clark gable kay williams

From March 1958:

It was like any other day February 14th on the Band of Angels set at Warners. Until Clark Gable was called off the set between takes. That’s when it became Valentine’s Day.

Because waiting for him in his dressing room was his own special Valentine. 

It was a keg. Beautifully varnished, about five gallon size, little red felt hearts all over it and a white thumb tack pinning a large, lacy valentine to the center of the keg. 

“It’s from Kay,” grinned Gable, “she made it. Look—”  It was filled to the top with golden yellow popcorn!

Asked what the valentine said, Gable handed it around. “Hamish, I love you, darling. Mrs. G.”

Hamish is the name of the character Gable plays in Band of Angels. But Kay had it written this way: Ham-ish! The tag on the gag is that Kay always makes popcorn for the cast of a Gable picture. And by the time Gable got around to his keg, the whole five gallons had disappeared. As somebody remarked, “You can drink an awful lot of beer with that much popcorn.”

Clark Gable doesn’t drink beer. But he didn’t need that keg of popcorn anyway. Hamish, Ham-ish, it was the same difference. The valentine was in his heart, and he looked like a mighty happy king. 

kay williams gable

Here is our final installment of the Kay Williams news clippings series.

The other installments:

 Clark Gable Marries Kay Spreckels 1955-1960

Kay Williams Divorces Adolph Spreckels, Dates Clark Gable Again 1951-1954

Kay Williams Marries Adolph Spreckels 1945-1951

Kay Williams Dates Clark Gable (For The First Time) 1944-1945

Kay Williams 1937-1943

We pick up in 1965.

April 19, 1965:

Los Angeles–On the flickering screen was the happiest marriage of casting and character, plot and player, in the long history of motion pictures. The handsome, muscular man who played the renegade Confederate blockage runner seemed less an actor than the real article. In short, it was hard to tell where Clark Gable left off and Rhett Butler began.

The screening of “Gone with the Wind,” a picture that may have been Hollywood’s finest hour all together, was in the living room of Gable’s widow in the home he lived in at Encino.

As reel followed reel, and the lovely Kay Gable watched with the absorption of a blonde teenager seeing it for the first time, it was impossible not to notice the tousled-headed little boy wandering among the viewers.

To Clark Gable’s posthumous son, Daddy will never be more real than that three-colored image on the living room screen. A pity, because Daddy was a man’s man–which means he would be a boy’s man, too. A man who loved to hunt and fish and ride and play games and had plenty of time for all.

A far cry from the normal dad who comes home and says, “Can’t you keep that kid quiet? Don’t you know I’ve had a hard day at the office?”

A dad in a two-dimensional projection is no substitute for a real one. Only in the funny papers is it any fun being an orphan.

Which may be why Kay Gable is as involved as she is in the Los Angeles Orphanage Guild and wants me to mention that the biggest fund-raising deal is kicked off Tuesday with dinner and the opening game of the Dodgers’ home season.

How is he an orphan when he has a mother?

June 4, 1965:

Clark Gable’s beautiful widow, Kay, has been dating Dr. Robert Helmer so consistently, the movieland romance-watchers wouldn’t be at all surprised if they announced wedding plans. And all Kay’s friends seem to approve the match; they find the doctor extremely attractive and suitable, and think it would be a fine thing for Kay and her child by “The King” to have a husband and father after the long and lonely period of mourning.

December 16, 1965:

Kay Gable, suffering from a miserable cold, plus a bad ankle injured on a cable car in San Francisco, hobbles up the mountain to spend Christmas with her three children at Big Bear.


kaynews15 kaynews14

March 25, 1966:

John Clark Gable, son of Kay Gable and of the late Clark Gable, just turned five years old.

Kay tells me that John Clark got a hold of her eyebrow pencil the other day and appeared wearing mustache. “I want to look like my dad,” he explained.

June 1, 1966:

Kay Gable, in from the “farm,” says she doesn’t know how much longer it can be called that, because “there’s a high rise building going up on the corner.”

In 1966, Kay hosted a fundraiser at the ranch for Ronald Reagan, who was running for Governor of California (spoiler alert: he won):

kay williams nancy reagan kay williams nancy reagan ronald reagan

November 16, 1966:

Kay Gable’s Father Dies in Poor House

The widow of Clark Gable learned Tuesday on the eve of the anniversary of the film star’s death that her father died in a hospital for the poor in Pennsylvania.

Mrs. Kay Williams Gable had not heard from her father in 36 years.

Jackson Williams, 75, was reported lingering in grave condition in the Erie County Hospital at Fairview, a suburb of Erie. Hospital administrator Arthur O. Bruekman said the hospital admits only poor people. “If they could afford to place themselves in a nursing home, they wouldn’t be eligible (for admission),” Bruekman said.

He said Williams had been a patient in the hospital for six years and recently lost his sight.

Mrs. Gable, told earlier at her ranch in Encino that her father was dying, said the news was “quite a shock, although I have heard no word whether he was dead or alive in 36 years.”

Mrs. Gable, 48, was the actor’s last wife. She gave birth to his only son, John Clark, March 21, 1961. Gable died of a heart attack Nov. 16, 1960.

She said her parents were divorced in Pennsylvania in 1930, and neither she nor her brother and sister had heard from their father since. Mrs. Gable said that her father did not contact the family when her mother died in 1952.

The sister, Mrs. Gordon Nesser, 37, lives in Canoga Park, and the brother, Vincent Williams, 43, resides in Encino.

Mrs. Gable was married three times before she married Gable. Among her former husbands was sugar heir Adolph Spreckels.

Interesting! I had never heard before this what happened to her father. Her sister, Elizabeth, I believe is still alive at age 86. I’m not sure about her brother. The next day it was announced that Kay would be making funeral arrangements for her father.

May 12, 1967:

Actor Clark Gable’s widow has suffered a mild heart attack, her attorney said last night. A hospital spokesman said her condition was “excellent.”

Eugene Landau, attorney and business manager for Mrs. Kay Gable, 48, who was hospitalized Tuesday, said doctors at Mt. Sinai Hospital report “no cause for alarm.”

May 16, 1967:

Kay Gable, 48-year-old widow of Clark Gable, was reported improving today from a mild heart attack she suffered a week ago.

Her attorney, Eugene Landau, said it was still too early to tell when Mrs. Gable will be able to leave Mt. Sinai Hospital.

Ongoing heart problems plagued Kay for many years. And if that’s not enough:

August 28, 1967:

Gable’s Widow Hurt On Boat

Katherine [sic] Gable, widow of film star Clark Gable, suffered a wrenched back after her rented 10-foot paddle boat was struck by an outboard motorboat on Mission Bay.

With her Saturday near the Vacation Village dock were her children from her marriage to sugar heir Adolph Spreckels, 18 year-old Anthony and 16 year-old Joan.

They have been vacationing from their home in Encino for a week.

Hurt on a boat now? Geez. Bunker’s real name was Adolph III. I don’t know why his name is written as Anthony is some places. And Kay’s full name is Kathleen, not Katherine.

October 6, 1967:

Kay Gable is Enjoying Life

She’s recovering from a May coronary and an August collision with a runaway boat.

And every Monday morning Kay Gable gets a call from her doctor: “All right, let’s hear your calendar.”

She dutifully ticks it off: “a meeting for the Los Angeles Orphanage Guild, a speech at the Encino chapter of B’nai B’rith, gather up some glamour clothes for the Colleagues’ Glamour Sale, the PTA meeting, commentating the Five Acres fashion show, a meeting for the big premiere of “Gone with the Wind” for Good Samaritan’s Hospital Auxiliary.  He scolds her, and off she goes.


“Selfish. I just feel a lot better when I’m doing things for other people. I’m a lot happier when I’m involved.” She tries to slow down. “But my mind whizzes past my body.”

She has taken up crewel work, making headboards for the beds in the guest room of the home Clark Gable bought 30 years ago, and where she now lives with her three children, Anthony, 18, Joan, 16, and 6-year-old John Clark, the son Clark Gable never saw.

She tries not to think about her serious heart attack. “I have a job to do. Give my children a good education, send them out in the world with their feet on the ground, knowing how to live, learning to enjoy what they do, and to be something. To ‘walk smartly,’ as we say around the house.”

To do this, she knows she has to stay optimistic. And that, to her, means busy.

The children are a large part of her life and much of her delight. John Clark is always into something, like running home with a bruised face because he laughed to hard while sitting in the tangerine tree and fell out. “He’s like his father. Into everything. He looks at you with that same quizzical expression, as if he’s trying to read you, trying to find out if you’re really mad that he spilled his spaghetti all over the floor.”

She spends a lot of time with them. She was riding a pedicycle with Anthony and Joan when the boat knocked her into the hospital and “out” for three days.

She’s honorary chairman of the auxiliary’s premiere of the new, wide-screen version of “Gone with the Wind” because the money is going to build an extensive coronary unit.She has been in one twice, at Cedars of Lebanon, and, after the boat accident, in Mercy Hospital in San Diego.

“Fantastic,” she describes the room. “We’re all in there, wired up for everything but outer space, and nurses with us all the time. Those machines know it before you even have a pain, and a doctor is right there. Maybe, if…” She’s thinking, of course, of her husband, who was taken from her almost eight years ago, after a too-brief marriage that were the happiest years of their tumultuous lives.

She had left him for a few moments because she felt an angina attack coming on, and did not want to disturb him. A few minutes later he left her forever.

“Almost eight years ago,” she muses, her eyes darkening under her black mink hat. “Sometimes it feels like 80, sometimes it feels like eight minutes.”

She hasn’t seen the new picture–she was in bed with her heart attack when Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer previewed it. But she does have her own print of the original, on permanent loan. Often she invites friends Sunday after church, and serves brunch during intermission.

The sad scenes in the picture sometimes are hard for her. Her life, before she met Clark, made for headlines and pain as Kay Williams, Hollywood star; Kay Spreckles, wife of the trouble-starred sugar millionaire; Kay de Alzaga Unzue, wife of a Brazilian playboy. Her brief marriage with “pa” were her happiest years, and, as she puts it, she sometimes goes into her office for a while and has a “mood.”

To other women who suffer loss, she suggests: “It’s difficult, but there are things you have to do. If you are blessed with children, they need you, too. If you are blessed with friends, make an effort to see them.”

The kids were often at boarding schools and away camps, and she always had full-time nannies but yet there is always this picture painted as her being a constant hands-on mom. And she was never a “Hollywood star”– minor starlet at best. She had more success as a model in New York then she ever did acting. I do have no doubt her years with Clark were her happiest, as we have seen her life before that was crazy to say the least.

Her mentioning her personal print of “Gone with the Wind” is constant. In this day and age of being able to watch pretty much anything any time you want on a phone in the palm of your hand, it seems ridiculous that it’s constantly brought up that she has her own copy of GWTW, but remember this was when in order to see a film you had to go to the movie theater or just hope one day they’d show it on television. I wonder what happened to that print? Be worth a lot of money these days.

Picture from October 12, 1967:

kay williams olivia de havilland

March 16, 1969:

Son Clark Gable Never Saw Now 8

The son Clark Gable never lived to see will be 8 years old this week and as shielded from the public eye as his mother can manage.

Though Gable dies of a heart attack in November, 1960, millions of persons across the country have seen him this year as Rhett Butler in the re-re-release of MGM’s “Gone with the Wind.”

But young John Clark Gable, born four months after his father’s death, watches his dad’s films at home.

“I run some of Clark’s old pictures often on the weekends,” said Kay Gable, the actor’s widow. “John’s face shines with pride and he’ll say, ‘That’s my father.'”

Kay, blonde and youthful in appearance, has never remarried. Her children by a previous marriage–Joan and Bunker–are off at college. John Clark is a good student at a private school and spends his afternoons tearing around the 22-acre estate in the San Fernando Valley his father loved so well.

Fortunately, Mrs. Gable has a live-in servant who is the mother of a seven-year-old. He and John are great pals.

Until recently John Clark has received a 25-cent-a-week allowance. Now he wants a raise to $1 a week.

“He has his heart set on buying a minibike by the time he’s 10 years old,” Kay explained. “I told him he would have to earn the money. So now he does odd jobs, hoping to earn $1 a week for 100 weeks, enough to buy a $100 minibike.

“But I have news for him, he’s not getting a minibike until he’s 15. When I told him that John said he would buy the bike for his friend here at the house, Mark.”

Kay laughed. “You know who would be doing all the riding.”

When news reached John Clark, who is the image of his dashing father, that the motorized mini had been reduced to $99, he decided he would work only 99 weeks instead of the originally scheduled 100.

John’s chores consist of sweeping and cleaning up around the property and, recently, shoveling mud from the heavy downpours.

“Every once n a while John will tell me he wishes he could see his father,” Kay said sadly. “But I tell him to keep saying his prayers every night.”

Kay will take John Clark and eight youngsters to Disneyland to celebrate his birthday. Kay will go along but plans to take it easy. She suffered a coronary herself two years ago.

The house and grounds remain very much the same as they were when Gable was alive and “king” of Hollywood. There’s a masculine feeling to the estate and home, almost as if Gable might walk in the door at any time.

It is in this atmosphere that John Clark is being reared. He is 100 percent all boy, charging in and out of the house, climbing on the roof, shimmying up the tress and engaging in loud arguments with his buddy, Mark.

At the same time Kay has seen to his manners. He shakes hands manfully and responds to questions with a directness that reminds one of his father.

Kay is at pains not to talk show business with her son, nor does she attempt to guide him into the acting business.

John Clark Gable could not be more removed from the glamour and tinsel of Hollywood than if he were being reared in Danville, Ill.

