The Mayfair Ball was annual event held every February by the exclusive Mayfair Club. It was the seen-and-be-seen event of the year, taking place in one of the posh Hollywood hotels. The event is best remembered by Clark Gable and Carole Lombard fans for being the birthplace of their spark, as they began flirting for the first time at the Mayfair Ball in 1936.

Well, it turns out that that wasn’t the first time Clark attended the ball. In 1932, he attended with Ria on his arm, and the magic of the night was descibed by Picture Play magazine:

Beauty, Fashion and Fame Assemble on That Night of Nights, The Mayfair Ball

Hollywood goes Mayfair–the first big social event of the year–in brillant fashion. There are more screen personalities in the Biltmore ballroom tonight than will be found together again in many a moon. Crowds gather in the lobby and about the street entrance hoping to catch a glimpse of the great ones. Place cards that make up a “Who’s Who in Hollywood” are laid on tables in the ballroom. Lights are subdued, waiters receive final instructions.

The music starts. The guests begin to arrive, groups of four and six and eight. Furs and velvets and satins; perfume and flowers and laughter. Excitement, thrill, glamour in the air. Applause from the crowds in the foyer. The great social event of the season is on.clark gable ria langham norma shearer dolores del rio joan crawford helen hayesL to R: Joan Bennett with Gene Markey, Irene Wate, Lillian Bond, Joan Blondell, Genevieve Tobin, Marion Nixon, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Joan Crawford, Clark Gable with wife Ria, Norma Shearer, Dolores del Rio, Helen Hayes, June Clyde, Ginger Rogers, Lilyan Tashman with Eddie Lowe.

Ah, to be a fly on the wall…


From February 1937:

This is the thing that keeps Hollywood the town of enchanting contradiction and makes it the most unexplainable spot in the world.

Take one particular Tuesday evening in Hollywood, for instance.

At the Cocoanut Grove:

Lights, music, champagne, movie stars, a Joan Bennett surprise party, a director and a blonde actress breaking their hearts for a love they can’t have.

On a Laurel Canyon hillside:

A barbecue, Carole Lombard and Clark Gable, Gary Cooper and Sandra, his wife, hot sizzling steaks, stars overhead, old-time songs, new-time stories and mustard.

In the overflow meeting for a religious lecture:

Director Frank Capra, Ginger Rogers and her mother, Sid Grauman, Mary Pickford and Buddy Rogers.