Happy Halloween! This “gossip” comes straight from fifth wife Kay Williams Gable:
One year Bunker (his stepson) asked Clark to take him to the Halloween festivities at a nearby public park. Pa hesitated, remembering what had happened the year before when he had accompanied the children. he was quickly recognized and surrounded by autograph seekers the rest of the evening. Not only did he personally shy from such attention, Clark also felt all the commotion was unfair to the children.
This time Bunker had it all figured out. He had been to the dime store where they were selling rubber masks fashioned in the likenesses of various movie stars. “Here, Pa, I’ve got a perfect Halloween disguise for you,” Bunker explained as he proudly presented Clark with a paper sack. “You can go to the park with us and nobody will every recognize you–just wear this Clark Gable mask.”
The best part of this story was the discovery Clark made when he laughingly agreed to try on the “disguise.” In his excitement over his big idea, Bunker had picked up the first mask he found with a mustache. “Holy Smoke!” Clark roared as he pulled the rubber mask over his face, “you’ve turned me into Walter Pidgeon!”
What we have here is a largely fictional article written to prove that Clark Gable and Carole Lombard had a simple home life–just like you do, the American public! When Clark and Carole bought that ranch and set up their home miles from Hollywood, spending time feeding chickens and mowing grass rather than attending premieres, the studio publicity depts and fan magazines decided to just play that up. So what you find are endless amounts of articles about their rustic domestic tranquility. This one is written by “Liza,” one of those first-name-only fan magazine writers that is probably not a real person. Nonetheless, it’s a cute little article:
I drove out to the Valley to pop in on the Gables. Now I knew that Carole and Clark had gone back to the soil in a big way—hadn’t I lived through Carole’s correspondence course last summer in poultry feeding, can washing for dairies, olive thinning and vegetable weevils? Not to mention several of Clark’s tractor salesmen? But knowing movie folk as I do, and I do know movie folk, I naturally assumed that it was just a phase, and now that they had actually settle down on a ranch they would be landed gentry with plenty of finger bowls. I fully expected a Jeeves who would tell me that the Marster and the Modom were having their tea in the Rose Garden. I was all set to tear into a couple of buttered scones.
Instead I tore into a bevy of animals. Right there, in the middle of the driveway, with no intention of moving, were more dogs and cats that I’ve seen since France. I recognized Tuffy, Clark’s bulldog, and his bird dog, and his favorite cat (Clark adores cats) and Fritz, Carole’s horribly mannered dachshund, and Simon, and Topper, and Josephine who has a washing-her-face complex and sleeps only on the top of cars. And there was a new grey cat of sorts, who I learned later, had moved into the house the same day that Clark and Carole did; she didn’t seem to mind about the lack of furniture and all, and promptly gave birth to six kittens. When you bunch the Lombard pets with the Gable pets you can really understand that old wheeze about it raining cats and dogs.
After pushing my way through much pawing and licking and yelping and purring—my dress and slippers will never be the same—I made the front door, with a determined vow that if I ever met another tailwagger I would smack him down then and there. I have heard that it is very much hard to “crash” the Gables inasmuch as they feel that they have a right to a private life—but all I had to do to get through the front door was to duck under a ladder. The place seemed fairly alive with men in overalls who were puttering around with paint brushes and screw drivers. Not a sign of any Gables. Or of any tea, worse luck. But if you had blindfolded me, driven me around in circles for hours, and suddenly dumped me in this living room I would have known it was Carole’s. The rugs were rolled up, the furniture, and not much of it, was under wraps, but on the mantelpiece was a large vase of flowers, on a canvas-covered table there were flowers; in fact, there seemed to be flowers all over the room. Near the windows, waiting to be hung, were gay chintzes. Flowers and pretty chintzes—practically a Lombard trademark. Clark told me later that for days after they moved in they didn’t have a stove or a dining room table—but they had plenty of flowers. Carole saw to that.