“I don’t want John to grow up with the wrong values,” his mother said. “I’m asked all the time by various publications for stories about John and for picture layouts. I refuse them all. I want him to enjoy a normal childhood and grow up to be a healthy well-adjusted young man.”

For eight years Kay Gable has been highly successful.  But she has her own emotions to deal with too, and her eyes become a little misty at times.

“It’s startling how much John looks more and more like his father,” she said. Then Kay stopped talking and looked away.

I have always thought John Clark looked like Kay more than anybody else. I’m not sure how successful she was in having him have a well-adjusted childhood after they moved to Beverly Hills.

January 31, 1971:

Book Beat: Rosemary Wilson (columnist Earl Wilson’s wife) and Ruth Tool have a fun cookbook out, called “the Beautiful Wives’ Cookbook.” It’s a collection of celebrity recipes plus related anecdotes, and it features things like Cary Grant’s fish n’ chips, Grace Kelly’s favorite recipe from the royal kitchen in Monaco, and Kay Gable’s egg dish–the only way she could get Clark to eat eggs.

Clark always ate eggs. At any rate, if you are interested in this silly sounding cookbook, you can buy it pretty cheap on Amazon. If you do, let me know what’s in the egg dish!

kay williams gable

August 20, 1971:

All those balloons floating around Kay Gable’s luncheon at the Bistro the other noontime were delayed greetings for her birthday by her host, Chicago publisher Bailey K. Howard. among the guests was Kay’s daughter, Joan Spreckles. After picking up John Clark at summer camp, the family is off to Honolulu for two weeks.

August 28, 1971:

Kay Gable, Clark’s widow, has several $1,000,000 offers for her Encino ranch.

Picture from January 30, 1973:

kay williams gable

July 1, 1973:

Gable ranch in Subdivision move

Sale of the late screen star Clark Gable’s ranch in San Fernando Valley for $800,000 has been completed according to a joint announcement by Jane Craig, manager of a George Elkins Company regional office, and Pat Porter, sales representative of RSVP Realtors, who handled the transaction.

The ranch and both realty offices are located in Encino.

Tiger Properties and Rogoff & Son Development Company purchased the 19-acre ranch and will subdivide the property into 37 sites for luxury homes as a joint venture.

The development will be names the Clark Gable Ranch Estates. The Gable main ranchhouse occupying two acres also will be sold for $200,000.

The owner-developers were represented in the sale by Mrs. Porter of RSVP Realtors.

The sellers are Mrs. Kay Gable, widow of the actor, and the trust estate of the couple’s young son, John Gable. Both were represented by Mrs. Craig of the Elkins realty firm in the sale. Mrs. Gable and the boy will continue to reside at the ranch on a temporary basis.

The lots will be priced from $36,950 up to $49,950. The homes to be built will cost upwards from $100,000. The total value of the development upon completion next year will be approximately $5 million.

The first home to be built on the ranch property is scheduled for this October.

Reading that physically hurts, doesn’t it? Carole Lombard’s chicken houses, the horse stables, the rows and rows of citrus trees Clark cared for, the roses he and Carole planted together—bulldozed. One can’t really blame Kay I suppose, at this point she is in her mid fifties with a 12 year old son and two adult kids–a 22 acre ranch is a bit much to handle. I’m sure developers were chomping at the bit for that property, as the whole area was becoming more and more developed. We can at least be thankful that the original house is still standing.

You could have bought the ranch house for $200,000! Can you imagine. Adjusted for inflation though, the ranch house sold for $1,074,945 and those empty lots were $198,596 each.

November 23, 1973 (letter to columnist):

 Q: Practically every movie star has a book written about him, so why hasn’t anyone done the love of my life, Clark Gable?

A: There is one book, not strictly a biography, entitled “Clark Gable.” There are, however, two more books in the works for possible publication next year. Kay Spreckels Gable, his widow and the mother of his son, has finally decided to do one herself and has asked all her Hollywood pals not to talk for publication to anyone but her, and has also refused to allow other writers to poke through the late actor’s files or the boxes and boxes of Gable memorabilia she inherited.

In other words nobody should make money off of him but her. Lyn Tornabene’s fantastic biography “Long Live the King” came out three years later, and a lot of Hollywood folks granted Lyn interviews. She also had access to all kinds of information. Kay never did write her own biography, other than the 1961 “picture book.”

March 7, 1974:

Clark Gable’s seven-bedroom, seven-bath house is up for sale for $199,500.

The estate where the actor lived from 1936 until his death in 1960 was opened to the media Wednesday before the house is sold and the surrounding 19 acres cut up into building lots. The star’s widow, Kay Gable, 55, and her son, William Clark, 13, moved out a month ago after selling the house and property for $800,000.

John Clark, not William Clark. And Clark moved into the Encino home in 1939, not 1936. The house was bought by Michael Milken, who still resides there.

January 12, 1975:

Q: I read about a new film being made about Gable and Lombard. He was my favorite. Do you think it will be accurate?

A: It’s possible but don’t count on it. Well-known free lance writer Lyn Tornabene has been working for two years on a Gable book and Kay Gable (the last Mrs.G) quietly forbids all their friends from discussing him. Ms. Tornabene will get her book anyway. We can’t make any guarantees about the film.

As mentioned above, Tornabene did publish her book, despite Kay’s objections. And anyone who’s seen Gable and Lombard ,which was released in 1976,  knows it is FAR from accurate.

There’s a lot of coverage of the casting of the movie around this time and I won’t get into that.  They did ask Kay what she thought of the casting of James Brolin as Clark and she said, “Does he look anything like Pa? People keep asking me what I think about the casting and I can’t say because I’ve never seen Mr. Brolin on screen or TV even though I know he’s popular in the ‘Marcus Welby M.D.’ series. It isn’t going to be the easiest job for any actor to carry on in the Gable image. I still get hundreds of fan letters about Clark because his old pictures show up on the tube and even the kids know about him. Besides, ‘Gone with the Wind’ is seldom out of release. In fact, I have access to a print, which I show frequently at the house. There’s just one thing I would like, that is that the studio would give this print to our son, John Clark, to keep. It keeps his father so alive and fresh in his life. I certainly have no feeling against Jim Brolin’s playing Clark–it’s just that I can’t see any actor stepping into Pa’s shoes. There’s just no one like him.” Again with the GWTW print!

kay williams gable

After the film came out, Dorothy Manners column, February 27, 1976:

“I have not seen ‘Gable and Lombard’ and I may not. I just hope it gives the right impression of Pa (her name for Clark Gable) because of our son John Clark,” said Kay Gable, widow of the King, at a party the other night.

The Universal picture starring James Brolin and Jill Clayburgh as Gable and Carole Lombard is naturally confined to their great and passionate love story, which ended tragically in her death in an airplane crash. Theirs was a glamorous and exciting love story.

I can tell you one thing–and it came straight from Clark to me–“My marriage to Kay has given me the greatest happiness of my life. She is a wonderful and giving woman, And our marriage has been crowned by the greatest blessing of all, a baby.”–the son Clark did not live to see.

Kay had been in Clark’s life years before they married. They had met first on the MGM lot where he reigned as the top male star and she, Kathleen Williams, was a young actress under contract. They fell in love and everyone expected they would marry.

Instead, out of the blue, Clark married Lady Sylvia Ashley–a union that started and ended unfortunately for all concerned. When he and Kay resumed their closeness following the Ashley divorce, Clark was a wiser and far more mature person. He knew what he had lost–and finally found again in Kay–and he loved her devotedly.

Kay learned to live with Carole’s ghost and I can imagine that a new film that promoted his and Carole’s relationship as a great love affair did not sit well with her at all.

August 18, 1976:

Kay Gable has ok’ed a deal to market a variety of men’s products bearing the name of the late, great Clark.

Wow, really? That never came to fruition, far as I know.

And then, on January 7, 1977, Kay lost her oldest child.

January 12, 1977:

Anthony Spreckels rites tomorrow

Funeral services were announced for Anthony (Bunker) Spreckels, step-son of the late actor Clark Gable.

Mr. Spreckels died in his sleep Friday at a friend’s home in Oahu, Hawaii. He was 27.

A rosary will be recited at 7:30pm tomorrow at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills. A funeral Mass will be held at the church on Friday at 10am.

The medical cause of death has not been ascertained by authorities there, according to a spokesman.

Involved in an attempt at film production at the time of his death, Mr. Spreckels was an avid surfer who was going to try to market sports films.

He received his nickname “Bunker” from his mother, Kay Spreckels, at birth. Mrs. Spreckels married Gable in 1955 until his death in 1960. She lives in Beverly Hills.

He will buried at Forest Lawn in Glendale. Funeral arrangements are being made by Cunningham & O’Connor Mortuary in Hollywood.

January 17, 1977 (Dorothy Manners):

The second tragedy within three days struck close to home when Anthony Spreckels, the 28-year-old son of Kay Gable by her marriage to the late Adolph Spreckels, was found dead in his sleep in his Honolulu home.

What was unbearably hard for Kay is that Bunker (the family’s nickname for Anthony) was to arrive here in a few days for one of his numerous visits to her and his sister, Joan.

“We were making such plans for his coming; just small affairs where he could enjoy his friends. Now they will be going to his funeral,” Kay said softly, her voice breaking. “No parent should live to see the death of a child.”

Rosary services were held at the Church of The Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills with funeral services the following day.

Adolph Spreckels, heir to the sugar fortune, preceded his son in death 10 years ago when he fell and struck his dead at a hotel entrance in Arizona. He and Kay had been divorced many years and her marriage to Clark Gable followed. The sympathy of friend, and stranger, goes out to her.

Bunker, (whose first name, again, was Adolph, not Anthony–how shameful to get it wrong in his obituary), died of a heart attack brought on by a drug overdose. I won’t divert on a tangent about Bunker and the path to his early death, but in a nutshell he became a well-regarded surfer, on his 21st birthday received a $50 million inheritance from his paternal grandmother (that’s $192 million today, adjusted for inflation) and lived a life of excess, traveling and surfing, getting into drugs. According to him he started selling drugs at age 15.

This interview with Bunker is insightful if you are interested in learning more about him. He is entombed in the same mausoleum as Clark and Kay, in Forest Lawn Glendale.

April 2, 1977:

According to series star John Beradino (Dr. Steve Hardy) many famous personalities are among “General Hospital” fans, including Ladybird Johnson and Ida Lupino. Kay Gable, widow of Clark Gable, rarely misses an episode and once hosted a party for the entire cast.

Soap opera fan, huh?

Picture from August 21, 1977 (Kay second from left if you can’t read it):

kay williams gable

And then that is it until…

May 27, 1983:

Clark Gable’s Widow Succumbs to Recurring Heart Problems

Houston–Kay Gable, the widow of Clark Gable, had suffered from heart problems for years before dying in a Houston hospital where she was undergoing cardiac tests, a friend says.

The fifth wife of the late matinee idol died about 5pm Wednesday after a “lengthy illness,” a spokeswoman at Houston’s Methodist Hospital said Thursday. She was 66.

“She’s had a long history of heart problems,” said Eugene Landau, a Los Angeles attorney who has represented the Gables for more than 25 years. “She’s had a couple of heart attacks in the last 13 years and she was there (at Methodist) trying to take tests and figure out what could be done and I guess she just expired.”

Mrs. Gable, a Los Angeles area resident, was admitted to Methodist about three weeks ago for tests.

Born Kathleen Williams, she married Gable in 1955 when she was 37 and he was 54. It was her fourth marriage and the fifth for Gable.

She had two children from a previous marriage to sugar heir Adolph Spreckels, and a son by Gable, born after his death. Gable died of a heart attack Nov. 16, 1960. His widow never remarried.

Gable perhaps was known best for his performance as Rhett Butler in the 1939 movie, “Gone With The Wind.” He won an Academy Award as best actor for his role in the 1934 movie, “It Happened One Night.”

Mrs. Gable is survived by John Gable, 22, the son by Gable, and daughter Joan Spreckels, 34. Another son, Anthony Spreckels, died of a heart attack in January 1977 at age 20, Landau said.

After Gable’s death, Mrs. Gable lived at the couple’s 19-acre ranch in the Encino area of Los Angeles until 1973, when the ranch was sold. She then moved to Beverly Hills, Landau said.

Mrs. Gable was involved in a number of charities for children and unwed mothers, Landau said. She continued to answer fan mail addressed to her late husband.

I had read elsewhere that Kay had actually moved to Houston–that is incorrect. She was still living in Beverly Hills but went to Houston’s Methodist Hospital for a heart procedure; the hospital was well known for its advances in cardiac care. In fact, Clark Gable co-star Jeanette MacDonald died at the same hospital in 1966, after going there for heart surgery.

Well that wraps up our Kay Williams coverage!




clark gable kay williams

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:


Kay with Hedda Hopper


Kay (sitting down!) getting a kiss from Louella Parsons. Kay's sister Elizabeth in the foreground.

Kay (sitting down!) getting a kiss from Louella Parsons. Kay’s sister Elizabeth in the foreground.

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?

kay williams gable

kay williams

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.)

kay williams

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.”

kay williams

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:

kay williams

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.

kay162 kay111

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?

kay williams

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??

Same date:

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.

kay williams

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:

kay williams

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.”

Adolph Spreckels, Jr.

Adolph Spreckels, Jr.

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?

kay williams

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!






We pick up from our last installment and head into 1955, the year Clark and Kay married.

January 3, 1955:

Clark Gable Denies Kay Spreckels Romance

Hollywood–Actor Clark Gable today denied rumors circulating in Hollywood that he plans to marry Kay Williams Spreckels, former wife of sugar heir Adolph B. Spreckels II.

“There is absolutely nothing to it,” Gable said. “Kay and I have been friends for 15 years and that’s all.”

Mrs. Spreckels also denied the report.

