When we last left Kay, she was married to Adolph Spreckels Jr. and had just given birth to their second child.
September 13, 1951:
Fifth Wife Sues Spreckels Heir
Los Angeles–The fifth wife of Adolph B. Spreckels II, 39-year-old heir to a sugar fortune, has sued him for divorce, alleging cruelty.
The former Kay Williams, 33, who married Spreckels six years ago, asked the court in her suit yesterday to oust her estranged mate from the Bel Air mansion they occupy. She claims Spreckels persists in staying there although they became estranged September 5.
Mrs. Spreckels, former actress, alleged in her complaint that her husband used physical violence on her without provocation. She asks $3,000 monthly alimony and support of their two children, Adolph III, 2, and Joan, 8 months. She wants custody of them and a division of community property. The complaint says Spreckels controls a fortune of several millions of dollars.
Spreckels’ lawyer said shortly after the suit was filed that he was authorized by his client to say that “he still loves and respects her and feels the divorce action was unwarranted and precipitous.”
Mrs. Spreckels was married once before, to Martin de Alzaga (Macoco) Unzue, Argentine millionaire. She divorced him in 1943. Spreckels, grandson of the late Claus Spreckels, founder of the fortune, has been divorced from the former Lois Quantrain Clarke, New York banker’s daughter; Gloria DeBevoise, society woman; Geraldine Spreckels, his distant cousin, and the former baroness Emily van Romberg.
$3,000 a month in 1951 translates to $27,535 today!!!
September 20, 1951:
Not Enough Funds for Marriage, Heir Says
Los Angeles–Adolph B. Spreckels II, heir to a California and Hawaiian sugar fortune, has charged his fifth wife, former actress Kay Williams, sued him for divorce because she did not feel he was paying enough for their marriage.
Spreckels made his charge in a cross-complaint to Miss Williams’ divorce action filed last week.
“Only money could make me passionate and affectionate toward you,” Spreckels said his wife told him.
Well isn’t that romantic. I am noticing a theme among Kay’s ex-husbands’ opinions of her, aren’t you.
September 22, 1951:
Sugar Heir Spreckels, Wife Differ Over Gable Incident
Los Angeles–Sugar heir Adolph B. Spreckels II testified today that his fifth wife, actress Kay Williams, once told him she had been intimate with the he-man actor, Clark Gable.
Miss Williams, who is seeking $3,000 a month support for herself and their two children, promptly took the stand to deny it.
Spreckels said his wife told him of the affair soon after they were married, when he reprimanded her for an incident also involving Gable. He said he was ill, and that his wife, Gable, and Mr. and Mrs. Walter Lang went out for the evening, returning to the patio of the Spreckels home for some drinks.
He said he heard his wife call: “Clark, come down here. I want to show you the bougainvillea.”
Spreckels said there was a bougainvillea vine near the swimming pool. He added that, although his wife called Gable several times, the actor did not respond.
He said when he reprimanded her, “there was a scuffle.”
Spreckels has charged in a cross-complaint to his wife’s suit for divorce that money is her only passion.
She testified earlier today that he once used a hatchet to chop down her locked bedroom door, but said she persuaded him to go to sleep. She sued him for divorce originally, alleging cruelty.
Miss Williams testified that Spreckels was “drunk almost all the time the first three years we were married.” They were med in 1945. He is 39, she 34. She acknowledged her financial worth was now $550,000–mostly in stocks, bond, jewels, furs and real estate, the gifts of Spreckels and his mother.
$600 For Children
At the conclusion of the hearing, the court granted $600 a month for the support of the Spreckels’ two children, instead of the $1,500 Mrs. Spreckels asked. The actress’ demand for $1,500 monthly for herself was taken under advisement.
The court also continued in effect orders restraining the couple from molesting each other. The judge told Spreckels to stay out of the house, but said he could visit the children when not intoxicated.
Not the gigantic sum she wanted, but $600 in 1951 is $5,507 today so here’s hoping she somehow makes that work.
