We last left Clark Gable and Kay Williams Gable in late 1960. Clark died on November 16, 1960, and I am skipping over all the coverage of his illness and death as I have covered that before and it would get redundant–the subject at hand is Kay. You can read about Clark’s death and funeral here.
So let’s pick up in January 1961, when Kay is newly widowed and an expectant mother.
January 15, 1961:
Gable’s Widow Gets Allowance
Los Angeles–Clark Gable’s widow has a $5,000 monthly allowance from the actor’s estate to meet family expenses.
The petition of former actress Kay Williams for this sum was approved in Superior Court. Her request stated that Gable’s assets exceed $1 million,
Gable died at 59 last Nov. 16. His will bequeathed his estate to the widow, except for a North Hollywood home left to Josephine Dillon, 75, the first of Gable’s five wives.
Miss Williams is expecting a child by her marriage to Gable.
You can see Clark’s will here.
January 18, 1961:
It’s a tribute to Clark Gable’s fine talents as an actor that the special showing of “The Misfits” in a Paramount projection room was not a sad affair. John Huston was the host and among the guests Carl Sandburg and about 30 of Clark’s old friends.
Kay Gable did not come to the screening–that’s a little too much to expect. But she talked with John right after the picture and was delighted to hear that everyone thought this was Clark’s finest performance in years.
January 20, 1961 (Hedda Hopper):
I wish Clark Gable could have seen Mrs. Ray Hommes’ baby shower for Kay. She wore a special gown designed by Werle and never sat down during the three hours altho [sic] her hostess had provided a comfortable low seated, high backed chair decorated with chrysanthemums. But Kay never sat nor did she open any of the gifts. She’d promised Clark that if anyone gave her a shower they’d open presents together. The night before she opened a gift, a baby’s first book, and she went to pieces. Our hostess had the mural on the wall covered, it depicted wild horses and she didn’t want anything to remind Kay of “Misfits.” Nearly 100 gals came including motion picture stars and society.
Some pics from the baby shower:
February 1, 1961:
Kay Gable, widow of actor Clark Gable, recalling their plans for their expected child and home before he died: “You’ll have to excuse me if I talk about Clark as if he were still alive. I can’t help feeling that he still is.”
March 14, 1961:
Kay Gable to Have Clark’s Baby by Cesarean Monday
Clark Gable’s baby will be born Monday morning by Cesarean section, his beautiful blonde widow said in Hollywood Monday.
“I told the doctor to keep me awake,” Kay Gable said, “So I can give the baby a kiss and a hug from his pa the minute he’s born.”
The baby, which would have been the first for the late king of the movies, will be born in the same hospital–Hollywood Presbyterian–where Gable died last Nov. 16.
“I kind of hate going back to the hospital but Dr. Clark (Dr. Richard Clark, obstetrician) operates there. And he’s so good.”
She will enter the hospital late Saturday or Sunday.
I don’t know why it was necessary for her to make a statement to the press declaring she’s having the baby the following week. She had complications with Joan and had had a cesarean then, which is why she was scheduled to have one with this baby. It’s always kind of bothered me how she and Clark both call the baby “he” and go on and on about how they want a boy. We all know they did indeed have a boy, but what if it had been a girl?
March 18, 1961:
Mrs. Gable Checks Into The Hospital
Hollywood–Kay Gable, 43-year-old widow of movie king Clark Gable, today checks into Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital–the same facility where he died last Nov. 16–to await the birth of his only child.
Thoughtful letters have poured in on the widow from around the globe, offering her help, advice and the senders’ hopes that the baby will be a boy.
“Of the hundreds of letters I’ve received only half a dozen said they wanted me to have a girl,” the blonde former actress and mother of two children by a previous marriage recently told United Press International.
The infant, to be delivered Monday by cesarean section, already is creating as much of a stir as did the babies of Queen Elizabeth and President John F. Kennedy before they were born.
Ok, I think that’s an exaggeration.
March 20, 1961:
Eight Pound Son is Born to Kay Gable in Hollywood Hospital
Hollywood–Kay Gable gave birth to an 8-pound “prince” today to carry on the name of her late husband, Clark Gable, “king” of the movies.
It was the only child born of Gable, who died of a heart attack last Nov. 16 in Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital where his robust son entered the world.
