19th Annual Clark Gable Birthday Celebration in observance of the 104th Birthday of the “King of Hollywood”
January 28-30, 2005
By Kathleen Marcaccio
The drive to Cadiz promised to be a pleasant one…blue skies and dry roads. After making sure that Kevin got off to school on time, I departed my home in Royal Oak at 7:45 a.m., headed for the Ohio Turnpike, making only one quick pitstop along the way. What a lovely morning for the drive to Cadiz!! You couldn’t ask for more than sun, safe roads, and great sound system in your car to listen to your favorite music!!
I zipped by the usual I-80 landmarks---the familiar Bettcher Industries building, the two-screen drive-in movie theater, and the ever-developing malls along the Interstate in Akron and Canton—before deciding to make a stop at the McKinley Monument in Canton to stretch my legs. Visible from the Interstate, the McKinley Monument is situated at the top of a hill in the Canton City Park. I took a few minutes to shoot some photos before climbing the stairs to walk around the monument and check out the 360-degree scenic view. I headed back to my car for the remaining drive to New Philadelphia to spend some time at the Riverfront Antique Mall, looking for vintage Detroit postcards. I was barely successful but did find a few to purchase. Then it was back on the road to Cadiz.
I arrived at the Gable House in Cadiz about 3 p.m. I knew I was in the right place when I saw Robert Warren as I pulled onto Charleston Street. That’s the best part of these events…seeing old friends!!! Robert and I were headed into the House when Saundra Voter and Jamie Herbert pulled in.
Greg Giese was still signing autographs in the gathering room, so we headed in and found Ann Rossi, Betty Strasbaugh, Janice Gandelman, and Patrisha and Mark Henson already there. I purchased a couple photos for Greg to sign. He also graciously posed for a few photos.
As the day was quickly coming to an end, a group of us headed for The Corner Place, a local history and movie collectibles shop run by Skip Olson. While I didn’t find anything to add to my collection this time, several in our party made some purchases.
With all the happenings in Cadiz done for the day, Saundra and Jamie and I headed to Steubenville to settle in at The Hampton Inn. We invited Janice and Robert to join us for the evening. After an enjoyable dinner at Le Ville, we headed back to the hotel to spend a couple hours sharing our GWTW photo albums and memorabilia.
We were up early on Saturday morning for a breakfast get-together. Ten of us met around 9:30 at Vickie’s Place in Cadiz. It’s a local diner, it’s convenient for everybody, regardless of where you are staying, and it’s not fast food.
Then I hosted a driving tour of Hopedale. Located about 9 miles from Cadiz, Hopedale is the town in which Clark Gable grew up. We made only 5 stops: the Gable Boyhood Home on Mill Street; the Dunlop Home where the Clark and his dad and stepmother stayed with her family while the Mill St. house was being built; the Bethel United Methodist Church, where William Gable worked as a custodian; the Hopedale High School; and the OK Corral Saloon, which once housed a theatre where Clark performed on the stage.
Lunch with Greg Giese
Saturday’s official events were kicked off with a luncheon program held at the Scott Methodist Church. Lunch was served by the United Methodist Ladies.
Following lunch, Gable Foundation President Dr. Gary Barker welcomed us and introduced a newly released DVD program “A Visit with Rand Brooks” in which Rand and costar Ann Rutherford discuss Gone With The Wind, Hollywood, and their 1992 visit to Cadiz. (The DVD is available for purchase from the Foundation.)
Norman Lambert then introduced the guest of honor Greg Giese, who spoke of his GWTW experiences:
“Gone With The Wind is the greatest thing that I’ve ever done that I don’t remember.”
So said Greg Giese, this year’s guest of honor, who played both Baby Beau and Baby Bonnie in the movie Gone With The Wind. He further noted that it was “all downhill from there.”
Born September 11, 1939, Greg Giese (pronounced Geez with a hard “g”) was just 11 days old when his scenes were shot. He still has the contract dated October 7, 1939 and a paycheck stub, plus an autographed Clark Gable photo signed in green ink. (Norm Lambert noted that Carole Lombard often signed in green ink.)
