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Clark Gable's daughter and Carole's Lombard's stepdaughter

Posted by cinemafan2 on 2010.06.04 at 19:11

Clark Gable frequently said that his fondest wish was that he'd had a child. Yet he took no interest in raising the daughter that he had with Loretta Young. She was raised as Judy Lewis by Loretta Young and her husband, Tom Lewis.  In her authorized biography, "Forever Young," Loretta Young said that Gable never contributed a dime to the bank account she set up for their daughter shortly after she was born. Nor did he enwill her anything on his death.  


Loretta Young reportedly never told the truth to her husband about Judy and he apparently never asked her. But one of Judy's half-brothers, Christopher, told Judy that Tom did ask Clark Gable about the rumor that he was Judy Lewis' biological father while he was at a party during the making of his second movie with Loretta, "Key to the City" in 1950Gable denied
this rumors, saying that he would love to have a child and adding, "Do you think I would let anyone else bring up my only child?".  But he that is exactly what he did.  Tom Lewis was bringing up his only child.

Gable even declined an invitation to Judy's wedding sent to him and Kay in 1959 by Young, long after any concern about a breach of a "morals clause" was history.  Gable wasn't even under contract to MGM or any other studio by that time.  

According to his son, John Clark Gable, who was born four months after his father's death, Gable denied that he ever had any children to his wife Kay to the very end. He disputes Judy Lewis' claim to be Gable's daughter to this day even though Loretta Young admitted it privately to her daugther while still alive and publicly in a posthumously published authorized biography. 

           A news article on John Clark Gable from 2006 and a photo taken in 2008.

See the transcript of Larry King's interview with Judy Lewis and her other half brother, Peter Lewis:

                                      A recent photograph of Judy Lewis from the Loretta Young website. 

Judy Lewis turned 75 in late 2010.  After being an actress she went on to complete a masters program in psychology and works as a child psycholgist.  She is also a writer and a speaker.  Her autobiography is entitled "Uncommon Knowledge."   Her mother's authorized biography supplements Judy's book and provides another point of view.  It is entitled "Forever Young."

So why did Gable never acknowledge his only daughter?  Some people blame Carole Lombard for his decision.  They say she felt threatened by Loretta Young and that if he acknowledged that he had a child by Loretta Young it would highlight the fact that she was barren. I don't buy that. First of all, Carole was not barren as was shown by tests at Johns Hopkins Hospital. And she had no reason to feel threatened by Loretta Young. 

                        The Peters family, Stuart, Frederic, Elizabeth and Jane Alice Peters, (Carole), circa 1911.

Carole was extremely close to her mother and her two married brothers. She had been both a friend and stepmother to William Powell's young son while they were married and she maintained a warm relationship with Powell even after they were divorced in 1933. (Lombard help nurse him back to health when he was diagnosed with cancer in the late 1930's)  She tried hard to get Gable to normalize his relations with his family throughout their six years together. She worked diligently to foster at least some sort of a relationship between Gable and his father who showed up at the gates of MGM in the mid-1930's as a penniless vagrant. (She even built a small house on the edge of their property in Encino for him and his wife to live in.) And when his uncle showed up at the Atlanta premier of "Gone With the Wind" she made sure Gable found the time to at least greet and meet with him.

                                   Carole and Clark's uncle with Gable in Atlanta -  December 1939.
I suspect the truth of his reluctance to acknowledge his only daughter and child born in his lifetime was tied to his own insecurity.  He was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood but he felt that everything could disappear overnight.  And then what would he do?

And that insecurity was perhaps the reason he denied to Kay to the end of his life in 1960 that he had ever fathered any children.  (Kay had been married three times before she wed Gable and had two children of her own from a previous relationship so there was no particular reason for prudery between them.) For Gable, however, to acknowledge his daughter publicly meant that he had to admit that he had lied to Kay privately for years and that he had lied to the public for decades. That humble acknowledgement might jeopardize his carefully crafted and nurtured image.  It was the reason Loretta Young skirted the issue with her daughter for years.  But she did admit to the truth privately when confronted by her daughter.  Gable took the easy way out and simply denied everything to the end. 

The cost to Gable of his denial was perhaps a loss of some self-respect and the loss of the opportunity to have any relationship with his only daughter. But the cost to his daughter was far greater. It led to her feeling alienated and bitter for much of her life and directing most of her anger and bitterness at her mother, the person who had shown her love and affection and raised her, rather then at her world-famous biological father who she never knew but simply fantasized about.

As they say, "what price Hollywood?"

Fellow MGM star Judy Garland sings "Dear Mr. Gable" in 1937, in a publicist's stroke of genius.


(Anonymous) at 2010-07-21 05:01 (UTC) (Link)

Dear Mr. Gable ...