Mrs. gable’s condition was described as good by Dr. Richard Clark.
The actor’s widow’s first words were, “What a handsome boy. Just what Clark wanted.”
The baby was born at 10:48 am EST, after 26 minutes in the delivery room. Dr. Clark said the new Gable “cried vigorously” immediately.
Mrs. Gable was in surgery a total of one hour and a half, delivering the 20-inch long, 8-pound boy.
“Mrs. Gable responded to the anesthetic for the cesarean section very well,” the doctor said.
Mrs. Gable, hospitalized for six weeks in the summer of 1946 when stricken by a heart attack, insisted she felt fine when she entered the hospital. “but I’m awfully lonesome here without Clark,” she said Sunday night, “I’ve been counting and planning on him being with me. In 1956 when i was in another hospital due to my heart ailment, Clark spent every night in the room next door to me and he would rarely take time to leave the hospital for anything.
“He was a wonderful, wonderful man. I’m sure wherever Clark is, he is looking down on us and knows what is going on.”
A lot of coverage is given to the fact that she had a cesarean, as they were not as commonplace then. An hour and a half in surgery?! I had one and I was in and out in no time.
There is a lot of coverage of the birth, all stating the same things in pretty much the same words. Also a bunch of stories about her taking her time coming up with a name. Which I don’t get because I thought it had been said before that she and Clark had picked out the baby’s name, boy or girl, months ago. (Girl would have been Gretchen Elizabeth.)
March 29, 1961:
Kay Gable Leaves Hollywood Hospital
Kay Gable, anxious to get home to her infant son, left today Hollywood Presbyterian hospital, where she gave birth to the late Clark Gable’s only child last week.
Dressed in a white robe and wrapped in a white blanket, and with a white ribbon in her hair, Mrs. gable was taken from the hospital in a wheel chair and placed on an ambulance stretcher for the trip home.
“I’m anxious to get home to the baby,” she said. “He’s lovable and a good little fellow.”
The child, John Clark Gable, was taken to the family’s Encino, Calif. home yesterday.
Going home after your baby does, and on a stretcher in an ambulance! Times sure have changed.
April 1, 1961:
Clark Gable’s ‘Daughter’ Arrested
A Florida woman claiming to be the daughter of the late actor Clark Gable was arrested yesterday outside Gable’s nearby Encino home.
Informed in advance, police were waiting outside the Gable estate to arrest Mrs. Olga Borozny, 43, on a charge of disturbing the peace.
A month ago Mrs. Borozny of Fort Lauderdale pleaded guilty to a charge of harassing, but she did not appear March 7 for probation and sentencing, officers said.
Mrs. Kay Gable and the 59-year-old star’s infant son were at the 20-acre estate when Mrs. Borozny was arrested yesterday.
April 2, 1961:
Nab Woman Near Gable Home Again
A 43-year-old Florida woman who claims to be Clark Gable’s daughter was arrested outside the late actor’s Encino estate for disturbing the pace.
Police said it was the second time Mrs. Olga Borozny of Ft. Lauderdale got into trouble as a result of her actions around the big 2-acre ranch at 4525 Petit Avenue.
Mrs. Kay Gable is living in the estate after her return home from the hospital where she gave birth to Gable’s only son.
Police said Mrs. Borozny first came to their attention about a month ago when employees of the Gable household reported she threatened them and kept loitering around the premises.
She pleaded guilty to a charge of harassing, but failed to appear for probation and sentencing in Van Nuys Municipal Court on March 7. She was at liberty on a $105 bond.
Officers were notified Friday she had returned and was taken into custory and booked at Lincoln Heights jail.
Mrs. Borozny, who had previously been declared mentally unsound by a Florida court, insisted the 59-year-old movie king was her father and she was the rightful heir to his estate.
When asked about her claim she stated: “It’s such a long story I won’t try to explain.”
Ok, first of all, is it no wonder nutjobs show up a celebrity homes when you constantly PRINT THEIR HOME ADDRESSES IN THE NEWSPAPER?! A few days later it was announced that the court had ordered a mental examination on this troubled lady. Funny, she was 43, same age as Kay, and claiming to be Clark’s daughter! No word on what happened to her.
