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Loretta Young

Loretta Young (January 6, 1913August 12, 2000) was an American actress.

Early life

She was born in Salt Lake City, Utah as Gretchen Young (she took the name Michaela at confirmation) she moved with her family to Hollywood when she was three years old. Loretta and her sisters Polly Ann Young and Elizabeth Jane Young (screen name Sally Blane) worked as child actresses, of whom Loretta was the most successful. Young's first role was at age 3 in the silent film The Primrose Ring. The movie's star Mae Murray so fell in love with little Gretchen that she wanted to adopt her. Although her mother declined, Gretchen was allowed to live with Murray for two years. Her half-sister Georgiana (daughter of her mother and stepfather George Belzer) eventually married actor Ricardo Montalban. During her high school years, she was educated at Ramona Convent Secondary School.

Career

She was billed as "Gretchen Young" in the 1917 film, Sirens of the Sea. It wasn't until 1928 that she was first billed as "Loretta Young", in The Whip Woman. That same year she co-starred with Lon Chaney in the MGM film Laugh, Clown, Laugh. The next year, she was anointed one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars.

In 1930, Young, then 17, eloped with 26-year-old actor Grant Withers and married him in Yuma, Arizona. The marriage was annulled the next year, just as their second movie together (ironically titled Too Young to Marry) was released.

During the Second World War, Young made "Ladies Courageous" (1944; reissued as "Fury in the Sky"), the fictionalized story of the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron. It depicted a unit of female pilots during WW2 who primarily flew bombers from the factories to their final destinations.

Young made as many as seven or eight movies a year and won an Oscar in 1947 for her performance in The Farmer's Daughter. The same year she co-starred with Cary Grant and David Niven in The Bishop's Wife, a perennial favorite that still airs on television during the Christmas season and was later remade as The Preacher's Wife with Whitney Houston. In 1949, Young received another Academy Award nomination (for Come to the Stable) and in 1953 appeared in her last film, It Happens Every Thursday.

Moving to television, she hosted and starred in the well-received half hour anthology series The Loretta Young Show. Her "sweeping" trademark appearance at the beginning of each show was to appear dramatically in various high fashion evening gowns. She returned at the program's conclusion to restate to the viewer the moral of the story just seen. (Young's introductions and conclusions to her television shows, which were widely satirized at the time, are not rerun on television because she had it legally stipulated that they not be; the ever image-conscious Young didn't want to be seen in "outdated" wardrobe and hairstyles.) Her program ran in prime time on NBC for eight years, the longest-running prime time network program ever hosted by a woman up to that time.

The program, which earned her three Emmys, began with the premise that each drama was an answer to a question asked in her fan mail; the program's original title was Letter to Loretta. The title was changed to The Loretta Young Show during the first season, and the "letter" concept was dropped altogether at the end of the second season. At this time, Young's health required that there be a number of guest hosts and guest stars; her first appearance in the 1955-56 season was for the Christmas show. From this point on, Young appeared in only about half of each season's shows as an actress and merely functioned as the program host for the remainder. This program, minus Young's introductions and summarized conclusions, was rerun in daytime by NBC from 1960 to 1964 and also appeared, again without the introductions and conclusions, in syndication.

In the 1962-1963 television, Young appeared as Christine Massey, a free-lance magazine writer and the widowed mother of seven children in CBS's The New Loretta Young Show. It fared poorly in the ratings on Monday evenings against ABC's Ben Casey and was dropped after twenty-six weeks. Dack Rambo, later a co-star of CBS's Dallas, appeard as one of her twin sons in the series.

Affair with Clark Gable

In 1935, Young had an affair with Clark Gable, who was married at the time, while on location for The Call of the Wild. During their relationship, Young became pregnant. Due to the moral codes placed on the film industry Young covered up her pregnancy in order to avoid damaging her career (as well as Gable's). Returning from a long "vacation" (during which she secretly gave birth to her daughter), Young announced that she had adopted the infant girl. The child was raised as "Judy Lewis" after taking the name of Young's second husband, producer Tom Lewis.

According to Lewis's autobiography Uncommon Knowledge, Lewis was made fun of because of the ears that she received from her father, Clark Gable. In the documentary Girl 27, she states that, at 7, she had an operation to "pin back" her large ears and that her mother always had her wearing bonnets as a child. Over the years she had heard rumors and secretly knew that Clark Gable was her biological father, but it was not until 1958 when Judy's future husband Joseph Tinney told her that "everybody" knew the rumors that she really began to suspect.

Several years later, after becoming a mother herself, she finally confronted her mother, who, after promptly vomiting, admitted to her true parentage, stating that she (Judy) was a "just a walking mortal sin."

Marriages and relationships

  • Married to actor Grant Withers from 1930-1931.
  • Married producer Tom Lewis in 1940 and they divorced very bitterly in the mid 1960s. Lewis died in 1988. They had two sons, Peter (Peter Lewis of the legendary San Francisco rock band Moby Grape) and Christopher, a film director.
  • Married fashion designer Jean Louis in 1993. Louis died in 1997.
  • Involved in affairs with Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable; in 1935, she gave birth to Gable's daughter, who was known as Judy Lewis.

Later life

Loretta Young was the godmother of actress Marlo Thomas, whose parents (her father was Danny Thomas), were, like Young, devout Roman Catholics. From the time of Young's retirement in the 1960s, until not long before her death, she devoted herself to volunteer work for charities and churches with her friend of many years, Jane Wyman. Young did, however, briefly come out of retirement to star in two television films, Christmas Eve (1986), and Lady in a Corner (1989). Young won a Golden Globe Award for the former, and was nominated again for the latter.