Judy Lewis had to contend with her mother's seeming indifference over the span of thirty years and so when she struck back, her mother got the brunt of her anger. She seemed more willing to give Gable a pass, more than he deserved in my opinion. Except for a few dollars he gave to Loretta to, "buy the kid a decent bed" he made no effort to contribute to her support.

When he came to visit her when she was 15, (a visit that her mother said never happened except in Judy's fertile imagination), for reasons known only to himself, he cupped her face in his hands and said, "Good-bye Judy". Apparently he meant that literally because he never made any attempt to ever see her again.

When she graduated from High School, he did not acknowledge it. When she got married he did not attend her wedding, though invited, and did not even send a gift nor did he acknowledge the birth of his grand daughter. And the final rejection came when he died and Judy was left out of his will. All in all I would have to say that Mr. Gable acted like a cad.

I can't blame Loretta for being bitter, it is too bad that she never experienced true happiness. I only hope that she and Judy had a reconciliation before she died. Judy turned out to be quite a remarkable person under the circumstances.
cinemafan2 at 2011-09-29 02:05 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Dear Mr. Gable ...

I found a great quote from Judy Lewis recently on Clark Gable. It is "Where were you?"
(Anonymous) at 2011-12-05 20:30 (UTC) (Link)

Loretta Young was no saint either

First of all, RIP, Judy Lewis.

Ms. Young tried to put herself as so religious, such a good Catholic. Yet, she was having an affair with Gable when he was married.

Oh, and Google "Christopher Lewis" and "scandal."
cinemafan2 at 2011-12-05 22:32 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Loretta Young was no saint either

Loretta Young had an interesting career in pre-code films. In one from 1934, I believe it was called "Born to be Bad" she played a prostitute. By 1935 public scrutiny of Hollywood had increased and Loretta tightly managed her image. But she was hardly the prude some make her out to be.
Madeline Hack
Madeline Hack at 2012-10-21 02:39 (UTC) (Link)
Sort of an older topic, but according to Judy, Clark tried to see her and Loretta, but she kept on telling him to go away--fearful of them being seen together. You can't really put all the blame on him.

Edited at 2012-10-21 02:41 am (UTC)
(Anonymous) at 2014-05-10 20:50 (UTC) (Link)
I have a lot of spiritual contact with Clark Gable and also Carole Lombard. He also adamantly denies (or his spirit denies) an child either by Kay or by Loretta Young. Carole has also insisted she was pregnant (as she would know now, as spirit) with twins at the time of the crash. I'm understanding she was somewhere around two to three months along. That's all I can say. I suppose we'll never know for sure. Her spirit was and still is devastated by her premature death and the loss of the babies. She still loves Clark immensely, and he loves her to the ends of the earth. I sometimes channel love letters between them. Carole is currently embodied where I don't believe Clark is.
(Anonymous) at 2017-01-21 21:50 (UTC) (Link)
Why aren't they together?
(Anonymous) at 2017-04-09 20:26 (UTC) (Link)

Marilyn Monroe

Sabe alguma coisa sobre Marilyn Monroe ?
(Anonymous) at 2014-06-30 18:34 (UTC) (Link)

look beneath the cover

In Judy lewis' book, Uncommon Knowledge, she recalls a more candid confession from Loretta Young regarding the worst kept secret, that Judy was indeed the natural daughter of Loretta and Clark Gable. Loretta also unraveled the deception she and her mother (Judy's grandmother) wove to hide Judy. Despite the fact that Gable immediately moved out of the house he was sharing with Ria Langham and filed for legal separation, and despite Gable's many attempts to stay in contact with Loretta Young, she was the one who pushed him away and chose to form her own plan, leaving Gable in the dark. The chief purpose of Loretta young's life was to maintain her image of Catholic Piety, and she clung to it stubbornly. I The day Judy was born, someone sent Gable a telegram, but Loretta said it wasn't she. But somehow, Gable was led to believe Young immediately sent the baby away. It wasn't until January, at a reception that both Gable and Young attended, that Loretta's conscience got to her and she told Gable that the baby was still with her. Gable's outraged reply, "Do you mean she has been here all along and you didn't tell me?"
Yes, that's correct. It was Loretta cutting Clark out to serve herself. They made elaborate arrangements for him to see his daughter. Loretta described it to Judy, saying "he couldn't stop holding you and touching you." He was appalled that the baby was sleeping in a dresser drawer and gave her a large bundle of cash. Did Gable ever contribute to the account Loretta set up? No, and I don't blame him. He was denied access to his daughter and realized Loretta had no intention of including him. He saw her only 2 or 3 more times as a baby before she was sent away to a convent home. His rights were denied, and therefore he denied Loretta the only thing she wanted...money.
When people surmise that Clark Gable was callous about his own daughter, I don't believe it. He deferred to Loretta's wishes to keep it all a secret and he had no recourse. He visited Judy once more when she was 15. Judy didn't realize he was her father, but the meeting was poignant, and when she recalled it later in life, she understood it meant the world to both of them.
Clark Gable had a massive heart attack on November 6th, 1960---which happened to be Judy's 25th birthday. He died November 16th---which was the 1st birthday of Judy's daughter Maria, Gable's grand-daughter.
Don't tell me it didn't matter to Clark Gable. Those dates tell their own story.
As to why he didn't attend Judy's wedding or acknowledge her? Because he was not acknowledged, and that it the painful legacy of Loretta Young's own doing.
cinemafan2 at 2014-06-30 20:09 (UTC) (Link)

