LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Clark Gable's father taunted his son, calling him a "sissy." The young Gable responded by fashioning a macho-stud demeanor and projecting dad's disgust onto the many homosexuals he met and worked with. And author David Bret ("Joan Crawford: Hollywood Martyr") makes it clear that quite a few gays and lesbians populated Hollywood's soundstages and swimming pools.
The author tags virtually everyone who shows up here as straight, gay or bisexual, the majority falling into the latter two categories. Like previous accounts, this one alleges that early in his career Gable was "gay for pay" and for career advancement.
He squired older women, some of them perhaps closet lesbians, and had close personal, possibly sexual relationships with a number of openly gay men. He was, as well, a serial seducer of women.
Bret's sourcing is unclear throughout; he qualifies most assertions about Gable's sexuality with phrases like "it could be" and "it was alleged." As for insight into the star's films and acting, look for it elsewhere. The author lavishes far more care on the details of Hollywood's sexual roundelays than on his flat summaries of Gable's films, including eight unnecessary pages on the plot of "Gone With the Wind."
Then it's on to the actor's severe halitosis (repeatedly mentioned) and his suffering from phimosis, an inability to retract the foreskin of his uncircumcised penis. Neither problem kept Gable from scoring big time in the bedroom. The image, craft and perhaps art that made Gable a huge star for decades receive scant notice.