Jealous Hubby Names Gable As Third Party
Los Angeles–Former actress Kay Williams won custody of her two children and $600 monthly support for them despite charges by her husband sugar heir Adolph Spreckels II that she was too sweet to screen idol Clark Gable.
Spreckels, 39, shocked a Superior Court room audience yesterday when he charged from the witness stand that his 33-year-old wife once told him she had been intimate with Gable.
She heatedly denied the charge.
Spreckels was being questioned by his attorney, Daniel Schnabel, about a fight he had with Miss Williams in San Francisco.
He said he was at home ill when his wife, Gable and another couple returned from a party.
“She went down by the pool house and said, ‘Clark, come down here. I want to show you the bougainvillea,'” Spreckels testified.
“I was jealous and particularly annoyed because she had had intimacies with Mr. Gable, according to what she told me,” he said, adding that Gable did not go down to see the plant.
Both Throw Punches
Miss Williams’ attorney, Charles Loring, cross-examined the sugar heir about the right, and Spreckels admitted both he and his wife threw punches.
“I slapped her. It was the only time I ever used violence,” he said.
Miss Williams, seeking $3,000 monthly temporary alimony and child support pending trial of her divorce suit, testified that Spreckels was “drunk the first three years we were married” and once ripped off her clothes.
On another occasion, Spreckels chopped down the door of her dressing room with an ax, she said, and then meekly went to bed when she told him he looked tired and needed rest.
This is really nasty. Where were the children when all this went on? Terrible. To Clark’s credit he apparently didn’t fall for Kay’s attempt to have him go “look at flowers.”
September 30, 1951:
Kay Williams Wins $1,000 Month Alimony
Los Angeles–Kay Williams, sometime movie actress, has won temporary alimony of $1,000 a month, pending trial of her suit for divorce from Adolph B. Spreckels II, sugar heir. She had asked $1,500.
Superior Judge William R. McKay noted that the actress previously had been awarded $600 a month for support of a 2-year-old son and an 8-month-old daughter.
November 13, 1952:
Beautiful, blonde Kay Spreckels, divorce troubles behind her, leaves for New York and two TV shows tomorrow. Yes, she’s resuming her career.
July 26, 1953:
Here’s a twosome to stop the presses–Kay Spreckles and Joe E. Lewis–so help me. They were at Sportsman’s lodge in the valley for dinner and then at Charley Foy’s for the show.
But that’s not the last she’s heard of Spreckles. It seems the two of them got into an altercation when she showed up at his house to pick up the children:
August 23, 1953:
Attorney For Sugar King Spreckles Doubts Seriousness of Actress’ Beating Injuries
Legal counsel for Adolph B. Spreckels II declared today he would demand subpoenas for every member of the “cast” at his client’s preliminary hearing Wednesday on felonies, assault charges.
The cast, said attorney David Schnabel, includes former actress Kay Williams, Spreckels’ former wife whom the millionaire is accused of beating with her slipper.
Schnabel, hinting largely that he considered the ash blonde’s injuries more fiction than fact, charged that Miss Williams gave “a very stirring performance.”
Accused of Assault
Spreckels, heir to a sugar fortune, was arraigned yesterday at Newport Beach before Judge Donald A. Dodge and charged him with assault to do great bodily harm. The judge did not share Schnabel’s viewpoint as to Miss Williams’ condition.
He said: “I do not consider this charge unimportant. I have had inquiry made at the hospital, and the condition of Mrs. Spreckels is so critical they have been unable to remove her to the X-ray room.”
A doctor at the hospital said the 37-year-old woman’s condition was much improved late yesterday.
Spreckels vehemently denied beating his former wife. Schnabel said he was “vacillating between the feeling that she way have inflicted the injuries herself or that they were imaginary.”
The alleged beating occurred early yesterday morning.
Dorothy Lamour, a longtime friend of Miss Williams, summoned medical aid after she was called to the injured woman’s apartment by friends. The film star was Miss Williams’ corroborating witness at her divorce which became final last month.