Same date:

Filmland Waits Gable’s Return To Find Out Whether He Eloped

Hollywood awaited Clark Gable’s return to work on his current picture “Soldier of Fortune” today to find out whether it is true that he eloped with Kay Williams over New Year’s holiday.

A rumor that Gable, married four times before, had eloped with the twice-married blonde beauty popped up in several quarters yesterday, but never was confirmed.

The general impression was that it wasn’t true, and the evidence tended to support the impression.

Gable’s agent, George Chasin, said the actor had given no indication he was planning another march to the altar.

A servant at the Gable home said: “As far as I know, there has been no marriage.”

The servant added that Gable and Miss Williams were spending the weekend at the Happy Valley ranch of Gable’s best friend, Al Menasco. Miss Williams, formerly an actress, is the ex-wife of two rich men, Argentine playboy Martin De Alzaga Unzue, known as Macoco for short, and sugar heir Adolph Spreckels. Spreckels served a 30-day jail term last year for beating her.

She and Gable are chums from away back. They ran around together before she married Spreckels and before he married the former Lady Sylvia Ashley.

January 20, 1955:

Clark Gable tells me he believes the elopement rumors were started by someone who is mad at either him or Kay Spreckles and wanted to put some pressure on them. Clark is back at work on “Soldier of Fortune.”

Who would want to put pressure on them….

It is not unlike Clark to not only deny the engagement but the relationship altogether. He was never one to sing his relationship’s praises to the press. With Carole Lombard he eventually did, but not early on in their relationship.

Oddly, the same date as the above piece:

Clark Gable and Kay Spreckels not so cozy.

Scared away by those engagement rumors again?

January 28, 1955:

Clark Gable Wants No More Publicity of Romantic Theme

Clark Gable finally flipped his lid and informed Fox press agents he wants no further publicity on his romance with Kay Spreckels. One drumbeater for the studio, where he’s working in “Soldier of Fortune,” noticed some Spreckels sugar cubes on a commissary table reserved for Gable and wailed: “Now we’re all going to be in trouble.”

February 11, 1955:

Kay Spreckels baked a birthday cake for Clark Gable.

On again!

March 4, 1955:

Clark Gable and Kay Spreckels were a happy pair of luncheon guests at the Tennis Club in Palm Springs.

clark gable kay williams

March 19, 1955:

I still wouldn’t bet they’ll get married, but Clark Gable and Kay Spreckels are sure keeping steady company. They created a minor furor in Palm Springs, with Clark and Kay swinging along Canyon Drive in rhythmic stride, Clark clad in Bermuda shorts, and Kay dressed in an intriguing turquoise blue western outfit. Certainly had the town citizens and its visitors gawking. Clark was the closest thing to a big game hunter (in appearance) since he starred in “Mogambo.”

March 24, 1955:

They keep saying not to be amazed if Clark Gable (who keeps denying mergers) and Kay Spreckels elope and make it a Paris honeymoon.

March 25, 1955:

Clark Gable joined Tamarisk Country Club in Palm Springs (Gable laughs off rumors that he and Kay Spreckels are secretly married).

April 23, 1955:

Clark Gable was lunching on cottage cheese and fruit at the Twentieth Century Fox commissary so apparently he is on the diet bit. I don’t know why. It’s been years since I’ve seen him looking so good. He is lean and tanned.

“We had nice weather at Palm Springs,” he said. “Kay (Spreckels) and I rode horseback in the mornings, played golf in the afternoon.”

I asked if he expects Kay to visit him on the six-week location of “The Tall Men” in Durango, Mex.

With a grin, he replied, “I doubt if I can get her to go down there.”

I’m betting she does.

clark gable kay spreckles

May 1, 1955 (Louella Parsons):

Gable Keeps Line Hot Calling Kay Spreckels

While Kay Williams Spreckels has not been in Durango, Mexico, where Clark Gable is emoting in “The Tall Men,” the king has written or telephoned her every day and according to one of my friends on the set he has not said more than “Buenos Dias” to any girl since he arrived in Mexico.

He is down 187 pounds, which is less than he has weighed in a long time. When I asked him of he intends to retire he said he has three pictures lined up, which will keep him busy far into 1956, then he plans to go on an African safari.

May 9, 1955:

Kay Spreckels’ daily wires from Clark Gable (he’s on location in Mexico) are signed “Pa.”

May 19, 1955:

Kay Spreckels, connected romantically in recent months with Clark Gable, says she is planning to attend the opening of the Hilton Hotel in Istanbul. “I’m going,” she says, “because it will be a lot of fun.”

That’s random.

May 20, 1955:

My Palm Springs scout tells me that Clark Gable and Ray Hommes bought adjoining lots when they were there last Sunday. They’ll build houses, and there’s little doubt that Kay Spreckels will occupy Clark’s as Mrs. Gable.

True and true.

June 2, 1955:

Kay Spreckels met Clark Gable at the airport, and they were going to dine somewhere on the way back.

I queried Kay again on the many reports that she and Clark either already are wed or plan to wed when he finishes “The Tall Men.”

“No,” she insisted, “it’s just as I have told you before, no wedding plans. Ours is just an adult friendship.”

June 16, 1955:

Clark Gable has made it clear he’ll make no movie commitments for the next few months. He wants some uncomplicated time for himself and allows as how he might marry. Says he’s going steady with Kay Spreckels and she’s the most.

We all know what happened next:

clark gable kay williams wedding

July 18, 1955:

Kay Captured Clark Gable By Playing ‘Hard To Get’

Kay Williams captured Clark Gable, their friends decided today, because, for one thing, she corrected an old mistake and played “hard to get.”

Gable and his vivacious blonde had an earlier fling at love when the actor returned to MGM after World War II.

“But you know what happens when the girl wants to marry and the man doesn’t want to be rushed,” one close pal of Gable’s says.

“This time, 10 years later, she’s independently wealthy and wasn’t interested in marriage after her unhappiness with sugar heir Adolph Spreckels II. Gable talked her into marriage. He hesitated before because she was young and an actress, but now she is mature.”

Kay has been described as an “ex-actress.” Actually she came from a well-to-do Erie, Pa. family. The intelligent, beautiful girl landed a coveted job on a New York fashion magazine when she was only 23. She also was a top New York fashion model. When she married a boy back home, a big picture magazine covered the event.

After that first marriage failed, Kay moved to Hollywood for an MGM career. Her second conquest was Argentine sportsman Martin De Alzaga Unzue. She left him in three days on a charge he was “cruel.” Three years later he claimed he gave her $30,000 in cash and gifts because she promised to re-marry him–but eloped with the richer Adolph Spreckels.

Her marriage with Spreckels was a stormy one, but friends say Kay “tried her best to make it work.” At their divorce, Spreckels charge she once tried to romance Gable at their swimming pool (which she denied).

The new Mrs. Gable is a combination of Carole Lombard, Gable’s third wife, and Lady Sylvia Ashley, his fourth. Kay is a cheerful, witty, “good Joe” type who can also put on a simple black dress and pearls and be a charming, perfect hostess.

She is a good mother to her two children, and Gable brags to friends about “the great way she handles her kids.” Her pre-Gable home had tasteful, traditional furniture.

Kay is honest, forthright, and “doesn’t like phonies.” She is a natural beauty who wears little make-up and simple, expensive clothes. Most of her evening dresses are black and white sheath gowns. She golfs with Gable in a skirt, tailored blouse and cashmere sweater.

Will it last?

‘Clark loves to sit back and laugh at her conversation,” one friend says. “He seems vastly entertained by Kay. they are very comfortable with each other. They go on hunting trips together–and Lady Sylvia never would do that.”

Some Hollywood observers point out both are thrice-divorced and Kay has a record of violent marriages. But their friends think the two “are so companionable.”

“Why, he calls her ‘Ma’ and Kay calls him ‘Pa.’ That’s real love,” one friend says.

July 20, 1955:

Gables Home After Honeymoon Jaunt

Mr. and Mrs. Clark gable returned from a week’s honeymoon in northern California Tuesday and the bride announced, “I’m quite excited and happy.”

The former Kay Williams Spreckels revealed she and the movie idol honeymooned at the St. Helena, Calif., ranch of friend Al Menasco.

Reporters had searched for the pair around Lake Tahoe after a resort hotel on the lake said the Gables had made reservations.

But Mrs. Gable said the couple flew in a private plane to St. Helena following their marriage July 11 in Minden, Nev.

“And I wore a blue-gray Irene suit, not a tan one, like the judge told everyone,” she added.

The newlyweds are “very busy, opening wires and letters.” They will live at Gable’s suburban Encino home and weekend at their new house in Palm Springs.

clark gable kay williams

There is a lot of press around their surprise wedding, but I’ll leave it at those two snippets as they all pretty much say the same thing anyway.

In mid September, the newlyweds attended the premiere of his film The Tall Men.  I would like to draw your attention to Mrs. Gable’s mid-section, that she is trying to cover with her purse:

kay williams clark gable kay5

kay williams clark gable

Here is the Associated Press back of one of the photos from the event, proving it took place in September:


I do believe Mrs. Gable has a bun in the oven. And not a little bun either. I know you show faster after your first pregnancy, but there is no way that she is only two months along. Kay later stated she got pregnant “shortly after our wedding.”

Despite the evidence:

October 11, 1955:

Rumors Halt

Rumors that Clark Gable was about to become a father were squelched Monday by the person in the best position to know–the screen star’s wife.

Mrs. Gable, the former Kay Spreckels, laughed off the rumors and said: “No, it isn’t true, and I ought to know. Anyway, we already have two children.”

October 12, 1955:

Gable Says He, Wife Would Like Children

Hollywood–Film star Clark Gable said Tuesday he and his wife, Kay Williams, would like to have children but she is not expecting a baby.

“Unhappily, it’s not true,” Gable said of rumors that his wife, the former Kay Williams Spreckels, is pregnant. “Kay has a friend who is quite ill and she has been visiting at the hospital, which is probably the explanation of how the rumors started.”

Mrs. Gable has two children by a previous marriage.

I think her obvious belly is sparking the rumors, not some hospital visit “to a friend,” Clark. And this all really seems like wasted breath to deny it completely when five days later:

October 17, 1955:

Film star Clark Gable, childless in four marriages, expects to be a father next May.

A week ago the 54-year-old actor, for two decades one of the nation’s top matinee idols, denied that his wife was pregnant. Mrs. Gable, the former Kay Williams Spreckels, said they learned from her doctor on Friday that she is expecting a baby. The child will be delivered by caesarian section in late May, she said.

She has a son Adolph, 5, and a daughter, Joan, 4, by her third husband, sugar heir Adolph Spreckels.

A baby due late May would have to be conceived around September…again I call your attention to the photos above, with her visible bump.  I’m sure the plan was to say the baby “came early” when it arrived in March rather than May–certainly not the first Hollywood pair to play that game. But so silly, “we just found out Friday.” Funny, one of the pictures I posted above from The Tall Men premiere is in the book Kay wrote after Clark’s death, “Clark Gable: A Personal Portrait” and she admitted she was pregnant at the premiere, captioning it:

“The reason for the radiant glow on our faces here at the premiere of The Tall Men in 1955 was that I was expecting. One month later we were grief stricken over the loss of our little one.”

So doesn’t that mean you knew you were pregnant in September, when the pictures were taken at the premiere? And how many weeks until a pregnancy test shows up positive? At least six? Hmmm….

Well, regardless, it wasn’t meant to be:

November 4, 1955:

Clark Gables Lose Baby

Actor and His Wife Are Upset by the Blow

Clark Gable’s wife, the former Kay Williams Spreckels, today lost a baby she was expecting about May 1.

It was a sad blow to Gable, who recently had announced the expected child, his first, at a Hollywood party. Dr. Richard Clark, who attended Mrs. Gable, said both the actor and his wife were “pretty upset” about the loss but that Mrs. Gable was doing well and would go home from Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital sometime this weekend.

The physician said Mrs. Gable had a fairly bad case of the flu three weeks ago and was in a weakened condition. She entered the hospital last night.

Gable and Mrs. Spreckels were married July 12 [sic]. He is 54, Mrs. Gable, 37. The marriage was his fifth, her fourth. She has two children, Adolph Spreckels III, 6, and Joan Spreckels, 4.

Unfortunate. Wouldn’t we all have loved seeing Clark cuddling his baby.

Onto 1956…

June 20, 1956:

Gable’s Wife Ill

Actor Clark Gable’s wife, the former Kay Spreckels, was reportedly “resting comfortably” today in the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital where she is under observation for a possible heart condition.

June 21, 1956:

Mrs. Clark Gable Still Hospitialized

Kay Spreckels Gable, wife of actor Clark Gable, is suffering from a heart condition and will remain hospitialized at Cedars of Lebanon throughout the week,

Mrs. Gable, 38, entered the hospital a week ago to undergo laboratory tests. Her condition is reported as “good.”

Her 56-year-old husband took a room at the hospital Saturday to be near his wife. He said he will return there every day after work on a Hollywood movie set.

The Gables were married in Minden, Nev., July 11, 1955.

June 24, 1956:

Doctors have ordered Kay Spreckels Gable, wife of actor Clark Gable, to remain in Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Hollywood for another week or 10 days, even though her recovery from a heart ailment was reported “satisfactory” Saturday. Mrs. Gable, 38, was admitted June 13.

Kay suffered from angina and had attacks off and on for years.

kay williams bunker spreckels joan spreckels

July 22, 1956:

On he fifth try, he finds marriage better than ever

One year ago, after telling newsmen that he was heading for Alaska to hunt bear, Clark Gable eloped to Nevada with blonde Kay Williams. He was 54; she, 37. They were married in a simple double-ring ceremony–Gable’s fifth trip to the altar, his bride’s fourth.