The Gable ranch—which is the house that Clark and Carole have always wanted—is certainly not a mansion in any sense of the word. It is a typical ranch house with lots of knotty pine and with huge fireplaces in the living room and dining room. Besides the living room and dining room there are only two other rooms, a kitchen and a gin room, downstairs. The stairway goes up out of the living room and upstairs there are two bedrooms and baths. Definitely no guest rooms. It is being furnished, gradually, in the Early American manner and is going to be about the most homey place in this neck of the woods. You can spill ashes and put your feet in the chair, and even knock over a drink without having your hostess’ eyebrows go up. I mistook the dining room for the kitchen the day I was there as there was a small stove in the middle of the floor, but with Carole’s flair for decorating homes I don’t think it will remain quiet that informal. What Carole can do with chintz and flowers is really sensational.
Far enough away from the house, so you won’t ever have to scrunch your nose when the wind blows, are the stables, all white and green, and quite beautiful, if you are one to admire stables. One of its occupants is a cow given to the Gables as a wedding present by John Cromwell who is directing Mrs. Gable at present in “Memory of Love.” There will be horses later. The house is surrounded by fourteen acres of good old California soil and there are trees galore. Walnut, lemon, range, olive, grapefruit, avocado, to mention a few I recognized. The property was formerly owned and cultivated by Director Raoul Walsh, and outside the trees there are big bushes, and lots of strawberry and blackberry bushes. Carole has done over the flower gardens and has planted petunias, zinnias, and roses. And what Clark doesn’t know about citrus fruit isn’t worth knowing. He’ll talk about the care of citrus fruit for hours, but it’s much too too technical for me. If he must be rural I’d rather he tell me about the farmer’s daughter and the travelling salesman.
Although I suspect the details of her trampling through the ranch are fictional, it still paints a probable picture of life on the Gable ranch. Oh and “Memory of Love” is actually In Name Only.
Eventually “Liza” does run into Mr. and Mrs. Gable:
I went straight ahead, mired under a couple of times where there was a leak in the sprinkling system, dodged a few evil-looking goats, and resembling nothing so much as warmed over death, I finally managed to trip over a fence and land in Mrs. Gable’s chicken run. Carole in tailored slacks and gloves (even on a ranch she is still the best dresses actress on Hollywood) was quite busy counting the hundred and fifty chicks that has just hatched.
“Liza, pass me that pan of feed,” she said as casually as if she was asking for a cigarette. “Aren’t they cute? A hundred and fifty of them. Go right over there and look at my new chicken houses. They have sash covered openings and hen bathteries. Remember that correspondence school course I took in poultry raising? It’s no good. Everything has changed.”
“I don’t like chicken houses,” I said. “I think you might notice my new hat—and dress, what there’s left of it. I’ve been away or don’t you remember.”
“Don’t shout,” said Carole. “There’s a broody hen in there, I took her off her nest this morning and put her in the brood coop. And I don’t want you exciting her.”
Well, really, I thought. It has come to this. She thinks more of her broody hen than she does of her broody friends.
“I saw a lot of plays in New York,” I said rather grandly. “Carole, you would love Tallulah’s play. It’s all about—“
“I got two dozen eggs this morning,” murmured the glamorous Miss Lombard vaguely. Then she came to with a start. “Say,” she shrieked, “are you here as the press or a friend? I think I see a writing look in your eye.”
“You wouldn’t deprive a poor old broken down fan writer of making an honest penny, would you now?” I whined.
“I certainly would,” said Carole. “And if you hadn’t tried to cross that fiend in high heels—don’t you know how to dress on a ranch?—you wouldn’t be broken down. Clark and I don’t want anything written about our home or our private life. We aren’t giving any stories to the press.”
“That’s no way to talk to the press,” I said. “I’ll make trouble.”