Re: look beneath the cover

Gable had years to seek out his daughter and to get to know her. He didn't and denied her existence to Kay to the end. He even denied her in his will. Striking back at Loretta Young by ignoring his own daughter was hardly manly and certainly not "kingly".

Edited at 2014-06-30 09:52 pm (UTC)
(Anonymous) at 2014-11-29 02:23 (UTC) (Link)

Re: look beneath the cover

Kay Spreckles Gable said "publicly" that Clark Gable denied having any children---of course he denied it! There were very high stakes involved which would included all of the Gable estate, his assets and his public image. But Judy Lewis recalled in her book a time when she and her mother where attending a Catholic mass. Judy was by this time around 30 years of age. There at the mass was Kay Spreckles Gable and little John Clark. Kay gave an obvious and smug greeting: "Hello, Loretta. I would like you to meet my son, John Clark," to which Loretta drew Judy forward and countered, "Nice to meet you. Kay, this is my daughter, Judy". It was a clear face-off between two women who knew exactly who fathered their children, and knew the other knew it!
All of this assumption that Clark Gable was a dead-beat is idiotic. Remember the times, the Hay's Code, the moral stigma's, the old studio system controlling everyone. It's a sad story of a day gone by and everyone suffered the loss.
cinemafan2 at 2014-11-29 03:54 (UTC) (Link)

Re: look beneath the cover

The Hays Code, the moral code, the studio system were all becoming history by the 1950's. Gable left MGM in the early 1950's. Young invited him to their daughter'd high school graduation and wedding in the mid to late 1960's as a family friend. He declined and didn't even send a gift.

Edited at 2014-11-29 03:54 am (UTC)
(Anonymous) at 2016-07-23 17:17 (UTC) (Link)

Re: look beneath the cover

This portrayal of Clark as a dead beat isn't fair....sure he had years while she was a teenager to get to know her, and 1 or 2 invites by Loretta to come to events but you can't suddenly play father after years of being shut out of her life by the mother, anyone who knows Clark, even a little bit, would know Clark would of loved to have been there for Judy, in all the interviews I have ever seen concerning Clark Gable everybody said he was a loving kind human being...it is not fair to comment on one's personal problems especially concerning kids if we were not there to see what exactly happened, I would suspect it was a mutual responsibility between Loretta and Clark that Judy never was part of CLark's life.
(Anonymous) at 2017-03-03 19:34 (UTC) (Link)

RE: Re: look beneath the cover

did you know him at all? He probably denied her because he didn't want Carole to know he could cheat and then after years of denying her, the public backlash. Public image is a strong motivator for doing the wrong thing, sadly.
(Anonymous) at 2014-07-16 11:35 (UTC) (Link)


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(Anonymous) at 2014-11-13 01:13 (UTC) (Link)
Definitely Gables loss! Judy Lewis was a beautiful ,classy lady. Shame on him and her mother for putting her thru what they did. It certainly changed my opinion of all parties involved, yes including Carole. Marcella Rabwin, secretary to Selznick spoke of the 'secret" and how much it had hurt an innocent child.
(Anonymous) at 2014-11-15 08:20 (UTC) (Link)

Judy Davis

The comments on this site are from the comfortable vantage of 21st century--not the 1930s-50s. There's no way Gable or Young could have come clean about Judy Davis during the period they worked and lived without putting at high risk their reputations and livelihoods of which their families depended. Ditto risked compromising Young's marriage and Judy Davis' relationship with her stepfather not to mention the child's peace of mind and reputation in the community if the secret were publicly exposed--i.e., Gable & Young's illegitimate child. No responsible parent would want to ruin their young child's life by exposing her to a public scandal and private trauma when she was too immature to handle it.
(Anonymous) at 2015-07-19 20:18 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Judy Davis

Well-said! I agree with you on all counts. People tend to view the past through a modern day prism and lose sight of the critical historical context. As you say, revealing a "love child" would have been considered a horrific scandal on many levels.
(Anonymous) at 2017-05-02 19:45 (UTC) (Link)

RE: Re: Judy Davis

Judy Lewis not Judy Davis
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