Josephine Dillon

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Josephine Dillon
Josephine Dillon 1919.jpg
U.S. Passport photo from 1918
Born (1884-01-26)January 26, 1884
Denver, Colorado
Died November 10, 1971(1971-11-10) (aged 87)
Los Angeles, California
Resting place
Interred in Calvary Cemetery, East Los Angeles (plot at Section C, Lot 80, Grave 4)[1]
Spouse(s) Clark Gable
(m.1924-1930; divorced)

Josephine Dillon (January 26, 1884[2][3] – November 10, 1971) was an American actress who may best be remembered by history as Clark Gable's patron, acting coach and first wife.

Life and career[edit]

Josephine Dillon was born in 1884 in Denver, Colorado to Judge Henry Clay Dillon (died April 6, 1912, Los Angeles, California[4]) and Florence Dillon (née Hood).[5] She was the younger sister of opera singer Enrica Clay Dillon. Per the U.S. Census of 1900, Josephine's family was living in Long Beach, California, and she had four sisters and one brother living at home with her and her parents along with her maternal grandmother, Maria Hood, and a servant named Yick Leong.[5]

Dillon was educated in the California public school system and graduated from Stanford University in 1908.[6] After graduating from Stanford, Dillon studied acting in Italy for one year before returning to the United States to act on Broadway for actor Edward Everett Horton's stock company in New York City.

According to her United States passport application dated December 27, 1918, she was then employed as an actress, her father was deceased, and she had one brother, James D. Dillon, who was serving in the 158th Infantry, and Josephine was planning a humanitarian war relief trip to Turkey with the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief based in New York City.[4] Her passport application goes on to describe her as being 5' 6.5" tall with dark brown hair and hazel eyes.

Sometime after returning to the United States from her trip to Turkey, Dillon moved up the Pacific Coast from California to Oregon where she founded the Astoria Stock Company.[7]

During her time in Portland, she met her future husband, actor Clark Gable, while she was working as a stage director for the Red Lantern Players.[8] Initially, she was Gable's acting coach and patron, paying to have his teeth fixed, hair styled. She guided him in building up his chronically undernourished body, and taught him better body control and posture. She spent considerable time training his naturally high-pitched voice, which Gable slowly managed to lower, and to gain better resonance and tone. As his speech habits improved, Gable's facial expressions became more natural and convincing. After the long period of rigorous training, Dillon eventually considered him ready to attempt a film career.[9]) Dillon moved to Hollywood, California in 1924 with Gable following after her, and they were married on December 12, 1924.[10]

Upon arrival in Hollywood, Dillon opened The Dillon Stock Company [11] and Gable began enjoying small successes in the film industry. Dillon and Gable divorced on April 1, 1930, after six years of marriage,[12] and he married Texas socialite Maria "Ria" Franklin Prentiss Lucas Langham days later. Although it has been alleged that she first divorced him in Mexico in 1929, the divorce was not legally recognized.[13]

Dillon authored Modern Acting, which describes in detail the training that she put Gable through over a 6.5 year period. She also taught Errol Flynn, Gary Cooper and Cary Grant.

Dillon was seventeen years Gable's senior, and it has been alleged by some that Gable insisted that their marriage was never consummated. Little is known of the rest of Dillon's life after her divorce from Gable although she did appear in two films at the age of 60 in 1944. [14] and it has been further asserted that Gable owned the house in which she lived (located at 12746 Landale St. in North Hollywood, California) until his death in 1960 at which time the residence was left to her in his will.[15]

While the U.S. Census of 1900, as well as her death certificate, lists her year of birth as 1884, Dillon's passport application lists her year of birth as 1886.



  1. ^ Find a Grave
  2. ^ 1900 U.S. Census: Long Beach, Los Angeles, California; Roll: T623 91; Page: 25A; Enumeration District: 109
  3. ^ Passport Application 1918, January 2, 1906-March 31, 1925; National Archives Microfilm Publication M1490, 2740 rolls; General Records of the Department of State, Record Group 59; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
  4. ^ a b Passport Application 1918
  5. ^ a b 1900 U.S. Census
  6. ^ Spicer, Christopher J. (2002). Clark Gable: Biography, Filmography, Bibliography. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. p. 41. ISBN 0-786-41124-4. 
  7. ^ Gable: A Life
  8. ^ "Lombard", Time Magazine
  9. ^ Harris, Warren G. (2002). Clark Gable: A Biography. New York: Harmony. p. 24. ISBN 0-609-60495-3. 
  10. ^ The Clark Gable Tour, Part I
  11. ^ The Clark Gable Tour Part I
  12. ^ Clark Gable NNDb profile
  13. ^ Gable: His Wives
  14. ^ Josephine Dillon biography at IMDb
  15. ^ The Clark Gable Tour, Part II
  16. ^ The Lady and the Monster at the Internet Movie Database
  17. ^ Men on Her Mind at the Internet Movie Database

External links[edit]