Miss Williams told officers Spreckels beat her when she arrived at his home to pick up their children who had been visiting him.
Schnabel disparaged this contention:
Appeared on Bike
“What we’d like to know,” he said, “is why Miss Williams appeared at his home at 6:30am with her shoes off and on a bicycle, coming in off the morning mist, when she was supposed to take their two children and their nurse to Beverly Hills.”
Meantime, reporters were not permitted to question Miss Williams. Dr. Helen Robertson said:
“She just can’t see anyone until we find out more about her injuries.”
Spreckels is free on $10,000 bond.
The sugar heir, who has been married five times, accused Miss Williams during their stormy divorce battle of confessing to him that she had once made love to film king Clark Gable. Spreckels also charged her with telling him: “Only money makes my passion burn and only money can make me love you.”
Miss Williams countered that the millionaire was “drunk” most of the time.
This entire thing is odd. She showed up on a bicycle in her bare feet at 6:30am to pick up two small children? Nonetheless, Spreckels seemed to be an extremely violent man.
September 1, 1953:
The Hectic Romance
Macoco, the onetime El Morocco playboy who now is home in the Argentine, was married to Kaye [sic] Williams. When she married Adolph Spreckels II, Macoco predicted there would be violence. Miss Williams, now divorced from Spreckels, was hospitalized last week, after a beating for which Spreckels is under arrest.
Macoco still carried a torch for his ex-wife. After their separation, she was often in the company of Clark Gable. “Kaye, his teeth aren’t his own,” Macoco told her. She removed one of her own caps and said: “See? Neither are mine.”
There was a brief reconciliation in N.Y. and Macoco opened charge accounts for her, hoping she would remain here with him forever. His first inkling that this would never be–and that she was interested in Spreckels in California–came when Macoco studied the bills for her purchases. She noticed that she’d bought nothing but California clothes.
December 11, 1953:
Kay Spreckles and Bentley Ryan embraced.
Apparently that’s news?
December 21, 1953:
Bentley Ryan with Kay Spreckles at the Mocambo.
Meanwhile ex-husband Spreckels was facing the music for allegedly beating her last fall. There are a lot of news stories on this so I’ll sum it up:
On September 12, 1954, a court hearing was held on the assault charge. Kay testified that he took a slipper from her foot and used it to strike her on the head and shoulders. She also said he called her “a four letter word,” grabbed her arm, ripped her shirt, kicked her with his bare feet and dragged her 10 feet by the hair. She testified: “I pleaded with him not to be so loud because of the children. He said, ‘You dirty–, I’m going to throw you out of the house.’ He took off one of my shoes and beat me over the head 15 times. Mr. Spreckels said to me: ‘I’ll mar that beautiful face of yours. The lovely Kay! I’ll fix you!'”The doctor at the hospital she went to after the fight testified that she had several bruises on her head, neck, back, left forearm and left shoulder, as well as a concussion. Spreckels’ attorney accused Kay of attacking him first, which she denied. Under cross-questioning she admitted throwing a glass but said, “I didn’t throw it in any particular direction.” She also admitted having two drinks that night.
January 9, 1954:
Spreckels Gets 30-Day Jail Term For Beating Ex-Wife
Santa Ana–Portly sugar heir Adolph B. Spreckels II was sentenced to 30 days in Orange County Jail Friday by Superior Judge Robert Gardner for a beating he inflicted upon his fifth wife, actress Kay Williams.
Spreckels, however, spent about an hour as a prisoner in the courtroom and then temporarily gained his freedom on a notice of appeal. He was released on $1,000 bond pending a hearing.
Judge Gardner bluntly said he could not sit on the bench and “condone the fact that you, a six-footer and a heavy-set man, gave a five-foot woman a beating.”
The judge said that a fine would not be adequate punishment in his court and he likewise denied a plea for probation or a stay of execution. Judge Gardner said that Spreckles, despite his wealth would be treated like any other defendant in his court.
Spreckels, noticeably uneasy as the judge castigated him, had nothing to say. He was permitted to take a seat with a group of convicted felons while attorneys scurried around preparing the notice of appeal and getting the bond approved.
