Loretta Young

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Loretta Young
Loretta young studio portrait.jpg
BornGretchen Young
(1913-01-06)January 6, 1913
Salt Lake City, Utah, US
DiedAugust 12, 2000(2000-08-12) (aged 87)
Los Angeles, California, US
Resting place
Holy Cross Cemetery
Years active1917–2000
ReligionRoman Catholic
Spouse(s)Grant Withers
(m.1930–1931; annulled)
Tom Lewis
(m.1940–1969; divorced)
Jean Louis
(m.1993–1997; his death)
ChildrenJudith Young (w/Gable) (1935–2011)
Christopher Lewis (b. 1944)
Peter Lewis (b. 1945)
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Loretta Young
Loretta young studio portrait.jpg
BornGretchen Young
(1913-01-06)January 6, 1913
Salt Lake City, Utah, US
DiedAugust 12, 2000(2000-08-12) (aged 87)
Los Angeles, California, US
Resting place
Holy Cross Cemetery
Years active1917–2000
ReligionRoman Catholic
Spouse(s)Grant Withers
(m.1930–1931; annulled)
Tom Lewis
(m.1940–1969; divorced)
Jean Louis
(m.1993–1997; his death)
ChildrenJudith Young (w/Gable) (1935–2011)
Christopher Lewis (b. 1944)
Peter Lewis (b. 1945)

Loretta Young (January 6, 1913 – August 12, 2000) was an American actress. Starting as a child actress, she had a long and varied career in film from 1917 to 1953. She won the 1948 best actress Academy Award for her role in the 1947 film The Farmer's Daughter, and received an Oscar nomination for her role in Come to the Stable, in 1949. Young moved to the relatively new medium of television, where she had a dramatic anthology series, The Loretta Young Show, from 1953 to 1961. The series earned three Emmy Awards, and reran successfully on daytime TV and later in syndication. In the 1980s Young returned to the small screen and won a Golden Globe in Christmas Eve in 1989. Young, a devout Roman Catholic,[1][2] worked with various Catholic charities after her acting career.[1][3]

Early life[edit]

She was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, as Gretchen Young, the daughter of Gladys (Royal) and John Earle Young.[4][5] At confirmation, she took the name Michaela. When she was two years old, her parents separated. She and her family moved to Hollywood when she was three years old. She and her sisters Polly Ann and Elizabeth Jane (screen name Sally Blane) worked as child actresses, but of the three, Loretta was the most successful.

Young's first role was at the age of three, in the silent film The Primrose Ring. During her high school years Young was educated at Ramona Convent Secondary School. She was signed to a contract by John McCormick (1893-1961), husband and manager of actress, Colleen Moore, who saw the young girl's potential.[6] The name "Loretta" was given to her by Colleen, who later would explain that it was the name of her favorite doll.[7]



Young was billed as Gretchen Young in the silent film, Sirens of the Sea (1917). It was not 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 named one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars.[8]

In 1930 when she was 17, she eloped with 26-year-old actor, Grant Withers; they were married in Yuma, Arizona. The marriage was annulled the next year, just as their second movie together (appropriately titled Too Young to Marry) was released.

In 1935, she co-starred with Clark Gable and Jack Oakie in the film version of Jack London's The Call of the Wild, directed by William Wellman.

From the trailer for Cause for Alarm! (1951)

During World War II, 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 WWII who flew bomber planes from the factories to their final destinations. Young made as many as eight movies a year. In 1947 she won an Oscar for her performance in The Farmer's Daughter. That same year she co-starred with Cary Grant and David Niven in The Bishop's Wife, a perennial favorite. In 1949 she received another Academy Award nomination for Come to the Stable. In 1953 she appeared in her last theatrical film, It Happens Every Thursday, a Universal comedy about a New York couple who move to California to take over a struggling weekly newspaper; her costar was John Forsythe.


Loretta Young hosted and starred in the well-received half-hour anthology series The Loretta Young Show (1953–61). Her trademark was a dramatic entrance through a living room door in various high fashion evening gowns. She returned at the program's conclusion to offer a brief passage from the Bible or a famous quote that reflected upon the evening's story. (Young's introductions and conclusions to her television shows were not rerun on television because she legally stipulated that they not be, as she did not want the dresses she wore in those segments to "date" the program.) Her program ran in prime time on NBC for eight years, the longest-running prime-time network program hosted by a woman up to that time.[citation needed]

The program, which earned her three Emmys, was based on the premise that each drama was in 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 (as of the February 14, 1954 episode), and the "letter" concept was dropped at the end of the second season. At this time, Young's hospitalization, due to overwork towards the end of the second season, 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 then on, Young appeared in only about half of each season's shows as an actress, and served as the program's host for the remainder.

