Website of the Week: The Clark Gable Foundation

It was very fortunate for tiny Cadiz, Ohio, the American Film Industry, and America itself that William Clark Gable was born Feb. 1, 1901 on Charleston Street.

On February 1, 1983 a radio disc jockey from Quincey, Ill. called the United States Post Office in the small Eastern Ohio town of Cadiz. The question to postman Pat Frazier was, “Do you know whose birthday it is today?”

Pat answered honestly that he did not and was informed by the deejay that Feb. 1 was Clark Gable’s birthday! He then asked what Cadiz, Ohio was doing to commemorate the birth of its most famous son.

That was the last time “nothing” was the answer.

The following year a local women’s organization, DISTAFF, organized the first annual “Clark Gable Birthday Celebration,” held Feb. 1, 1985. Despite a terrible ice storm the day before, the party was a smashing success with over three-hundred townspeople and devoted fans in attendance.

The 1985 celebration was the first organized attempt to commemorate Gable’s hometown connection. However, some time prior to that a group of local citizens concerned with the terrible economic slump enveloping the town and county, met to discuss tourism. Cadiz, once known as “The Proudest Small Town in America” because of its many famous sons including Gen. George Armstrong Custer, was highly dependent on the bituminous coal industry.

In the late 1970s due to a softening demand for ecologically polluting high sulfur coal, the mines began to close. At one point in 1985 the unemployment rate for Harrison County reached over 25%! The town experienced all the social problems that occur with high unemployment and population loss.

Some were convinced that the tourism potential of its beautiful topography, historical figures and strategic location near several major population centers was ripe for development. They were also quite embarrassed that no memorial to Clark Gable existed in his hometown. In fact they couldn’t even point out the house in which he was born. That house on Charleston Street in Cadiz was razed in the early 1960s.


The Clark Gable Foundation website.

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