clark gable ria franklin

From August 1936:

People who are wealthy always have relatives or friends who are willing to share the burden of riches.

In the case of married masculine stars, trouble ensues when they separate from their wives. Rudy Vallee discovered this fact when his ex-mate, Fay Webb, attempted to set aside a property agreement. The case was recently settled by the payment to Fay of a fat sum.

Clark Gable has asked the Los Angeles coyrts to interpret a settlement recently agreed to by himself and his estranged wife. Gable claims that he understands that his wife intends to enter an action to set aside the agreement, and demand a much larger amount. He wishes to have the agreement held valid, and asks that Mrs. Gable be enjoined from attempting to set it aside.

The star’s wife expressed surprise at the action, but had nothing more to say except that she did not contemplate a divorce at the present time.

I predict that we shall have interesting news when this case goes to trial!

clark gable ria franklin

From February 1936:

Clark Gable returned to town from another “duck hunt”—and there is a reason  for those quotes—and is dashing hither and yon in a very handsome new car. Mrs. Rhea Gable gave a very handsome dinner party on a recent evening, and one of the guests was a Mary Taylor. One of Clark’s late rumored romances was with some one of the same name, and that ought to stymie that.

____

Yeah, probably not.

ria franklin gable

From February 1936:

At a party we saw Mrs. Clark Gable chatting with the ex-wife of a famous star.

“My husband didn’t play fair about alimony,” said the ex-wife. “I gave him the most dignified divorce Hollywood ever saw. I chaperoned him and his girl friend for months to avoid scandal. Now she has him when he’s on top. I worked for him during the building years.”

Mrs. Gable nodded quietly. “I know a little about building myself.”

clark gable ria franklin

From December 1931:

Can Clark Gable stay married?

Clark recently said: “Neither my wife nor I ever expect to be married again. She is my ideal woman. I hope I never fail as her ideal man.”

And Hollywood, remembering that Clark has been married before and that he is younger than his wife, sighs: “Ah…”

If Clark Gable and Rita [sic] Langham can stay married, it will be a great thing brought to pass between a man, a wife and that most exacting mistress of all, Fame. The only other two men upon whom she has bestowed her hysterical favors so lavishly have been Rudolph Valentino and John Gilbert. And they could not stay married! Twice did the experiment fail for Rudy. Three times for Jack.

Perhpas time will prove that Clark Gable is to be the exception, but his marriage will have to be successful in the face of many upsetting factors–things which he may neither welcome nor want, but things which must be accepted when Fame has been wooed.

There will be constantly the spectacle of other women…ghostly women, lovers only through the medium of letters and messages…but women whose presence will constantly be there. There will be more intangible women–famous, daring, beautiful, experimental women. Women who will say, as I heard one woman say just recently: “I want that man.”

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It always amuses me how the stories of marital strife began immediately for Clark and Ria. They had been married less than six months when this article was written!

clark gable

From March 1936:

All things considered, Clark Gable will probably have the most terrifc year of anybody in Hollywood. Imagine Clark on the semibachelor list! The first announcement of the formal separation of himself from Ria Gable was immediately followed by an onslaught of rumors concerning fair ladies and Clark. He was variously reported engaged or about to be engaged to Elizabeth Allan, Mary Taylor and Loretta Young. It can be wagered that they’ll be no peace or contentment in and about the colony until Clark is married again. The suspense will be pretty terrible, because even after a divorce is filed, it takes a year for the final decree to be obtained.

clark gable ria franklin

From December 1936:

YOU know, of course, that Clark Gable and his wife are merely separated—and that, until now at least, there’s been no move toward divorce. They’ve been living under a verbal agreement whereby they have arranged to live “peaceably apart.”

 BUT—just the other day, Clark started legal proceedings in open court, asking the California Superior bench to “define, compute and compound” the agreement between himself and his wife—so that there may be no misunderstanding when and if a divorce move is started by either.

Wonder if that’s the curtain raiser?

clark gable ria franklin

This short little article from 1931 is extremely tabloid-y but that is what makes it interesting! Published in the fall of 1931 when Clark was the newest heart throb, articles like this were the result of editors screaming at their writing staff, “I need pieces on Clark Gable NOW!” So, they grasp at whatever straws they have, which, back in the days before internet and uh, actual fact checking, were largely rumors.

