kay williams clark gable

This article is from August 1955 and is all about how Carole Lombard haunts his love life and pretty much dooms all his relationships. It tells what Kay Spreckels must do if she wants to overcome the ghost of Carole and settle down with Clark. By the time this magazine hit newstands, Kay was already Mrs. Gable.

Far from doing anything to push Carole from his thoughts, Gable has tenderly preserved every vestige of her influence and presence. Just as one would not violate sacred religious objects, Gable has not tampered with any of the things or people in that household that were part of his life with Carole.

The rooms of his ranch still are inhabited by the early American and antique furniture with which he and Carole happily filled them when they bought the home from Raoul Walsh. He still lovingly feeds the doves which, in a sense, are the only living issue of his great love with Carole Lombard. He still has, as his trusted secretary and business manager, Jean Garceau, who was Carole’s secretary when they married, and who doubled in secretarial brass for both of them after the wedding. Martin, the butler, the same devoted man who saw to his wants when he carried Carole over the threshold, still is his venerable man Friday.

It was into this almost sanctified atmosphere that Lady Sylvia Ashley walked and faltered. It is into this atmosphere that a fifth Mrs. Clark Gable would have to walk—and in which she would have to keep her wits about her.

Who can tell what memories surge up within Gable as he feeds those doves? There are about 35 of the lovely white birds now. They have been loved and cherished throughout the years. Gable treats them with almost poignant solicitude. They have no sense of confinement, for he jeeps them in a vast cage with a 50-foot runway, with a tree growing right up the center, so that they feel as free as if they flew unfettered in the forest.

The full meaning of this ritual can be appreciated only against the knowledge that these doves all are descendants of the doves Carole sent to Clark when they were courting.

And if the doves are living reminders haunting Gable’s Encino ranch, certainly no less so is gay, friendly Jean Garceau, who perhaps spends more time inside that house than Gable himself. Mrs. Garceau, no less than the doves, is the embodiment of many memories of Gable’s life with Carole. She knew and understood both of them, and both were fond of her. Upon Carole’s tragic death in a Nevada plane crash, the bond between Jean and Clark—a bond that connected the two to Carole—deepened.

Mrs. Garceau was a link with the last in which Gable was happiest, and intimates are convinced that is why Lady Ashley felt threatened in her presence, and why her insecurity impelled her to invite Gable’s displeasure by insisting that Jean leave the hose to which she had been welcomed by Carole, at about the same time Sylvia made the other mistake of insisting on redecorating the valley shrine furnished by Carole.

It would seem that any woman who hoped to get along with Gable would have to make up her mind to get along with his doves and with Mrs. Garceau.

Clark’s relationship with Mrs. Garceau is utterly beyond reproach, has never been anything but platonic—but devoid of personal feeling though it is, it is warm and rich. It would take a woman who was a sure of Gable and of herself as Carole Lombard, a woman of Carole’s wit and grace to abide Jean Garceau in her home without resentment.

It’s interesting that the doves are mentioned; I hadn’t heard much about what happened to them after Carole’s death. As it turns out the article is pretty wrong about Jean Garceau. Not about her and Clark’s close relationship–that is completely true. I don’t know the whole story but Jean Garceau was out the door pretty soon after Kay was in. So Kay didn’t have to “abide Jean Garceau in her home without resentment.”

If a woman loved Gable enough, she would have to learn, as Carole did, to share his fondness for hunting and fishing, and she would have to avoid at all costs the fatal error of Lady Ashley in trying to substitute her world for his. To this extent, at the very least, Clark Gable’s future is haunted by Carole Lombard.

It is against this background that Kay Spreckels’ chances for happiness with Clark Gable are measured by those who know him best. Pals of Gable have been convinced for years that at least subconsciously he has been looking for another Carole Lombard. They believe that whether he realizes it or not, he has sought in other women the qualities he loved in Carole, and that when he found them wanting by these standards he rejected them—usually before marriage.

Nor do they ascribe to Gable a morbid preoccupation with the memory of his third wife. Their view is that his attitude is healthy and honest. He liked what Carole was and what she stood for. He still admires and seeks out those qualities. He can’t forget her, and he sees no reason to forget her.

This is all very true. Carole adapted to Clark’s way of life, Sylvia did not and their marriage failed. Kay adapted as well and that is why they were able to be happy together.

I am sure that Clark didn’t appreciate articles like this, forever cementing him as a lonely widower looking for another Carole. But as much as he denied it, it was obvious he was indeed looking for another Carole. Kay grew quite irritated with the constant comparisons to Carole (can’t say I blame her) but they were part of the territory. At least she was smart enough not to publicly fight them. It must be pretty hard to be married to a man and still be his #2. It’s hard to compete with a ghost.

You can read the article in its entirety in The Article Archive.