“You’ll make trouble!” shrieked Carole. “This morning they brought our perfectly new and beautiful ice-box. We’ve been waiting for it for weeks. So what happens. So they drop it as they lift it out of the truck and my lovely new ice-box is now scattered all over the backyard. So I asked the painters to do one of my rooms in white yesterday morning and when I come back from the studio it’s in green. So they’ve made the barn door too small to get Clark’s trailer in it, and the whole thing has to be done over. So I’ve had nothing to read but ‘Wet Paint,’ and I’m nearly dying of painters’ colic—and you want to give me trouble!”
“Well, I was going anyway,” I said.
As I stumbled past the tables I found myself covered with a white spray and there was Clark spraying the fences and singing at the top of his voice.
“Liza,” he said, “come right over here and see my new tractor. See, it has a new primary air cleaner in the center at the high point just ahead of the steering wheel which protects the motor from dist. The air for the carburetor gets a second cleaning by passing through a watertype cleaner. Isn’t it a beauty. Say, what are you doing here, anyway? Carole and I—“
“Aren’t giving out any stories to the press,” I finished. “Well, if you and Carole think I can get a story out of a broody hen, a second cleaning tractor, and a pile of painters you must think I’m good.”
“Well, if you aren’t being professional,” said Clark, “why don’t you stay for dinner? Ham and grits tonight.”
But I was on my way to the opening of the Trocadero, though I must admit that the grits did tempt me. I can remember the time when Carole and Clark would have been right there for a swanky opening too. Carole looking too breathlessly glamorous for words, all smothered in white fox and star sapphire. And Clark, sleek and handsome, in white tie and tails. But those days, it seems, are gone forever. I think I’m kinda glad.
I love how Carole is always depicted as shrieking—you never read an article about her being timid and quiet do you? I do love her rant about all the goings on at the ranch–you can pretty much envision it all! I think the last part proves that “Liza” is fictional–who here wouldn’t stay for ham and grits with Clark and Carole at their ranch house??
You can read the article in its entirety in The Article Archive.
This month, Clark Gable is doin’ what he does best as the fast talkin’ rogue, Myrna Loy is his lady and William Powell is his conscience in Manhattan Melodrama.
Gable is Blackie Gallagher, a gambling, gun-slinging gangster, who remains best friends with his childhood pal, Jim Wade (Powell), an ambitious lawyer. Blackie’s girl, Eleanor (Loy) grows tired of the shady side of life and soon falls in love with Jim and marries him. Jim is promoted to district attorney and starts a campaign to become New York’s next governor. When a blackmailer threatens Jim’s campaign, Blackie decides to handle the situation himself and kills the man. On trial, Jim has no choice but to prosecute Blackie and he is sentenced to death. The conviction helps Jim win the election, but on the day of Blackie’s execution, Eleanor pleads with Jim to pardon Blackie and reveals to him that Blackie killed the man to protect Jim. Jim rushes to the prison to commune Blackie’s sentence, but Blackie refuses to let Jim waver on his original decision. After Blackie is put to death, Jim resigns as governor and makes up with Eleanor at the fade out.
The cast of this film is wonderful–Clark and Myrna have great chemistry as always, and of course Myrna and Bill can’t be beat.The plot has been done 100 times before–two boys grow up as friends, one turns bad the other good yet they remain friends. Clark would in fact do it again just two years later when he played another bad Blackie in San Francisco. Spencer Tracy is the good childhood friend (a priest, no less) in that one.
Myrna gets to slink around in gorgeous gowns and also be the prim and proper political wife–not to mention be volleyed between Clark and Bill–not bad for a day’s work.
Clark was tired of the bad gangster types at this point, but at least this one has some heart and actual characterization. He liked the cast and crew of the picture and he was only needed on set for 12 days total–not a bad work assignment.
Clark of course sacrifices himself on behalf of his good friend and guilt eats Bill alive. It’s a movie where everyone does the right thing in the end, but hey at least we were entertained in the meantime.
“If I can’t live the way I want, at least let me die when I want.”–Poor Clark gets the death chamber. And hey, apparently in 1934 you go from sentencing to death in a matter of weeks. Don’t even think he got his steak dinner!
