HomeEntertainmentJohn Wayne’s ‘The Alamo’: Here’s Why Clark Gable Turned Down Role of Davy Crockett

John Wayne’s ‘The Alamo’: Here’s Why Clark Gable Turned Down Role of Davy Crockett

by Matthew Wilson
Photo credit: Tom Nebbia/Corbis via Getty Images

John Wayne almost directed one of cinema’s great leading men – Clark Gable. But Gable turned down the chance to star alongside the Duke.

Wayne offered Gable one of the leads in the film, the role of Davy Crockett. Initially, Wayne was only interested in playing a supporting role in the film, reportedly as Sam Houston. But, according to IMDb, Gable refused to work alongside the Duke and rejected the offer.

It wasn’t a matter of politics that divided them as some may believe. Both Gable and Wayne were cut of the same cloth. They both were Republicans. And they both shared strict anti-Communist views in contrast to some of their Hollywood peers. No, Gable simply didn’t trust Wayne as a director. This was the first time the Duke was stepping behind the camera.

And Gable didn’t want to work with an inexperienced director on such a big-budget production. Gable, of course, was one of Hollywood’s biggest names. He starred in the classic “Gone With the Wind” among others as well. If the actor would have taken the part, it would have been one of his final. Gable ended up passing away in 1960 from a heart attack.

John Wayne and The Alamo

John Wayne certainly never forgot the Alamo. The film based on the historic last stand was a passion project for the Duke. But it ended up being highly stressful and a bit of a cursed production. For one, Wayne was stood up once again when friend James Arness turned down a role in the film.

Additionally, Wayne faced increased pressure from backers to star in the film himself and to film in a more expensive Texas instead of a planned Mexico shoot. The Duke agreed to star as Davy Crockett, a role he originally envisioned Gable as. But his woes were just getting started down in Texas.

For one, a major storm hit the state and flooded the set before production could barely get on its way. Later during filming, one of his extras in the film was murdered by a jealous boyfriend. Investigations into the crime hampered an already stagnant production schedule. There was also a fire on set and several of the crew caught the flu at the worst possible time.

Wayne also had to fend off his mentor and frequent collaborator John Ford, who tried to hijack the production himself. Ford was often critical of the actor, and Wayne wanted to prove himself to his mentor. All in all, it’s a surprise the movie even made it to theaters.