UNITED STATES

Cadiz, OH

Hometown Museum Honours Hollywood’s Clark Gable

The young Clark Gable’s togoggan is now part of the Clark Gable Museum in Cadiz, Ohio

Volunteer guide Beverly Loevy displays the toboggan used by the youthful Clark Gable. It’s one of the exhibits in the Clark Gable Museum in Cadiz, Ohio, where the future “king of Hollywood” was born.
MITCHELL SMYTH/Meridian Writers’ Group

GONE WITH the Wind, released in 1939, is still one of the most popular films ever made, and there are lots of memories of it in this house at 138 Charleston Street, for it was here that Clark Gable, who played the suave Rhett Butler in it, was born on February 1, 1901.

Well, the building is his birthplace in a Tinseltown manner of speaking. The original house was razed in the 1960s, but three decades later local boosters started a fund and built an exact replica almost on the same spot (actually a few metres farther from the road, to conform with new building codes), opening it in 1998.

The future “King of Hollywood,” who made 67 movies and won an Academy Award for 1934’s It Happened One Night, was “born” in the upstairs five-room apartment. This part of the house is now the Clark Gable Museum. The ground floor contains the offices of the Clark Gable Foundation, which runs the museum and a gift shop selling items connected with the actor’s career.

Beverly Loevy, a volunteer guide, gives visitors tours, showing off the few original artifacts obtained by the museum. “This was Clark’s sled,” she says, pointing to a red, metre-long toboggan. Beside it is the crib where the infant William Clark Gable slept, and nearby is his cradle. The remainder of the furnishings are period pieces from the early 20th century.” We could not locate the original furniture,” says Loevy.

One room is devoted to Carole Lombard, Gable’s third wife and considered by many biographers to have been the love of his life. Photos and newspaper clippings record her life and her untimely death, at 33, in 1942, soon after America entered the Second World War. She died in a plane crash while on a tour promoting U.S. war bonds.

Shortly afterward, the grief-stricken Gable joined the U.S. Air Force and the museum has an exhibit covering this phase of his career. It tells how he rose to the rank of major and received the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal for flying bombing missions over Germany. Visitors view his medals and his aerial gunner’s wings.

And then there are his movies—made from 1931 to 1960—remembered here in stills, posters and artifacts from the sets. The last one was The Misfits, which was also Marilyn Monroe’s final film. Gable died soon after it, at 59, from a heart attack.

In the garage—and, on special occasions, outside—visitors can view Gable’s baby-blue 1954 Cadillac Coupe de Ville, customized with gold crests and special hubcaps.

There’s also a walk of fame, with handprints in cement of actor-colleagues of Gable who have visited the museum.

The house next door is now the Clark Gable B&B, run by the foundation. Its rooms are named after some of Gable’s movies. In the It Happened One Night room there are twin beds, separated by a sheet on a clothesline, recalling the scene in the movie where Gable puts up “the walls of Jericho” between his bed and Claudette Colbert’s.

 

ACCESS

For more information visit the Clark Gable Foundation website at http://clarkgablefoundation.com.

For information on travel in Ohio visit the state’s Division of Tourism website at www.discoverohio.com.