Clark is quite good in this film–portraying Blackie’s rough and tumble qualities but letting his heart eek out here and there too. Bill is always good at being the straight and arrow.
This film is an interesting footnote in history for a couple of reasons:
One, this film sparks the beginning of a truly legendary film pairing–Myrna Loy and William Powell. They had never even met before until she opens the door of a car and falls into his lap. Their witty banter and easy chemistry prompted director Van Dyke to decide they were right for his next picture, The Thin Man. And thus started a beautiful teaming that spanned 14 films. Myrna remembered: “My first scene with Bill, a night shot on the back lot, happened before we’d even met. Woody [Van Dyke, the director] was apparently too busy for introductions. My instructions were to run out of a building, through a crowd, and into a strange car. When Woody called “Action,” I opened the car door, jumped in, and landed smack on William Powell’s lap. He looked up nonchalantly: “Miss Loy, I presume?” I said, “Mr. Powell?” And that’s how I met the man who would be my partner in fourteen films.”
Secondly, notorious bank robber John Dillinger was gunned down outside Chicago’s Biograph Theater after seeing this film on July 22, 1934. This event has been tied to the film forever. Myrna recalled: “Supposedly a Myrna Loy fan, he broke cover to see me. Personally, I suspect the theme of the picture rather than my fatal charms attracted him, but I’ve always felt guilty about it, anyway. They filled him full of holes, poor soul.”
Also it’s one of the first roles for a youngster named Mickey Rooney, who played Clark’s character as a child. His performance in this film led to a contract with MGM and the beginning of an illustrious career.
Oh and lastly, it is worth noting that this is the only film in which you can find the former husband of Carole Lombard starring with the future husband of Carole Lombard!
Since it’s time for another Gone with the Wednesday and it’s the end of Carole Lombard month, let’s combine the two!
Carole Lombard was a warm-blooded female in the 1930’s, which means she read Gone with the Wind and dreamed of playing Scarlett.
Carole was so enamored with the idea that she appealed to everyone’s first choice for Rhett Butler—Clark Gable, naturally. Before they were romantically involved, she reportedly sent him a copy of the book with a note that said, “Let’s do it! Carole.” Clark promptly called her up for a date, thinking it was a proposition of a different sort. When it turned out not to be, that copy of GWTW found itself in his bathroom, unread for years.
Carole didn’t get the role of Scarlett of course (wasn’t even screentested–although wouldn’t that have been something to see!) but she did win the real life role of Mrs. Rhett Butler–not a bad consolation prize. She was greeted as such when she arrived to the set of her film Mr. and Mrs. Smith:
In no particular order:
Nothing Sacred (1937) Your one chance to see Carole in Technicolor and boy is she beautiful. Carole is Hazel Flagg, a small town girl who has received a death sentence from her local doctor, who says she’s riddled with radium poisoning. He recants his diagnosis, but not before a big city newspaperman (Frederic March) arrives to take her away from her small town life and give her a “last big hoorah” before her untimely demise, documenting all in the newspaper of course. This one is hilarious and a true classic.
My Man Godfrey (1936) Carole’s lone Academy Award-nominated performance, this one is a screwball standard. Carole is Irene Bullock, a spoiled and rather twitterbrianed socialite who takes in Godfrey, a homeless man (her first husband, William Powell), and makes him her family butler. It is a rather typical zany 1930’s plot, but with a great and hilarious script “Godfrey loves me! He put me in the shower!” . Carole’s full comedy chops are on display here. And despite being divorced for three years, Carole and Bill still have wonderful chemistry. A fantastic supporting cast with Alice Brady. Eugene Pallette, Mischa Auer and Gail Patrick.
