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The Quick 10: 10 Facts About Clark Gable

So, if you've stuck with me and the Quick 10s all week, you're in on the Clark Gable joke. Otherwise, here's what happened: Monday's post about martini preferences just happened to include the preference of the character Clark Gable played in the movie Teacher's Pet - turn a bottle of vermouth upside down to wet the cork, then run the damp cork around the rim of a martini glass and fill it with gin. No big deal.

Tuesday, to celebrate Veterans Day, we looked at 10 celebrities who left their fame to go serve the country. Guess who did that? Clark Gable. I thought it was funny that I randomly mentioned Clark Gable two days in a row (or maybe I have Clark Gable on the brain?) and decided to work him into the Q10s for the rest of the week. Now, Wednesday and Thursday may have been a stretch, but I did it. So, to finish out the week (and the joke), today's Q10 is all about Rhett Butler himself. Happy Friday "“ see you next week, when we return to our regularly-scheduled, un-Clark Gable-related posts.

1. He was accidentally listed as a female on his birth certificate.

2. His mom died of a brain tumor when he was less than a year old.

3. When he was first in Hollywood (1924), he went by W.C. Gable (his full name was William Clark Gable). By 1925, he had changed it to Clark Gable.

4. He had almost a full set of dentures when he was only 32.

Because of a bad gum infection in 1933, he had to have most of his teeth removed and replaced by dentures, which caused him to suffer from halitosis. During the filming of Gone with the Wind, Vivien Leigh complained about how foul the stench was... but they got along really well other than that.

5. He was a bit obsessed with cleanliness. He showered several times a day and never took a bath because he was disgusted by the thought of sitting in dirty water. He also had his sheets changed every single day.

6. He had an affair with Loretta Young while they were making The Call of the Wild. It resulted in a daughter, Judy Lewis. Loretta disappeared for a while to have the baby and denied that it was Gable's - she said she had adopted. It wasn't much of a secret, though - Judy grew up looking exactly like him (big ears and all) and the ruse was blown, even though Loretta Young didn't admit it until well after Judy was an adult. Judy actually had surgery at the age of seven to make her ears less prominent. In a strange coincidence, Gable and Young's daughter was very good friends with Cammie King, the girl who played Bonnie Blue in Gone with the Wind

7. He won an Academy Award for his role in It Happened One Night, but gave it away to a little kid who thought it was pretty. He figured winning it was more important than owning it. The Oscar was given back to Clark Gable's widow after he died in 1960.

shirt8. Clark Gable single-handedly made the sales of men's undershirts drop"¦ maybe. During It Happened One Night, he takes off his shirt and has nothing on underneath "“ keep in mind, this was a time when men always wore undershirts. Supposedly, the fad swept the nation and men's undershirts collected dust at the stores. Snopes classifies it as an unverified story, but it's interesting nonetheless.
9.He was so angry that his co-star Hattie McDaniel wasn't allowed to attend the premiere of Gone with the Wind, he was planning on boycotting it. He only ended up going because Hattie convinced him that it was OK. They were good friends and he enjoyed pranking her on the set of the movie - he once slipped alcohol into the teapot she was supposed to pour herself a drink out of; she didn't realize he had made the switch until she tasted it.
10. His movie Red Dust with Jean Harlow and Mary Astor from 1932 was remade in 1951 as Mogambo with Grace Kelly and Ava Gardner. He played the same role in both movies.

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How Do You Stress the Word: THANKSgiving or ThanksGIVing?
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Here’s something else to stress about for Thanksgiving: where to put the stress in the word Thanksgiving.

If you’re from California, Iowa, or Delaware, you probably say ThanksGIVing, with the primary stress on the second syllable. If you’re from Georgia, Tennessee, or the Texas Panhandle, you probably say THANKSgiving, with the primary stress on the first syllable.

This north-south divide on syllable stress is found for other words like umbrella, guitar, insurance, and pecan. However, those words are borrowed from other languages (Italian, Spanish, French). Sometimes, in the borrowing process, competing stress patterns settle into regional differences. Just as some borrowed words get first syllable stress in the South and second syllable stress in the North, French words like garage and ballet get first syllable stress in the UK and second syllable stress in the U.S.

Thanksgiving, however, is an English word through and through. And if it behaved like a normal English word, it would have stress on the first syllable. Consider other words with the same noun-gerund structure just like it: SEAfaring, BAbysitting, HANDwriting, BULLfighting, BIRDwatching, HOMEcoming, ALMSgiving. The stress is always up front, on the noun. Why, in Thanksgiving alone, would stress shift to the GIVE?

The shift to the ThanksGIVing pronunciation is a bit of a mystery. Linguist John McWhorter has suggested that the loss of the stress on thanks has to do with a change in our concept of the holiday, that we “don’t truly think about Thanksgiving as being about thankfulness anymore.” This kind of thing can happen when a word takes on a new, more abstract sense. When we use outgoing for mail that is literally going out, we are likely to stress the OUT. When we use it as a description of someone’s personality ("She's so outgoing!"), the stress might show up on the GO. Stress can shift with meaning.

But the stress shift might not be solely connected to the entrenchment of our turkey-eating rituals. The thanksGIVing stress pattern seems to have pre-dated the institution of the American holiday, according to an analysis of the meter of English poems by Mark Liberman at Language Log. ThanksGIVing has been around at least since the 17th century. However you say it, there is precedent to back you up. And room enough to focus on both the thanks and the giving.

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Watch Boris Karloff's 1966 Coffee Commercial
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TAKWest, Youtube

Horror legend Boris Karloff is famous for playing mummies, mad scientists, and of course, Frankenstein’s creation. In 1930, Karloff cemented the modern image of the monster—with its rectangular forehead, bolted neck, and enormous boots (allegedly weighing in at 11 pounds each)—in the minds of audiences.

But the horror icon, who was born 130 years ago today, also had a sense of humor. The actor appeared in numerous comedies, and even famously played a Boris Karloff look-alike (who’s offended when he’s mistaken for Karloff) in the original Broadway production of Arsenic and Old Lace

In the ’60s, Karloff also put his comedic chops to work in a commercial for Butter-Nut Coffee. The strange commercial, set in a spooky mansion, plays out like a movie scene, in which Karloff and the viewer are co-stars. Subtitles on the bottom of the screen feed the viewer lines, and Karloff responds accordingly. 

Watch the commercial below to see the British star selling coffee—and read your lines aloud to feel like you’re “acting” alongside Karloff. 

[h/t: Retroist]

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