Clara Kimball Young home

Excerpts from an Interview with Gareth Hughes

Gareth Hughes recalls his first meeting with Clara Kimball Young and their reunion, under sad circumstances, at the Motion Picture Country Home & Hospital in the 1960s.

Taken from Kevin Brownlow's audio interview with Gareth Hughes in 1963. With the kind permission of Kevin Brownlow and Stephen Lyons, Gareth's biographer.

Gareth Hughes played the juvenile lead in "Eyes of Youth" 1919. He later became an ordained priest and missionary to the Paiute In dians in Nevada.

I had a call from Ouida Bergere (Mrs George Fitzmaurice) and she said, "Gareth, would you like to go to Hollywood to make a picture?" I said "No. I'm an actor". We thought these new fangled things were just so much hodge-podge. "Well, come in the morning" she said "and Clara Kimball Young will be there".

So I went and met this most beautiful, gracious person. She was adorable. Her hair was red and black and these great big, luminous, lustrous eyes. Oh, she was glorious. And she won me over. And her man was there, Harry Garson, so they engaged me to be the juvenile lead at $350 a week.

Then the years rolled on and the next thing I knew I heard "Gareth, do you know who is in the hospital? I think I went down half-naked or in my pyjamas I was so thrilled and there was Clara. But still those glorious eyes were there - still lustrous - and that beautiful black hair was white, like the swallow, and beautifully coiffed.

She had a fund of the funniest stories I ever heard in my life. She let nothing get her down and she was a very, very sick person and I believe that there was no hope. And, one evening, I was there visiting her and "Gareth" she says "I'm not of any faith but I believe in God Almighty maker of Heaven and Earth. I have never been baptised. What is there to it?" So I told her, as simple as I could because I am not a theologian neither am I a scholar. So she said "Will you baptise me?" And, I tell you, my eyes filled with tears. So I said "So indeed I will. Tonight". So I got the loveliest vessels I had. The golden chalice that Marion Davis had given me. Of course, you don't baptise from a chalice but, why not? She was a great actress. And I had dear old Bill Nye, not the Director, he was an old cowboy stuntman, and the superintendent of nurses was there - and I could see those eyes looking at me. And when the reception came "We receive this servant into the congregation of Christ's flock and we sign her with the sign of the cross in token thereof" and so onů and it was over, but those eyes - I've never seen anything like it.

And then a few days later poor old Clara had a stroke, and then another, and then she gradually faded away - but it took months, and the inevitable happened, through the mercy of God and they asked me to conduct the funeral. I noticed that the place was packed, which is a very rare thing in Hollywood - because they go to be seen of men when they go to funerals. But this place was packed - so many of the old time stars - but a preponderance of old women and half of them had sitting by them teenaged girls. And it was the custom in Hollywood that, after the Benediction, the coffin is open and the people file by. And, as they went by, many of these elderly women said to me "Oh. Brother David. How we loved her. And we brought along our grandchildren to see."

And I remember on location with Clara in San Francisco and the press was so strong and so thick around her car of people just wanting to touch the plate glass of the window. And in the dining room of the St Francis Hotel I remember them standing on their chairs to look at her. She was a lovely person. She was a very humble person.

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Last revised, August 25, 2003