In Name Only (1939) Carole is single mom Julie, who falls In love with Alec (Cary Grant), who unbeknownst to her is still married to vindictive Maida (Kay Francis), whom he is not in love with. Maida does her best to thwart Julie and Alec’s romance. I like this film for many reasons: I adore Cary and him paired with Carole is just luscious; their chemistry is fantastic. You get to see Carole as a mother to a little girl and it is adorable and sweet. This film was in production the same time as Gone with the Wind and Carole went into the role soon after becoming Mrs. Gable. The story line of bitter wife refusing to divorce her husband so he can marry the woman he loves surely hit home for Carole. This one and Made For Each Other (1939) are pretty much equal on my list of fave Carole dramas.
Hands Across the Table (1935) I think this one is a favorite of many Carole fans. She is wonderfully paired with Fred MacMurray and as always their chemistry is wonderful. She is Regi, a manicurist who is looking for a rich man to marry so she can be saved from her day-to-day drudgery. Enter Ted, who comes from a prominent wealthy family. But…he’s broke. After he moves in for a few days, sparks ignite between the two despite the lack of funds. It’s a light and airy comedy; just what you’d want for a 1930’s romantic comedy.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941) Any film buff should see this, as it is your only opportunity to see Alfred Hitchcock direct a comedy. Not to mention it’s a delightful comedy with Carole and Robert Montgomery as sparring partners. They are the Smiths, a married couple who thrives on fighting and making up. But when he finds out that their marriage was never legal and doesn’t tell Ann, she refuses to remarry him, kicks him out and starts dating his business parter (Gene Raymond) just to spite him. It’s adorable, it’s sweet and I don’t know what it is about this film but Carole is just absolutely stunning in every frame.
Honorable Mentions: To Be or Not To Be (1942), Made For Each Other (1939), True Confession (1937) and Twentieth Century (1934).
From November 1936:
Guess who really has gone Garbo on us in a big way? It’s none other than our own party-loving Carole Lombard, who hasn’t been seen out publicly in many a day. What’s more, Carole doesn’t want one single word printed about her romance with Clark Gable. Her close friends say it is still going on and much more serious than Carole wants the world to believe. And it was only yesterday that wild horses couldn’t have kept Carole home for an evening. It must be love.
As we head towards the end of the year, there’s more Gone with the Wind-related events happening!
Ruth’s Journey, an authorized prequel of sorts to GWTW that focuses on Mammy’s life (Yes, apparently her name was Ruth?!) has been released. It was written by Donald McCaig, who also wrote Rhett Butler’s People a few years ago. This new book doesn’t seem to sit well with diehard GWTW fans. I haven’t read it yet (frankly don’t know if I will at all) but Kendra over at vivandlarry.com did.
The Scarlett Letters: The Making of the Film Gone with the Wind has just been released as well. It’s by John Wiley Jr., who examines the making of GWTW through the eyes of its author, Margaret Mitchell, via her letters. I’m not sure how much new information is here since Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind Letters has been around for decades, but it looks promising nonetheless.
The Making of Gone with the Wind event at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas is going on right now! Ending January 4, this is a rare opportunity to see such rarities as the actual curtain dress worn by Vivien Leigh, David Selznick’s memos, rare wardrobe and makeup stills, on the set photographs and much much more. I am extremely jealous of anyone getting to attend! Unfortunately I just can’t make a trek to Texas before January. If you can’t make it like me, you can at least buy the event catalog!
And always check out GWTW Showtimes to see if GWTW is playing on a screen near you!
An incredibly sweet, yet sad, footnote to this is that Clark continued to wear the bracelet for years after Carole died.
A brief little post here on our trip to Dennison.
Dennison, Ohio is a little town of about 3,000 people about 23 miles from Cadiz. Our sole purpose for visiting was the Immaculate Conception Church.
Clark Gable’s mother, Adeline, was a devout Catholic. She was very ill after his birth and had psychotic episodes and seizures. In one of her lucid moments, she pleaded for her only child to be baptized Catholic. There was no Catholic church in the little town of Cadiz at that time, so a neighbor named John Conway and his wife took baby Clark to the closest church—Immaculate Conception in Dennison. He was baptized there on July 31, 1901. Father Patrick M. Heery officiated, and at first balked at baptizing the infant without his parents and was irritated that little Clark had gone nearly six months without being baptized. He apologized for his complaints when he was apprised of the situation.
