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Josephine Dillon

U.S. Passport photo from 1918
Born Josephine Dillon
January 26, 1884(1884-01-26)
Denver, Colorado, United States
Died November 10, 1971 (aged 87)
Los Angeles, California
Years active 1944
Spouse(s) Clark Gable (1924-1930)

Josephine Dillon (January 26, 1884[1][2] – November 10, 1971) was an American actress who may best be remembered by history as Clark Gable's patron, acting coach and first wife.

Josephine Dillon was born on January 26, 1886 in Denver, Colorado to Judge Henry Clay Dillon (b. Lancaster, Wisconsin, d. April 6, 1912 in Los Angeles, California[3]) and Florence H. Dillon[4]. 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[4].

Dillon was educated in the California public school system and graduated from Stanford University in 1908.[5] 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, New York.

According to Josephine Dillon's U.S. 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.[3] 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, Josephine Dillon moved up the Pacific Coast from California to Oregon where she founded the Astoria Stock Company.[6]

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[7]. Initially, she was Gable's acting coach and patron (paying to have his teeth fixed, hair groomed, and so on.[8]) Dillon moved to Hollywood, California in 1924 with Gable following after her, and they were married on December 12 of the same year.[9]

Upon arrival in Hollywood, Dillon opened The Dillon Stock Company[10] and Gable began enjoying small successes in the film industry. Dillon divorced Gable after six years of marriage on April 1, 1930[11], and he married Texas socialite Maria (Rhea) Franklin Prentiss Lucas Langham days later. Although, it has been alleged that she first divorced him in Mexico in 1929, but the divorce was not legally recognized.[12]

Dillon is the author of "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. Laura Hart, her student and protege continues (2009) to pass along her teachings in the same manner that Dillon taught all her students- through a one on one apprenticeship.

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. It should be noted that Dillon was seventeen years Gable's senior at the time of their marriage. It has been alleged by some that Gable insisted that their marriage was never consummated[13], 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[14].

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.[15]

She is purportedly buried at the Calvary Cemetery in East Los Angeles, California.[citation needed]



  1. ^ 1900 U.S. Census: Long Beach, Los Angeles, California; Roll: T623 91; Page: 25A; Enumeration District: 109
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ a b Passport Application 1918
  4. ^ a b 1900 U.S. Census
  5. ^ Spicer, Christopher J. (2002). Clark Gable: Biography, Filmography, Bibliography. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. p. 41. ISBN 0-786-41124-4. 
  6. ^ Gable: A Life
  7. ^ Lombard - Time Magazine
  8. ^ Harris, Warren G. (2002). Clark Gable: A Biography. New York: Harmony. p. 24. ISBN 0-609-60495-3. 
  9. ^ The Clark Gable Tour Part I
  10. ^ The Clark Gable Tour Part I
  11. ^ Clark Gable
  12. ^ Gable: His Wives
  13. ^ Josephine Dillon - Biography
  14. ^ The Clark Gable Tour Part II
  15. ^ One could guess as the reasons for this discrepancy, however her birth date is listed as the year 1884 for this article due to it appearance most often in documents related to her life.
  16. ^ The Lady and the Monster at the Internet Movie Database
  17. ^ Men on Her Mind at the Internet Movie Database

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