May 1, 1961:
Kay Gable turned down hundreds of dollars to do a biography of Clark Gable but consented to edit a picture book on “the King” so his many fans will have it to cherish.
And she did the “picture book” for free?
May 25, 1961:
Clark Gable’s widow was awarded in court a boost in family allowance from $5,000 to $6,000 monthly.
Kay Spreckles Gable said she needed the money to meet current expenses for herself and the actor’s baby son John Clark, who was born after Gable’s death last November at the age of 59.
June 1, 1961:
Marilyn Monroe’s first “date” after she came out of the hospital was with Master John Clark Gable who she held on her lap all the time she was visiting at the ranch with Kay Gable. Marilyn adores children and I must say John Clark is one to be crazy about.
Marilyn stated in another article that month: “I was out to see Kay Gable. We stayed up late talking…I saw her son; he’s a beautiful boy. It was wonderful seeing Kay. Kind of sad, too.”
June 6, 1961:
Gable’s Infant Will Be Baptized Catholic
John Clark Gable, 10-week-old only child of the late screen idol Clark Gable, will be baptized as a Roman Catholic next Sunday at St. Cyril’s Church, his mother announced today.
Gable, who died before the baby was born, was not a Catholic, but Mrs. Kay Gable was born a Catholic. She has been attending St. Cyril’s, although she was divorced and remarried.
There is a lot of coverage of the baptism:
June 12, 1961:
Clark Gable’s Son Christened Before Celebrity Guests
“It’s a pity his father couldn’t be here,” said Mrs. Clark Gable at the baptism of the late king of Hollywood’s only son.
Gable died last fall, before the birth of 11-week-old John Clark Gable.
John Clark was christened yesterday at St. Cyril’s Roman Catholic Church before a crowd of movie stars that included Marilyn Monroe, Fred Astaire and Ray Milland.
The infant wore a gown fit for a prince at the ceremonies. The fancy garment was created by fashion designer Don Loper out of white lace and given to the Gables as a gift. Loper said it was “the kind of christening dress that England’s Prince Charles wore.”
There were actually two ceremonies yesterday, one on the steps of the church for the press benefit and one inside the church, which was almost filled with about 150 persons.
After the child arrived with his mother, Kay Gable, godmother Mrs. Winnie Leigh held him on the steps. Flash bulbs and the heat made him cry.
“The lights bothered him,” Mrs. Gable said. “That’s the price of being a celebrity, I guess.”
Mrs. Gable posed with the baby for 10 minutes outside the church while about 30 photographers took pictures and passerby ogled.
Hollywood columnist Louella Parsons, also a godmother, held the baby during the inside ceremonies. Both ceremonies were conducted by the Rev. Michael Lalor. The godfather was Vincent Williams of Encino, Mrs. Gable’s brother.
Besides Miss Monroe, who starred with Gable in his last movie, Astaire and Milland, celebrities on hand included Mr. and Mrs. Jack Benny, Hedda Hopper, Edgar Bergen, Leo Carillo, Robert Stack, Cesar Romero and Rhonda Fleming.
October 5, 1961:
The town’s awash with parties; the Arthur Camerons threw one for those two authors, Kay Gable and Art Linkletter.
October 24, 1961:
Kay Gable Still Mourns Over Passing of ‘King’
“It’s been almost a year since Clark died,” Kay Gable said today, shaking her head in disbelief. “It just doesn’t seem possible the time has passed so quickly. Yet in other ways it’s almost as if centuries have gone by since that terrible night.”
Kay is still in mourning. Perhaps she will always be in mourning for one of the great motion picture stars of all time.
Blonde Kay, who never looked better in her life, can talk about her “Pa” easily now, even in describing in detail the events of last Nov. 16 when she cradled her dead husband’s body in her arms until it grew cold.
Kay said she still bursts into tears on occasion, but the intervals are growing farther apart.
The widow sat in an overstuffed couch in her farm-style living room surrounded by letters. She has received more than 26,000 since the birth of Gable’s only son last March.
“I’ve fallen hopelessly begin in answering all the mail,” Kay said. “That’s why I’ve written my book about Clark. It answers all the questions in the mail. I also wrote captions for 250 pictures in the book.”
Kay made it clear she actually wrote the book, “Clark Gable, a Personal Portrait,” (Prentice-Hall) which has gone into its second printing.
