When Marilyn Monroe was a young girl, only known as Norma Jean, her mother gave her a picture of Clark Gable and told the impressionable youth that the actor was in fact her father. As the actress matured, she would realize that the King of Hollywood was not her real father, but Gable did become a father figure in her life and worked with him on their last film, "The Misfits" (1961).
According to Donald Spoto's biography, "Marilyn Monroe: The Biography", Gable and Monroe met once before in 1954, seven years before they would make "The Misfits" at a gala. That night, she danced with Gable and confessed to her that she admired him her whole life and would like to do a picture with him. To her surprise, Gable said he had seen her film "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" (1953) and thought she had "the magic" in her.
Flash forward seven years later to "The Misfits" (1961). The script was written by Marilyn's third husband Arthur Miller and was supposed to be the film that would reconcile their differences as a couple. As for the role Marilyn played, as "Rosalyn Tabor", she made another spectacular performance. But for Marilyn, the role was a living nightmare with Miller pulling dialogue that was inspired by her dark childhood and other memories of her life which made "The Misfits" an instance of art imitating life. And if that were the case, the casting took an ironic twist of fate when Clark Gable, Marilyn's father figure from her childhood was cast as her character's love interest, "Gay."
Although Marilyn was wise to Miller's act of using her life to fill the page and screen, it made the actress miserable on set. So miserable in fact, that in August while the film was in production, Marilyn was rushed to the hospital for exhaustion and stayed for ten days. It was a tough shoot not only for her but for everyone else involved including Clark Gable, who at the age of 59, insisted on doing his own stunts. He would pass the time that would be spent waiting for Marilyn to show up on set, performing those stunts for the camera.
In on-set pictures that have now been released to the public, we are given the impression that although the cast looks worn and tired, Gable and Marilyn looked as though they were completely comfortable with each other as co-stars.
Amid the negative remarks other co-stars have said about Marilyn, Gable only had this to say about her, "Everything Marilyn does is different than any other woman, strange and exciting, from the way she talks to the way she uses that magnificent torso."
However it was the day after the film wrapped, Gable suffered a heart attack that landed him in the hospital. Immediately following the news, the press made malicious attempts at blaming Marilyn for Gable's failing health because of her reported lateness to the sets, therefore making Gable wait long hours. The words poisoned Marilyn's sensitive heart with guilt at the time while she was in the middle of settling her divorce from Miller and from the news of her co-star's well being. It didn't help matters much when, as Gable recuperated, he suffered another heart attack that proved fatal. Now, it was Gable's pregnant wife Kay Williams who laid the blame on Marilyn for Gable's untimely death. It would not be until Gable's funeral, which Marilyn attended, that Kay would apologize to her and invite Marilyn to the christening of Gable's son, which the actress attended.
Unfortunately, "The Misfits" (1961) would be the final film both of the two stars would finish in their careers. Two years later, the beautiful Marilyn Monroe would pass away at the age of 36 with a cause of death that has spurred conspiracy theorists abound.
The passing of these two Hollywood icons would make a permanent stamp on the final sequence in the film when Gable and Monroe are riding off into the mountain range under a beautiful sky.