Frankly, my dear, you’re invited to Clark Gable’s birthday party
Celebration Saturday in Cadiz features sale of new Dave Barnhouse print
CADIZ — Frankly, my dear, there’s something different about this year’s birthday celebration for Cadiz native Clark Gable, “the King of Hollywood” best known for his role as Rhett Butler in the classic “Gone with the Wind.”
Visitors to the Clark Gable Foundation Birth Home Museum and Gift Shop at 138 Charleston St. will have an opportunity to meet and purchase from nationally known artist Dave Barnhouse one of his latest projects, appropriately one of Gable strolling the streets of Cadiz in a work titled “Gable and Cadiz — Together Again.”
The birthday festivities from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdaywill include guided museum tours; coffee and cake throughout the day; a gift shop brimming with a variety of Gable memorabilia available for purchase; and the chance as well to buy Barnhouse’s latest print, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Clark Gable Foundation.
A limited edition of 175 signed and numbered lithograph prints, accompanied by a certificate of authenticity, will be available for $125. Cash, checks and credit cards will be accepted. The original painting as well as 15 canvas prints also will be available, according to Barnhouse, a self-taught artist singled out as one of the most popular print artists in America by U.S. Art magazine’s 1996-98 surveys of retail galleries.
The Richmond artist who has painted nostalgic scenes from his hometown as well as in Steubenville, Toronto, Weirton and Wheeling said he started toying with the idea of a Cadiz-themed work last fall.
“I thought it was time to do something for Cadiz,” Barnhouse said of his inspiration. “Cadiz is just the greatest community. Cadiz was a great coal community, a hard-working community and the birthplace of Clark Gable.
“I wanted to do something for the people of this town who love their community, and this is the chance I had to do Cadiz, so I jumped on it,” added Barnhouse, who works mainly with oils and focuses on Americana subjects. Barnhouse spent time considering the location of the painting, deciding that the scene would best be centered at the town square looking south on state Route 9. He wanted the county courthouse in the background. “It’s a beautiful courthouse,” he said.
Barnhouse did research at the Puskarich Public Library in Cadiz, he said, and talked with people for accuracy in what buildings are part of what he describes as his “dry street scene,” a departure from his works that are “wet street scenes” set in the evening after a rain.
Excitement for the project escalated, Barnhouse noted, when he spoke with members of the museum about his intentions to do a work set in the mid-1950s of Gable visiting his hometown.
“He’s signing some autographs, and people are thrilled to see him back on the streets again,” Barnhouse said in describing the scene.
Barnhouse recently donated a framed print to the museum, where Nan Mattern, the foundation’s executive director, and Dr. Gary Barker, its president, were on hand.
“We appreciate that Dave brought this to our attention (his desire to do the painting), and we felt it was a good fundraiser and a way to really celebrate Clark’s birthday,” Mattern said.
Added Barker, “I am delighted. I appreciate his talent, and my wife and I have some of his other works, so we’re anxious to add this to our collection. I think this contribution on his behalf is going to be beneficial for the Gable Foundation. It’s timely with his birthday coming up. I just think it’s very appropriate.”
Gable was born Feb. 1, 1901, and was 59 when he died Nov. 16, 1960, of an apparent heart attack. He had recently finished filming “The Misfits” with Marilyn Monroe.
Depending on how the date falls, the museum attempts to mark Gable’s birthday on the actual date, but this year has elected to have it two days after since it’s a Saturday and hopefully will draw better attendance. It has been an annual event for more than 25 years.
How many visitors are on hand depends to some degree on the weather, but Mattern expressed optimism that this year it will be buoyed with Barnhouse’s print availability.
Another new feature this year is that the new Ohio Valley Winery in Cadiz — its location is 131 E. Market St. — has produced a wine with a label honoring Scarlett and Rhett. It can be ordered by calling (740) 942-2333, and Mattern said some will be available Saturday at the museum.
“They’re selling it all the time and can’t keep it in stock,” Mattern said.
Mattern, who has served as the foundation’s executive director since 1999, said the reconstructed birthhome is on the same lot where the original home was. She credited Mike Cope, John Kirland and Chuck Peterson as three visionaries who came up with the idea to attract visitors to Cadiz. The generosity of the late Isabelle Clifford who left money to various organizations helped fund its construction and continues to provide some funding for it, according to Mattern.
“In a year we have several hundred visitors from near and far,” Mattern said, looking at the signatures in the guestbook. “We have locals but here is Michigan and here is South Carolina, Tennesse, New York, Pennsylvania, we’ve even had them from overseas, from Germany,” she said.
The Gable family moved away from Cadiz when Clark was about 10 months old, according to Mattern, “and they went to Pennsylvania and then after his mother died, Mr. Gable, because of the oil wells and things, he came back and they lived in Hopedale.”
Construction started on the museum in 1997, and it was dedicated Jan. 31, 1998, by Gable’s son, John Clark, in an elaborate ceremony.
Projects currently include raising funds to install an elevator in the museum and generating $70,000 for a life-sized bronze scultpure of the actor to be placed outside the reconstructed birthplace.
The foundation has about 70 members, according to Pat Eberhart, a volunteer who helps with the guided tours and doubles as “the computer whiz,” tracking membership, monitoring souvenir sales and helping with the quarterly newsletter.
“The upstairs has four rooms and a pantry dedicated to Carole Lombard,” Eberhart said of Gable’s third wife, “the love of his life.” She died in a plane crash in January 1942.
The tour includes a vast array of memorabilia — everything from his boyhood sled and monogrammed pajama top to his vintage 1954 blue Cadillac coupe de ville.
Membership in the foundation is open to anyone interested in perpetuating the memory of “The King of Hollywood,” and all memberships include complimentary quarterly newsletters, unlimited free admission to the museum and invitations to all museum and foundation events. Dues may be paid by cash, check or Visa/Mastercard with applications mailed in or submitted by phone.
Annual membership levels are: Adult, $20; senior citizen and spouse, $45; family, $85; donor, $235; and patron, $500, lifetime, which includes an engraved brick on the benefactor’s walk of fame at the Clark Gable Birthplace.
The brick paver project enables patrons “to own a piece of history at the birthplace of Clark Gable” by having an inscription engaved. The options are: Plaza I, in the front of the museum, $125; Plaza II, by the Clark Gable monument, $75; and Plaza III, on the east side of the museum, $50.
Another fundraiser that supports the foundation is a trip to Branson, Mo. It will be held July 16-21 and include six days and five nights, motorcoach transportation, admission to seven shows and other features. For information, contact Mattern at the museum at (740) 942-GWTW (4989). The mailing address is 138 Charleston St., Cadiz, OH, 43907. The foundation has a website presence at www.clarkgablefoundation.com and a Facebook page.
The museum and gift shop are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays in March, April, October and November; from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays in May through September; and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays from June through September.
It is closed December through February and on all major holidays.
The gift shop offers a variety of items for sale, including plates, literature, mugs, bumper stickers, magnets and postcards.
Museum admission rates are: Adults, $5.50; seniors, $4.75; children ages 5-16, $3.25; and groups of 15 or more, $3.50 per person. There will be special rates in place for the birthday celebration.
“Sometimes people walk in and say, ‘Oh, there he is!’ — they see that picture,” Mattern said, referring to one of Gable in “Gone With the Wind.”
“People will walk in here — I’ve had them start to cry. I had a woman walk in and tears just started rolling down her cheeks, and she said, ‘I never thought I’d be in Clark Gable’s museum.’
“It’s unbelievable,” Mattern said.
(Kiaski can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)