We walked into the nursery where 6-month-old John Clark was being changed by his full-time nurse.
Most babies are cute. But young John Clark is outright handsome. He looks startlingly like his father. His eyes are the same color, his hair has the same unruly forelock and his grin is a carbon copy of Gable’s.
Kay picked up her son and immediately pushed her husky baby’s ears outward and forward. “they don’t stick out as much as Pa’s did,” she smiled. “if we’re lucky the ears will become as prominent as his father’s.”
She held John up to a table where a picture of his father has stood since the baby was brought home from the hospital. The little fellow reached out for the photograph and gurgled happily.
“He does that all the time,” Kay said. “John knows that is his father; he talks to him constantly.
“This is the third act of my life,” she said. “I haven’t thought about the future, and I don’t know what I’m going to do yet. I keep busy with the children and my mail. I must stay busy.
“Other men? No, I can’t even think about them. When I think of a man, I think of Clark Gable, no one else.”
As she talked Kay walked into a wood-paneled den which she has made into an office. “Re-marriage? Golly, no. Such thoughts never enter my mind and I’m too busy to have dates.
“There is one thing that helps make life easier now, and that’s an old saying. I don’t know its origin, but it goes like this: ‘Today is a tomorrow you worried about yesterday–and all is well.'”
Six month old babies don’t know what photographs of people are or who they are. I guess she turned the den that was formerly Clark’s gun room into her office?
October 26, 1961:
Kay Gable providing the memory work only for her tome, “Clark Gable, A Personal Portrait.” A former Los Angeles newspaper doll did the writing.
I thought she just said she wrote the whole thing??
Plot Reported to Kidnap Son of Clark Gable
Encino–Police protection was given Kay Gable, widow of the late Clark Gable, early today following a report of a plot to kidnap her seven-month old son, John Clark Gable.
Officers surrounded the 22-acre estate when a man told police he had overheard four men conspiring to abduct the child.
David Treganon, an unemployed publicity man, said he heard the men mention the name “Gable” in connection with kidnapping as they sat in a downtown Los Angeles cafe.
According to officers Treganon waited until the men left the cafe before calling the police. Treganon was quoted as saying he didn’t obtain the license number of the car in which they drove away.
He added that the men were swarthy and well dressed, but didn’t mention when and where they planned to carry out the kidnapping.
“I didn’t know anything about it until the police came to my home early this morning,” Mrs. Gable said. “I was sleeping with the baby last night because it was the nurse’s night off. I’ve taken every possible precaution to safeguard the children. We have an electric gate that won’t open unless one of us in the house pushes the button. And all the property is carefully fenced in.”
Mrs. Gable has two older children, born when she was married to sugar heir Adolph Spreckels.
I don’t know how serious this kidnapping plot was, but it did scare Kay enough to start keeping baby John Clark out of the press (well, except for her forthcoming book). I know all you mothers out there sympathize with her, she had to sleep with her baby because it was the nurse’s night off! Imagine! Poor lady. Kay who had no employment to speak of, yet has a full time baby nurse. Well then.
November 2, 1961:
Kay Gable Guardian of 2 Children
Actor Clark Gable’s widow Wednesday was appointed guardian of her two children by her previous marriage to sugar heir Adolph B. Spreckels II, who died in Phoenix last Saturday.
Mrs. Kay Gable was not in court when Superior Judge Harold W. Schweitzer approved the petition of her attorney to name her guardian of Adolph (Bunker) Spreckels II, 12, and Joan Spreckels, 10.
The lawyer said that shortly before Spreckels death he made a gift of $10,000 to each child, making it necessary for a guardian to be appointed.
Spreckels died October 28, 1961, after falling and bashing his head in Arizona. Very sad for Bunker and Joan to lose both their father and stepfather in the span of a year. Of all the accounts of nastiness towards his wives, I haven’t read of him being cruel to the children, so there is that.
Kay attended old friend Marion Davies’ funeral around this time:
November 10, 1961:
Two beauties, Rocky Cooper and Kay Gable, have gained Hollywood’s admiration. Since the deaths of Gary Cooper and Clark Gable they have maintained a quiet dignity. Not even the towns super-gossips have been able to link them with eligible men-about-town.
