They Have this to brag of: Mama had Gable at her feet
By Celestine Sibley
Source: Atlanta Constitution Nov. 18, 1960
Unless you are a fireman, a policeman or a railroad engineer it isn't likely
your children brag about you. Children seldom consider your major talents
and accomplishments in the fields of art, letters and finance worth reporting to
the kids next door. But I've taken comfort since July 1951 in the fact
that my young ones had one thing they could drag in when conversation with their
peers was going against them. "Our mama," I've heard them
say over and over, "had Clark Gable at her feet!"
It was true, too. For a few minutes on a hot July day in 1951, I sat in
a canvas chair on a set at MGM studios and the King, Gable himself, dressed in
cowboy clothes, gnawed on a straw and hunkered down on the dusty ground by my
feet. Of course, he wasn't , as my children would like to indicate, on his
knees beseeching me for my heart and hand. He was squatting so because he
was an outdoor man who, like countrymen everywhere, could be comfortable in that
position. And his conversation was principally polite talk with a visitor
from a town made memorable to him because it gave him the greatest role of his
career, Rhett Butler in "Gone With the Wind."
Clark Gable was extremely pleasant to me that day and I fancied it was
because he liked to talk about Margaret Mitchell and "Gone With the
Wind" and the gala time he had here in 1939, when he and Carole Lombard
came to Atlanta for the movie premiere. Later I was to find out that most
of the legend about his being a great lover was based on the fact that he was
the kind of man who talked simply and easily and pleasantly to women of all ages
for any reason.
That day in 1951 he spoke of Margaret Mitchell and how they solved the
difficulty of getting together for a quiet chat during the height of GWTW
festivities at the Piedmont Driving Club by going in the Ladies' lounge and
locking the door.
"I know that's the best picture I ever mad," he said,
"Margaret Mitchell made that possible with a superb story. We'll
never have another one like 'Gone With the Wind.'"
Years later, after his marriage to Kay Spreckles, I interviewed Mr. Gable by
telephone about a movie he had just finished and I Had a chance to see his
famous charm work on a much, much younger woman - my teenage daughter. She
was invited to say hello to him, a privilege I felt she received rather
languidly. After all, compared to Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter he was a
pretty elderly fellow. But after she had talked with him a minute or so, I
saw a subtle change - a thickening of interest, a flow of enthusiasm.
"Isn't he NICE?" she asked. He had made her feel, as he made
all women feel, that she was interesting, charming, attractive.
We ended that interview with the talk of hunting geese and he said there was
one goose he didn't want to shoot - an old one. "I'm looking for
younger geese," he chuckled, as if he saw a parallel there
somewhere. "I don't want an old boy who has been around 25