“No,” Clark Gable’s friends quote him as saying last summer. “I’m not married now. My wife just got a divorce in April.”

“Yes,” Clark Gable admitted six months later to inquiring interviewers. “I’m married. But I’d rather not discuss that, please.”

Then, a few weeks ago, came a hasty trip to Santa Ana, where a license was secured for William C. Gable and Mrs. Rita Langham to wed. The license indicated, it was reported, that this was the lady’s third marriage, and Clark Gable’s second. Maybe his first marriage to Mrs. Langham did not count.

How many times has Clark Gable really said, “I do”? Let us see! The newest “great lover” of the screen labors under the misfortune of being a local boy who hung around Los Angeles casting offices for years. There are altogether too many people here who “knew him when”!

Friends warned Clark that if he wanted to keep his remarriage to Rita Langham a secret, he had better not go to Santa Ana, whose courthouse has been the scene of so many headline romances that reporters watch it like hawks. But Clark is apparently sincere in his declaration, “Why, I’m nobody! I’m not important! I’m just an actor working at his job!”

If he really thought that no notice would be taken of his wedding, he was very much mistaken—as mistaken as Rudolph Valentino when he thought that no one would find out that he had married Natacha Rambova in Mexico before his California divorce was final. For an exactly similar reason Clark Gable says he remarried the lady whom he first wed “somewhere back East,” a trifle too soon after he and Josephine Dillon were divorced. Though he does not declare dramatically, like Rudy, “My love could not be kept waiting!”—a line that thrilled a million women.

Clark was saying he wasn’t married last summer because HE WASN’T. The “trip to Santa Ana” was the first and only marriage ceremony between Ria and Clark, a fact that MGM publicity would never allow to be released. You see, Clark and Ria had been living together for a few years and after Clark arrived in Hollywood and started to make a name for himself, Ria wanted to get married and Clark wanted to dump her. So Ria ran straight to MGM executives and threatened to bring down their newest star, to tell everyone that he had been living with a woman he was not married to. (You can read more about this whole situation here. ) Doesn’t seem at all scandalous today, I know, but in those days it would have been career suicide. So, Clark was forced to marry her in June of 1931 and to say that it was a remarriage because of a legal loophole. What’s ridiculous is that he always is quoted as saying  that the first time they got married it was “last year” and “somewhere in the East” with no specifics. Who says that about their marriage ceremony?! And Clark was purposely sent to Santa Ana for the ceremony, where MGM knew there would be photographers to document the occaison.

While he was living here humbly several years ago, often going hungry, one of the women who saw him making his endless rounds of the theaters, agencies, and casting offices was Josephine Dillon, a well-known vocal teacher. She took pity on this ambitious, poorly-prepared boy and worked with him tirelessly, coaching him, improving his delivery of dramatic lines. At length they were married. Though they separated not long after, it was not until April, 1930, that the lady obtained a divorce from her young husband. Her age was given as forty-two.

But according to one of Clark’s closest friends, a young screen actor, even this was not Gable’s first marriage! For good measure this friend’s story mentions a young son also, and swears that he has often seen telegrams from the boy to Clark. Which, if true, would make four marriages for the newest screen sheik, counting two to Mrs. Langham?

I have read this rumor so many times—that when he made it big in Hollywood he already had a son in boarding school. It’s appeared in so many blurbs from the early 1930’s that is smells of MGM publicity, but I scratch my head as to why they would think that would be a beneficial rumor to circulate. Is it more romantic to be married four times by the time you are 31 and have a ten year old son? Not sure of the motivation. But, needless to say, that is a rumor and nothing more.

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

clark gable ria franklin

From January 1932:

Clark Gable and his wife are pretty well reconciled to the fact that they are going to have to fight off divorce rumors from here on in. But just by way of keeping down the quantity, Clark has let it known that Mr. and Mrs. Gable “do not do any entertaining.”

In other words, there wll be no chance for curious “friends” to be present at a party and mistable an innocent little difference of opinion for what would later pass as a “first-hand” report of an argument between the Gables. Social affairs are a hotbed of Hollywood gossip. You know how the whisper goes: “So-and-So arrived alone, my dear…” without taking into consideration that the absent partner may have been detained by work or some other unavoidable circumstance. There isn’t going to be any of this free-and-easy reporting in the Gable home–of Clark has anything to say about it.

