Finally the end is near and as 1952 arrived, it looked like the divorce would finally be settled between Clark Gable and Wife #4.
February 7, 1952:
Mrs. Clark Gable (Lady Sylvia Ashley) has been ambulanced to Doctors Hospital. I know Gable visited her in her ninth-floor suite. But they tell me that’s only a manifestation of a gentleman’s courtesy and that he plans to fly to Florida and Dolly O’Brien, though other friends expect him to return to, perhaps marry, Virginia Grey, in Hollywood. These are rumors with no substantiation that I could rivet down.
February 15, 1952:
Are Gables Ready to Kiss, Make Up?
New York–The New York Journal-American said today that Clark Gable is “reported to have rehearsed a kiss-and-make-up scene” with his estranged wife, the former Lady Sylvia Ashley.
The story, by Dorothy Kilgallen, said: “According to close friends, Gable has seen her almost daily at Doctors hospital…despite divorce suits..Those sources report Gable’s calls weren’t just ‘hello-goodbye’ affairs, but that he stayed longer than would have been expected of an ‘estranged’ husband suing and being sued.”
Mrs. Gable is recovering from a fractured ankle suffered in an automobile accident in Nassau.
Both have been married three times previously.
Friends of Clark’s said it was amazing, that he visited her at the hospital and they laughed it up like there was no divorce suit. There was never really any chance of reconciliation, it seems, but at the very least this re-connection inspired Clark to not contest Sylvia’s grounds for divorce.
February 18, 1952:
Studio Says Gable Will Not Contest Divorce Action
Hollywood–Clark Gable won’t contest his wife’s divorce suit, his studio says.
Gable returned yesterday from New York, where he had several “very friendly” talks with Mrs. Gable, the former Lady Sylvia Ashley, an MGM spokesman said.
Hollywood, after hearing reports the pair couldn’t agree on a property settlement, had been expecting Gable to fight his wife’s suit, filed last May.
The studio spokesman said he did not know if a property agreement had been reached, but added that a settlement presumably is no obstacle to an amicable divorce.
February 19, 1952:
Hollywood, Calif.–Lady Sylvia Ashley and her movie star husband, Clark Gable, have “ironed out all their differences” and he will let her get an uncontested divorce, her attorney said today.
Jerry Giesler, the attorney, said he understood the “differences” ironed out meant the couple had settled the “squabble on alimony and property settlement”–previous stu,bling blocks on the heretofore bitter battle between the two.
If you’ve ever wondered where Sylvia was living while all this divorce battle was going on, turns out it was Fairbanks’ place in Santa Monica (right near Norma Shearer). Sold it at a bit of a loss…
March 7, 1952:
Fairbanks Home Costing $200,000 Sells for $37,000
Santa Monica, Cal.–The seaside cottage and guest house built by Douglas Fairbanks Sr. at an estimated cost of $200,000, were sold today by his widow, Mrs. Sylvia Gable, for $37,000.
The purchases was the International Rolling Mill Products Co. of Chicago. Leroy Listug, general manager, said the property was purchased for use of one of the company executives.
Mrs. Gable, the former Lady Sylvia Ashley, has a divorce suit pending against Clark Gable, actor. She has been living there alone, except for servants, since their estrangement last year.
Finally a hobbled Sylvia walked out of court with her divorce decree:
April 22, 1952:
Clark Gable Gets Freedom But It Costs Him Plenty
Santa Monica, Cali–Clark Gable now has the matrimonial freedom his heart desires.
His fourth wife won a divorce Monday after testifying that he told her “I don’t wish to be married to you or anyone else.”
Under a settlement the former Lady Sylvia Ashley gets a sizeable chunk of the actor’s estimated $500,000 yearly earnings–10 per cent the first year and 7 per cent for the next four.
Gable, long-time king of Hollywood’s leading men, didn’t contest the case and was not present in court.
Lady Ashley Gets Divorce
Aided by her attorney, Jerry Giesler, Lady Sylvia Ashley hobbled into court at Santa, Monica, Calif., to win a default divorce from screen he-man Clark Gable. The blonde lady Sylvia, still recuperating from a broken foot suffered at Nassau four months ago, received a sizeable property and alimony settlement reported to be in the neighborhood of $138,200.
She arrived in court in a white blouse, a yellow straw hat, a sandle [sic] on her good foot and an oxford on her broken foot. She testified nervously under questioning by Attorney Jerry Giesler:
“The first indication that anything was wrong came when Clark quite suddenly said he wanted to be free and that he didn’t wish to be married to me or anyone else. At first I could not believe he was serious,” she said, her hands shaking as she talked in a low, almost inaudible voice. “I stayed on at the house but he scarcely spoke to me; when I asked for a fuller explanation he said there was none.
“I did everything I know to hold the marriage together, but he insisted he was just not happy to be a married man.”
Close friends of the he-man actor said the trouble was Gable’s inability to forget the late Carole Lombard, the honey-blonde actress and his third wife who was killed in a tragic plane accident in Nevada in 1942.
Lady Sylvia’s testimony was corroborated by Rufus Martin, negro butler in the Gable home.
“After dinner Mr. Gable would go directly upstairs, Mrs. Gable would just sit there all alone, looking at TV. He wouldn’t even talk to Mrs. Gable and he became very moody.”
The marriage was the fourth for both.
Next up: Mr. and Mrs. Gable move on with their lives…