Minus Young's introductions and conclusions, the series was rerun as the Loretta Young Theatre in daytime by NBC from 1960 to 1964. It also appeared in syndication into the early 1970s, before being withdrawn.

In the 1962–1963 television season, Young appeared as Christine Massey, a free-lance magazine writer and 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. It was dropped after one season (26 episodes).[citation needed]

In the 1990s selected episodes from Young's personal collection, with the opening and closing segments (and original title) intact, were released on home video, and frequently were shown on cable television.[citation needed]


In 1988 she was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award for outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry.[9]

Young has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; one for motion pictures, at 6104 Hollywood Boulevard, and another for television, at 6141 Hollywood Boulevard. In 2011 a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to her.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Young in 1938

Young was married to actor, Grant Withers, from 1930 to 1931. She married producer, Tom Lewis, in 1940 and they divorced very bitterly in the mid-1960s; Lewis died in 1988. They had two sons, Peter Lewis (of the San Francisco rock band Moby Grape), and Christopher Lewis, a film director. She married fashion designer Jean Louis in 1993. Louis died in 1997. Young was godmother to Marlo Thomas (daughter of TV star Danny Thomas).[11]

Clark Gable affair[edit]

In 1935 Young had an affair with a then-married Clark Gable while on location for The Call of the Wild. (Gable was married to Maria "Ria" Franklin Prentiss Lucas Langham.) During their affair Young became pregnant, but 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). When the pregnancy began to show, she went on a "vacation" to England, and several months later returned to California. Shortly before the birth, she gave an interview from her bed, covered in blankets, stating that her long movie absence was due to a condition she'd had since childhood. Young gave birth to Judith Young on November 6, 1935, in a house she and her mother owned in Venice, California. Three weeks later she returned to movie-making. After several months of living in the house in Venice, Judy was transferred to St. Elizabeth's, an orphanage outside Los Angeles. When she was 19 months old, her grandmother picked her up and Young announced to gossip columnist Louella Parsons that she had adopted the infant. Few in Hollywood were fooled by the ruse and the child's true parentage was widely rumored in entertainment circles. Young refused to confirm or comment publicly on the rumors until 1999, when Joan Wester Anderson wrote Young's authorized biography. In her interviews with Anderson for the book, Young finally confessed that Judy was her biological child and the product of Young having had a brief affair with Gable.[12] The child was raised as "Judy Lewis",[13] taking the last name of Young's second husband, producer Tom Lewis.

According to her autobiography Uncommon Knowledge, some people made fun of Judy because of the prominent ears she inherited from her father. She states that at seven she had an operation to "pin back" her large ears and that her mother always had her wearing bonnets as a child. In 1958 Lewis' future husband, Joseph Tinney, told her "everybody" knew that Gable was her biological father. The only time Lewis remembered Gable visiting her was once at her home when she was a teenager; she had no idea he was her biological father. Several years later he appeared on The Loretta Young Show after Young had been in hospital for several months. Lewis was an assistant and was right behind her mother when she noticed Gable. They never had a relationship and she never saw him again.[14] Several years later, after becoming a mother herself, Lewis finally confronted her mother, who privately admitted the truth, stating that Judy was "a walking mortal sin".[15]


Young was a lifelong Republican.[16] In 1952 she appeared in radio, print, and magazine ads in support of Dwight D. Eisenhower and was in attendance at his inauguration along with Anita Louise, Louella Parsons, Jane Russell, Dick Powell, June Allyson, and Lou Costello, among others. In both 1968 and 1980 she was a vocal supporter of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.[17] She was also an active member of the Hollywood Republican Committee with close friend Irene Dunne as well as Ginger Rogers, William Holden, George Murphy, Fred Astaire, and John Wayne.[18]

Later life[edit]

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 friends of many years: Jane Wyman, Irene Dunne, and Rosalind Russell.[19] She was a member of the Good Shepherd Parish and the Catholic Motion Picture Guild in Beverly Hills, California.[20] Young did, however, briefly come out of retirement to star in two television films, Christmas Eve (1986), and Lady in the Corner (1989). Young won a Golden Globe Award for the former, and was nominated again for the latter.[21]

In 1972, a jury in Los Angeles awarded Young $550,000 in her breach of contract suit against NBC. Filed in 1966, the suit contended that NBC had allowed foreign television outlets to rerun old episodes of The Loretta Young Show without excluding, as agreed by the parties, the opening segment where Young would make her entrance. Young testified that her image had been damaged by portraying her in "outdated gowns," and a jury agreed to less than the $1.9 million sought.[22]


Young died on August 12, 2000, from ovarian cancer, at the Santa Monica, California, home of her half-sister, Georgiana Montalbán[23] (the wife of actor Ricardo Montalban) and was interred in the family plot in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California. Her ashes were buried in the grave of her mother, Gladys Belzer.[24] Her daughter, Judy Lewis, also died of cancer, on November 25, 2011, at age 76.


