LORETTA YOUNG


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Loretta Young was born Gretchen Young in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1913. Those of you who remember her as the super-elegant, proper, sweet and saintly well-dressed beauty from her 1950s TV show may well be surprised to learn of her earlier life! Her parents separated when she was three, and her mother moved her and her two older sisters to Los Angeles. She had some minor film roles as a child, and then went to parochial school, but when she was 14 she returned to acting. At 15 she got a huge break, in Laugh, Clown, Laugh, where she played the role of the orphan adopted as a child by circus clown Lon Chaney Sr., and when she becomes a teen Chaney decides he is in love with her and wants to marry her! Between 1928 and 1933 she appeared in an amazing 44 movies, most for First National, often in very sexy roles, in movies like They Call It Sin, Life Begins (when she played a female convict who gives birth in prison), Play-Girl, and Too Young to Marry. Audiences loved this young, sexy child-like actress with giant eyes and couldn't get enough of her! In 1933 Loretta, who had just turned 20, but had already been in 50 movies, left First National for Fox (soon to merge with Twentieth Century Pictures and become 20th Century Fox) and at first she played some similar roles to what she had played earlier (like the starring role in Born to Be Bad), but she soon was getting a variety of more substantial roles. In 1930, Loretta had married co-star Grant Withers, but the marriage was annulled less than a year later. In 1935 she co-starred in The Call of the Wild with Clark Gable, and she had a an alleged affair with Gable (she later stated that he he acquaintance raped her) that resulted in Young getting pregnant. Since Gable was married, the resulting scandal might well have ruined both their careers, so Young took a long "vacation"! She returned to Hollywood with not one, but two babies, and made the bizarre announcement that this single 22 year old was "adopting" two babies! Apparently she knew that the public would catch on if she returned with just one baby, so she found another baby to adopt, and then pretended to adopt both babies, and somehow she pulled it off (maybe the public really knew, but liked her so much they forgave her!). Only late in her life would she admit that her daughter was actually her and Gable's baby, but photos of their child made that obvious, for she looked like a perfect merge of Young and Gable! Young resumed being a leading lady and was active in movies through the rest of the 1930s, and 1940s. In 1940 she married Tom Lewis, with whom she had two more children. In 1947, Young (who was still quite beautiful, in spite of having starred in movies for 20 years) had one of her best years ever, starring in The Bishop's Wife, The Farmer's Daughter (winner of the Best Actress Academy Award for this film), and The Perfect Marriage, all in the same year! In 1949 she was in Come To The Stable (nominated for the Best Actress Academy Award for this film), and in 1953 she moved to TV, starring in what is today called "The Loretta Young Show", but which was actually called "Letter to Loretta", and it had a different drama each week, all of which starred Loretta. It was one of the most popular shows of the 1950s In 1963 she retired from TV, and in 1969 she divorced Lewis, and from 1963 to 1986, she did not appear in any TV or movie role until she re-surfaced in a TV movie in 1986 and another in 1989, looking wonderful! She passed away in 2000 at the age of 87, after being married to famous designer Jean Louis from 1993 until he passed away in 1997.
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