Built in 1871, it is still a beautiful church. Across the street is the Catholic elementary school, and we could hear children reciting Bible verses through the windows as we walked by!
It was a weekday and no one was in to open the doors for us, and so I only have pictures of the outside.
I have done Carole Lombard Month the past five years and I know how past posts get lost in the shuffle, so here is a round-up of past items about Carole Lombard:
Articles in the Article Archive:
→ Is Carole Lombard in Love At Last? | Liberty, November, 1936
→ A Heart to Heart Letter to Carole Lombard and Clark Gable | Screen Guide, November 1936
→ The Evolution of a Wow| Movie Mirror, December 1936
→ She Gets Away with Murder | Photoplay, 1937
→ The Utterly Balmy Home Life of Carole Lombard | Motion Picture, February 1937
→ How Will the Gable-Lombard Romance End?| Hollywood, June 1937
→ Clark Gable’s Romantic Plight | Photoplay, September 1937
→ Can the Gable-Lombard Love Story Have a Happy Ending? | Photoplay, May 1938
→ Hollywood Diary | The Family Circle, May 20, 1938
→ What’s Become of the Good Scout? |Modern Screen, August 1938
→ Happiness Ahead for Clark and Carole | Picture Play, August 1938
→ Why is Carole Lombard Hiding Out from Hollywood? | Screenbook, October 1938
→ Lombard–as She Sees Herself | Motion Picture, November 1938
→ Hollywood’s Unmarried Husbands and Wives | Photoplay, January 1939
→ Hollywood’s Goofy Gal Goes Glamorous Screen Book, February 1939
→ Will Clark Gable Ever Marry Carole Lombard? | Motion Picture, February 1939
→ Lombard Unlimited | Radio Mirror, April 1939
→ Blonde Beauty Grows Up | Photoplay, May 1939
→ Do Hollywood Women Spoil Their Men? | Photoplay, May 1939
→ Can the Gable-Lombard Romance Last? | Modern Screen, May 1939
→ How to Get Your Own Clark Gable | Movie Mirror, June 1939
→ Best Wishes, Carole Lombard Gable | Photoplay, June 1939
→ Will Carole Lombard’s Marriage End Her Career?| Motion Picture, July 1939
→ Our Home, Our Work–And Children | Movie Mirror, November 1939
→ Subject: Lombard | Photoplay, January 1940
→ Mr. and Mrs. Clark Gable | Ladies Home Journal, May 1940
→Two Happy People Part 1 | Movie and Radio Guide, May 1940
→ Two Happy People Part 2 | Movie and Radio Guide, May 1940
→ Two Happy People Part 3 | Movie and Radio Guide, May 1940
→ Two Happy People Part 4 | Movie and Radio Guide, May 1940
→ Help Kill Crazy Rumors About Me! Says Carole Lombard (Mrs. Clark Gable)| Screenland, May 1940
→ How Clark Gable and Carole Lombard Live| Photoplay, June 1940
→ At Home with the Gables | Modern Screen, August 1940
→ Carole Lombard | Movie Stars Parade, Autumn 1940
→ It Looked Good for a Laugh at the Time | Silver Screen, January 1941
→ Hollywood’s No.1 Menace | Movie Mirror, February 1941
→ She Knew What She Wanted | Screen Life, March 1941
→ The Gags of the Gables–Like Crazy! | Photoplay, April 1941
→ Goodbye, Carole | Modern Screen, April 1942
→ What the Loss of Carole Lombard Means to Clark Gable | Photoplay, April 1942
→ A Letter to Heaven | Screenland, April 1942
→ Carole Lombard’s Life Story Part 1 | (excerpt),1942
→ Carole Lombard’s Life Story Part 2 | (excerpt), 1942
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