Today their first anniversary is behind them, and the king of Hollywood’s leading men is ecstatically happy.

“My marriage to Kathleen,” he exclaims, “is something! For the first time in my life I’m really living. For me it’s happy days in Dixie. My only regret is that I didn’t have this kind of setup years ago.”

The reason for Gable’s rare enthusiasm (he usually underplays his expression of personal feeling) is children: 7-year-old Bunker and 5-year-old Joan, respectively Kay’s son and daughter by her previous marriage to eccentric sugar heir Adolph Spreckels.

“I’ve never lived with kids before,”Gable says, “and, frankly, the idea petrified me at first. But every day Joan and Bunker keep showing me how much I’ve missed by not having children around the house. They’ve made a new man of me.

“I was an only child myself, never had any brothers or sisters. My mother died when I was a kid. I always played a lone hand. Even after I made a success of it in the movie game, I was alone for long periods of time. Before Kathleen and I got married, my routine was pretty deadly. I’d finish work at the studio and hang around bulling with the boys. There was no reason to hurry home. (Gable lives on a 20-acre ranch in Encino, 20 miles north of Hollywood.)

“I got so fed up with the routine that I went off to Europe for a couple of years. But you can’t run away from loneliness. I found that out.

“When Kathleen and I decided to get married, all the time I was scared about the children. Where would they live? What would I do with them? How would we get along?

“I’d let the ranch run down. There really wasn’t enough room for them. Kathleen had a house in Beverly Hills, but she knew I liked it out on the ranch, and she wanted to live there, too. We finally decided to move the kids into the caretaker’s house on the ranch. Then I hired a builder to add a bath and a couple of bedrooms to the guest house, and that’s where the kids sleep now. But they take their meals with us, and I spend as much time with them as I possibly can.

“Nowadays I’m in a big rush to get home. On this last picture of mine, I kept needling Raoul Walsh, the director. ‘Let’s speed it up,’ I’d say. ‘I gotta get home to the wife and kids.’ Raoul would howl.

“It sounds strange, but I’m eating dinner these days as early as 6 o’clock. The television is going full blast, and the kids are yakking about the Mickey Mouse Club and all the rest of it. They’ve never seen me on TV, so as an actor I don’t rate with them at all. But only a few weeks ago I bought them a couple of Mexican burros, the cutest little animals you’ve ever seen. Well, we’re having a ball with them.

“After dinner I used to flop down with a drink and a newspaper. now I sit down–I wouldn’t call it sitting down, now I’m playing with two wonderful children and it makes all the difference in the world. A family is what a man really needs to come home to.”

Last year, three months after his marriage, Gable proudly told friends that Kay was pregnant. Shortly after that, she lost the child. So that she might forget and recuperate, gable took her on a fishing cruise off South America with friends.

When they returned, he began preparing for his third independent production, “The King and Four Queens”–a Western adventure yarn which should be finished any day now. As in the other such deals he’s made since leaving MGM two years ago, Gable receives ten percent of the film’s gross or 50 percent of the net, whichever is larger. “The Tall Men,” which he did with Jane Russell last year, currently boasts an estimate worldwide gross of $8,000,000–meaning $800,00 for Gable.

Discussing this with him, I remarked that on $800,000 a man should be able to raise a lot of kids.

Clark Gable smiled in agreement. “My problem,” he said, “is not making money. What I’m working on now is making a family.”

That really is heartwarming to read. It is truly wonderful that at the end of his life Clark wasn’t lonely and had someone to come home to.

Often, people say that Clark and Carole Lombard would have divorced because of his philandering ways and inability to settle down. I’ve always said maybe, but definitely not if they had succeeded in having children. Clark would have settled down and into being a father and loved every minute of being a family man, as the above excerpt shows. It just took way too long for him to achieve it.

August 16, 1956:

Lovely Kay Spreckels Gable up and around for the first time since her heart attack with Clark and the Lew Wassermans at the Eldorado. Kay’s blonde hair is so short she calls it her crew cut. Mighty nice to have her back in circulation.

January 15, 1957:

Clark Gable is pleased by the fact that doctors will permit his wife, Kay Spreckels, to accompany him on the New Orleans location of Warners “Band of Angels.” She can go, but, for extra precautions, will be accompanied by a nurse.

One thing new for Clark on this picture. He’ll portray a plantation owner and former slave runner, and, for the first time on the screen, he’ll have to spend a little extra time in the make-up department every morning to have a fake tattoo applied to his arm.

There isn’t a lot to report that’s terribly interesting marriage-wise in 1957-1959. They traveled, she accompanied him on film sets, etc. Nothing of note.

kay williams clark gable

So we move on to 1960, while filming The Misfits in Nevada:

October 1, 1960:

Reno–Actor Clark Gable announced Friday that he will become a father for the first time.

The 59-year-old “King of the Movies” and his fifth wife, the former Kay Spreckels, said they expect the baby next spring.

Gable and his 42-year-old wife are here for the filming of “The Misfits,” in which the actor co-stars with Marilyn Monroe. They eloped and were married bya  justice of the peace in July, 1955.

Gable previously was married to drama coach Josephine Dillon, Maria Langham, Carole Lombard and Lady Sylvia Ashley.

And the following month he would be dead. So sad.

clark gable kay williams

Kay and Clark on the set of The Misfits


In our next installment, I pick up in January 1961, after Clark has died.


kay williams spreckels gable

When we last left Kay, she was married to Adolph Spreckels Jr. and had just given birth to their second child.

September 13, 1951:

Fifth Wife Sues Spreckels Heir

Los Angeles–The fifth wife of Adolph B. Spreckels II, 39-year-old heir to a sugar fortune, has sued him for divorce, alleging cruelty.

The former Kay Williams, 33, who married Spreckels six years ago, asked the court in her suit yesterday to oust her estranged mate from the Bel Air mansion they occupy. She claims Spreckels persists in staying there although they became estranged September 5.

Mrs. Spreckels, former actress, alleged in her complaint that her husband used physical violence on her without provocation. She asks $3,000 monthly alimony and support of their two children, Adolph III, 2, and Joan, 8 months. She wants custody of them and a division of community property. The complaint says Spreckels controls a fortune of several millions of dollars.

Spreckels’ lawyer said shortly after the suit was filed that he was authorized by his client to say that “he still loves and respects her and feels the divorce action was unwarranted and precipitous.”

Mrs. Spreckels was married once before, to Martin de Alzaga (Macoco) Unzue, Argentine millionaire. She divorced him in 1943. Spreckels, grandson of the late Claus Spreckels, founder of the fortune, has been divorced from the former Lois Quantrain Clarke, New York banker’s daughter; Gloria DeBevoise, society woman; Geraldine Spreckels, his distant cousin, and the former baroness Emily van Romberg.

$3,000 a month in 1951 translates to $27,535 today!!!

September 20, 1951:

Not Enough Funds for Marriage, Heir Says

Los Angeles–Adolph B. Spreckels II, heir to a California and Hawaiian sugar fortune, has charged his fifth wife, former actress Kay Williams, sued him for divorce because she did not feel he was paying enough for their marriage.

Spreckels made his charge in a cross-complaint to Miss Williams’ divorce action filed last week.

“Only money could make me passionate and affectionate toward you,” Spreckels said his wife told him.

Well isn’t that romantic. I am noticing a theme among Kay’s ex-husbands’ opinions of her, aren’t you.

September 22, 1951:

Sugar Heir Spreckels, Wife Differ Over Gable Incident

Los Angeles–Sugar heir Adolph B. Spreckels II testified today that his fifth wife, actress Kay Williams, once told him she had been intimate with the he-man actor, Clark Gable.

Miss Williams, who is seeking $3,000 a month support for herself and their two children, promptly took the stand to deny it.

Another Incident

Spreckels said his wife told him of the affair soon after they were married, when he reprimanded her for an incident also involving Gable. He said he was ill, and that his wife, Gable, and Mr. and Mrs. Walter Lang went out for the evening, returning to the patio of the Spreckels home for some drinks.

He said he heard his wife call: “Clark, come down here. I want to show you the bougainvillea.”

Spreckels said there was a bougainvillea vine near the swimming pool. He added that, although his wife called Gable several times, the actor did not respond.

He said when he reprimanded her, “there was a scuffle.”

Spreckels has charged in a cross-complaint to his wife’s suit for divorce that money is her only passion.

She testified earlier today that he once used a hatchet to chop down her locked bedroom door, but said she persuaded him to go to sleep. She sued him for divorce originally, alleging cruelty.

Miss Williams testified that Spreckels was “drunk almost all the time the first three years we were married.” They were med in 1945.  He is 39, she 34. She acknowledged her financial worth was now $550,000–mostly in stocks, bond, jewels, furs and real estate, the gifts of Spreckels and his mother.

$600 For Children

At the conclusion of the hearing, the court granted $600 a month for the support of the Spreckels’ two children, instead of the $1,500 Mrs. Spreckels asked. The actress’ demand for $1,500 monthly for herself was taken under advisement.

The court also continued in effect orders restraining the couple from molesting each other. The judge told Spreckels to stay out of the house, but said he could visit the children when not intoxicated.

Not the gigantic sum she wanted, but $600 in 1951 is $5,507 today so here’s hoping she somehow makes that work.

Same date:

Jealous Hubby Names Gable As Third Party

Los Angeles–Former actress Kay Williams won custody of her two children and $600 monthly support for them despite charges by her husband sugar heir Adolph Spreckels II that she was too sweet to screen idol Clark Gable.

Spreckels, 39, shocked a Superior Court room audience yesterday when he charged from the witness stand that his 33-year-old wife once told him she had been intimate with Gable.

She heatedly denied the charge.

Spreckels was being questioned by his attorney, Daniel Schnabel, about a fight he had with Miss Williams in San Francisco.

He said he was at home ill when his wife, Gable and another couple returned from a party.

“She went down by the pool house and said, ‘Clark, come down here. I want to show you the bougainvillea,'” Spreckels testified.

“I was jealous and particularly annoyed because she had had intimacies with Mr. Gable, according to what she told me,” he said, adding that Gable did not go down to see the plant.

Both Throw Punches

Miss Williams’ attorney, Charles Loring, cross-examined the sugar heir about the right, and Spreckels admitted both he and his wife threw punches.

“I slapped her. It was the only time I ever used violence,” he said.

Miss Williams, seeking $3,000 monthly temporary alimony and child support pending trial of her divorce suit, testified that Spreckels was “drunk the first three years we were married” and once ripped off her clothes.

On another occasion, Spreckels chopped down the door of her dressing room with an ax, she said, and then meekly went to bed when she told him he looked tired and needed rest.

This is really nasty. Where were the children when all this went on? Terrible. To Clark’s credit he apparently didn’t fall for Kay’s attempt to have him go “look at flowers.”

September 30, 1951:

Kay Williams Wins $1,000 Month Alimony

Los Angeles–Kay Williams, sometime movie actress, has won temporary alimony of $1,000 a month, pending trial of her suit for divorce from Adolph B. Spreckels II, sugar heir. She had asked $1,500.

Superior Judge William R. McKay noted that the actress previously had been awarded $600 a month for support of a 2-year-old son and an 8-month-old daughter.

November 13, 1952:

Beautiful, blonde Kay Spreckels, divorce troubles behind her, leaves for New York and two TV shows tomorrow. Yes, she’s resuming her career.

July 26, 1953:

Here’s a twosome to stop the presses–Kay Spreckles and Joe E. Lewis–so help me. They were at Sportsman’s lodge in the valley for dinner and then at Charley Foy’s for the show.

Dating again!

But that’s not the last she’s heard of Spreckles. It seems the two of them got into an altercation when she showed up at his house to pick up the children:

August 23, 1953:

Attorney For Sugar King Spreckles Doubts Seriousness of Actress’ Beating Injuries

Legal counsel for Adolph B. Spreckels II declared today he would demand subpoenas for every member of the “cast” at his client’s preliminary hearing Wednesday on felonies, assault charges.

The cast, said attorney David Schnabel, includes former actress Kay Williams, Spreckels’ former wife whom the millionaire is accused of beating with her slipper.

Schnabel, hinting largely that he considered the ash blonde’s injuries more fiction than fact, charged that Miss Williams gave “a very stirring performance.”

Accused of Assault

Spreckels, heir to a sugar fortune, was arraigned yesterday at Newport Beach before Judge Donald A. Dodge and charged him with assault to do great bodily harm. The judge did not share Schnabel’s viewpoint as to Miss Williams’ condition.

He said: “I do not consider this charge unimportant. I have had inquiry made at the hospital, and the condition of Mrs. Spreckels is so critical they have been unable to remove her to the X-ray room.”

A doctor at the hospital said the 37-year-old woman’s condition was much improved late yesterday.

Beating Denied

Spreckels vehemently denied beating his former wife. Schnabel said he was “vacillating between the feeling that she way have inflicted the injuries herself or that they were imaginary.”

The alleged beating occurred early yesterday morning.

Dorothy Lamour, a longtime friend of Miss Williams, summoned medical aid after she was called to the injured woman’s apartment by friends. The film star was Miss Williams’ corroborating witness at her divorce which became final last month.

Miss Williams told officers Spreckels beat her when she arrived at his home to pick up their children who had been visiting him.

Schnabel disparaged this contention:

Appeared on Bike

“What we’d like to know,” he said, “is why Miss Williams appeared at his home at 6:30am with her shoes off and on a bicycle, coming in off the morning mist, when she was supposed to take their two children and their nurse to Beverly Hills.”

Meantime, reporters were not permitted to question Miss Williams. Dr. Helen Robertson said:

“She just can’t see anyone until we find out more about her injuries.”