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I always have found it interesting that Clark and Ria were never really portrayed as this happy and so-in-love couple. At the point this was written, they had been married less than a year and were constantly fighting off separation rumors. Also interesting to note that on the same page as the above blurb was one about Joan Crawford (Clark’s…um…”special” friend at the time) defending her marriage to Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and saying that maybe they will have a baby soon!

clark gable house brentwood

This is the story of the house that a million women have dreamed about and have wanted to know about—Clark Gable’s new home. And when men read about Clark’s surroundings, he will rate even higher with them as a he-man than he already does. Don’t miss this vivid pen-picture of the
interior of his home, which will give you new ideas of your own!

…says the Editor’s note at the beginning of this article from 1934. Which is rather funny on many levels. This article describes the Brentwood home that Clark and his second wife Ria rented for about two years, 1933-1935. I believe that Ria stayed on there after their separation and until she left Hollywood for good in the mid 1940’s. Before this, Clark and Ria had bounced around apartments and hotels; they had grown weary of Clark’s female fans getting by front desks and camping out in halls. It is interesting to compare this house to Clark’s Encino ranch house, which would be his home for 20 years. The ranch, informal and comfortable, was so perfect for Clark he could never bear to leave it. Despite what this article tries to convey, the Brentwood house was all Ria’s and all for show–if you compare the decorating styles of the two homes it is rather obvious that Clark had no say in the decorating of this home!

The curtains, except in the living room and dining room, are all bright and cheery glazed chintzes, without fussy valances or stiff draping. In the living room, however, the curtains are green brocade. Plain ivory wall surfaces give rest to the eye, and the light tan carpet running from wall to wall is, obviously, the choice of a man. Masculine, too, are the deep, heavy, easy chairs upholstered in the brocade of the windows, and the big wine-red davenport, not too elaborate to lounge on, not too dainty to be spoiled by riding breeches, not too “period” to be comfortable.

This color scheme, by the way—tan carpet, ivory walls, red brick fireplace, and wine-red davenport—offers suggestions to anyone looking for decorative hints for a home. The plain rug admits color notes in the upholstery, and may be brightened by one gorgeous throw rug, as in the Gable living room. Instead of the green drapes, a simpler and less expensive curtain material would be a brown glazed chintz decorated with dahlias in all of their winey, rusty colors.

A painting of Georgiana, the daughter of the house, hangs above the lounge. (She is planning a screen career, and we understand Clark has offered her the use of his last name if she chooses, to give her the publicity so necessary for beginners.) There are antique gold-framed mirrors, in-laid low-boys bearing white lamps, and several delicate antique chairs to show that a woman has had a voice in the room’s furnishings. Mrs. Gable, Clark’s wife, has the reputation of being a charming hostess and was once a social leader in her native Texas town.

I find it funny that this article details the colors extensively and provides a few black and white photos, and then encourages the reader to copy the decorating! Based on description and black and white photos! This isn’t the first time I have heard of Clark’s stepdaughter trying for a movie career. I tend to think that was just publicity as obviously nothing came of it.

The master bedroom in the Gable house repeats the color scheme of the living-room, with the all-over tan carpet, ivory walls, tan chintz with old rose figures, and—oh, gorgeous innovation!—a davenport in deep rose, built for solid comfort and genuine lounging. It’s unorthodox perhaps, but what a livable idea! So is the huge lounge chair covered with the same material, and the very practical writing desk by the window. The rose taffeta covers on the twin beds reveal the feminine touch; the massive walnut furniture, the masculine. Rose-quartz figures hold up two dresser lamps which stand on jade bases. Clark’s picture adorns the desk—as it probably adorns the bedrooms of half-million women all over the United States.

There are bed lights, for reading, and a clock beside Clark’s bed. (Why does he continually consult the time? Does he fear his moments of glory are fleeting?) Plenty of tables with ash trays and cigarette boxes and pillows on the couches all aid in lending a homey and charming touch. If a tired movie star couldn’t rest in such a room, he had better give up acting!

A deep rose “davenport” in the bedroom—what innovation! I can’t even imagine Clark sitting on a pink couch. Rose taffeta?? Oh my. I believe the room they are describing was actually Ria’s as Clark tended to sleep down the hall–a detail that, naturally, was purposely left out for the sake of painting Clark a happy home life.

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

You can read further about the Brentwood home in this article and this one.