It’s a given that the elite tend to live healthier lives than the bottom-of-the-barrel K-Mart crowd. And yet by today’s standards, Clark Gable — the one-time King of Hollywood — lived a much more self-destructive life than your typical 2010 addict of whatever social class. For most of his 59 years Gable smoked tens of thousands of unfiltered cigarettes and swilled enough booze to kill a bull elephant. It’s a miracle that he lasted as long as he did.

“Gable died in Los Angeles, California on November 16, 1960,” his Wikipedia bio says. “It happened from a heart attack ten days after suffering a severe coronary thrombosis.

“There was much speculation that Gable’s physically demanding role in John Huston‘s The Misfits contributed to his sudden death soon after filming was completed. In an interview with Louella Parsons, published soon after Gable’s death, Kay Gable was quoted as saying “it wasn’t the physical exertion that killed him [but] the horrible tension…the eternal waiting, waiting, waiting. He waited around forever, for everybody. He’d get so angry that he’d just go ahead and do anything to keep occupied.”

Marilyn Monroe said that she and Kay had become close during the filming and would refer to Clark as ‘our man’ while Arthur Miller, observing Gable on location, noted that ‘no hint of affront ever showed on his face.’

“Others have blamed Gable’s crash diet before filming began. The 6’1” Gable weighed about 190 pounds (86.2 kg) at the time of Gone with the Wind, but by his late 50s, he weighed 230 pounds (104.3 kg). To get in shape for The Misfits, he dropped to 195 lbs (88 kg).”

And the comes the big “tell,” almost like an anecdotal aside…

“In addition, Gable was in poor health from years of heavy smoking (three packs of unfiltered cigarettes a day over thirty years, as well as cigars and at least two bowlfuls of pipe tobacco a day). Until the late 1950s he had been a heavy drinker, especially of whisky.”