Young died on August 12, 2000 from ovarian cancer at the Santa Monica, California home of her half-sister, Georgiana Montalban, and was interred in the family plot in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California. The last song she heard was a version of Amazing Grace, recorded by her son Peter Lewis and the band he was associated with at the time.

Young has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame — one for motion pictures, at 6104 Hollywood Blvd, and another for television, at 6141 Hollywood Blvd.

Filmography

Year Film Role Other notes
1917 The Primrose Ring Fairy uncredited
Sirens of the Sea Child as Gretchen Young
1919 The Only Way Child on the operating table
1921 White and Unmarried Child uncredited
The Sheik Arab child uncredited
1927 Naughty But Nice Bit Part uncredited
Her Wild Oat Bit by Ping Pong Table uncredited
1928 The Whip Woman The Girl
Laugh, Clown, Laugh Simonetta
The Magnificent Flirt Denise Laverne
The Head Man Carol Watts
Scarlet Seas Margaret Barbour
1929 Seven Footprints to Satan One of Satan's victims uncredited
The Squall Irma
The Girl in the Glass Cage Gladys Cosgrove
Fast Life Patricia Mason Stratton
The Careless Age Muriel
The Forward Pass Patricia Carlyle
The Show of Shows Meet My Sister number
1930 Loose Ankles Ann Harper Berry
The Man from Blankley's Margery Seaton
Show Girl in Hollywood Herself, Cameo Appearance at Premiere uncredited
The Second Floor Mystery Marion Ferguson
Road to Paradise Mary Brennan/Margaret Waring
Warner Bros. Jubilee Dinner Herself short subject
Kismet Marsinah
War Nurse Nurse uncredited
The Truth About Youth Phyllis Ericson
The Devil to Pay! Dorothy Hope
1931 How I Play Golf, by Bobby Jones No. 8: 'The Brassie' Loretta (uncredited) short subject
Beau Ideal Isobel Brandon
The Right of Way Rosalie Evantural
The Stolen Jools Herself (cameo) short subject
Three Girls Lost Norene McMann
Too Young to Marry Elaine Bumpstead
Big Business Girl Claire 'Mac' McIntyre
I Like Your Nerve Diane Forsythe
The Ruling Voice Gloria Bannister
Platinum Blonde Gallagher
1932 Taxi! Sue Riley Nolan
The Hatchet Man Sun Toya San
Play-Girl Buster 'Bus' Green Dennis
Week-end Marriage Lola Davis Hayes
Life Begins Grace Sutton
They Call It Sin Marion Cullen
1933 Employees' Entrance Madeleine Walters West
Grand Slam Marcia Stanislavsky
Zoo in Budapest Eve
The Life of Jimmy Dolan Peggy
Heroes for Sale Ruth Loring Holmes
Midnight Mary Mary Martin
She Had to Say Yes Florence 'Flo' Denny
The Devil's in Love Margot Lesesne
Man's Castle Trina
1934 The House of Rothschild Julie Rothschild
Born to Be Bad Letty Strong
Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back Lola Field
Caravan Countess Wilma
The White Parade June Arden
1935 Clive of India Margaret Maskelyne Clive
Shanghai Barbara Howard
The Call of the Wild Claire Blake
The Crusades Berengaria, Princess of Navarre
Hollywood Extra Girl Crusades cast member short subject
1936 The Unguarded Hour Lady Helen Dudley Dearden
Private Number Ellen Neal
Ramona Ramona
Ladies in Love Susie Schmidt
1937 Love Is News Toni Gateson
Café Metropole Laura Ridgeway
Love Under Fire Myra Cooper
Wife, Doctor and Nurse Ina Heath Lewis
Second Honeymoon Vickie Benton
1938 Four Men and a Prayer Miss Lynn Cherrington
Three Blind Mice Pamela Charters
Suez Countess Eugenie de Montijo
Kentucky Sally Goodwin
1939 Wife, Husband and Friend Doris Borland
The Story of Alexander Graham Bell Mrs. Mabel Bell
Eternally Yours Anita
1940 The Doctor Takes a Wife June Cameron
He Stayed for Breakfast Marianna Duval
1941 The Lady from Cheyenne Annie Morgan
The Men in Her Life Lina Varsavina
Bedtime Story Jane Drake
1943 A Night to Remember Nancy Troy
China Carolyn Grant
Show Business at War Herself short subject
1944 Ladies Courageous Roberta Harper
And Now Tomorrow Emily Blair
1945 Along Came Jones Cherry de Longpre
1946 The Stranger Mary Longstreet
1947 The Perfect Marriage Maggie Williams
The Farmer's Daughter Katrin Holstrom Academy Award for Best Actress
The Bishop's Wife Julia Brougham
1948 Rachel and the Stranger Rachel Harvey
1949 The Accused Dr. Wilma Tuttle
Mother Is a Freshman Abigail Fortitude Abbott
Come to the Stable Sister Margaret Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actress
1950 Key to the City Clarissa Standish
1951 You Can Change the World Herself short subject
Cause for Alarm! Ellen Jones(Brown) / Narrator
Half Angel Nora Gilpin
Screen Snapshots: Hollywood Awards Herself short subject
1952 Paula Paula Rogers
Because of You Christine Carroll Kimberly
1953 It Happens Every Thursday Jane MacAvoy

References

Bibliography

External links

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