Judge Gardner reviewed a probation report which brought out Spreckels’ previous legal difficulties and that he had received a discharge from military service on conditions “other than honorable.” Attorney Daniel Schnabel said the discharge was “on physiological grounds.”
In seeking probation for the heir to a California-Hawaiian sugar fortune, attorney Schnabel said Spreckels had suffered a coronary attack recently and was under the care of a physician.
Miss Williams was not in court to hear her ex-husband sentenced on the misdemeanor conviction on simple assault charges. A jury returned the simple assault conviction last Dec. 16 after deliberating less than two hours. Spreckles originally was charged with felonious assault.
Judge Gives Spreckels 30 Days In Jail for Beating Wife
Santa Ana–Adolph Spreckels II was sentenced today to 30 days in jail for beating his divorced fifth wife, Kay Williams, 36. The judge gave him a severe tongue-lashing.
Superior Judge Robert Gardner read from a probation report citing the sugar heir’s five marriages and five divorces, two arrests for drunkenness and”a discharge other than honorable” from military service.
“This is not a pretty picture,” the judge said. “It is a tragic commentary on the misuse of a great family estate. I am not going to tilt at windmills as a protector of fair womanhood, but there are two things men don’t do in our society. One is to beat up women.
“Your former wife may have had dollar marks in her eyes when she married you, but she is entitled to the protection of the law,” Judge Gardner declared.
The jurist denied probation and a motion for a new trial and remanded Spreckels to jail immediately. Shortly afterward he was released on $1,000 bail as his attorneys filed an appeal.
A jury convicted him of simple assault, a misdemeanor.
“Dollar marks in her eyes…”
There is A LOT of coverage of Spreckels in the next few months. I am just going to sum up what happened or else this blog post is going to be 6,000 words.
On February 1, 1954, it was announced that Spreckels had eloped to Las Vegas. 22 year old beauty queen Judith Powell became the sixth Mrs. Spreckels. Adolph was 42.
On March 9, 1954, (yes, one month later) Spreckels sued his new bride for divorce, citing cruelty. She countersued, appearing with her arm in a sling, claiming he broke it.
On May 26, 1954, The Fourth District Court of Appeals denied Spreckels’ appeal for a new trial.
On August 5, 1954, Spreckels was thrown in jail after a barroom fight in which he was allegedly swinging beer bottles at other patrons.
On November 1, 1954, Spreckels began his jail sentence at an Orange County jail.
On November 26, 1954, Spreckels was released from jail after serving 25 days of his 30 day sentence; he got five days knocked off for good behavior. Upon his release, he said the food there was better than some he had eaten at the best restaurants in Beverly Hills and that he enjoyed his time in jail.
Don’t worry about Kay, she kept herself busy:
January 15, 1954:
Kay Williams Spreckels was on the arm of Bentley Ryan at Eartha Kitt’s opening at the Mocambo.
January 26, 1954:
Kay Spreckels and W.C. Troutman are making like it’s spring.
February 13, 1954:
Zsa Zsa Gabor last night tossed a “come as your favorite character” party. Most of the guests, being actors, naturally came as themselves.
But some dressed for the occaison. Most notable was Marion Davies who came as Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Her husband, Capt. Horace Brown, came in full Indian regalia. Zsa Zsa dressed as Jeanne Avril, the character she played in the movie “Moulin Rouge.”
Kay William Spreckels, former Erie, Pa., resident, and one-time wife of sugar heir Adolph Spreckels, came as Zsa Zsa.
Champagne flowed like water and guests dined on Hungarian goulash.
March 29, 1954:
The girl who gives a man a little competition is doing all right for herself, and that’s what Kay Williams Spreckels has been doing to Hal Hayes.
Kay has had a guest in town, Jack Hogan, head of United Insurance Company, who comes from Chicago. He came to see Kay and brought along his mother and father. Of course, another reason for the Hogan visit is that a big insurance building is being built in Los Angeles.