Spreckels is free on $10,000 bond.

The sugar heir, who has been married five times, accused Miss Williams during their stormy divorce battle of confessing to him that she had once made love to film king Clark Gable. Spreckels also charged her with telling him: “Only money makes my passion burn and only money can make me love you.”

Miss Williams countered that the millionaire was “drunk” most of the time.

This entire thing is odd. She showed up on a bicycle in her bare feet at 6:30am to pick up two small children? Nonetheless, Spreckels seemed to be an extremely violent man.

September 1, 1953:

The Hectic Romance

Macoco, the onetime El Morocco playboy who now is home in the Argentine, was married to Kaye [sic] Williams. When she married Adolph Spreckels II, Macoco predicted there would be violence. Miss Williams, now divorced from Spreckels, was hospitalized last week, after a beating for which Spreckels is under arrest.

Macoco still carried a torch for his ex-wife. After their separation, she was often in the company of Clark Gable. “Kaye, his teeth aren’t his own,” Macoco told her. She removed one of her own caps and said: “See? Neither are mine.”

There was a brief reconciliation in N.Y. and Macoco opened charge accounts for her, hoping she would remain here with him forever. His first inkling that this would never be–and that she was interested in Spreckels in California–came when Macoco studied the bills for her purchases. She noticed that she’d bought nothing but California clothes.

December 11, 1953:

Kay Spreckles and Bentley Ryan embraced.

Apparently that’s news?

December 21, 1953:

Bentley Ryan with Kay Spreckles at the Mocambo.

Meanwhile ex-husband Spreckels was facing the music for allegedly beating her last fall. There are a lot of news stories on this so I’ll sum it up:

On September 12, 1954, a court hearing was held on the assault charge. Kay testified that he took a slipper from her foot and used it to strike her on the head and shoulders. She also said he called her “a four letter word,” grabbed her arm, ripped her shirt, kicked her with his bare feet and dragged her 10 feet by the hair. She testified: “I pleaded with him not to be so loud because of the children. He said, ‘You dirty–, I’m going to throw you out of the house.’ He took off one of my shoes and beat me over the head 15 times. Mr. Spreckels said to me: ‘I’ll mar that beautiful face of yours. The lovely Kay! I’ll fix you!'”The doctor at the hospital she went to after the fight testified that she had several bruises on her head, neck, back, left forearm and left shoulder, as well as a concussion. Spreckels’ attorney accused Kay of attacking him first, which she denied.  Under cross-questioning she admitted throwing a glass but said, “I didn’t throw it in any particular direction.” She also admitted having two drinks that night.

adolph spreckels kay williams

January 9, 1954:

Spreckels Gets 30-Day Jail Term For Beating Ex-Wife

Santa Ana–Portly sugar heir Adolph B. Spreckels II was sentenced to 30 days in Orange County Jail Friday by Superior Judge Robert Gardner for a beating he inflicted upon his fifth wife, actress Kay Williams.

Spreckels, however, spent about an hour as a prisoner in the courtroom and then temporarily gained his freedom on a notice of appeal. He was released on $1,000 bond pending a hearing.

Judge Gardner bluntly said he could not sit on the bench and “condone the fact that you, a six-footer and a heavy-set man, gave a five-foot woman a beating.”

The judge said that a fine would not be adequate punishment in his court and he likewise denied a plea for probation or a stay of execution. Judge Gardner said that Spreckles, despite his wealth would be treated like any other defendant in his court.

Spreckels, noticeably uneasy as the judge castigated him, had nothing to say. He was permitted to take a seat with a group of convicted felons while attorneys scurried around preparing the notice of appeal and getting the bond approved.

Judge Gardner reviewed a probation report which brought out Spreckels’ previous legal difficulties and that he had received a discharge from military service on conditions “other than honorable.” Attorney Daniel Schnabel said the discharge was “on physiological grounds.”

In seeking probation for the heir to a California-Hawaiian sugar fortune, attorney Schnabel said Spreckels had suffered a coronary attack recently and was under the care of a physician.

Miss Williams was not in court to hear her ex-husband sentenced on the misdemeanor conviction on simple assault charges. A jury returned the simple assault conviction last Dec. 16 after deliberating less than two hours. Spreckles originally was charged with felonious assault.

Same date:

Judge Gives Spreckels 30 Days In Jail for Beating Wife

Santa Ana–Adolph Spreckels II was sentenced today to 30 days in jail for beating his divorced fifth wife, Kay Williams, 36. The judge gave him a severe tongue-lashing.

Superior Judge Robert Gardner read from a probation report citing the sugar heir’s five marriages and five divorces, two arrests for drunkenness and”a discharge other than honorable” from military service.

“This is not a pretty picture,” the judge said. “It is a tragic commentary on the misuse of a great family estate. I am not going to tilt at windmills as a protector of fair womanhood, but there are two things men don’t do in our society. One is to beat up women.

“Your former wife may have had dollar marks in her eyes when she married you, but she is entitled to the protection of the law,” Judge Gardner declared.

The jurist denied probation and a motion for a new trial and remanded Spreckels to jail immediately. Shortly afterward he was released on $1,000 bail as his attorneys filed an appeal.

A jury convicted him of simple assault, a misdemeanor.

“Dollar marks in her eyes…”

There is A LOT of coverage of Spreckels in the next few months. I am just going to sum up what happened or else this blog post is going to be 6,000 words.

On February 1, 1954, it was announced that Spreckels had eloped to Las Vegas. 22 year old beauty queen Judith Powell became the sixth Mrs. Spreckels. Adolph was 42.

adolph spreckels

On March 9, 1954, (yes, one month later) Spreckels sued his new bride for divorce, citing cruelty. She countersued, appearing with her arm in  a sling, claiming he broke it.

adolph spreckels

On May 26, 1954, The Fourth District Court of Appeals denied Spreckels’ appeal for a new trial.

On August 5, 1954, Spreckels was thrown in jail after a barroom fight in which he was allegedly swinging beer bottles at other patrons.

On November 1, 1954, Spreckels began his jail sentence at an Orange County jail.

On November 26, 1954, Spreckels was released from jail after serving 25 days of his 30 day sentence; he got five days knocked off for good behavior. Upon his release, he said the food there was better than some he had eaten at the best restaurants in Beverly Hills and that he enjoyed his time in jail.

Don’t worry about Kay, she kept herself busy:

January 15, 1954:

Kay Williams Spreckels was on the arm of Bentley Ryan at Eartha Kitt’s opening at the Mocambo.

January 26, 1954:

Kay Spreckels and W.C. Troutman are making like it’s spring.

February 13, 1954:

Zsa Zsa Gabor last night tossed a “come as your favorite character” party. Most of the guests, being actors, naturally came as themselves.

But some dressed for the occaison. Most notable was Marion Davies who came as Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Her husband, Capt. Horace Brown, came in full Indian regalia. Zsa Zsa dressed as Jeanne Avril, the character she played in the movie “Moulin Rouge.”

Kay William Spreckels, former Erie, Pa., resident, and one-time wife of sugar heir Adolph Spreckels, came as Zsa Zsa.

Champagne flowed like water and guests dined on Hungarian goulash.

March 29, 1954:

The girl who gives a man a little competition is doing all right for herself, and that’s what Kay Williams Spreckels has been doing to Hal Hayes.

Kay has had a guest in town, Jack Hogan, head of United Insurance Company, who comes from Chicago. He came to see Kay and brought along his mother and father. Of course, another reason for the Hogan visit is that a big insurance building is being built in Los Angeles.

Kay insists that she and Jack are merely friends, but she is the only girl he dated while he was here.

May 11, 1954:

Kay Spreckels and Bentley Ryan a twosome.

May 17, 1954:

Kay Spreckels’ next: Jack Hogan, the insurance tycoon.

Back and forth and back and forth…

May 23, 1954:

Kay Spreckels (the divorcee) and Jack Hogan are always Hogan-and-kissin’ in public.

Ok, whoever wrote that should have been fired.

July 19, 1954:

Kay Spreckels, who figured in an auto mishap in Beverly Hills, after a few days in the hospital, is home again.

And here he comes folks:

Same date:

The very handsome man who called for Kay Spreckels at St. John’s hospital, helped her pack up her belongings, and drove her home was Clark Gable!

Kay’s automobile accident, following her serious injuries lat year in her fracas with Adolph Spreckels, has shaken her nerves, and the poor gal is beginning to think she is jinxed. What else can happen?

Gable is an old friend who still sees Kay although most of her dates lately have been architect builder Hal Hayes.

July 23, 1954:

The movie colony is watching with much interest the revival of Clark Gable’s friendship for Kay Spreckels, one of his old flames.

August 19, 1954:

Clark Gable and Kay Spreckels steady-dating.

clark gable kay williams

September 30, 1954:

So great was the interest in the [A Star is Born] premiere that the first of the estimated 20,000 fans and autograph hunters who jammed the streets leading to the RKO Pantages Hollywood theater began arriving at mid-day.

It was not until shortly before 8 o’clock that chauffeur-driven limousines began pulling up in front of the theater to deposit mink and ermine-clad movie queens and tuxedo-ed leading men.

The Who’s Who of Hollywood turned out for the affair, including a number of film figures who had not been seen at a premiere in years.

Clark Gable was there with Kay Williams Spreckels, one-time wife of the sugar heir.

Pianist Liberace attracted attention when he showed up wearing a black and gold evening jacket, with shoes to match. He was with his mother.

I’ve always wondered why Clark went to that premiere. He hated big premieres and this one was a huge spectacle. Is anyone surprised Liberace showed up with his mother? Anyone?

October 2, 1954:

Clark Gable and Kay Spreckels did what onlookers term a sizzling “Black Bottom” dance at a recent Hollywood shindig.

Oh my.

October 3, 1954:

Kay Williams Spreckels’ Romance with Clark Gable Brings Misery to Hal Hayes

Hollywood is talking about the unhappiness of Hal Hayes over Kay Williams Spreckels’ renewal of an interrupted romance with Clark Gable. Kay is seeing no one these days but the “king” and Hal loves Kay.

She breaks a lot of hearts!

October 30, 1954:

A gab with Kay Spreckels and Clark Gable have us a giggle. Seems Kay, who up to now, has never been able to hit the side of a barn ten feet away, has been pheasant-shooting with Clark the past few days. They go out to the Bradeis ranch in the San Fernando Valley—and stalk their prey in a jeep. First day out, Kay bagged a bird. Gable got nothing.

I swear pretty much the exact same story was told when Clark and Carole Lombard were dating some 18 years earlier.

November 12, 1954:

The last date Clark Gable had before he took off for Hong Kong was with Kay Spreckels. They had dinner with Anita Louise and Buddy Adler at La Rue Restaurant.

November 23, 1954:

Clark Gable is off to Hong Kong and Kay Spreckels went dining with attorney Bentley Ryan. “He’s just another old friend like Clark,” she says. “I stick to my old friends.”

clark gable kay williams clark gable kay williams

December 18, 1954:

Los Angeles–Clark Gable returned home last night from making a picture in Hong Kong and had this comment about being quoted in Honolulu as saying he was quitting the movies after making three more films:

“Let’s say I do at least three more pictures.”

The actor was met at International Airport by Kay Spreckels, blonde former wife of sugar heir Adolph Spreckels.

Accompanying Gable were actors Michael Rennie and Gene Barry and director Edward Dmytryk. All had been at work on the movie “Soldier of Fortune” in Hong Kong.

Next up, Clark and Kay make it official…

kay williams

Picking up with where we left off, Kay and Clark Gable are broken up and so Kay has moved on..

September 7, 1945:

Kay Williams Is Bride

Hollywood–Blond actress Kay Williams, who last year was reported engaged to Clark Gable, today was honeymooning with sugar heir Adolph Spreckels, Jr., of San Francisco.

Same date:

Film actress Kay Williams and Adolph Spreckels, Jr., sugar fortune heir, were married last night at the home of a Wickenburg justice of the peace.

Adolph Spreckels Jr. was the grandson of Claus Spreckels, founder of the Spreckels sugar company.

Now that she married Adolph Jr., you thought that was the last we’d see of  her previous husband Macoco? Nope:

September 21, 1945:

Spreckels’ Bride Called ‘Gold-Digger’

Los Angeles–Movie Actress Kay Williams, honeymooning with the sugar heir, Adolph Spreckels, Jr., was accused of “gold digging” in a suit filed today by her former husnamd for return of $30,000 worth of gifts and money. The former spouse, Martin de Alzaga Unzue, wealthy Argentine, alleged that she made “false, untrue, malicious” representations that she intended to re-marry him.

October 12, 1945:

Adolph Spreckels, Jr., and Kay Williams have had their first honeymoon spat. Mainly because of the Macoco publicity.

No doubt it would cause some marital strife to a multi-millionaire to have your new bride called a gold digger by her former husband…

November 19, 1945:

Macoco will have his ex-mother -in-law joined as a co-defendant in the lawsuit he brought against his ex-wife, Kay Williams Spreckels.

Kay’s mother too? That’s interesting. Kay wasn’t the only one being sued:

December 6, 1945:

Sugar Fortune Heir Sued for $260,000

Los Angeles–Adolph B. Spreckels, Jr., sugar fortune heir who married Actress Kay Williams last September 6, was sued today for $260,000 damages by Beatrice Webb, actress and dancer. She charged Spreckels beat and maimed her “in sadistic frenzies” and once drenched her with rubbing alcohol and tried to ignite it.

Miss Webb charged that on December 15, 1944, Spreckels broke two of her ribs and tore her hair out by the roots, that five days later on the bathroom of his palatial Bel-Air home he attempted to set fire to her and that he beat her again last January 15 while his valet held her.

