Well, at least among chorus girls polled by the Oakland Tribune in a totally unscientific tally they published February 9, 1936. But we Warren William info seekers will settle for that!
Here’s how Tribune writer Lyle Rooks introduced the “poll”
We went out and rounded up a whole flock of shapely sweeties and asked each and every one to pick 10 acting gentlemen of sartorial resplendence at whom she would like to cast a vote—and perhaps a “come hither” eye. Crawling groggily from under the welter of furious and enthusiastic balloting, we reeled to research and computation.
Rooks reports that WW and the future “King” were chosen by 90% of the “Ladies of the Line.” Rooks adds that despite the poll technically being a tie, a slight edge to actual Best Dressed may go to Warren William as several girls were reported to have chosen Gable simply because they had a crush on him (hey, our hero can’t have it all!).
The best part of the article though is about Rooks hunting down Warren William to talk to him about his victory. One could easily imagine William, upon hearing the results, replying in character “‘Blonds or brunets? And where are they?'”
But what appears to have most impressed Rooks about Warren William was his automobile dressing room parked behind the scenery outside the Burbank studio:
Nothing like that automobile was ever before seen on land or sea. Its exterior is lacquered a chaste dark blue and since the body is solid, a la truck, from the driver’s seat back, it bears a trifling resemblance to a hearse.
Inside, the color scheme is gray and blue. A narrow bench, covered with a long blue cushion, runs along one side. It has drawers underneath for accessories. Opposite and built into the other side wall is a combination dressing … with mirror and desk. Just behind the driver’s seat is a pole with sliding hangers for suits. A spring arrangement can be fastened cross to keep them from sliding around when the car is in motion. The William mind is inventive and runs to gadgets.
A heater attached to the dashboard is controlled by the water circulating in the motor. Another electric heater can be plugged in on the stage. For moments of repose when the actor stretches his long frame out on the wall bunk, there is a needlepoint pillow and a crocheted Afghan, love offerings from fans. The comforts of home on wheels. A door opens in the back of the car just like the kind they take packages out of, except that it has another set-in mirror.
When the stunned writer asked why William bothered to act when he obviously had a passion for inventing, William answered, “So I could make money to use for inventing.”
Rooks skillfully brings the theme back to clothes by noting another Warren William invention, this one sounding like an electric tie-rack though it stores 30 hats and 30 pairs of shoes. William goes on to say he has no idea of how many suits he owns, but when asked which color he prefers to wear, William says, “‘Well, I like brown, but gray likes me best.'”
Finally Rooks gives a detailed account of what Warren William wore to the races on a warm-day:
He had on light gray trousers with a grayish tweed coat, a string polo shirt and cap of small black and white checked material. Yes, actually a cap. He likes them and he can wear one with an air. His oxfords were white with extra heavy crepe soles, and knotted around his throat was a bandana that shrieked its red and orange and green to high heaven. Somehow he managed to carry off the whole outfit with distinction.
Besides Warren William and Clark Gable, who it’s noted owns about 25 suits and 30 pairs of shoes, other stars finishing high in the vote were runner-up William Powell (owner of 35 suits), Adolphe Menjou and George Brent, who tied, Dick Powell (owner of 40 suits), then another tie between Ricardo Cortez, Gary Cooper, and James Cagney. The article also mentions that Cagney, Pat O’Brien and Edward G. Robinson are most spotted about town in tails and white ties.