November 15, 1961:
Although police now wonder if there was a real plot to kidnap her son, Kay Gable’s house is still an armed stronghold.
“We have three guards here in the daytime and two at night,” Kay tells me. “It is something that I can’t take a chance on.”
In looking for protection, Kay and her attorney sought ex-policemen who know how to handle a gun.
So much emotional tension for Kay this year.
With the reported kidnap plot keeping the household in a state of worry, Kay had to tell her two older children of the death, by heart attack, of her ex-husband and their father, Adolph B. Spreckels.
“He was sweet to the children,” she tells me. “He took them to Hawaii. They loved him very much. When I had to tell them that he was gone, they burst into tears.”
December 7, 1961:
“In any marriage, it is up to the wife to give just a little bit more than the husband.”
So writes Kathleen Gable, widow of one of America’s most famous actors, in “Clark Gable: A Personal Portrait” (Prentice-Hall, $3.95).
“A woman has more to gain from marriage than a man,” she continues, “So it is her duty to see that everything is kept in as perfect order as possible and that, within reason, the home life is geared to please the husband.”
Kay Gable’s book is illustrated with 150 photographs of Gable at home, at play and at work. It also contains the latest pictures of their son, John Clark Gable.
Agree with her sentiments on marriage, ladies? Oh my. You can read an excerpt of Kay’s book here. It is out of circulation but you can often find copies on Amazon and Ebay.
February 24, 1962:
Despite her bruises and arm in a sling after the brakes on her car didn’t hold, Kay Gable kept her promise and acted as mistress of ceremonies at the Santa Monica St. John’s Hospital Guild luncheon.
Is it just me or does she get in a lot of car accidents?
March 14, 1962:
Kay Gable was twisting with her shoes off at Burton and Muriel Slatkin’s party at the Beverly Hills Hotel for Charlie and Mollie Berns.
Back on the scene again! And twisting!
March 26, 1962:
Guests Bring Own Bottles to Wild Hollywood Party
Talk about swinging parties, a recent movieland soiree saw most of the guests arrive with their own bottles which they polished off during two hours of reckless guzzling.The occasion was the first birthday of John Clark Gable, the late actor’s only child.
Kay Gable, John Clark’s mother, freely admits the blowout was a huge success. But she’s still astonished by the amount of drinking that went on in her rustic, ranch-style home.
The guest list included some of Hollywood’s brightest names. There were the Crosby kids, Harry, Mary Frances and Nathaniel, offspring of Bing and Cathy. Giselle McKenzie’s one-year-old McKenzie Duffy Shuttleworth also was on hand for the festivities.
Christopher Edgar Bergen, the ventriloquist’s 3 1/2 month old son, didn’t have much to say, but he brought his own diapers.
Nicky Hilton’s two sons, Conrad Hilton III, 1 1/2, and Michael Otis, 4 1/2 months, fell asleep in the midst of the whoop-dee-doo.
“Some of the ancient group were there too,” Kay laughed. “Bob Stack’s youngsters Charles and Elizabeth (4 and 3 years old) helped maintain order. So did Kirk Douglas’ boy Eric, 3 1/2. But Dana Wynter’s 2 year old Mark wasn’t too helpful.
“It wasn’t a terribly expensive party. The kids brought their own bottles, and pablum flowed like champagne.”
In her second year of widowhood Kay Gable is vital and happy with her life. She lavishes attention on Gable’s son as well as her two children by Adolph Spreckels, Bunker and Joan.
“How proud Clark would have been to see his son at this age,” she said. “He is a handsome boy. He’s getting to look more like pa every day. He weighs 25 pounds already and is growing like a weed. The doctors say he is physically perfect.”
Kay still receives homemade togs for the little fellow from Gable fans the world over.
“And we’ve received hundreds of cards and letters this month wishing John Clark a happy birthday,” she said. “He’s filled many happy hours for me, and Bunker and Joan are devoted to him.”
Rumors have filled the Hollywood pipeline that Kay has been dating one or two eligible bachelors and is particularly serious about one socially prominent businessman.
“For gosh sakes,” she said. “That’s not true at all.
“There is no romance in my life. But I have read items connecting me with men I have never even met. I just ignore the gossip.
