Cadiz to celebrate Gable’s birthday

CADIZ – It was of no more significance than any other child being born in Harrison County when a boy was born on Feb. 1, 1901, to William Clark and Adeline Hershelman Gable and delivered by Dr. Campbell of Cadiz in the four-room, upstairs apartment at 138 Charleston St.

Their living quarters consisted of a kitchen, pantry, bedroom, parlor and the room to become the nursery for the baby. There was no inside bathroom, nor running water, and heat was provided by fireplaces in the rooms.

That baby grew up to be known as Clark Gable, “King of Hollywood” and the famed actor who used the term, “Frankly my dear,I don’t give a damn” in the movie “Gone With the Wind.”

His 112th birthday will be celebrated from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday with a cake cutting at the Clark Gable Birth Home, Gift Shop and Museum, according to Nan Mattern, Gable Foundation executive director. Fans of the actor and “Gone With the Wind” movie are invited to attend and see the reconstruction of his birth home, which opened in April 1999.

The reconstruction was necessary since the original home was torn down in the early 1960s. Much of the funding for the project was supplied by local resident Isabelle Clifford, and the Gable Foundation is responsible for manning the reconstructed home and gift shop.

A replica of the Gable couple’s living arrangements are part of the building, and tours can be taken. Some of Gable’s belongings are on display in the four rooms as well.

Actually, the baby did not remain at the 138 Charleston St. residence long. His mom died when he was 7 months old, and his grandparents cared for him until age 2, when his father married Jennie Dunlap, a milliner in Hopedale.

He then was raised with his dad, William and stepmother Jennie at a home on Mill Street. And it was in Hopedale that he attended school, going by the name of Billy Gable. Fanny Thompson was his first-grade teacher and it is told that he sent her roses after he left the area. He finished his high school education in Ravenna.

At 16, he went to Akron to work in a tire factory and got involved in theater there. Two years later, his father took him to work in the oil fields of Oklahoma, an occupation that he very much disliked, according to reports.

Making the acquaintance and then marrying Josephine Dillon, an acting coach and director, in 1924 got him acting parts in movies, and it was Dillon who suggested using the name Clark instead of Billy.

It’s been reported that Gable did not want to to play Rhett Butler in “Gone With the Wind” and detested wearing the knee britches the role required, but the movie swept the board at the Academy Awards with best picture, best actress, best actor, best director, best screen play and best supporting actress, to name a few.

His friends were bellboys, contractors, mechanics and motorcyclists despite his high standing in movies.

Gable was 41 years old in 1942 when he enlisted as a private and flew eight missions, including “Black Thursday,” as well as being honored by the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame for his distinguished service during World War II. Adolph Hitler actually put a price on his head, it’s been reported.

His fifth marriage in 1953 to Kay Williams Spreckles resulted in a son, John Clark who was born after Gable’s Nov. 16, 1960, death.

John Clark has appeared at Gable birthday celebrations in the past, as well as “Gone with the Wind” participants, including Cammie King, who played Gable’s daughter;” Patrick Curtis, who played baby Beau Wilkes; Mickey Kuhn, who also was a baby Beau; Fred Crane, one of the Tarleton twins; Ann Rutherford, Scarlett’s sister; and Rand Brooks, who portrayed Charles Hamilton. Family members who have been a part of the local celebrations are Joan Spreckles, Gable’s stepdaughter; and Kayley Gable, his granddaughter.

Shirley Mae Marker of Jewett wrote a song about “Gone With the Wind” called “The Burning Memory Waltz,” and it was written to commemorate the 1989 birthday of Gable.

There have been birthday anniversaries held to commemorate the Cadiz-born actor since 1985, when a Cadiz organization named Distaff started the dinner and dance celebrations and a “Twelve Oaks Barbecue” was held for the first time in 1989.

Weather hampered some of the past February birthday celebrations so the committee has pared it down to the cake and coffee time each Feb. 1.