Los Angeles Times Coverage of CG Death
Clark Gable Died at 59 in Hospital
‘King’ of Films Succumbs After Heart Attack
Clark Gable died at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital Wednesday at 11 p.m.
The 59-year-old star had been hospitalized since he was stricken with a heart attack Nov. 6.
B. J. Caldwell, hospital administrator, said it was assumed that another heart attack took the actor’s life.
“He appeared to be doing fine,” said Caldwell, “He was sitting up, the he put his head back on the pillow and that was that.”
A private duty nurse was the only other person in the room when death came. Dr. Fred Cerini, Gable’s personal physician, was at the actor’s side “in a matter of minutes,” but it was too late to do anything, Caldwell stated.
Gable’s wife, Kay, was asleep across the hall when the actor died. She has been staying at the hospital since her husband was stricken.
Mrs. Gable was reported bearing up “reasonably well” from the shock.
Gable, who was stricken at his San Fernando Valley home, had been reported resting comfortably earlier in the evening.
His wife, formerly married to a Spreckels sugar heir, is expecting a baby.
The actor’s death followed by only 11 days the deaths of actor Ward Bond and pioneer movie maker Mack Sennett, 81. Both men also died of apparent heart attacks.
The couple had returned to their home in Encino earlier this month after gable had finished final scenes for “The Misfits,” in which he stars with Marilyn Monroe.
He reportedly was paid more than $48,000 a week in overtime payments for the three weeks of extra work on the films.
Gable was long the undisputed “King” of the movieland and one of its highest paid stars.
Clark Gable Honored at Simple Rites
Crowd Mourns Outside Church at Private Funeral
Traditional Episcopal funeral services were conducted Saturday morning for actor Clark Gable at the Church of the Recessional in Forest Lawn Memorial Park.
The rites were simple and dignified – undefiled by the spectacle, hysteria and mob intrusion that have often accompanied the funerals of Hollywood’s most adulated figures.
In keeping with the actor’s wishes, the services were private,. The casket were closed.
Shared in Fame
Among the 200 mourners in the fieldstone church at the top of a grassy hill were many who had shared with Clark Gable at one time or another the brilliant peaks of motion picture fame.
His widow, Kay Williams, sat in an alcove to the right of the casket with her two children and other members of her family, out of sight of other mourners in the chapel.
The bronze casket was covered with a blanket of garnet roses and a white rose crown. The flag stood one side, a symbol of the actor’s Air Force service in WWII.
Outside the church, held back beyond a road 200-yard away, a crowd of several hundred waited in a lone, quiet line for a glimpse of familiar faces.
Walked From Gate
They had walked like pilgrims up the mile-long road from the main iron gates of the cemetery that had been closed to all cars but those of the invited mourners.
Dozens of special police stood behind ropes and guarded key points to prevent any mob surge toward the church or autograph assault on the celebrities.
The ceremonies in the church, a replica of St. Margaret’s Parish Church at Rottingdean, Sussex, were preceded by the buoyant melodies of Strauss and Debussy.
Many Close Friends
Seated in the front rows were many of Mr. Gable’s closest friends, among them Spencer Tracy, James Stewart, Robert Taylor, and Howard Strickling, a VP of MGM.
Gray hair predominated among the mourners, attesting that most were of the generation that Mr. Gable who died of a heart attack at 59, had dominated so long as acknowledged king.
Also in the small chapel were others of Mr. Gable’s peers, such as Norma Shearer, one of the brightest figures of the star era; Ann Sothern and Marion Davies.
There were Frank Capra, who directed the picture that was Mr. Gable’s favorite, “It Happened One Night”, Mervyn LeRoy, Keenan Wynn, Robert Stack, Jack Oakie, Roy and Dale Roger, and Van Johnson.
The services were conducted by Chaplain Johnson E. West of March Air Force Base.
There was no eulogy for the actor who had been abundantly eulogized by millions in his lifetime.
Said Chaplain West:
We are gathered to commend the soul of Clark Gable to the continuing mercy of God and to honor that body which has been a temple of the Holy Spirit and an instrument of life. We have come thankful of him we have known.