Legend has it that following the Riverside preview of Gone With The Wind, David O. Selznick complained that the babies did not look newborn and he wanted the scenes to be reshot with younger infants. Greg was selected while he was still in the hospital nursery, most likely chosen for his blue eyes! A limousine was sent to his house where he was picked up by a nurse and a studio representative (his mother was not allowed to accompany him). On the set, the infant was allowed to be filmed under the hot lights for only 30 seconds at a time.
Greg noted that, from his earliest memory, he always knew that he was in Gone With The Wind. He was called “The Budget Buster” because the studio had to bring back all the key players to reshoot the two scenes: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland, and Butterfly McQueen.
He first saw Gone With The Wind in 1947 when he was just 7 years old. At the time that the movie was re-released in 1954, Greg was a high school sophomore living in Belleville, Illinois, playing varsity football. The local newspaper ran a big story about the local boy who had a part in GWTW. You can imagine the hooting and hollering he got from his teammates about playing Bonnie Blue Butler!!! A few years later he tried to impress his girlfriend (whom he later married) when she told him that Gone With The Wind was her favorite movie and he told her “Oh, I was in that movie.”
Over the years, he has seen GWTW less than 20 times, preferring not to watch it on television. He did read the book while in high school. The first GWTW event he attended was the 40th Anniversary in Los Angeles. He has met Olivia de Havilland twice.
[For more information or to contact Greg Giese, check out his website at: http://www.gwtwgreg.8m.com/index.html]
After his talk, Greg spent time signing autographs on pictures, programs, and other GWTW memorabilia for the luncheon attendees. He also posed for individual and group photos.
The luncheon wrapped up around 3 p.m. so we headed back to Steubenville to relax a bit before getting ready for the evening.
Annual Clark Gable Birthday Dinner Dance
All dressed in our evening wear, we arrived at the Wallace Lodge at the Sally Buffalo Park shortly after the doors opened at 5:30. The Windies were there in force, with some 30 of us settling at the long banquet table down the center of the room.
After greeting our friends, several of us wandered over to the auction tables to get a number and check out the available memorabilia. Among the more notable items were a signed Claudette Colbert photo, a framed photo signed by both Ann Rutherford and Rand Brooks, and adult and child costume versions of the BBQ dress.
Greg made the rounds of the room, spending time with the guests, including the Scarlett O’Hatters, a local chapter of the Red Hat Society.
Gary Barker started the evening’s official program with the invocation. Then dinner was served. The buffet included roasted chicken, roast beef, mashed potatoes, mixed beans, salad, and crescent rolls. Dessert was your choice from among several types of cakes.
Following dinner, emcee Michael Cope introduced the guest of honor Greg Giese, who said a few words about his role in Gone With The Wind. The auction followed thereafter. Some 28 lots brought in just over $1900!!
The rest of the evening was spent sharing photo albums and scrapbooks with friends, getting photos and other items signed by Greg Giese, who also posed for many pictures. Once all their business was taken care of, a number of Windies hit the dance floor, moving to such disco-era tunes as “YMCA” and “Play That Funky Music, White Boy”!!
As usual, the evening ended too soon, as we packed up our cameras and goodies to head back to our various hotels, motels, and B&Bs. During the course of the evening, it had snowed, making the roads rather slippery. On my way back to Steubenville, with the snow continuing to fall heavily and steadily, I did see one car that had gone off the road; the police were already on the scene.
By the time we were ready to head out on Sunday morning, the snow had stopped, leaving everything a sea of snowy white. The drive to Cadiz was really lovely with the hillside vegetation all covered. About 10 of us met once again in Cadiz for breakfast at Vickie’s before making one last visit to the Gable House for photos, goodbyes, and purchases in the gift shop. I was on the road by 11:45, heading to Akron to visit Chris Sullivan for a couple hours before continuing on to Detroit. Enjoying the clear blue skies and the beautiful sunset around 5:30 pm, I arrived home just after 7 p.m.