Last July 15, she declared, he beat and kicked her again and on August 15 he chased her out of the house with a  fountain pen gas bomb.

Sweet Lord in Heaven. Sounds like a great guy, huh?

February 7, 1946:

Heir Says He Paid $25,750 to Girl He Beat in ‘Self-Defense’

Hollywood-Adolph Spreckels Jr., sugar heir, explained today he was only defending himself when he kicked and beat Beatrice (Bebe) Webb, showgirl. He added that he already had paid her $25,750 for the privilege.

Spreckels, answering Miss Webb’s $260,000 assault and battery suit, said he used only “reasonable force” to ward her off when she belabored him with a telephone.

Spreckels denied he tried to “bomb” his ex-girlfriend. He said they fought in his Bel-Air mansion because Miss Webb used “insulting, abusive terms” about him in a telephone conversation.

Miss Webb charged Spreckels beat her unmercifully on several occasions but she submitted because she thought he was going to marry her.

Well, if she thought he was going to marry her, then that makes sense?!

April 15, 1946:

When Adolph Spreckels and Kay Williams moved into the former Lana Turner house in Beverly Hills they were greeted by a gent who finally managed to serve Macoco’s lawsuit papers.

April 17, 1946:

Court Sets Hearing on Spreckels Suit

Los Angeles–Judge Dudley S. Valentine has set June 25 for a hearing to determine whether Beatrice “Bebe” Webb should be permitted to prosecute a $260,000 damage suit she has filed against Adolph Spreckels Jr.

Spreckels contends that last September he paid her $25,750, which he said was in full settlement of all her claims and that as such it was a complete bar to her subsequent damage suit.

Claiming she had been permanently injured by Spreckels, she charged that she suffered two broken ribs, that he pulled her hair out by the roots and caused her to be confined in a hospital.

Kay still had her own legal trouble to deal with:

May 20, 1946:

The closest friends of Macoco, the Argentinian millionaire, are urging him to drop his campaign against his former wife, Kay Williams Spreckels.

June 23, 1946:

Actress Drops Suit Against Spreckels

Los Angeles–Showgirl Beatrice Webb dismissed her $260,000 damage suit against Adolph Spreckels Jr., sugar heir, and said in a statement that she is too ill now to appear in court.

But, her statement added, “merely because Spreckels is a millionaire, is no reason that he can get away with it.” her attorney pointed out that the dismissal is no bar to refiling.

The New York actress had accused Spreckels of beating her “in sadistic frenzies,” and of once trying to set her afire. In an answer, he contended he paid her $25,750 last September in settlement of any claims she might have against him.

Well, one lawsuit down.

June 30, 1946:

When you hear the sensational charges being flung back and forth between Kay Williams (now Mrs. Adolph Spreckels, Jr.) and her ex-husband Macoco, reflect that while they’ve both been identified with Hollywood, neither one of them is, properly speaking, of Hollywood. Filmville wash so much dirty linen of its own that it shouldn’t be unfairly blamed for washings that don’t actually belong on its clothes line.

What is the point of that, to say they are not worth mentioning by mentioning them?

And then in the middle of all of it:

September 17, 1946:

Adolph Spreckels Expecting Child

Hollywood–Kay Williams, blonde actress-wife of millionaire Adolph Spreckels, Jr, is expecting her first child, it was revealed today.

Miss Williams was formerly married to Martin de Alzaga Unzue, wealthy Argentine sportsman, who filed suit for return of $30,000 he claimed the actress got from him on a promise of remarriage shortly before she wed Spreckels.

She denied she promised to re-marry and said she considered the gifts “just friendly gestures.”

I couldn’t find any articles mentioning it, but this pregnancy must have ended in a miscarriage.

June 10, 1947:

Local cafe society will be shaken to its foundations when the long-dragged out suit of Macoco against Kay Williams Spreckels hits the wires, around Aug. 25.

June 17, 1947:

Only Kay Williams’ millionaire husband, Adolph Spreckels, is preventing her form flinging a $200,000 defamation suit at Macoco, her no-longer-adoring ex.

Aren’t you curious what juicy tidbits are going to be dug up with the suit goes to trial? Well, we’ll never know:

July 3, 1947:

Argentine Millionaire ‘Forgets’ $35,000 Gift

Los Angeles–Having lost her love, Martin de Alzaga Unzue, wealthy Argentine sportsman, has decided to forget about the $35,000 worth of jewels he gave Actress Kay Williams, now that she has broken her promise to re-marry him.

He has dropped a suit he brought against her for recovery of the jewels which he claimed he gave her after she said she would re-marry him.

Instead Miss Williams, who admitted receiving the presents, shortly thereafter became fifth wife of Adolph Spreckels, Jr., sugar heir.

Wouldn’t the decent thing be to return the expensive presents, even if you never did promise to remarry him? Oh well, another lawsuit done.

September 8, 1947:

Macoco had a champagne party at El Morocco when the radio report came that Mr. and Mrs. Spreckels had been involved in a fight. but then came the supplementary report that the warring couple was not Mr. and Mrs. Adolf [sic] Spreckels–the Mrs. Spreckles who is Kay Williams, Macoco’s ex-wife.

Throwing a party when you hear your ex-wife has fought with her husband, classy move.

April 9, 1948:

Spreckels and Wife Seeking Fee Settlement

Los Angeles–Sugar Heir Adolph Spreckels, Jr. and his wife, former Actress Kay Williams, today offered $7,500 up to their former attorney, Roland Rich Woolley, to settle his $19,750 suit for attorney fees.

The offer was filed in superior court where the attorney sued to collect $15,500 from Spreckels and $4,250 from Mrs. Spreckels.

Woolley said in his suit that he successfully defended Spreckels in a $260,000 assault and battery damage suit brought by Show Girl Beatrice Webb. The attorney said he claimed a $20,000 fee and got $4,500.

Mrs. Spreckels had Woolley as her attorney when her former mate, Martin de Alzaga Unzue, Argentine millionaire playboy, sued her for return of $30,000 worth of gifts. She kept the gifts.

All that money and you don’t pay your attorney’s fees?

June 29, 1948:

On The Rocks

Los Angeles–The marriage of Actress Kay Williams and Adolph Spreckels, Jr., sugar fortune heir, who wed less than three years ago, has gone on the rocks.

Uh oh. Hey, already her longest marriage thus far, though…

July 21, 1948:

Spreckels Heir Sued For Divorce

Santa Monica–Blonde actress Kay Williams charged cruelty today in a divorce suit against wealthy sugar heir Adolph B. Spreckels, Jr.

The suit, filed Tuesday, asked $2500 monthly support and their Bel Air estate. The couple married September 6, 1945, in Wickenburg, Ariz.

The actress, former wife of Argentine millionaire Martin De Alzaga (Macoco) Unzue, has been linked romantically with Clark Gable. She was Spreckels’ fourth wife.

Spreckels’ attorney, Dan Schnabel, said he would file a cross-complaint for divorce and annulment.

And just a week later:

July 28, 1948:

Kay Williams Drops Spreckels Divorce

Santa Monica–Actress Kay Williams has dismissed her divorce suit against sugar heir, Adolph Spreckels Jr., their attorneys announced today.

The statement said “a satisfactory settlement” had been reached but did not reveal terms. Isaac Pacht, the actress’ lawyer, said the couple has not reconciled.

Miss Williams, former wife of Argentine Millionaire Martin De Alzaga (Macoco) unzue, filed suit against Spreckels last week.

Not reconciled, but then just a few days later…

September 7, 1948:

Spreckels, Actress Again Reconciled

Reno–“Everything is fine; we’re both very happy–” is today’s report on the marital life of Actress Kay Williams and Adolph Spreckels Jr.

with only a few days of Nevada residence to put in before she would be eligible for a divorce, she said she and Spreckels have reconciled and will return to Los Angeles today or tomorrow.

She has been living at Crystal Bay, Lake Tahoe, since late in July, when she dropped a California divorce suit and prepared to start a speedier Nevada action.

Ah, the typical residency in Reno. But now back together again. It’s like some bad soap opera plot, isn’t it.

Well, they really did reconcile, as a few months later:

January 24, 1949:

New Sugar Heir Expected

Hollywood–Adolph Spreckels, one of the heirs to the Spreckels sugar fortune, and his wife, Kay Williams, once voted “The Most Beautiful Model of All Times,” are expecting a  baby in July, they said Sunday.

January 25, 1949:

Spreckels Expecting

Hollywood–Actress Kay Williams, who almost divorced Adolph Spreckels, sugar heir, last year but was persuaded to change her mind, said today she will become a mother in July.

Here comes baby “Bunker”!

March 9, 1949:

Kay Williams Spreckles has been down with a very bad cold, but when her brother, Vince, telephoned her that he had named his new baby daughter Kay Williams, she got right out of bed and went over to see her namesake.

Kay seems to get sick often. First I had heard that her niece was named after her, that’s sweet. Was it Kay though, or Kathleen, her given name?

July 16, 1949:

Kay Spreckels got enough loot at the baby shower tossed for her baby by Ann Sothern, Andrea Leeds and Gloria Romanoff to take care of quintuplets. Ninety-five gals showed up at Romanoff’s.

August 16, 1949:

Heir Born to Sugar Heir

Hollywood-Kay Williams, blonde actress wife of sugar heir Adolph Spreckels Jr., Monday gave birth to a 7-pound 12-ounce son.

The actress was once the wife of Martin de Alzaga, wealthy Argentine known as Macoco. She and Spreckels were married at Wickenburg, Ariz., in Sept. 1945.

kay williams adolph spreckels bunker spreckels

August 29, 1949:

New Spreckels Heir Out of Hospital

Hollywood–Marital turbulence that has marked the marriage of actress Kay Williams and sugar heir Adolph Spreckels changed to domestic bliss today with arrival home from the hospital of the couple’s first child.

The baby, Adolph Jr., was born at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital August 15. His blonde mother, once voted the “most beautiful model of all time,” said, “We are thrilled and very, very happy.”

The couple was within 24 hours of a divorce decree last summer when Spreckels persuaded his wife to drop the proceedings.

He was actually named Adolph Spreckels III, but was called “Bunker” from birth. I’m not sure how anyone could have named a baby Adolph so soon after World War II, even if it was a family name! At least he went by “Bunker.”

And, less than a year later:

July 4, 1950:

Baby for Kay

Hollywood–Next January has been announced as the date for the birth of a second child to blonde Actress Kay Williams and her husband, Sugar Heir Adolph Spreckels. The couple have one son, Adolph Jr., born last August 16.

Here comes baby Joan, named after Kay’s mother.

Here is a picture from Kay’s baby shower. Apparently Dorothy Lamour was Joan’s godmother.

kay williams dorothy lamour

Oddly enough, Kay randomly found time to appear in a film that year. I have no idea how it came about, while she’s married to Spreckels and having two babies, but she appeared as a stage actress named Hazel Dawn in the beginning scene of the Spencer Tracy film The Actress, her final film credit.

kay williams the actress kay148 kay149

January 30, 1951:

Talked with Kay Spreckels, on the mend now after a seriously complicated Cesarean and “a few thousand” blood transfusions. Her baby girl also doing fine.

Two babies and a wealthy husband…Kay’s got it all, right? Divorce looms, coming up next.

kay williams clark gable

When we last left Kay, she’d been awarded a divorce from her second husband, Argentine millionaire Macoco.

Before we get into 1944, I want to address some inconsistencies about when Clark Gable and Kay Williams first got together.

In her book, “Clark Gable: A Personal Portrait,” Kay details the following:

I turned down the initial invitation to meet [Clark]. It was in 1942, shortly after I arrived in Hollywood. I had a stock contract at MGM, the same studio where Gable was the reigning star.

I was living in a small apartment in Westwood when one day I received a call from Benny Thau, an MGM executive and technically, one of my bosses.

“We’re giving a little going away party tomorrow night for Clark Gable–he’s leaving for overseas service,” Mr. Thau explained. “I’d like to invite you as Clark’s dinner partner. It’s his last night in town and I know you two will get along well.”

The invitation sounded more in the nature of a command performance and I didn’t particularly like the idea. Also, I was still upset over my recent marital troubles and I was in no mood for attending a party, the glamorous Mr. Gable notwithstanding.

So I told Mr. Thau I was terribly sorry but I had another engagement which I couldn’t break. Shortly, after I hung up, the phone rang again. This time it was Eddie Mannix, another MGM executive. He repeated the invitation. Politely, I declined again. Then came a third call. Mr. Thau was back. He thought perhaps I might have changed my mind. I hadn’t.

Apparently they just couldn’t believe a young unknown contract player named Kathleen Gretchen Williams would turn down a chance for a date with Clark Gable. “I’m sorry,” I repeated firmly, “I’ll just have to wait and meet him some other time.”

That time came about six months later. I remember it was October. The phone rang. This time there were no intermediaries. And there was no mistaking that resonant voice.

“Miss Williams, this is Clark Gable. I’m home on leave,” he said. “I’m sorry I didn’t get to meet you before I went overseas. I wonder if you’d have dinner with me tomorrow night.”

And then she tells the tale of their first date, dinner at the ranch.  She then details that they went on many dates, including an Air Corps Officers’ dinner, and that Clark was also dating Anita Colby and Virginia Grey around this time.

This story of the MGM executives pleading with her to attend a party as Clark’s date has always seemed odd to me. Why on earth would they need to plead some no-name starlet to be Clark’s date? No one would have expected Clark to have a date at a party mere months after his wife passed away. And even if they were calling around for a date, why would they call her three times? She said no, onto another starlet. Like there wasn’t hundreds of girls at MGM’s disposal who would jump at the chance to go out with Clark.

