Sunday 18 March 2018

Babes, beatings and bitter end of the Gorgeous Gael

Jack Doyle's ex-wife Movita died earlier this month, and Donal Lynch looks back at the swashbuckling boxer's singular life

Pride of Cobh: Jack Doyle with his second wife, actress Movita Castaneda
Pride of Cobh: Jack Doyle with his second wife, actress Movita Castaneda
Jack Doyle with Nancy Keogh walking over O'Connell Street
Jack Doyle with Judith Allen, his first wife
Marlon Brando, whom Movita married after Jack Doyle
Donal Lynch

Donal Lynch

'When I was young and I was in my day, I could steal what woman's heart there was away." Thus begins Jimmy McCarthy's famous ballad, The Contender, which has as its subject Jack Doyle, known to one and all as The Gorgeous Gael.

Doyle was something like a cross between Eric Boon and Richard Burton, a hot-headed, womanising playboy whose far-fetched life and times took in brawls with Clark Gable, affairs with billionaire heiresses and heavyweight title fights. One of the most notable hearts he stole was that of Movita Castaneda, an actress who had also counted Marlon Brando among her loves. She died peacefully in Los Angeles this month, aged 98.

She and Doyle were the Burton and Taylor of their day - she was said to have stood up Howard Hughes to meet Jack - and when they came to Dublin to be married at the church on Westland Row, hundreds of people followed them down O'Connell Street.

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