Clark Gable surveyed the chaos surrounding him on the sun-baked rooftop swimming pool at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown Dallas. It wasn’t exactly Gone With the Wind, but it was a start.
Gable, the 23-year-old grandson of Hollywood legend Clark Gable, hopes to rejuvenate the family name as the new host of Cheaters, the lowbrow but durable Dallas-based reality television show. He arrived poolside with his camera crew and an angry woman intent upon confronting her cheating boyfriend, who was sitting on the edge of the pool with “the other woman.”
Gable leaned away from the action, seemingly unsure about how to insert himself into the action. This was his first “bust,” the dramatic, profanity-laced clash between cheater and cheatee that occurs in every episode of Cheaters.
“You’re the [expletive] who destroyed my relationship,” the angry woman shouted as she lunged toward the illicit couple.
Startled partiers, dressed in bathing suits, clutched their cold drinks and watched the jumble of scrambling humanity: cameramen, soundmen, the cheating boyfriend, the angry girlfriend grabbing for the other woman’s long dark hair.
Cheaters staffers in black T-shirts emblazoned with “SECURITY” tried to minimize the violence. The sun’s golden rays blended with the crystal-blue pool water and added a pretty patina to the ugly scene.
After a few whispered instructions from his producer, Gable jumped into the scrum, shouting at the dumbstruck boyfriend, “Breathe. Decompress. Relax. Dude, you have a decision to make. Which one do you want?” The boyfriend didn’t answer and watched one girlfriend put the other in a headlock.
Gable never knew his grandfather. The famous Clark Gable appeared in 67 movies between 1930 and 1960. His career peaked in 1939 when he played Capt. Rhett Butler in the Civil War epic, Gone With The Wind.
In 1960, Gable had a heart attack and died at age 59. He had just finished filming his last movie, The Misfits, with Marilyn Monroe. John Clark Gable, his son, was born after he died.
Clark James Gable, the grandson, was born in 1988. What he knows about his famous grandfather comes from family lore, books and magazines.
“My grandfather was really cool, a hero of his time,” Gable said recently during an interview at the Cheaters office on Regal Row near Stemmons Freeway. “You could go into a movie theater during the Depression and escape what was going on.”
Gable grew up on Malibu Beach in Southern California. He lived with his mom during the week and with his father on weekends. He developed a passion for motorcycles and surfing. He hung out with millionaires one day and surfers living in their vans the next.