Also, the timing of this doesn’t make sense.  First of all, how could she be upset about her “recent marital troubles” in the fall of 1942? She didn’t marry Macoco until November 1942 and had been divorced from her first husband for years! And if Clark called her in October, which was six months after this party she was pleaded to attend, that would have been April. Clark enlisted on August 12, 1942. In April he was still deep in mourning and had not even began to contemplate what he was going to do next.

Warren Harris’ book “Clark Gable” states Clark returned home at the end of October 1942 after training camp and began reacquainted with Virginia Grey at a party at Jill Winkler’s house. He does not mention Kay Williams making an appearance on Clark’s arm until 1944, when Clark returned from service and was still seeing Virginia as well as Marilyn Maxwell.

Lyn Tornabene, in her book “Long Live the King,” details the same story Kay tells (probably using Kay’s book as the source), but dates it in December 1942, during his furlough..  Tornabene says “Miss Williams couldn’t attend the dinner because she was being watched by [Macoco]. Miss Williams had married Macoco the previous month.She divorced him the following August.”

If Tornabene is right and it was indeed December and Kay couldn’t attend because of her estranged relationship with Macoco, there is no way Clark called her six months later, as by then he was in Europe.

I’m inclined to believe that Clark and Kay got together AFTER his active duty, not before or while he was on furlough. There was a party for him before he left for Europe, and that would have been in early 1943. Perhaps that is the phone call she received and she’s mistaken by the year? If she remembers October then I suppose it was October 1943, not 1942.

This article also describes Kay declining a dinner invitation from Clark, but details that they started dating in November 1943.

Just about a year ago Kay Williams, one of the younger players on the Metro lot—blonde, pretty and gay—was having a serious debate with herself about an invitation to a party.

It had come from a high executive of the studio to which she belonged. It was the kind of invitation that should make a girl swoon, if it didn’t also cause her veritably to reel around in circles for hours after receiving it.

Kay Williams—an almost unknown recruit to motion pictures, an ex-model who originally had gone to New York from a farm—was bidden to a dinner at which she was to be the partner of Capt. Gable, none other than the stellarly famous Clark Gable, of the Air Corps, and on the verge of departing for overseas service in Europe.

Technically speaking, it was a blind date with the bells bonging. Socially, in the film town, it was an event to compare with a “command performance.”

Kay’s life was in turmoil at the time. She was hopelessly involved in her turbulent marriage with the rich Argentinian playboy, Martin de Alzaga Unzue, popularly known in New York and Hollywood café society as Macoco. It was a distressing on-again-off-again affair and Kay’s life was wildly unsettled.

She never knew from day to day what she wanted to do, and so she was turning down everything of a social nature, because she didn’t want to inflict the disturbed, depressed mood of her domestic perplexities upon anybody—least of all, she said to herself, a brilliant star and fine, purposeful officer such as Gable. Above all, she certainly didn’t want their first meeting to have that sort of aura.

Though she felt she all but took her studio life in her hands when she did this, she actually summoned the courage to beg off from the party and because the executive seemed understanding of her problems, she was granted a deferment, as it were, and her apology for not attending was accepted at its full face value.

Kay was consoled, if not altogether happy. While she did not know Gable, she admired him, and she was anxious, indeed, to make his acquaintance—but, under more favorable auspices. She hoped such auspices would arise in the not-too-distant future.

It was thus negatively, and on the downbeat, that the romance between Clark and Kay Williams was precluded.

Fate played its part in a peculiar, reiterant way. Whereas Kay begged out of the first invitation to become the dinner partner of Clark, she accepted with enthusiasm a second of almost similar character about six months later. This was after she secured her interlocutory decree of divorce, and felt free and calm again after the tempestuous days of her marriage. Fate was thus emphatically insistent that she and Gable should meet and what’s happened since then has had the gossipers of Hollywood doing nip-ups.

Yes, there is a romance between the two. Kay and Clark have been an item ever since last November, and conjecture runs so rampant as to forecast that they may someday arrive at the altar. Yet with Clark’s uncertain status in the war picture—there have been rumors that he may be leaving active duty which in turn have been hotly denied—it may turn out to be one of those fleeting things which are so often typical of Hollywood.

At any rate, in the newspapers, Kay first makes an appearance on Clark’s arm in print in January 1944.

January 25, 1944:

Capt. Clark Gable gave the paying customers at the Vine Street Brown Derby a happy moment when he walked in with Kay Williams. They had a date to lunch with Bob Cobb. Clark is so popular he is always mobbed whenever he makes an appearance.

February 22, 1944:

Captain Clark Gable, who cannot buy a gal a cocktail without having the news telephoned in, took Kay Williams out the other eve.

May 31, 1944:

Major Clark Gable has another trip to make to Washington the first of July. He has to take his picture back once again and show it to the powers that be. One thing is certain, with all the rumors that pretty, blond Kay Williams will be the next Mrs. Gable, it cannot possibly be until after September 1st because she doesn’t get her final divorce decree until then. They may marry then, although neither has said anything to lead me to believe they have such plans. But they are very congenial and Clark was extremely lonely until he met Kay.

clark gable kay williams

August 10, 1944:

Kay Williams says Clark Gable is the most thoughtful person in the whole word. On her birthday he planned a dinner for her with flowers and a cake with 19 candles. At her place at the table was a watch and an alligator bag, his gifts to her. both Clark and Kay steadfastly deny any engagement or any plans to marry, but she is the only girl in whom he appears in the slightest bit interested right now. And, certainly, with Clark Gable around, what girl would look at any other man? Certainly not Kay.

September 6, 1944:

Gable Will Marry Kay Williams Soon

London star columnist predicted today that Clark Gable soon will wed Kay Williams, whose marriage to the Argentine millionaire Macoco De Alzaga will be ended Monday when the interlocutory decree becomes final. The columnist said this was one of the secrets Gable succeeded in keeping during his recent trip to England but that now he has returned to Hollywood, “the secret is out.”

September 6, 1944:

Says She and Gable Just Friends

Hollywood–Blonde Kay Williams repeated the oft-spoken Hollywood phrase “we’re just friends–we have no plans for marriage” today when asked to confirm reports she would wed Clark Gable.

clark gable kay williams

September 8, 1944:

Williams Says Gable is Only Her Friend

Hollywood–Kay Williams, blond MGM contract player whose name has been linked romantically with Clark Gable’s, said today they were “just friends.”

“We have no plans for marriage,” Miss Williams said when asked to confirm London reports that she would wed the actor.

Her divorce from wealthy “Macoco” De Alzaga Unzue becomes final Monday.

Studio officials, who reported Gable gave Miss Williams a wrist watch on her birthday, said they were going out together before the actor left for the army.

Again it says they were together before he left? That just doesn’t fit.

September 15, 1944:

No Plans to Wed Gable, Avers Actress

Los Angeles–Actress Kay Williams whose name has recently been linked romantically with screen star Clark Gable, applied  today for her final divorce from Martin de Alzaga Unzue, Argentine millionaire sportsman, better known around Hollywood and New York night spots as “Macoco.”

Miss Williams told CNS today that she was not planning to marry Clark Gable.

“There has been no talk of marriage between us,” she said. “He is one of my favorite people but I want to concentrate on my career.”

The actress divorced her husband one year go on the charge his “jealous temper” was more than she could take.

Macoco had sought an annulment 10 days after their marriage at Santa Monica, November 25, 1942, asserting his glamorous wife was a wife in name only.

Miss Williams countered with a demand for $750 a month separate maintenance. They reconciled before the squabble reached trial and did not come to a final parting of the ways until August 11, last year.

Macoco, who was reported to be toting a blazing torch, filed countersuit to his wife’s divorce plea, stating the “cruelty” was all on her part. He dropped the suit, however, when an undisclosed property settlement agreement effected out of court disposed of their financial interests.

At the trial, Miss Williams testified he twisted her arm, knocked her down, clouted her on the head, inflicting such injuries she had to seek medical attention.

kay williams

October 13, 1944:

The widely publicized Clark Gable-Kay Williams romance is ended and Clark hasn’t seen her since he returned from Washington D.C. So much was printed about the possibility of a forthcoming marriage that they mutually decided it was far better not to see each other and to stop the gossip.

The romance cooled off as soon as those wedding rumors starting swirling. In her book, Kay said: “Though Clark was also seeing a number of other girls during this period–Virginia Grey and Anita Colby, to name two–still, the Hollywood chroniclers insisted I was the most likely successor to Miss Lombard. They also hinted broadly that i wouldn’t have it any other way. I recall one story which stated I fell madly in love with Clark at first sight and desperately wanted to marry him, but that he was executing a characteristic Gable defensive maneuver. When we stopped seeing each other, about a year after we first met, it was duly reported that I had over-played my hand, had frightened Gable off and as a result was wearing my heart on my sleeve. I remember that particular cliche because it amused me so at the time I read it. However, the stories and rumors didn’t particularly upset me. As a matter of fact, I paid very little attention to them, as I have never nursed much of a desire to see my name in print. Besides, I knew the true story. It’s very simple–Clark and I were not deeply in love that first year. Neither of us was then ready for the strong, beautiful relationship we were to discover and share some ten years later. Somehow, without ever discussing it, we both sensed this.”

Ok, so that may all be true, but you are telling me if Clark had proposed to Kay instead of breaking up with her that she would have said “No, thanks, I’m not deeply in love with you.” I have a hard time believing that.

December 26, 1944:

Kay Williams receives a daily telephone call from Macoco asking her to remarry him.

Macoco back in the picture! After all that mudslinging in the divorce!

January 25, 1945:

Cannot say this surprises me: Kay Williams has asked for her release from MGM and received it. The reason I say I am not surprised is that the very pretty, blond Kay really has not had a chance on this lot where there are so many femme stars and she thinks she could do better free lancing. While her romance still flourished with Clark Gable, Kay’s publicity almost made up for the lack of good parts. But two years is enough for a gal to wait for a screen break, so now Kay heads on to greener pastures.

March 21, 1945:

Macoco, the Argentine millionaire who recently was divorced by Kay Williams, the model and screen actress, insists that he was not particularly distressed when he read reports linking her name with Clark Gable’s. Macoco recited to her some of the advantages he believes he has, when measured against the screen star, but for some curious reason Miss Williams was not convinced.

Macoco finally clutched his upper teeth, shook them vigorously, and said: “See? They’re my own. They stay in. Can Gable do that?”

“I don’t know if Gable can do that,” replied Miss Williams, indignantly, “but I can’t. Some of mine are false.”

August 26, 1945 (Louella Parsons):

When Kay Williams and I had lunch on our birthdays (we are a day apart) I told her, “It is a year for Leos. We are going places this year.” I was only kidding about being a  fortune teller but sure enough things are breaking high and wide for my girl friend. She and her mother no more than returned from Mexico than she was handed a long term RKO contract, and that studio is planning to build her into a light comedienne star spot. She is one of the most amusing and witty girls in Hollywood–and so pretty with her deep blue eyes and blond hair.


Up next: Kay finds husband #3…





clark gable kay williams

Just as I did for Clark Gable’s fourth wife, Sylvia Ashley, I’ve rounded up newspaper blurbs about his fifth wife, Kay Williams.

Kathleen “Kay” Williams was born on August 7, 1916 in Erie, Pennsylvania. Her father left the family when Kay was very young and so she, her brother Vincent and sister Elizabeth were raised solely by her mother, Joan, on a peach farm. Kay knew her good looks could get her more than Erie could offer, and so she took off for New York at age 17 to become a fashion model in New York. She was soon heralded as “The Most Beautiful Model in the World” and appeared in many print ads. Her first marriage was to a young attorney named Parker Capps. By age 20 she was a divorcee and headed to Hollywood to try her hand at acting. She landed only a few bit parts and was more famous for being seen at nightclubs with famous and rich men. She married Argentine playboy Martin de Alzaga Unzue in late 1942. The marriage was short-lived and she was soon seen Clark Gable’s arm in 1944, but that was suddenly squelched when the newspapers announced they were engaged. They did not communicate for about ten years.

In the meantime Kay met Adolph Spreckels, heir to the Spreckels sugar fortune, and married him in 1945. She had two children: Adolph III (called “Bunker”) in 1949 and Joan in 1951. By 1953 the marriage had deteriorated. They had a very messy divorce, where he accused her of being a heartless gold digger and she told stories of him beating her unconscious with her slipper and threatening her with an axe. Both accused the other of being an alcoholic and Adolph went so far as to accuse her of having an affair with Clark during their marriage.

Out of the blue one day in 1954, Clark called Kay and asked her to dinner. They instantly clicked and were inseparable from then on. Clark asked Kay to marry him as they sat by his pool one day in May 1955. Kay and Clark were married until his death in 1960; she gave birth to their son John Clark in March 1961. Kay died of heart failure in 1983.

So let’s follow Kay through the newspapers.

kay williams

August 19, 1937:

Had anyone reported reported that Kathleen Williams, famous ciggie ad girl, is the bride of Parker Capps, Erie, Pa., lad?

I am not sure when exactly the Capps marriage began and ended. In the book she wrote about her life with Clark, “Clark Gable: A Personal Portrait,” Kay goes into no detail about her previous marriages so it is no help there. The only mentions of husband #1 and #2: “I made good in New York, professionally, but I made mistakes, personally. Namely, two brief marriages. Both ventures ended in divorce and I headed for a new life in California.”

kay williams model

February 9, 1940:

North East Girl is Most Popular Model

New York–A slim and pretty blonde wearing a yellow tulle gown and a pert hat that looked like a wedding cake was toasted last night by some of the nation’s top flight artists as she prepared to leave February 16 for a 2 week vacation with them.

She is Kay Williams, 23-year-old artists’ model, who was named as “the most popular model of the year” by the 300 members of the Society of Illustrators. The trip was her award and she accompanies the artists to Palm Beach, Fla., as mascot for their annual golf tournament.