1917The Primrose RingFairyLost; uncredited
1917Sirens of the SeaChildas Gretchen Young
1919The Only WayChild on the operating table
1921White and UnmarriedChilduncredited
1921The SheikArab childExtant; uncredited
1927Naughty but NiceBit Partuncredited; lost
1927Her Wild OatBit by Ping Pong Tableuncredited, extant
1928The Whip WomanThe Girllost
1928Laugh, Clown, LaughSimonettaextant made at MGM
1928The Magnificent FlirtDenise Lavernelost; (made at Paramount Pictures)
1928The Head ManCarol Wattslost
1928Scarlet SeasMargaret Barbourlost; Vitaphone track of music and effects survives
1929Seven Footprints to SatanOne of Satan's victimsuncredited, extant
1929The SquallIrmaextant Library of Congress
1929The Girl in the Glass CageGladys Cosgrovelost
1929Fast LifePatricia Mason Strattonlost; Vitaphone soundtrack discs at UCLA Film and Television
1929The Careless AgeMuriellost
1929The Forward PassPatricia Carlylelost
1929The Show of Shows"Meet My Sister" number; extant Library of Congress
1930Loose AnklesAnn Harper Berryextant Library of Congress
1930The Man from Blankley'sMargery Seatonlost; Vitaphone soundtrack discs at UCLA Film & Television
1930Show Girl in Hollywooduncredited, extant Library of Congress
1930The Second Floor MysteryMarion Fergusonextant Library of Congress
1930Road to ParadiseMary Brennan/Margaret Waringextant Library of Congress
1930Warner Bros. Jubilee DinnerHerselfshort subject
1930KismetMarsinahlost; Vitaphone soundtrack discs at UCLA Film & Television
1930War NurseNurseuncredited(Young's scenes deleted), extant made at MGM
1930The Truth About YouthPhyllis Ericsonextant Library of Congress
1930The Devil to Pay!Dorothy Hopeextant, produced by Samuel Goldwyn released by United Artists
1931How I Play Golf, by Bobby Jones No. 8: 'The Brassie'Herselfshort subject
1931Beau IdealIsobel Brandonextant(made at RKO)
1931The Right of WayRosalie Evanturalextant Library of Congress
1931The Stolen JoolsHerselfshort subject
1931Three Girls LostNorene McMannextant
1931Too Young to MarryElaine Bumpsteadextant Library of Congress
1931Big Business GirlClaie 'Mac' McIntyreextant Library of Congress
1931I Like Your NerveDiane Forsytheextant Library of Congress
1931The Ruling VoiceGloria Bannisterextant Library of Congress
1931Platinum BlondeGallagher
1932Taxi!Sue Riley Nolanextant Library of Congress
1932The Hatchet ManSun Toya Sanoriginal title The Honorable Mr. Wong; ... extant Library of Congress
1932Play-GirlBuster 'Bus' Green Dennisextant Library of Congress
1932Week-End MarriageLola Davis Hayesextant Library of Congress
1932Life BeginsGrace Suttonextant Library of Congress
1932They Call It SinMarion Cullen[25] extant Library of Congress
1933Employees' EntranceMadeleine Walters Westextant Library of Congress
1933Grand SlamMarcia Stanislavskyextant Library of Congress
1933Zoo in BudapestEveextant
1933The Life of Jimmy DolanPeggyextant Library of Congress
1933Heroes for SaleRuth Loring Holmesextant Library of Congress
1933Midnight MaryMary Martin
1933She Had to Say YesFlorence 'Flo' Dennyextant Library of Congress
1933The Devil's in LoveMargot Lesesneextant
1933Man's CastleTrinaextant
1934The House of RothschildJulie Rothschild
1934Born to Be BadLetty Strong
1934Bulldog Drummond Strikes BackLola Field
1934CaravanCountess Wilma
1934The White ParadeJune Arden
1935Clive of IndiaMargaret Maskelyne Clive
1935ShanghaiBarbara Howard
1935The Call of the WildClaire Blake
1935The CrusadesBerengaria, Princess of Navarre
1935Hollywood Extra GirlHerselfshort subject
1936The Unguarded HourLady Helen Dudley Dearden
1936Private NumberEllen Neal
1936Ladies in LoveSusie Schmidt
1937Love Is NewsToni Gateson
1937Café MetropoleLaura Ridgeway
1937Love Under FireMyra Cooper
1937Wife, Doctor and NurseIna Heath Lewis
1937Second HoneymoonVicky
1938Four Men and a PrayerMiss Lynn Cherrington
1938Three Blind MicePamela Charters
1938SuezCountess Eugenie de Montijo
1938KentuckySally Goodwin
1939Wife, Husband and FriendDoris Borland
1939The Story of Alexander Graham BellMrs. Mabel Hubbard Bell
1939Eternally YoursAnita
1940The Doctor Takes a WifeJune Cameron
1940He Stayed for BreakfastMarianna Duval
1941The Lady from CheyenneAnnie Morgan
1941The Men in Her LifeLina Varsavina
1941Bedtime StoryJane Drake
1943A Night to RememberNancy Troy
1943ChinaCarolyn Grant
1943Show Business at WarHerselfshort subject
1944Ladies CourageousRoberta Harper
1944And Now TomorrowEmily Blair
1945Along Came JonesCherry de Longpre
1946The StrangerMary Longstreet
1947The Perfect MarriageMaggie Williams
1947The Farmer's DaughterKatrin 'Katy' HolstrumAcademy Award for Best Actress
1947The Bishop's WifeJulia Brougham
1948Rachel and the StrangerRachel Harvey
1949The AccusedDr. Wilma Tuttle
1949Mother Is a FreshmanAbigail Fortitude Abbott
1949Come to the StableSister MargaretNominated – Academy Award for Best Actress
1950Key to the CityClarissa Standish
1951You Can Change the WorldHerselfshort subject
1951Cause for Alarm!Ellen Jones
1951Half AngelNora Gilpin
1951Screen Snapshots: Hollywood AwardsHerselfshort subject
1952PaulaPaula Rogers
1952Because of YouChristine Carroll Kimberly
1953It Happens Every ThursdayJane MacAvoy


