People sure do love juicy Hollywood gossip, and Huston striking and killing Roulien was great fodder for the rumor mill. The talk around Tinsel Town was that Huston wasn’t the driver that hit Roulien. There were whispers that Clark Gable, already a studio darling for MGM, was the man responsible. The rumor was that Gable was drunk behind the wheel of his car when fate brought him and Roulien together in the carnage. He sped away from the accident, leaving Roulien to die in the street.
Enter Eddie Mannix, MGM’s “fixer.” Mannix, who would later be vice president of the studio, had developed deep connections with police, physicians, and public officials in and around Los Angeles. According to The Huffington Post, it was Mannix who was rumored to have used his influence to find a fall guy for the wreck. The outlet reports that he supposedly found Huston and offered him a sizable bribe to take the blame for Roulien’s death. Huston obliged, sparing Gable a possible prison sentence for manslaughter and the studio a great deal of embarrassing publicity.
The only problem with the above accounting of events is that they simply are not true. Huston was absolutely the man driving the car that struck Roulien, an incident that would haunt him to the point that he sought respite in Europe for years after her death. Like with any rumor, several layers to Gable’s own doings would fuel a conspiracy theory that put the blame squarely on his shoulders.