Miss Williams, who comes from North East, Pa., near Erie, has been a New York model for three years and has ambitions to be an actress.

kay williams clark gable model

March 9, 1940:

Prince Carlo Ruspoli of Italy and Kay Williams, the model from Erie, are an excitem.[sic]

March 18, 1940:

If you took all the models who can be seen crossing 47th  and Park between 2 and 3pm, scrambled them up, and divided the mixture into four, you would probably get a quartette of representative beauties who would look and act like Georgia Carroll, Wyn-Nelle Russell, Helen Bennet and Kay Williams. They are all beautiful, all style-setters, and all proof that if you are chic you can get by with murder or unswept hair.

Kay Williams is responsible for the vogue of wearing tiny angora sweaters over bathing suits; she did it one morning in Miami because she was cold and somebody snapped her picture, and from then on not a damsel from 17 to 50 would appear on the sands without a fuzzy sweater over her shoulderblades.

See, next time you throw your angora sweater on over your bikini you can thank Kay for the idea.

April 10, 1940:

Tony Martin: Kay Williams, the model whose name has been linked with yours, is awaiting arrival of Macoco, her South American suitor. Another of Miss Williams’ swains is very hopeful, despite Macoco’s wealth. “You haven’t got a chance against Macoco,” he was warned. “Don’t you know that he’ll monopolize all of her time–because he has three million dollars?”

“Not all of her time,” the Romeo stated. “Because with all that dough he must take time off to count.”

Tony Martin?! That’s interesting. Tony married Cyd Charisse in 1948 and they were married for sixty years until her death.

kay williams

May 25, 1940:

The two best looking blondes in Manhattan, Puk Paarls and Kay Williams, are waging a polite undeclared war over Macoco, the Latin millionaire. The strategy is great; Puk is going out with Charles Hitchcock, the aviator, while waiting for Macoco to stop going out with Kay, who is going back to visit her home town.

Argentine playboy Macoco would be husband #2 soon. But he wasn’t the only one taking Kay out…

February 17, 1941:

Alexis Thompson is making sure that model Kay Williams doesn’t get too lonely for Macoco.

March 20, 1941:

Biggest moment occurred last week when Kay Williams, the town’s prettiest blonde, lost her skirt (zipper trouble), and stood up to cheer her team in the prettiest pink girdle seen outside a Fifth Ave. store window. You never heard a more enthusiastic crowd!

Oh my.

April 19, 1941:

Argentine millionaire Macoco has a headache–Kay Williams adores a big league manager.

kay williams

May 9, 1941:

Kay Williams, the model, is wearing a big aquamarine ring from millionaire Macoco.

On again, off again, on again…

November 15, 1941:

Macoco and Kay Williams have reunited, which is making the jewelers sooo [sic] happy!

June 10, 1942:

Macoco, the Argentine mint of the El Morocco set, chased lovely Kay Williams to the coast, but she is busy taking tests at Fox.

June 17, 1942:

That was Kay Williams, another glamorous model, with whom George Montgomery was dancing at the Palladium.

June 18, 1942:

George Montgomery and Kay Williams chose the cocktail hour at the Beverly Tropics for their rendezvous.

George was a good-looking Western actor and stuntman who later married Dinah Shore.

September 18, 1942:

Paulette Goddard and Macoco are a mild hot toddy.

That’s funny. Paulette Goddard later dated Clark, in 1948.

kay williams

September 26, 1942:

Friends are betting George Montgomery and Kay Williams will name the date in the very dear future.

October 19, 1942:

Biggest torch of the year is being carried by the wealthy Argentine, Macoco, for Kay Williams, who appears in MGM’s “Du Barry Was a Lady.” He was burned up at Kay going with George Montgomery and went to New York to try and forget. But it didn’t work. Now he is bombarding her with long distance telephone calls and with as many as three and four wires a day.

November 2, 1942:

Macoco says he can’t understand the reports that he and Kay Williams have cooled. Insists that the ring she’s wearing is his present.

November 10, 1942:

Aside to George Montgomery–Kay Williams has mailed back a 7 carat diamond engagement ring to Argentine Millionaire Macoco in New York.

How can anybody tell who’s with who at this point!

November 13, 1942:

George Guinle is going to New York to cheer up the wealthy Argentine, Macoco, who is carrying such a torch for Kay Williams. When she went to the studio to pick up her mail the other day, she found 10 airmail letters from Macoco.

kay williams

November 15, 1942:

Beautiful Kay Williams threw away Argentine millionaire Macoco to romance with George Montgomery. But now George drops all his nickels in the box just to call Lynn Bari.

November 19, 1942:

Macoco has dashed back to the Coast to try to persuade Kay Williams to take back the rings he returned to him.

Well he must have done a good a job persuading as he and Kay were married on November 25, 1942. Oddly I didn’t find any clippings officially announcing the wedding though, just this:

kay williams macoco


December 3, 1942:

George Guinle, South American man about town, is much in evidence with a very pretty girl. Since Macoco married Kay Williams he is the magnet for all the gals who dream of rich husbands. A big dinner is being planned for Macoco and his bride by John Perona at El Morocco.

December 14, 1942:

The real reason Kay Williams didn’t accompany her bridegroom, Macoco, to New York is because she has been recuperating from the flu in a hospital here. But she is much improved and heads East to join him immediately.

The blurb right above that one, interestingly, was “Brother of the late Carole Lombard, Stuart Peters, now in the navy, soon will see duty overseas.”

December 28, 1942:

Kay Williams, the erstwhile love of George Montgomery and Macoco, her bridegroom of four weeks, definitely have split. He told me when I saw him in New York that he was expecting his bride any day. That was two weeks ago and Kay and her mother are still here. She is telling her friends it is all over; she has ambitions to continue her career but he wanted her to bow out of the movies. He told this writer it was family trouble. But whatever it is it seems to be a permanent break. Wonder if she is keeping the big engagement ring?

One month??!! So much for “til death do us part.”

December 31, 1942:

Kay Williams, down with the flu, visits her attorney later in the week.

February 28, 1943:

Divorce Asked From Hollywood Actress

Hollywood–Apparently discouraged by numerous unsuccessful reconciliation attempts, Martin de Lazaga Unzue, 41, wealthy Argentine sportsman known popularly as Macoco, today filled annulment papers against his wife, Actress Kay Williams, 25.

Judge Isaac Pacht, who handled the proceedings, said Macoco alleged Miss Williams had no intention of carrying out the marriage relationship.

The couple was married November 25, 1942 and separated a few days later.

September 11, 1943:

Divorce Awarded to Actress Kay Williams

Hollywood–A divorce decree today ended the marriage of Actress Kay Williams, 25, and Martin de Alzaga (Macoco) Unzue, 45, wealthy Argentine cattleman.

Judge Harry R. Archbold granted the divorce on Miss Williams’ charge of cruelty. She accused Unzue of “flying into rages” and beating her.

Macoco is out of the picture and here comes Clark Gable and then husband number three…up next!

clark gable kay williams

From January 1955 (Louella Parsons):

When Clark Gable allows his picture to be taken again and again with the same girl at social events, it begins to look serious.

Well, the King has been photographed many times lately with Kay Williams Spreckels, beautiful blonde ex-wife of sugar millionaire Adolph Spreckels. 

Kay was terribly in love with Clark before she married Spreckels and apparently he was in love with her. They went together for a long time but then, without a word, Gable walked out of her life.

I’d be the last to prophesy that he will marry Kay now. But there’s no telling with Clark, though I do know he says he’ll never wed again. But he’s said that before.

Kay had an ardent suitor in Hal Hayes, wealthy contractor. When Clark telephoned her for a date, she dropped Hayes and has been seen at all the premieres with the King.


clark gable kay williams

This new article was syndicated in The America Weekly, which was a Parade-magazine-like insert in newspapers. I actually was very surprised to find this printed in 1957. Clark had a very arms-length relationship with the press. He was usually cooperative but he never let them get TOO close. When they bought the ranch in 1939, Clark and then-wife Carole Lombard immediately instituted an ironclad rule that no pictures were to be taken inside. With the exception of this interview, which I absolutely adore and is as close as we’ll ever get to Clark being on Johnny Carson or the like, Clark’s answers about his personal life were usually guarded.

Knowing this, it has always bothered me to some degree that, less than a year after his death, his widow Kay released her book Clark Gable: A Personal Portrait–inside were interior pictures of the ranch, pictures of his baby galore, intimate details of his daily routines, likes and dislikes. I have always imagined, despite Kay’s intentions of serving his fans, that he would not have been pleased.

So I was especially surprised to find this piece that Kay wrote in 1957, while Clark was still very much alive and kicking. I actually recognized parts of this article as being the exact same as in Kay’s book, word for word. Got started on it early, I guess?

“Home” is a rolling ranch in the foothills of the San Fernando Valley. Mr. G. has lived here now for 17 years, and I know he loves it more than any place in the world. However, he is a wonderfully unselfish man. Several days after we returned home [from our honeymoon] he said, “We can sell the ranch, Kathleen. We can buy a house in Bel-Air or Beverly Hills. I want you to be happy.” I was touched and said, “You love the ranch, Pa. I love the ranch. It’s an ideal place to bring up children. Let’s not think of moving.”

The house is white brick. It is furnished in Early American with exceptionally fine antiques which Clark and Carole Lombard bought in the East many years ago. It’s a man’s house, full of pewter mugs, bronze, coal-oil lamps, sporting prints and sturdy furniture. I added gay draperies and flowers.

Mr. G. says I put flowers into everything that will hold a few drops of water. I have even made vases out of our old 10-gallon milk cans. I painted them white and put them in the corners of our lazy rocking-chair porch, which is my favorite part of the house.

The three bedrooms are upstairs, and downstairs are the kitchen, dining room (a sumptuous room with a huge fireplace and bar), a living room, Mr. G.’s study, and his gun-room. It hasn’t been the gun room since Clark discovered my young son inspecting the guns that used to be kept there.

The den, as we call it now, is where we gather in the early evening to be with the children while they have dinner on their little desks with Patches and Pretty, their lovebirds, sneaking crumbs, and Rip, the hunting dog Clark gave them, standing by impatiently for a handout.

The house is tucked in the midst of 22 acres of pepper trees, citrus groves, peach orchards, gardenias, camellias and two miles of red roses growing on the white fences that circle the various alfalfa paddocks. Mr. G. has a green thumb. Anything he touches seems to bloom overnight.

The stables have been closed ever since he enlisted in the Air Force during World War II. His friend, Howard Strickling, publicity director at MGM, takes care of his horses on his nearby ranch. But we do have two burros, Silver Blacky and Baba. Grace Kelly gave Baba to Clark on his birthday after they finished Mogambo.

There are two guest cottages on the ranch, complete with their own kitchens. My two children and their nurse occupy one of these. They entertain their little friends in the afternoons and on weekends.

I am very glad that Clark had this kind of tranquility in the last years of his life. Kay knew that one of the mistakes Sylvia made was trying to erase Carole and make over the ranch and Clark’s life completely to her tastes. She was not going to make the same mistakes! Even though Clark might have said to Kay that they could move, I do not see him happy living in Beverly Hills at all.

And isn’t it nice the kids get their own house with their nurse. Well, good thing the nurse was there in case one of them had a bad dream in the middle of the night and called out for mommy. Anyway…

Life on the ranch is leisurely. When Clark is working he gets up around five-thirty. When he isn’t working he’ll stay in bed until six thirty or seven. His breakfast varies little month in and month out: coffee and grapefruit. He limits himself to one cup of coffee a day and has that cup for breakfast.

After breakfast he reads the newspapers and confers with his executive secretary and friend, Jean Garceau, who has been with him 20 years. The children drop in to say good-by on their way to the school bus. Mr. G. then checks with his two gardeners and spends the rest of the morning with them, plowing, planting, pruning, watering, and painting fences, I gave him a new tractor the Christmas after we were married and you would have thought I had presented him with Fort Knox.

We lunch on trays around two o’clock, by the pool, or on the lazy rocking-chair porch. The afternoons, while I am arranging flowers or working on my scrapbooks, he spends in his study making business phone calls, discussing films with his writers and directors, or reading scripts.

At five thirty we gather with the kids in the den. And while they have their dinner we have our cocktails and nibble on cheese and crackers. While I work on petit point slippers for Clark and the kids (they’re loaded with them) they watch television. Usually we have a game of bingo with Joan and Bunker and the nurse before they leave for their cottage. Before we have dinner we walk over to their cottage and listen to their prayers. After dinner we look at fights or special programs on our color TV set. Sometimes, but not often, I can persuade Mr. G. to run one of his old pictures on his projection machine.

After the picture I always try to tease him into telling me some tasty morsels about his former leading ladies, but I might as well bang my head against a stone wall. He simply refuses to gossip. He’ll break into that schoolboy grin that I (and 50 million other women) find irresistible and say, “She’s a fine girl. A fine girl.” That’s the only thing I don’t like about my remarkable husband, for I’m a gal who likes a bit of gossip, now and then. One of these days I’ll break him down.

He has absolutely no conceit about his acting. “Make like a great lover,” I’ll say, and he’ll give me a nauseating smirk. I’ll never forget the time a magazine writer asked him, “How does it feel, Mr. Gable, to be the screen’s Great Lover?” Clark gave her a quizzical look to see if she was kidding, and answered, “It’s a living.”

It’s funny, for decades it was said that Clark really never ate a big breakfast. Only exception is this 1934 article, which describes his love for pancakes and sausages.

Jean Garceau, who was originally Carole Lombard’s personal secretary, was not around too long after Kay moved in.

I do love that last paragraph. “It’s a living” indeed…

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