  1. ^ a b Laufenberg, Norbert B. (2005). Entertainment Celebrities. Trafford Publishing. p. 863. ISBN 1-4120-5335-8. 
  2. ^ Davis, Ronald L. (2001). Duke: The Life and Image of John Wayne. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 47. ISBN 0-8061-3329-5. 
  3. ^ Lowe, Denise (2005). An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Women In Early American Films, 1895-1930. Psychology Press. p. 585. ISBN 0-7890-1843-8. 
  4. ^ Leading Ladies The 50 Most Unforgettable Actresses of the Studio Era. New York: Chronicle, 2006
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ http://www.loretta-young.com/FY-leaving-gretch-behind.html
  7. ^ Origin of stage name "Loretta"
  8. ^ Lowe, Denise (2005). An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Women In Early American films, 1895-1930. Routledge. p. 67. ISBN 0-7890-1843-8. 
  9. ^ http://wif.org/past-recipients
  10. ^ Palm Springs Walk of Stars by date dedicated
  11. ^ http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/570103/Loretta-Young-Movie-Promo-by-Marlo-Thomas.html
  12. ^ Joan Wester Anderson (November 2000). Forever Young : The Life, Loves, and Enduring Faith of a Hollywood Legend ; The Authorized Biography of Loretta Young. Thomas More Publishing. ISBN 978-0883474679. 
  13. ^ Official Site of Judy Lewis
  14. ^ Judy Lewis (May 1994). Uncommon Knowledge. Pocket Books. ISBN 978-0671700195. 
  15. ^ Interview with Judy Lewis. Girl 27 (documentary), 2007.
  16. ^ Dick, Bernard Hollywood Madonna: Loretta Young pages 197- 201
  17. ^ Dick, Bernard Hollywood Madonna: Loretta Young, p. 202
  18. ^ Epstein, Edward Loretta Young: An Extraordinary Life (1986), pp. 215-16
  19. ^ http://classichollywood101.blogspot.com/2010/07/bffs-of-classic-hollywood.html
  20. ^ Church of the Good Shepherd: Our History
  21. ^ Awards for Loretta Young
  22. ^ "Loretta Young Wins $559,000 Damages", Oakland Tribune, January 18, 1972, p12
  23. ^ "Elegant beauty Loretta Young dies". bbc.co.uk. 2000-08-12. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  24. ^ [2]
  25. ^ They Call It Sin at the American Film Institute Catalog

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]