“At the moment I am busy enough taking care of my brood and watching John Clark creep and crawl around the floor. It won’t be long before he’s walking–and then the fin will really begin.”
Sounds like quite the party!
May 10, 1962:
In August, after her two older kids are home from camp, Kay Gable will take all the children, including John Clark Gable, to Honolulu for three or four weeks. “That’s all the traveling I’m going to do this summer,” she tells me. “I’m too busy. I’m remodeling the pool house, I just planted 200 new rose bushes.”
Still no new interest in Kay’s life. She occasionally dines with Bob Prescott of the Flying Tigers, or other friends.
“No new interest” didn’t last long…
May 12, 1962:
New twosome being seen around town: Kay Gable, widow of Clark Gable, and Robert W. Prescott, president of the Flying Tiger cargo air line.
Gable died Nov. 16, 1960. Prescott has been married and divorced.
But it wasn’t meant to be, it seems…
July 17, 1962:
Frequent Escort of Kay Gable Marries Doctor
Robert Prescott, a frequent escort of Clark Gable’s widow, is married again–but not to Kay Gable.
Prescott, president of the Flying Tiger Airline, married Dr. Anna-Marie Bennstrom, 32, Monday. She owns a health spa at Escondido, Calif.
Prescott, 49, gathered three friends in his personal plane and flew [to Las Vegas] with Dr. Bennstrom from Los Angeles on two hours’ notice.
In an August 6, 1962 blurb we see Kay’s comment on the recent death of Marilyn Monroe:
Clark Gable’s widow was one of the first to learn of the blonde beauty’s death. Gable and Miss Monroe co-starred in “The Misfits,” adapted from playwright Arthur Miller’s story. It was the last picture for both the famed stars.
“I heard the flash over the air at 7 am,” said Kay Gable. “And I went to Mass and prayed for her.”
August 9, 1962:
Out in far Hollywood, they think that the Kay Gable-Efram Zimbalist Jr. thing is quite serious, and that the outgoing Mrs. Zimbalist won’t mind a bit because she’s worked up considerable interest in a handsome young actor.
That month, Kay appeared in a syndicated piece called “Hollywood’s Glamorous Widows–And How They Are Living Today.” Also featured were the widows of Tyrone Power, Gary Cooper, Errol Flynn, Ernie Kovacs, Buddy Adler and Harry Cohn, as well as Lauren Bacall and Elizabeth Taylor:
August 12, 1962:
In a white-washed brick ranch house in the San Fernando Valley, blonde Kay crawls around the living room floor, laughing and chasing her gurgling year-old son.
The dark-haired youngster with the slightly protruding ears is John Clark Gable, only child of the late movie king. Gable, 59, died November 16, 1960, four months before his son was born.
Kay’s time is occupied by the children–John Clark and her two youngsters by her divorce-dissolved marriage to the late sugar heir Adolph Spreckels–Anthony “Bunker” 12, and Joan, 11.
Teenagers from Joan’s school, St. Cyril’s, frequently ride up the hill in Encino to enjoy the comfortable 22-acre Gable ranch.
Gable’s old friends keep an eye on Kay and the kids.
Kay, 44, has small groups of friends in for bridge or dinner. She’s a frequent helper at luncheons and fashion shows, many for Catholic charities.
January 8, 1963:
Kay Gable was in the kitchen brewing up some chicken soup and lemon pie (cook’s day off) when I called to ask if she’d sold her Palm Springs home. Elvis Presley offered $3,500 a month rental for the place, but she decided to part with it. She and Clark Gable built it together and there were too many memories.
I often wondered when the Palm Springs home was sold. It was featured in Architectural Digest a few years back, you can read it here.
March 13, 1963 (Louella Parsons):
Young John Clark Gable will be two years old on March 20th and his mother, Kay Gable, is taking him to Florida to celebrate his birthday. I told her I thought it was unfair to take my godson away. But Kay said she already had his size 4 clothes packed to leave Monday.
“The trip will do him good and I’m sure it will do me good,” she laughed. When I said I wanted to send a gift to my god-child, Kay suggested a “Star of Holland” red rose bush–“it was his father’s favorite flower and I’m planting a walk of them for John Clark,” Kay said.
I don’t know many 2 year olds that want rosebushes for a present.
The last chapter of the Kay news clippings up next!