Gable Celebration Exceeds Expectations
Source: countypost.com, Monday, February 05, 2001
Click here for photos from Gable Weekend
Last weekend's celebration of Clark Gable's 100th birthday, staged by the
Clark Gable Foundation, exceeded even the most optimistic expectations of
Foundation Executive Director Nan Mattern said Monday participation in all
aspects of the three-day celebration was "overwhelming." Although
Mattern was unable to provide figures Monday, each activity of the event
attracted larger crowds than anticipated and attendance at both Friday's
reception/memorabilia auction and the Saturday's dinner dance birthday party
were high points in the 15 years Gable's birthday has been celebrated in
Admirers of Gable, "The King of Hollywood" in the 1930's and early
'40's and fans of "Gone With the Wind," Gable's most famous film,
flocked to Cadiz, where Gable was born and to Hopedale, his boyhood home. States
represented included Pennsylvania, New Jersey, South Carolina, Florida, Alabama,
Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, California and Washington, and
surely several more. Making it an international event were visitors from
England, Australia, Japan and Canada.
Many of the visitors arrived Thursday evening or Friday morning and remained
until Sunday afternoon. Others came for part of the weekend, or for just a few
hours to participate in the memorable occasion.
The cocktail reception and auction Friday night filled Wallace Lodge at Sally
Buffalo Park with an estimated 200 people who brought cash, check books and
credit cards to bid on an impressive list of 34 items related to Gable and
"Gone With the Wind." By the time the spirited bidding of the evening
had ended, an estimated total of $7,500 was forked over for the treasures.
Of that total, over $3,000 was paid for a collection of ceramic mugs, crafted
by Gable's only son, John Clark Gable for the occasion. The mugs are inscribed,
"Clark Gable Foundation, 100th Birthday, Feb. 1, 2001." They were sold
in lots of 10, bringing prices ranging from $100-160 per piece. The first was
purchased by Darlene Littleton of Mt. Pleasant, who let John Clark make the
selection for her. The other purchasers each selected their own mug from an
assortment of colors.
John Clark Gable was accompanied for the weekend by his statueque wife, Lex,
who works with him in his ceramics business in California. John Clark and Lex
Gable were married two years ago on the 98th anniversary of Clark Gable's birth.
The top price in the auction was $650 for a check signed by Gable June 8,
1950, which was purchased by Norman and Joyce Lambert of Westerville. Norman
Lambert is an avid Carole Lombard admirer and collector who donated an extensive
collection of Lombard memorabilia to the Clark Gable Museum last year. The
collection was displayed at the celebration's Friday and Saturday forums.
Lambert was intent on purchasing the check (in the amount of $106.67) because
it was made out to Jean Garceau. Former Foundation President Michael Cope had
pointed out to bidders that the check was significant because Garceau was
Gable's personal secretary. But, Lambert knew that Garceau was originally
personal secretary to Lombard even prior to Lombard's marriage to Gable, and
remained as Gable's secretary after Lombard was killed in a tragic plane crash.
Other significant purchases included $325 paid by Melanie and David Snedeker
of Columbus for a framed "Bonnie and Her Beaus" photo collage prepared
by Patrick Curtis, and $325 paid by Anne Knowles of Steubenville for a framed
set of matted and framed postal cachets issued for the Foundation celebration of
the years 1997 through 2000.
The photographs in the collage were of scenes from "Gone With the
Wind" involving Cammie King (Conlon) as "Bonnie Blue," and both
Curtis and Mickey Kuhn as "Baby Beau." The piece was signed by Conlon,
Curtis and Kuhn, all of whom attended the celebration as guests of the
Robert Myers of Cadiz was an active bidder throughout the auction. Myers was
the successful bidder at $240 for a "Gone With the Wind" theater
program. A second program, donated on the spot by a first-time visitor, brought
a successful final bid of $260 from Cindy Trampower of Canton. Myers also
purchased a "Moonlight and Magnolias" tapestry throw donated by GWTW
collector/dealer Faye Bell of Plant City, Fla., which Myers donated to the
Foundation for display in the museum. Bell then donated a second throw, which
was purchased by Ron Fisher for $160.
Myers also donated to the museum a framed photograph of four GWTW cast
members taken at a Foundation birthday celebration in 1989. Myers purchased for
$260 the item, which featured Curtis, Conlon, Fred Crane and Butterfly McQueen.
Myers was recognized Saturday by the Foundation for his donation to the museum
last year of an extensive collection of Gable/GWTW memorabilia collected over
the years by his wife, the late Virena Baker Myers and her brother Dean Baker, a
boyhood friend of Gable.
Forums held at the Scott United Methodist Church Friday afternoon and
Saturday morning and afternoon also were extremely successful, with an estimated
150 persons attending Friday and over 200 Saturday. The room was filled with a
steady 100, or so, people Friday and a steady 150 on Saturday,Many of the
visitors remained all day for presentations by Gable, Curtis, Conlon and Kuhn,
as well as GWTW author and collector Herb Bridges and Gable biographer
Chrystopher Spicer. In addition, GWTW aficionados Kathleen Maraccio of Royal
Oak, Mich., and Barb Keifer of Cincinnati participated with an exhibit and
Several additional exhibitors, including Lambert, and dealers added to the
atmosphere with a large variety of Gable, Lombard and "Gone With the
Wind" memorabilia and collectible items.
The dinner dance, held at the Hopedale Social Hall, attracted some 400
persons, including a number who were too late for dinner reservations, but came
for the program and dance. Mattern said the party atmosphere was
"indescribable." As usual, the invited guests made brief comments, the
entire crowd joined Shirley Marker in a singing a rousing rendition of
"Happy Birthday" to Gable, and a parade of costumes featured
incredible reproductions of gowns as seen in the GWTW film.
"There was such a fantastic turnout, and they were having such a good
time, they didn't want to leave," Mattern said.
Mattern said business was brisk for special Sunday museum tours and gift show
hours at the reconstructed Clark Gable birth home, which also was busy during
the day on Friday and Saturday. Approximately 45 persons each watched showings
of Gable's last film, "The Misfits," and the only film for which Gable
received an academy award, "It Happened One Night."