Clark Gable is usually remembered as a dashing, gentlemanly leading man from an era gone by and his legendary roles like the romantic Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind.
Despite rumors of Gable being a womanizer and whispers of a cover-up that involved him fathering a child with Loretta Young in 1935 while he was married to someone else, his reputation more or less stayed intact, but shocking new details about what might have really happened with Young could very well alter Gable’s legacy forever.
Young’s son, Chris Lewis, daughter-in-law, Linda Lewis, and biographer, Edward Funk, who were all recently interviewed about Young, say there was much more to the cover-up than just a child born out of wedlock and that Young was, in fact, the victim of date rape in a time before the term existed, according to BuzzFeed.
Linda says Young, who died in 2000, asked her to explain the term “date rape” in 1998, after she had seen an episode of Larry King in which the topic was being discussed. “Basically when you’re with someone you trust, or literally on a date with them, and you’re not compliant, or you’re saying no, and they’re not listening,” Linda says she told her. “And they either can’t hear it or believe the old myth of, ‘Oh, you really want that.’ I said, ‘It doesn’t have to be violent, it doesn’t have to be rip-your-clothes-off. It’s when your no isn’t no.'”
“That’s exactly what happened with me and Clark,” responded Young, according to Linda.
The alleged assault took place while Young and Gable were on location filming Call of the Wild, and Young dealt with the situation by inviting Gable to have breakfast with her and her mother, who was in town visiting. “She was so humiliated and what she would do when she humiliated was just ‘on with the show,'” Linda told BuzzFeed. “Because she had been trained since the age of 3, you put a good face on it, and you go forward. She knew she’d have to continue working with him.”
The encounter resulted in the birth of Young’s oldest child, Judy, who Young named after St. Jude — who Young considered to be the patron saint of “difficult situations.”
During her pregnancy, Young went into hiding up until the time she gave birth, and 23 months after Judy was born, a staged adoption was announced to the press. Rumors of Gable’s involvement with Young swirled at the time, but Gable denied any involvement with his costar.
In the years to come, Young had Judy’s ears surgically pinned back as to avoid any resemblance to her biological father’s and Chris and Linda said that Gable visited his child two times at the most, according to BuzzFeed.
“With Judy, she was trapped,” said Linda. “She had this lie and no way to frame it. She took responsibility for hiding it all her life. To be stuck — so caught, in such a public way. What could she have done with that?”
The gravity of the story Linda, Chris and Funk tell is not lost on Linda. “When you are a keeper of this information, it’s a terrifying story to tell for the first time,” she told BuzzFeed. “It’s so dramatic. The onus is on us to prove it, but you can’t prove it. It’s ‘he said, she said.’ But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t tell the story.”