|Clark takes a reading break.|
Many would be surprised to know that Clark Gable was quite the lit' lover. As a young, struggling actor, he even performed poetry readings. Naturally, in order to maintain his tough guy persona on the big screen, he did not broadcast his appreciation of poetry and prose. As such, many people mistake the following story as a revelation of Gable's ignorance and not his humor.
Gable was hunting pals with director Howard Hawks, (a national pastime I don't exactly dig, but this was before the days of... Who am I kidding, we still suck). Anywhoodle, on one of their outings, this guy named William Faulkner tagged along. To josh with him, Gable put on his best ignoramus face and performed this little scene with the acclaimed author:
Gable: Mr. Faulkner, what do you think somebody should read if he wants to read the best modern books? Who would you say are the best living writers?
Faulkner: (pause) Ernest Hemingway, Willa Cather, Thomas Mann, John Dos Passos, and myself.
Gable: Oh? Do you write, Mr. Faulkner?
Faulkner: Yes, Mr. Gable. What do you do?
Needless to say, Gable was well acquainted with William's writing, however, most particularly due to Hawkes revised descriptions of the event-- half concocted in fun and half to uphold Gable's rough and tumble, man's man reputation-- many identify Gable's line of questioning as being emblematic of his ignorance. In either case, the Clark kinda got verbally bitch-slapped by William Faulkner, didn't he?