WARNING Eldergay Thread: Celebrating Loretta Young at 100
Loretta Young's centennial celebrated on TCM, at Hollywood Museum
BY SUSAN KING, Los Angeles Times
January 7, 2013, 8:00 a.m.
Actress Loretta Young was no shrinking violet — a fact that often didn't sit well with her producers and studio bosses.
"She was beautiful, ethereally beautiful, and there was a delicacy to her," said her daughter-in-law Linda Lewis. "But she was stubborn when it came to what she thought was right for her. She actually mentions in one of her interviews that after a while you get tired being reviewed for your cheekbones."
"She didn't really listen to her bosses much," noted her son Chris Lewis. "When she got a part, she would go to the costume department and have a hand in how the costumes were made. She took a hand in her makeup and her hair.... She really knew what was right for her until the end."
And sticking to her guns paid off handsomely for Young.
Young, who began her career as a child extra in such films as Rudolph Valentino's "The Sheik," was a popular film star and the epitome of glamour for nearly three decades. She was playing romantic leads at 14, sexy working-class heroines in pre-code early 1930s dramas such as "Midnight Mary" and "A Man's Castle." She headlined several historical films such as "Suez" in the late 1930s and segued into more mature, challenging parts in the 1940s, including Orson Welles' "The Stranger."
After more than 20 years in the business, she finally won the lead actress Oscar for her comedic role in the 1947 hit "The Farmer's Daughter."
When Young left movies for TV at the of 40, she gained even more fans for her long-running anthology series, in which she made a grand entrance in the opening moments each week wearing a fabulous designer gown. Young was just as glamorous when she returned to TV in the 1980s after nearly 20 years in retirement to make two TV movies.
This year her son and daughter-in-law are spearheading a centennial celebration for Young, who died in 2000 at age 87. "We are so proud of mom," said Chris Lewis. "She is part of Hollywood history."
TCM has made Young its star of the month and is showing 38 of her films. Next month, the Shout! Factory is releasing a compilation of favorite episodes of her "The Loretta Young Show." And the series, which aired from 1953-61, will join the lineup of the nostalgia cable station Me-TV.
But perhaps the most extensive tribute is the Hollywood Museum exhibition "Loretta Young: Hollywood Legend," which celebrates her legacy as a movie star and fashion icon. The exhibition opens Wednesday and continues through April 29. Highlights of the exhibition, which was culled from several collections, includes costumes from such films as "The Crusades" and "Rachel and the Stranger," a personal collection of her gowns, shoes and jewelry, as well as décor from her homes in Beverly Hills and Palm Springs.
There's a treasure trove of family photos, movie posters, glamour portraits, a look at her humanitarian work and a tribute to her three husbands — Grant Withers, Tom Lewis and costume designer Jean Louis, who had created many of her fashions for the movies.
Because the museum is located in the old Max Factor and Young was the first Max Factor Girl, there will be a star-dressing table with her photos and the makeup line he designed for her. There's even a replica of her sewing table.
"I learned from Max Factor's relatives that they thought Loretta Young had something inside her that glowed," said Hollywood Museum founder Donelle Dadigan. "They always thought her true beauty came from the fact that she knew who she was."
Young, who was a devout Catholic, was "so open and honest as a friend," said film critic Rex Reed. "She had this built-in sense of warmth that would have thawed a snowstorm."
Even long after she retired and was living in Palm Springs, said Reed, "people just stopped" when they saw her in public. "Their mouths opened. She is one of the most recognizable faces. Right up until the end, she was beautiful, youthful and vibrant. She was socially conscious. She was very tuned in to things. She was not one of those people who live in a dark room watching her old movies."
Linda Lewis noted that Young's reputation took a hit when her oldest daughter, the late Judy Lewis, published a book in 1994 in which she disclosed she was not the actress' adopted daughter as the general public believed, but Young's biological child with the then-married Clark Gable. She had costarred with Gable in 1935's "Call of the Wild." Lewis was an adult when Young finally told her the truth.
"This one piece of mom's life has made people think of her in a way that's not fair," said Lewis, adding there is more to the story they hope to reveal in either a biography or biopic.
"We have held this secret for all of these years," said Lewis. The full story, she says, speaks to Young's "courage and her bravery."
Huh -- she and Richard Nixon are 100 years old this month.
[quote]The full story, she says, speaks to Young's "courage and her bravery."
To save her career.
"She builds a church everytime she sins. That's why there are so many churches in Hollywood."
My moter hated Ms Young with a passion. Never understood why. And why, despite all that seething hatred, she kept a picture of them together among her belongings for years.
[quote]Young, who was a devout Catholic, was "so open and honest as a friend," said film critic Rex Reed. "She had this built-in sense of warmth that would have thawed a snowstorm."
She really was the most beautiful star in Hollywood in the 1930s.
THere was a natural quality to her good looks that transcends the decades.
R4, I agree. Courage and bravery? More like cowardice and hypocrisy. I was just reading about Young and her staunch Catholicism and wondered how she ever reconciled that faith wih the birth of an illegitimate child. Maybe that's why she got progressively more pious as time when on.
But she was truly one of the most beautiful women in film.
Loretta Young and Celeste Holm were great in "Come to the Stable." It's always on my December watch list.
