him and directed Hermann Goering to offer a reward of $5,000 to anyone who could bring Clark Gable to him.

Lobby card for the 1940 film Comrade X with Clark Gable and Hedy Lamarr.

Lobby card for the 1940 film Comrade X with Clark Gable and Hedy Lamarr.

The poor King of Hollywood got depressed by the idea, fearing that if the Germans caught him, they would put him in a cage and tour him around Germany like a gorilla.

However, Gable was never captured and eventually got promoted from second lieutenant to major. For his service, he was awarded the American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Air Medal, and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

On June 12, 1944, he was discharged from his war duty and returned to the U.S. where he continued his reign as the King of Hollywood.

Read another story from us: Gone With the Wind: How Olivia de Havilland helped Clark Gable Cry on Screen

It was a fortune for Gable that the Germans never caught him, but for us, it is impossible not to wonder why and for what Hitler wanted him so badly. Or maybe we don’t even want to know what it was all about.