clark gable sylvia ashley

Here is another article Modern Screen magazine ran just a few months after the article I posted yesterday. This one goes into more (fluffy fluffy fluffy) detail about Clark and Sylvia’s “great romance.”

For the actor he is, Clark Gable put on a bad performance these past few years. Loneliness stood out on him like a neon sign. The evenings he spent at his Encino ranch home, he’d wander from room to room, pick up a book and drop it, pick up a phone and decide not to call, sink into a chair and stare at nothing.

The nights he went out the newshounds followed him to parties and theaters and nightclubs for hot gossip about this man of the world. They got the gossip. But anyone with half an eye could see that Gable wasn’t happy.

Then, at one of the parties, he met Sylvia. He’d known her before, but this was different. He’d never married her before…

Everyone knows the story of their elopement and honeymoon. Only his friends know that Clark has changed, that for the first time in many years he’s come out of his shell. They can trace the change back to the beginning of his marriage, to Hawaii…

There were ten thousand people mobbing the dock at Honolulu to greet Clark and his bride. Time was when he would have faced a crowd like this black-browed and scowling. He’d have stalked straight through them, or slammed himself into a stateroom. This time he loved it. They couldn’t drape him with enough leis, he couldn’t shake enough hands or joke with enough people whom he didn’t even know.

No sooner did he hit the Islands than he blossomed out in South Sea shirts that would have made Bing Crosby jealous. He went overboard for every dreamy Island tune. He bought himself a ukulele and crooned off-key to Sylvia. He padded in sandals around Honolulu’s streets, and sunned his chest at Waikiki for the Royal Hawaiian hotel guests to see.

Everywhere he went he yelled, “Aloha!” until his voice cracked. He waved from his open flivver so much he got a charley-horse.

New Year’s Eve, when all of Honolulu practically blows up with fireworks, Clark and Sylvia sent rockets and Roman candles whooshing into the sky from midnight to dawn. They stood there like a couple of awe-struck kids watching the sky light up. Like the newlyweds they were, with a whole life before them, exciting and new.

Nobody who knows Clark or Sylvia well was really surprised by the Gable who came back from Honolulu, the Gable who dropped ten years by saying, “I do,” the Gable with the frequent, boyish grin.

The press back then, I think, was as startled by this sudden and unlikely marriage as the American public. But instead of writing “why in the HELL did he marry HER?” and “no way this lasts!” like they probably wanted to, they had to spin this into a great romance and the answer to all Clark’s fans’ prayers. By all accounts he seemed very happy on their Hawaiian honeymoon, but once the honeymoon was over, their differences were too great.

His friends knew that a guy like him is no good, rattling around alone and lonely as he’d been since Carole Lombard died. But he needed the sort of woman who would understand him, who would be able to interest him in life again.

The new Mrs. G. is not only social but sociable-plus. She liked people and people like her. She’s lived all her life in a world of conviviality, and one Hollywood prediction is practically unanimous: the old recluse Gable is a man of the past. If anyone can warm up his home and bring him back to the life of friends and fun that he really loves, it’s Sylvia. Already in the past two months she’s had more dinner parties at Encino that Clark himself bothered to stage in the past two years, including a surprise forty-ninth birthday party for Mr. G. himself.

These two paragraphs are funny, saying that his friends knew he needed the sort of woman who would “understand him, who would be able to interest him in life again,” then delving into a paragraph about all the dinner parties she’s thrown–more than Clark’s thrown in two years. Yeah, that sort of thing was what made the marriage NOT work out. In more than one article during the Lombard marriage, you will read Clark and Carole stating how they didn’t like to throw big formal dinner parties in their home.

Of course Sylvia has changed things at her new home. Clark expected her to, and he’s delighted with the results.

Already there are flowers and plants inside where nobody ever thought of putting them. The few prize pieces Sylvia had at the ocean-front house Doug Fairbanks left her are on their way from England and New York. The guest house—two rooms and a bath—is fully furnished to her taste. Sylvia’s bedroom was done over again in the soft greens and yellows she loves. The living room furniture’s been shifted around, and recovered. And the unfamiliar scent of lavender drifts out of the wardrobe closets, packed now with the beautiful clothes which were back in New York when Sylvia needed them most—for her trousseau.

Clark was hardly delighted by Sylvia’s changes; he had the guest house redone as soon as she moved out. I’d often heard that Sylvia had redone Carole Lombard’s old room (which was powder blue) in pink, which was Clark’s least favorite color. Here they are saying green and yellow.

The ending of this article is really eye-roll inducing:

And they know that, fate willing, they’ll get the wish they made that Hawaiian night in December 1949. With the Pacific surf in the background, and the moon glistening on the sand, Clark and Sylvia sipped champagne on the lanai, and Clark made a toast: “To us,” he said, “and to our new life in the days and nights ahead. May they all be as swell as this.”

So far they’ve got their wish, and it looks as if it will keep, for on that night when love walked in and claimed Clark Gable’s life, loneliness took one lingering, frightened look and drowned itself off the shores of gay Hawaii.

What a last line!!! Wow. You can read the entire fluffy piece in the Article Archive.