In Judy Lewis' book, she portrays her mother as a cold, rather exacting, tough love parent. She describes Irene Dunne in an even less flattering way. I believe her.
Loretta's sister Sally Blane was, if anything, even more beautiful than Loretta. But she couldn't act at all, so her career began and ended in the early 1930s.
Who is the woman in the photo with Sally Blane? She looks sort of like a very young Jeanette MacDonald.
I think that is MacDonald, R14.
NIce try. Loretta Young is not 100 - she's been dead for years. To celebrate being 100, you actually have to be 100.
Some of us actually had a REAL centennial.
Her eyebrows became progressively freakier over time.
Her son, Christopher Lewis, was involved in a scandal in the 1970s:
[italic]In 1973, Christopher Lewis, then 29, was involved in a filmmaking scandal, while working for a company known as Lyric Productions. He was charged with child molestation and filming and distributing child pornography, along with 13 other men. Lewis and the other men were indicted with soliciting boys ranging from ages 6 to 17 to perform lewd acts in their movies. Despite pleading "no contest" to child molestation charges and potentially facing a significant term of imprisonment, Lewis was sentenced to probation and a $500 fine.[/italic]
It's nice to have rich, connected parents. I wonder how Catholic Loretta reacted to that.
In Kenneth Anger's Hollywood Babylon II, he does a chapter on Young. He portrays her as a, insufferable hypocrite; she had this prim, proper image, was supposedly a devout Catholic, and yet screwed around like any other Hollywood starlet. I guess everybody knows that she and Clark Gable had a love child that Young passed off as "adopted." She also had an affair with Spencer Tracy.
Anger claimed that her face was her fortune and that her body was "no bid deal." He said she needed padding to disguise her underdeveloped body. But the breasts in that pic at R2 sure don't look like they need padding.
There is a story in famed costume designer Irene Sharaff's autobiography about Loretta requesting a lightly padded torso (called a "cuirass") that would be worn under all her costumes and would alter the proportion of her waist height (not width) because she was frustrated with being too short-waisted (or maybe long-waisted, I can't remember!). I'm not sure on what film this occured.
This is probably to what Anger was referring.
Loretta was a perfectionist about all details concerning her looks.
She always had gorgeous expressive eyebrows. I'd like to see some visual proof of their progressive freakiness r17.
Do a Google image search for Loretta Young. They became more and more arched and higher on her forehead as she got older. Definitely not the eyebrows she had as a ingenue.
Interviewer: Were there any roles you wanted that you didn't get?
LY: Yes, two. Only two that I ever tested for. One was called Berkeley Square with Leslie Howard and the reason I wanted to be in that was that I had this terrible crush on Leslie Howard and wanted to work with him. Heather Angel got it instead and the picture was not very successful, not because of the performances but because it was a little ahead of its time. People were not that much into the spiritual world then. So when it came out I wasn't too upset.
But the other part I missed was Rebecca. I knew I was perfect for it and Alfred Hitchcock was the director and David Selznick and they were both dear friends and I agreed to test for the part. I remember reading one memo that David had sent where he wrote, "We can't deglamorize Loretta enough," and I didn't get the part, Joan Fontaine did. I was just sick, I couldn't believe it. I was also embarrassed. I didn't even call David.
Then I saw the final movie at Bette Davis' house. And Joan Fontaine was so perfect in the part and I got over it. Because she was it, they didn't have to do one thing. She had a quality about her. Same quality as in Jane Eyre, born in her, she just was it. I would not have been as good as she was.
Interviewer: Are there any actresses you see coming up today who remind you of yourself?
LY: No. They're all better than I was. We had our favorites in our period, too. Bette Davis and Ingrid Bergman were the two best actresses. They were both so honest, full of integrity, both of them. Both of them so vulnerable.
I don't I think you'll ever see a better performance on film than Bette Davis in The Little Foxes or Now, Voyager. Bette really really really was talented. Had the energy of a bull. And there wasn't a mean bone in her body.
I really loved her as a child but now she comes across as so prim and sanctimonious to me. Though I do still like Come to the Stable and The Bishop's Wife because it works in those.
This is probably not a true story, but I love it anyway: LY had a "swear box" on the set, and if you said a cuss word, you had to pay a quarter. Broderick Crawford was appearing on her show one week. During his week on the set, he got caught swearing a few times. Finally he pulled out a $10 bill and handed it to LY and said, "Here's $10 Loretta, now fuck off!"
A tidbit of trivia. Did you know Fred and Ginger co-star Helen Broderick (Top Hat, Swingtime) was Broderick Crawford's mother? She is one of my all time fave character actors.
r25, that story has been told often, with everyone from Ethel Merman to Judy Garland putting the $10 in the swear box.
Great interview r23, thanks for posting!
And in the accompanying photos of Loretta in her later years, her eyebrows look quite normal and lovely.
No warning needed OP. Lots of young guys like classic hollywood as much as the elders do. I'm 20 and can't get enough of it. Not a huge LY fan though. I guess I haven't watched enough of her movies. The only one Iv'e seen was Doctor Takes a Wife with Ray Milland.
I used to roller blade around Deepwell, her neighborhood in Palm Springs. I always fantasized about her opening her front door, doing the twirl in a fabulous hostess costume, and inviting me in for tea.
But she never did.
And then she died.