We place him at rest, sure of resurrection. We do not sorrow as men without hope.
In comforting the widow the chaplain read from the 46th Psalm:
God is in the midst of her, therefore shall she not be removed; God shall help her and that right early.
The nations make much ado, and the kingdoms are moved; but God has showed his voice and the earth shall melt away.
The services concluded with “Taps.”
Mrs. Gable, who is expecting the actor’s first child in March, wore black, her face shielded by a veil. She emerged from the family entrance at the rear of the church less than five minutes after the end of the service.
Under her right arm she carried the folded Flag that had stood beside the casket. Through the veil her eyes shone with tears. She walked slowly but unfalteringly to a limousine.
She was flanked on one side by an Air Force Guard of Honor, smartly uniformed and helmeted; on the other by the pallbearers – Tracy, Stewart, Taylor, Strickling, Ray Hommes, Al Menasco, E.J. Mannix and Ernie Dunlevie.
The morning was bright and clear. A wind stirred among the eucalyptus trees towering over the church and leaves fell over the scene.
The actor’s body is to be entombed near that of his third wife, the actress Carole Lombard, in another section of Forest Lawn.
Sadness and Light Join at Film Star’s Rites
Faithful fans arrived early for services; Sharp contrast of mood displayed.
It was the best Hollywood tradition – sadness and light side by side.
Inside Forest Lawn’s Church of the Recessional the cream of the filmdom’s notables paid last respects to Clark Gable, their friend and colleague, during a brief and simple service.
Outside, but for the hour and the setting, it might have been another dazzling premiere.
Limousines and flashy sports cars began arriving as much as an hour before the service was to begin. But the curious, the faithful fans were there first.
Come by Hundreds
They went by the hundreds – many hiking a good distance up steep hills – to line the approachway to the picturesque chapel. They came – some of them before the cemetery gates opened – armed with cameras, binoculars and autograph books.
It was an orderly crowd, as such gatherings go. But despite the occasion it was a festive one, too. Its mood was in sharp contrast to that of the mourners, most of whom ignored their fans and moved grimly into the church through a phalanx of photographers.
During the half-hour service the crowd waited patiently and quietly, confined by guards a safe distance from the chapel.
Then, with the sound of “Taps” from an Air Force bugler, it was over.
The nine official pall bearers – among them Spencer Tracy, James Stewart and Robert Taylor – lined up silently on both sides of a short walkway leading from a rear door.
Gable’s widow, the former Kay Williams, emerged, her face obscured by a black veil, a folded American flag clutched in her hands. She paused briefly while camera flash bulbs popped, then stepped into her waiting limousine and drove off.
Other members of the grieving family followed in successive cars.
Out front the Hollywood luminaries began leaving, singly and in small groups. Some stood and chatted briefly among themselves as the curious crowd kept its distance 200 yd away.
But excitement mounted quickly as the chauffeur driven limousines started pulling away, again past the assembled fans. Squeals of delight were heard as a familiar face was spotted, cameras clicked, babies cried as their mother craned for a better look.
Clark Gable was momentarily forgotten.
Robert Taylor rolled by behind the wheel of his own station wagon and waved to the crowd. Keenan Wynn, unsmiling, wheeled past in a bright red sports car.
Other famous faces remained almost hidden in the recesses of a back seat. But one young woman sought them out doggedly with a pair of binoculars.
The crowd had almost dispersed when Jack Oakie appeared, his coat slung over one shoulder, a black bowler perched jauntily on his gray head.
He posed for a photographer, who wanted to record the inscription on the back of Oakie’s black vest: “Centennial – 1960 – Jack Oakie – Sedalia, Mo., - October 18.”
At first only a few in the crowd recognized him. Then a woman rushed up and planted a kiss on his cheek.
“Well, I do declare, “Oakie declared.
The mob quickly converge o n him, tearing at his clothes, shaking his hands. Other women elbowed in and kissed his beaming face.
Police come to aid
Finally several policeman stepped in and conducted Oakie safely to his car. He drove off happily acknowledging the plaudits of his admirers.
“This was a well-behaved crowd,” said an MGM studio official who has seen crowds at other Hollywood funerals. “Everything went smoothly.”