CADIZ 2002

16th Annual Clark Gable Birthday Celebration Cadiz, Ohio February 1-2, 2002

By Kathleen Marcaccio

This year's gathering of Clark Gable fans came from far and wide to pay tribute to the King of Hollywood, trekking to the small burgh of Cadiz from all parts of Ohio as well as from such states as Kentucky, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Familiar faces mingled with first-time attendees, all eager to share their passion for Gable, his wife Carol Lombard, and the movie Gone With The Wind.

Gable 2002 Celebration Opens with Reception

The Celebration was kicked off by Friday evening's cocktail reception and auction held at the Wallace Lodge, Sally Buffalo Park. Some 75 people, enjoying hors d'oeuvres and finger desserts, were in attendance.

New Gable Biography Released

The program opened with the introduction of author Chrystopher J. Spicer, who traveled from his home in Victoria, Australia to celebrate the release of his book Clark Gable: Biography, Filmography, Bibliography. Betty Strasbaugh, Nan Mattern, and other members of the Clark Gable Foundation were on hand to applaud his efforts.

Auction Raises $2000

This year's Auction featured some 30 items donated by benefactors of the Gable Foundation. Two 100th Clark Gable Birthday mugs made and signed by John Clark Gable for the 2001 event went for $100 and $80. A Franklin Mint Gone With The Wind 50th Anniversary music box trimmed in 24K gold took in $100. Copies of "Uncommon Knowledge" by Judy Lewis and "Forever Young: The Biography of Loretta Young," both autographed by Judy Lewis, went for $50 and $60, respectively. An original painting of the Burning of Atlanta scene from Gone With The Wind painted by area resident Todd Piergallini went for $85. A framed plaque featuring pieces of the airplane in which Carole Lombard and her mother perished, donated by Lombard enthusiast Norman Lambert, realized $220. A passenger footrest from Clark Gable's Harley motorcycle brought a winning bid of $180. When all was said and done, more than $2,000 was raised for the Gable Foundation.

Speakers Forum draws vendors and collectors

Saturday's sunrise over the eastern hills was spectacular, and the day dawned cold and bright. Over at the Scott Memorial United Methodist Church, several vendors set up their Gable and Gone With The Wind wares, including vintage magazines, movie ads, photos, and books. Norman Lambert showed pieces from his Carole Lombard, Gone With The Wind, and Civil War collections.

Bridges Shares Roots of Passion

GWTW collector Herb Bridges of Sharpsburg, Georgia opened the Forum talking about how he began collecting Gone With The Wind memorabilia some forty years ago. Starting with the search for a first edition of Margaret Mitchell's novel Gone With The Wind, Herb acquired copies of the book, first American printings and then foreign printings.

This pursuit soon turned to GWTW movie memorabilia and his collection continued to grow over the years as he added movie props and costumes, vintage GWTW movie tie-ins, and books. He now owns one of the world's largest Gone With The Wind collections, and is working with Christie's auction house in New York City, planning for a July 2002 auction to sell the majority of his collection. A portion of his collection will remain on permanent loan to the Road to Tara Museum in Jonesboro, Georgia and the Gone With The Wind Museum at the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta.

Spicer Follows in Gable's Footsteps

Chrystopher Spicer shared the experience of researching and publishing his recently published Clark Gable biography. Following in the footsteps of Clark Gable and his father William Gable, Chrys traversed the country, visiting many towns in Ohio and Pennsylvania where the Gable family and Clark lived, in Oklahoma and Kansas where the Gables worked in the oil fields, in Oregon where Clark began his stage career, and in California where Clark enjoyed a successful career as a film actor. During this time, Chrys met a his future wife in the library where he was doing research and she was working.

Chrys also shared his insights into a few of the actresses with whom Clark worked in movies as well as some of Clark's experiences with fans while travelling.

Lambert Perpetuates Lombard's Memory

Norman Lambert was just 8 years old when he attended the premiere of Gone With The Wind in Atlanta. Too young to really understand what the fuss was all about, he did not have much to say to Carole Lombard when, in the lobby of the Loew's Grand, she asked if he was excited [about the premiere]. His reply was a simple "Yes, ma'am." As he grew up, his father often reminded him of that brief moment, and his memory turned into a mission to "perpetuate her memory," saying that he "does not want her to be forgotten."

To this end, Norm has visited "The Mountain" just outside of Las Vegas where, in 1942, the plane on which Carole and her mother were flying back to Los Angeles crashed, killing all on board. So far he has made four trips to the site, each time bringing back a few small pieces of the plane and its contents to share with other Lombard and Gable collectors. In May 2001, he led John Clark Gable and his son Clark James Gable to the site.

Birthday Party Dinner Dance A Rousing Success

More than 150 people were in attendance for the annual Birthday Celebration dinner dance held at the Wallace Lodge, Sally Buffalo Park. Master of Ceremonies Gary Barker, president of the Gable Foundation, introduced the guests of honors. Former Foundation President Michael Cope made mention of special guests in the audience. Dinner was catered by Piergallini Catering. Music provided by Easy Street and featuring a soulful saxophonist kept dancers on the floor until midnight.

Gable Motorcycle A Big Hit

Joe Hasset didn't know that he was acquiring a piece of Gable history when he purchased a vintage Harley motorcycle a few years ago. But he did, and now that he has restored the cycle to its original condition, Joe brought it to this year's Celebration where it drew oohs and aahs from Gable and GWTW fans who took countless photos with the motorcycle throughout the evening.

Costumed Guests Well Received

Although there were only a few guests in costumes this year, the costumes reflected a wide variety of GWTW characters. There was Scarlett in mourning, Scarlett during the Shantytown raid, Rhett Butler, Ellen O'Hara, Belle Watling, and two Southern Belles. Juanita Clark as Belle Watling, Carol Mowrer as Scarlett in mourning, and Southern Belle Jacqui Horne paired with the anonymous Rhett Butler as a couple took home the awards for best costumes.

Gable House Welcomes Visitors

There was a steady stream of visitors at the Clark Gable House throughout the weekend. Acting as a meeting place for many Windies, visitors to the House were able to take a tour of the reconstructed home, where the Gable family lived upstairs, now filled with vintage items, including Clark's childhood sled. One of Gable's car, a 1954 Cadillac, is housed in an adjacent garage open to visitors. The gift shop did a brisk business throughout the weekend.

Visitors to the House checked out the brick walk featuring personalized bricks purchased by Foundation supporters. Recent additions to the walk are bricks purchased by the Foundation in honor of last year's guests of honor: John Clark Gable, Patrick Curtis, Cammie King, Mickey Kuhn, Herb Bridges, and Chrystopher Spicer.

New Gable Bed & Breakfast Opens

As part of this year's festivities, the Clark Gable Foundation opened a Bed & Breakfast in a house built just behind the Gable House. Visitors from Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio were the first guests.

Already Looking Forward to Next Year

On Sunday morning, as fans streamed out of town, heading for home, there was already talk of returning for next year's event. Nan Mattern has indicated that the 2003 event may be a summertime barbecue rather than the traditional winter dinner-dance, leaving the final decision up to the committee. No matter what, Gable fans plan to return for the celebration. See you then!

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