Kay insists that she and Jack are merely friends, but she is the only girl he dated while he was here.
May 11, 1954:
Kay Spreckels and Bentley Ryan a twosome.
May 17, 1954:
Kay Spreckels’ next: Jack Hogan, the insurance tycoon.
Back and forth and back and forth…
May 23, 1954:
Kay Spreckels (the divorcee) and Jack Hogan are always Hogan-and-kissin’ in public.
Ok, whoever wrote that should have been fired.
July 19, 1954:
Kay Spreckels, who figured in an auto mishap in Beverly Hills, after a few days in the hospital, is home again.
And here he comes folks:
The very handsome man who called for Kay Spreckels at St. John’s hospital, helped her pack up her belongings, and drove her home was Clark Gable!
Kay’s automobile accident, following her serious injuries lat year in her fracas with Adolph Spreckels, has shaken her nerves, and the poor gal is beginning to think she is jinxed. What else can happen?
Gable is an old friend who still sees Kay although most of her dates lately have been architect builder Hal Hayes.
July 23, 1954:
The movie colony is watching with much interest the revival of Clark Gable’s friendship for Kay Spreckels, one of his old flames.
August 19, 1954:
Clark Gable and Kay Spreckels steady-dating.
September 30, 1954:
So great was the interest in the [A Star is Born] premiere that the first of the estimated 20,000 fans and autograph hunters who jammed the streets leading to the RKO Pantages Hollywood theater began arriving at mid-day.
It was not until shortly before 8 o’clock that chauffeur-driven limousines began pulling up in front of the theater to deposit mink and ermine-clad movie queens and tuxedo-ed leading men.
The Who’s Who of Hollywood turned out for the affair, including a number of film figures who had not been seen at a premiere in years.
Clark Gable was there with Kay Williams Spreckels, one-time wife of the sugar heir.
Pianist Liberace attracted attention when he showed up wearing a black and gold evening jacket, with shoes to match. He was with his mother.
I’ve always wondered why Clark went to that premiere. He hated big premieres and this one was a huge spectacle. Is anyone surprised Liberace showed up with his mother? Anyone?
October 2, 1954:
Clark Gable and Kay Spreckels did what onlookers term a sizzling “Black Bottom” dance at a recent Hollywood shindig.
October 3, 1954:
Kay Williams Spreckels’ Romance with Clark Gable Brings Misery to Hal Hayes
Hollywood is talking about the unhappiness of Hal Hayes over Kay Williams Spreckels’ renewal of an interrupted romance with Clark Gable. Kay is seeing no one these days but the “king” and Hal loves Kay.
She breaks a lot of hearts!
October 30, 1954:
A gab with Kay Spreckels and Clark Gable have us a giggle. Seems Kay, who up to now, has never been able to hit the side of a barn ten feet away, has been pheasant-shooting with Clark the past few days. They go out to the Bradeis ranch in the San Fernando Valley—and stalk their prey in a jeep. First day out, Kay bagged a bird. Gable got nothing.
I swear pretty much the exact same story was told when Clark and Carole Lombard were dating some 18 years earlier.
November 12, 1954:
The last date Clark Gable had before he took off for Hong Kong was with Kay Spreckels. They had dinner with Anita Louise and Buddy Adler at La Rue Restaurant.
November 23, 1954:
Clark Gable is off to Hong Kong and Kay Spreckels went dining with attorney Bentley Ryan. “He’s just another old friend like Clark,” she says. “I stick to my old friends.”
December 18, 1954:
Los Angeles–Clark Gable returned home last night from making a picture in Hong Kong and had this comment about being quoted in Honolulu as saying he was quitting the movies after making three more films:
“Let’s say I do at least three more pictures.”
The actor was met at International Airport by Kay Spreckels, blonde former wife of sugar heir Adolph Spreckels.
Accompanying Gable were actors Michael Rennie and Gene Barry and director Edward Dmytryk. All had been at work on the movie “Soldier of Fortune” in Hong Kong.
Next up, Clark and Kay make it official…