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 1950.
Young then moved to the relatively new medium of television, where she had a dramatic anthology series called The Loretta Young Show, from 1953 to 1961. The series earned three Emmy Awards, and reran successfully on daytime TV and later in syndication. Young, a devout Catholic, later worked with various Catholic charities after her acting career.
Early lifeShe was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, as Gretchen Young. At confirmation, she took the name Michaela. 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. The movie's star Mae Murray so fell in love with Young that she wanted to adopt her. Although her mother declined, Young was allowed to live with Murray for two years. During her high school years, Young was educated at Ramona Convent Secondary School. She was signed to a contract by John McCormick, husband of Colleen Moore, who saw the young girl as having potential. The name "Loretta" was given to her by Colleen, who would later explain that it was the name of her favorite doll.
FilmYoung was billed as "Gretchen Young" in the 1917 film, Sirens of the Sea. 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 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 (appropriately titled Too Young to Marry) was released.
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 WWII who flew bomber planes from the factories to their final destinations.
Young made as many as seven or eight movies a year. In 1947, she won an Oscar 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.
In 1949, Young 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.
TelevisionYoung hosted and starred in the well-received half hour anthology series The Loretta Young Show. It ran from 1953 to 1961. Her trademark was to come through a door dramatically at the beginning 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; 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.
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 1990s, selected episodes from Loretta's personal collection, with the opening and closing segments (and original title) intact, were released on home video, and frequently shown on cable television.
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 twenty-six weeks. Dack Rambo, later a co-star of CBS's Dallas, appeared as one of her twin sons in the series.
AwardsIn 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.
Personal lifeYoung was married to actor Grant Withers from 1930 to 1931. After that she was involved in affairs with Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable and in 1935 had Gable's child, a daughter. 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 legendary San Francisco rock band Moby Grape), and Christopher Lewis, a film director.
She married fashion designer Jean Louis in 1993. Louis died in 1997.
Clark Gable affairClark Gable 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). When she began to show she went on a "vacation" to England. Several months later she returned to California. Shortly before the birth she gave an interview stating the reason for her long movie absence was because of a condition she had had since childhood.
Loretta 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. The child was raised as "Judy Lewis", taking the last name of Young's second husband, producer Tom Lewis.
According to Lewis' autobiography Uncommon Knowledge, she was made fun of because of the ears that she received from her father, Clark Gable. 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. Over the years, she had heard rumors that Clark Gable was her biological father. In 1958, Lewis' future husband Joseph Tinney told her "everybody" knew that Gable was her father. The only time she remembered Gable visiting Lewis was once at her home when she was a teenager; she had no idea he was her biological father. Several years later, he turned up at 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.
Several years later, after becoming a mother herself, Lewis finally confronted her mother. After promptly vomiting, Young admitted her true parentage, stating that she was "just a walking mortal sin."
ScandalA scandal erupted in 1973, when Young's son Christopher Lewis, then 29, was charged with child molestation and filming and distributing child pornography, along with 13 other men whom the police labeled a "chicken flick ring." 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 and possibly facing up to life in prison, Lewis managed to be let off with probation and a $500 fine.
PoliticsYoung was a lifelong stauch supporter of the Republican Party. 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 such notables as Anita Louise, Louella Parsons, Jane Russell, Dick Powell, June Allyson, and Lou Costello. In both 1968 and 1981 she was a vocal supporter of Richard Nixon and Hollywood friend Ronald Reagan. 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.
Later lifeFrom 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. 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.
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.
DeathYoung died on August 12, 2000, from ovarian cancer at the Santa Monica, California, home of her half-sister, Georgiana Montalbán, 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.
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.
