The greatest matinee idol in history has a new heir and namesake. Clark Gable made his debut on Sept. 20, at a hefty 10 lbs., and he is the first Clark Gable to grace the family since his grandfather died in November 1960. Purists who think that a famous name—like, say, Engelbert Humperdinck—should never be duplicated can console themselves that Clark Gable was a handle in the movies only. The new arrival’s full name is Clark James Gable. His suave grandfather was actually christened William Clark Gable 87 years ago.
Clark Gable’s slick hair, sword-thin mustache and pleasantly smirky smile sent millions of women into orbit during his 35-year career. Sadly, “the King” did not live to see his only child. John Clark Gable, 27, was born to Clark’s fifth wife, the late socialite Kay Spreckels, four months after the actor’s death. They didn’t call him Clark, Kay once said, because “Pa [Clark] thought that name was a handicap for a child.” Clark James is the first son of John and his wife, Tracy, a 26-year-old hairdresser, who decided to carry on the nom de screen.
John, who lives in Malibu, was brought up in heavily protected seclusion after a kidnapping threat when he was about a year old. He shares his father’s passion for adventuring—this week he’s competing in the grueling Baja 1000 off-road race in Mexico—and has just landed his first movie part, a lead in Bitter Duel, a Western that films in January. Fatherhood fits comfortably into this schedule. “I feed Clark, rock him to sleep and sing to him,” he says proudly. Not activities one readily thinks of doing with the original Clark, but John notes that even a given name is not a given. “Clark is a good name,” says the new father, “but he can always call himself C.J.”