Ethics Alarms has had an influx of new readers lately (Thanks, “O’Reilly Factor”!) and many have been visiting and commenting on older posts that I hadn’t thought about for a long time. “Evangeline” found one of the saddest and strangest, my post in December of 2011 about the death of Judy Lewis, who was the love child of Hollywood legends Loretta Young and Clark Gable. Gable, the “King of Hollywood,” never acknowledged her as his daughter, and Young, who like Gable was married and afraid of harming her reputation, pretended to adopt the girl, never revealing to her that she was her real mother, and the top leading man in movies was her father. (Judy was a dead ringer for him, too, as you can see in the photo above.) You should read the original post, here.
Evangeline apparently knows her Golden Age of Hollywood history, and makes a case that I was too hard on “Rhett Butler.” I’ll be back at the end for a rebuttal. Here is her Comment of the Day on the post, “Clark Gable, Loretta Young, and the Betrayal of Judy Lewis.”
“Gable’s contention all along was that he had been willing to acknowledge his daughter, Judy, but that Young insisted he stay away from both of them in order to stop the gossip which had started with their affair on the “Call of the Wild” location shoot. For the record, he went to see the baby at Young’s Beach home shortly after she was born, and even wanted to give Young Support payments, but she wouldn’t hear of it. Eventually, Gable did force her to take money to buy furniture for Judy, who was at that time sleeping in a dresser drawer because Young was afraid to arouse suspicion by purchasing a crib! Eventually, she sent the child away for a couple of years to be reared by Nuns until Young could “adopt” her.
“Clearly, Young was petrified at the possibility of a Public Scandal erupting over the birth of their daughter. Of course, in retrospect, honesty would have been better for Judy, but– if Gable erred– I believe it was in his willingness to comply with Young’s wishes. Later on, he really believed that God was punishing him with childlessness because of his failure to force his paternal rights on Young and put a stop to the lying. It was he who initiated the personal meeting with Judy when she was in High School.
“Of course, it has also been observed that Gable was really never too crazy about acting, and he may have been relieved just to be out of it all had his Contract been cancelled by MGM for moral reasons. Young, on the other hand, was very happy with Movie Life, and her own role as a glamorous Star. So maybe she just had more to lose. Anyhow, I agree this is all very sad, but I cannot ascribe the same villainy to Gable as to Young who, after all, concocted the whole “plan,” and more-or-less forced him to go along with it.”
I’m back, and I still think Clark Cable was a villain. Little Loretta Young, half the star that Gable was, forced him to abandon her daughter knowing that she was living a lie? How? Could anyone have forced my father, or my mother, to do that to me? Never. Who could force you to just leave your child thinking she had no parents, when you were one of them? Gable was rich, he was famous, and he constructed a reputation of being as gallant, courageous and noble in real life as he was on the screen. Would Rhett Butler ever have treated Bonnie Blue like that? Would any decent, responsible father? If Clark Cable gave a damn about his daughter, he could have and would have been a father to her, whatever the consequences.
He is responsible for his betrayal of her and accountable. The fact that he was following Young’s plan shouldn’t diminish his culpability in any way, nor does it relieve him from just condemnation.