Why Adolf Hitler was obsessed with the actor Clark Gable
We all have our celebrity crushes; no one is immune, even maniacal dictators. Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi had a huge crush on former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Osama bin Laden loved himself some Whitney Houston. Kim Jong Un had a love affair with Swiss cheese. So it should be no surprise that Adolf Hitler had a thing for Clark Gable.
Actually, it should be no surprise for anyone to have a thing for Clark Gable, even though the actor died in 1960. The German Fuhrer took it to a whole new level; even amid a war where he was fighting for the survival of his Third Reich, he prioritized the actor above a lot of other things – probably too many things.
Adolf Hitler was bizarrely obsessed with many, seemingly strange and disparate things. He rose to power over his obsession with a theory that a conspiracy of Bolsheviks and Jewish people worldwide caused the collapse of Germany during and after World War I. He became obsessed with the occult later on and spent his entire life obsessed with the adventure novels of Karl May. Adding in what we know about the dictator’s future drug use, it’s safe to say he had an addictive personality.
By the time Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, Clark Gable had made dozens of films but was only just beginning to see success in his acting career. By the time Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, Gable was a bona fide Hollywood star and Hitler was the most reviled man on Earth. In 1940, Gable starred in “Gone With the Wind” while Hitler conquered France. Somewhere along the way, the Fuhrer became enamored by Gable, according to Gable biographer Warren Harris.
It’s safe to say the actor didn’t return the dictator’s feelings. After the United States was pushed into the war, Gable joined the U.S. Army Air Forces. The USAAF’s commanding general, Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold, offered to give Gable a cushy wartime job of making movies for the service, but Gable wasn’t interested. After basic training, the actor pursued officer candidate school so he could become an aerial gunner aboard bombers.
By October 1942, Gable was a 2nd Lt. Clark Gable. Arnold still wanted a recruiting movie, however, and ordered that his new lieutenant make a film that would recruit more aerial gunners. He did as ordered, leading a six-person motion picture unit, but once the unit was sent to England in 1943, Gable began flying combat missions. He even flew one over Germany that same year.
Despite Clark Gable’s steadfast determination to bomb his country and end his rule, Hitler was still known to favor the American actor over all others, including those who worked on German films. Throughout World War II, Hitler offered a large cash reward to anyone who could capture Gable and bring him to the Fuhrer unharmed. Obviously, that never happened.
Gable would return stateside in November 1943, where he began to edit the film he shot on the front lines of the war. That would eventually be released as 1944’s “Combat America.” He hoped to see more combat, but that would also never happen. He was discharged from active duty in 1944 and by 1947, was too busy with his Hollywood work to fulfill his duties in the reserve.
When all was said and done, Clark Gable had received the Distinguished Flying Cross, an Air Medal, the American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and World War II Victory Medal. Hitler ended the war by taking his own life before the Red Army could do it for him.