Year Title Role Notes
1917 The Primrose Ring Fairy uncredited
1917 Sirens of the Sea Child as Gretchen Young
1919 The Only Way Child on the operating table
1921 White and Unmarried Child uncredited
1921 The Sheik Arab child uncredited
1927 Naughty But Nice Bit Part uncredited
1927 Her Wild Oat Bit by Ping Pong Table uncredited
1928 The Whip Woman The Girl
1928 Laugh, Clown, Laugh Simonetta
1928 The Magnificent Flirt Denise Laverne
1928 The Head Man Carol Watts
1928 Scarlet Seas Margaret Barbour
1929 Seven Footprints to Satan One of Satan's victims uncredited
1929 The Squall Irma
1929 The Girl in the Glass Cage Gladys Cosgrove
1929 Fast Life Patricia Mason Stratton
1929 The Careless Age Muriel
1929 The Forward Pass Patricia Carlyle
1929 The Show of Shows "Meet My Sister" number
1930 Loose Ankles Ann Harper Berry
1930 The Man from Blankley's Margery Seaton
1930 Show Girl in Hollywood uncredited
1930 The Second Floor Mystery Marion Ferguson
1930 Road to Paradise Mary Brennan/Margaret Waring
1930 Warner Bros. Jubilee Dinner Herself short subject
1930 Kismet Marsinah
1930 War Nurse Nurse uncredited
1930 The Truth About Youth Phyllis Ericson
1930 The Devil to Pay! Dorothy Hope
1931 How I Play Golf, by Bobby Jones No. 8: 'The Brassie' Herself short subject
1931 Beau Ideal Isobel Brandon
1931 The Right of Way Rosalie Evantural
1931 The Stolen Jools Herself short subject
1931 Three Girls Lost Norene McMann
1931 Too Young to Marry Elaine Bumpstead
1931 Big Business Girl Claie 'Mac' McIntyre
1931 I Like Your Nerve Diane Forsythe
1931 The Ruling Voice Gloria Bannister
1931 Platinum Blonde Gallagher
1932 Taxi! Sue Riley Nolan
1932 The Hatchet Man Sun Toya San
1932 Play-Girl Buster 'Bus' Green Dennis
1932 Week-end Marriage Lola Davis Hayes
1932 Life Begins Grace Sutton
1932 They Call It Sin Marion Cullen
1933 Employees' Entrance Madeleine Walters West
1933 Grand Slam Marcia Stanislavsky
1933 Zoo in Budapest Eve
1933 The Life of Jimmy Dolan Peggy
1933 Heroes for Sale Ruth Loring Holmes
1933 Midnight Mary Mary Martin
1933 She Had to Say Yes Florence 'Flo' Denny
1933 The Devil's in Love Margot Lesesne
1933 Man's Castle Trina
1934 The House of Rothschild Julie Rothschild
1934 Born to Be Bad Letty Strong
1934 Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back Lola Field
1934 Caravan Countess Wilma
1934 The White Parade June Arden
1935 Clive of India Margaret Maskelyne Clive
1935 Shanghai Barbara Howard
1935 The Call of the Wild Claire Blake
1935 The Crusades Berengaria, Princess of Navarre
1935 Hollywood Extra Girl Herself short subject
1936 The Unguarded Hour Lady Helen Dudley Dearden
1936 Private Number Ellen Neal
1936 Ramona Ramona
1936 Ladies in Love Susie Schmidt
1937 Love Is News Toni Gateson
1937 Café Metropole Laura Ridgeway
1937 Love Under Fire Myra Cooper
1937 Wife, Doctor and Nurse Ina Heath Lewis
1937 Second Honeymoon Vicky
1938 Four Men and a Prayer Miss Lynn Cherrington
1938 Three Blind Mice Pamela Charters
1938 Suez Countess Eugenie de Montijo
1938 Kentucky Sally Goodwin
1939 Wife, Husband and Friend Doris Borland
1939 The Story of Alexander Graham Bell Mrs. Mabel Hubbard Bell
1939 Eternally Yours Anita
1940 The Doctor Takes a Wife June Cameron
1940 He Stayed for Breakfast Marianna Duval
1941 The Lady from Cheyenne Annie Morgan
1941 The Men in Her Life Lina Varsavina
1941 Bedtime Story Jane Drake
1943 A Night to Remember Nancy Troy
1943 China Carolyn Grant
1943 Show Business at War Herself short subject
1944 Ladies Courageous Roberta Harper
1944 And Now Tomorrow Emily Blair
1945 Along Came Jones Cherry de Longpre
1946 The Stranger Mary Longstreet
1947 The Perfect Marriage Maggie Williams
1947 The Farmer's Daughter Katrin 'Katy' Holstrum Academy Award for Best Actress
1947 The Bishop's Wife Julia Brougham
1948 Rachel and the Stranger Rachel Harvey
1949 The Accused Dr. Wilma Tuttle
1949 Mother Is a Freshman Abigail Fortitude Abbott
1949 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
1951 Cause for Alarm! Ellen Jones
1951 Half Angel Nora Gilpin
1951 Screen Snapshots: Hollywood Awards Herself short subject
1952 Paula Paula Rogers
1952 Because of You Christine Carroll Kimberly
1953 It Happens Every Thursday Jane MacAvoy