Remembering Clark Gable

CADIZ – The annual Feb. 1 birthday observance of Clark Gable brings fans from areas such as St. Clairsville, Pittsburgh and Bellaire, as wells as many Jefferson and Harrison county areas, showing the Cadiz native is not forgotten and continues to be popular with a new generation.

About 40 visitors came Saturday to Gable’s birthplace and share a piece of the birthday cake, take a tour of the upstairs apartment where Gable was born and look over the many donated pictures and other items from the actor.

Along with the historical displays, there are many Gable items for sale, including T-shirts; plates showing Gable in many of his movies; cups, books, posters and calendars; DVDs of his greatest hits; pictures; and jewelry.

Although Taylor Manbeck lived in Cadiz, Saturday was the first time she had paid a visit to the Gable museum. She was there with her aunt, Danielle Manbeck, who was better acquainted with the Gable history.

Shelly Coffelt, who was responsible for having the Gable mural painted on an uptown restaurant wall, stopped in for the birthday party.

Inez Zajdowicz and her daughter, Toni, both of Wintersville, paid a first-time visit to the foundation home. Toni, who loves to read, said she had seen most of his movies, but there were some of the Gable books that she had not read and intended to put them on her “to do” list.

Volunteer Ann Lightner was at the party. She has been working with the Gable Foundation for years, doing so because she likes to promote someone from the county who became famous.

Carolyn Calovini of Flushing came for the first time, and she shares a birthday with the Rhett Butler star. “We live close and this is the first time to be here. I always wanted to pay a visit,” she said.

Another birthday girl was Jackie Rocchi, foundation secretary. She and Nan Mattern conduct bus tours to raise money for the foundation.

Mattern, executive director, said they gave many tours throughout the day. “Many of the visitors said they were pleasantly surprised to see how much we have preserved the life of Clark Gable, after such a long time since his death. They were excited about what they saw.”

Joanne Murdock Stives of Hopedale told a story about her connection with the actor. Her grandmother, Virginia “Virgie” Hervy Merryman, played opposite Gable long ago, but it was not in a movie or off-Broadway play. It was her senior year at Hopedale High School, and a young actor with promise, Gable, who was a freshman, performed in the presentation “Captain Racket” in 1916.

“I did research to find a copy of the play and learned that a school in another state had presented it. They were gracious enough to send me a copy and we had it made into easier to read copy, as the print was very small and hard to read,” she said.

In September 2011, when a Gable guest fell through for an autumn celebration, the foundation put on a “read-through” presentation at the Hopedale Methodist Church. Stivers read the lines of Clarice, the captain’s wife, the same part her grandmother had performed years before. Rocchi read the part of Kay, the mischievous maid.

The life and achievements of the actor were discussed at the birthday party held in his honor.