How Clark Gable Changed His Voice For Hollywood Success

The greatest acting talents don't simply play a character, they become that character. What fans often don't see, however, is the effort these performers put in to reach this level. The esteemed Clark Gable, for instance, became known as the King of Hollywood (per Britannica), but that title didn't come easily.

Gable, Britannica goes on, left high school at 16, and drifted between jobs for a few years before beginning to pursue what would become a glittering Hollywood career. This may never have happened if he hadn't had the good fortune of meeting Josephine Dillon, a fantastic acting talent he went on to marry in 1924. She took him under her wing and taught him some of the fundamentals that would give him an edge in the industry. Dillon transformed every aspect of the young man, including his voice, making him into a star.

The handsome, suave actor Gable became was a far cry from the aspiring young actor Dillon first met. The New York Film Academy reports that he had a surprisingly high-pitched natural voice, and it was only with extensive training and exercises that he was able to develop it into the dulcet tones that would make him an industry icon.

Clark Gable's voice was naturally high pitched

As the New York Film Academy explains, the voice is influenced by the positioning and movement of the body, and benefits greatly from being "warmed up" as an athlete would warm up their muscles. Veteran actors, naturally, learn to manipulate these factors to their advantage, and Clark Gable spent his formative years in the industry rigorously working on his posture, breathing, and poise. Over time, he developed his famous tone and pitch of speech.

Hollywood didn't seem to think that Gable looked the part of a film star at first, either. Louis B. Mayer of MGM Studios (per OZY) once dismissed the actor's chances of ever being a star, deeming him "unattractive" and "elephant-eared." The studio also played a part in his transformation, arranging new, neater false teeth and encouraging him to work out to change his physique. Everything from his taste in cars to his clothing was changed to be more palatable to Hollywood's tastes of the time. Gable, however, was proud of his ears (which he apparently called his "flops," per OZY) and refused to have them pinned back.

Despite all of this, Gable insisted that the Hollywood star and the man were one and the same. "I'm no actor and I never have been. What people see on the screen is me," he once said, per Far Out Magazine.