As Clark and Carole fans all know, the 1936 Mayfair Ball was the site of the beginning of their love story.
David O.Selznick (producer of Gone with the Wind) was the president of the Mayfair Club at the time and asked Carole to head up the annual ball, as she was known for throwing the best parties in town. Carole decided to make it a white ball, and all ladies were asked to wear white gowns, and the men white ties. White flowers of every variety filled the room.
Tickets were $20 apiece, and for that you got dinner (alcohol was extra though, thankyouverymuch), dancing, a show and some pretty fine company: Frederic March, Irene Dunne, Merle Oberon, David Niven, Buster Keaton, Barbara Stanwyck, Claudette Colbert, Gloria Swanson, Harold Lloyd, Jeanette MacDonald, Bing Crosby, Lupe Velez, Johnny Weissmuller and many more. Including a certain Mr. Gable, who escorted Eadie Adams, a young blonde singer who performed a lot of the dubbing work at MGM. They arrived with Marion Davies and William Randolph Hearst.
Clark and Carole reportedly exchanged a few smiles and winks throughout the evening. Carole, whose date was Cesar Romero, didn’t have much time to revel in her grand party as she was running around greeting everyone. Two dresses had caused her to raise an eyebrow: Joe E. Brown’s wife had arrived in light blue and Jeanette MacDonald was in a muted mauve. Carole let this pastel colors slide, as they weren’t too offensive to her color scheme.
And then Norma Shearer appeared. Norma, arriving in grand style on the arm of her husband Irving Thalberg, was quite the sight in a skimpy, bright red dress designed by MGM costume designer Adrian. Carole was furious; she had to be talked out of marching over to Norma and kicking her out or throwing a drink on that dress.
Clark and Carole memorably shared a close dance followed by a ride in his car. When he asked if she wanted to come up to his hotel room, her quip of “Who do you think you are, Clark Gable?” ended that idea pretty quickly! But the spark had been sparked….