Loretta Young

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Loretta Young , actually Gretchen Michaela Young (born January 6, 1913 in Salt Lake City , Utah , † August 12, 2000 in Los Angeles , California ), was an American actress . For The Farmer's Daughter , she won the award for Best Actress at the 1948 Academy Awards .


Loretta Young worked as an extra in silent films at the age of four . Her real career began with a supporting role in the Colleen Moore film Naughty But Nice . On the advice of Moore, the actress changed her first name to Loretta. First National gave her a studio contract and Loretta Young quickly became a popular leading lady . The audience first took notice of her when she appeared alongside Lon Chaney and Nils Asther in Lach, Clown, laughs in 1928 . In 1929 she was already one of the starlets who, according to The Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers , or WAMPAS for short , had what it takes to become a real star. With the advent of talkies , Young, who quickly grew into an extraordinary beauty, switched from supporting to leading actress. Her films were mostly not very ambitious films that were often shown as part of a double bill (two short main films in a row or a supporting film and a main film). An exception was Before blondes are warned , where, under the direction of Frank Capra, she manages to dispute Jean Harlow of all people. Also Zoo in Budapest was an unusually beautiful film with an atmospherically dense narrative about two lonely people. Midnight Mary showed Young as a criminal undergoing a personality change through love for a man. In Man's Castle , she was directed by Frank Borzage alongside Spencer Tracy to see. With the growing interest in pre-code pictures , i.e. films that were released in theaters before strict censorship rules came into effect , the image of Young is also changing. Her studio Warner Brothers , which First National bought in 1928, specialized in the depiction of the hardships of everyday life and films such as The Avenger of the Tong and especially Employees' Entrance present the actress as an assertive woman like Barbara Stanwyck or Glenda Farrell .

In 1934 she moved with Darryl F. Zanuck to his 20th Century Pictures , which soon merged with the insolvent Fox Film Corporation to form 20th Century Fox . In the internal hierarchy only Shirley Temple and Janet Gaynor were located before Young, but their popularity increased through films such as Clive of India and The Call of the Wild . Together with Tyrone Power , she formed a popular screen couple in five films between 1936 and 1938 . However, Young's career stagnated over time as producers paid more and more attention to the actress' wardrobe and gave dramatic roles to other stars. In 1939, Young appeared in front of the camera with her sisters Sally Blane and Polly Ann Young in Love and Life of Telephone Maker A. Bell . In 1939 she therefore decided to work with a studio without a permanent contract. This method, called free-lancing, had revitalized the careers of Claudette Colbert , Irene Dunne , Cary Grant and Carole Lombard . The first film, the comedy The Doctor Takes A Wife , directed by Alexander Hall and starring Ray Milland, was a great success. The actress played her best roles shortly after the war. In 1946 she was the unsuspecting wife of a Nazi criminal portrayed by Orson Welles in The Stranger's Trail . In 1947, she starred alongside Cary Grant in Every Woman Needs an Angel, a woman who falls in love with an angel.

1947 was her year anyway, after Young won the Oscar for best actress for the comedy The Farmer's Daughter , about a Swedish-born young woman who discovered her political consciousness and was eventually elected to the US Congress . Joseph Cotten and Ethel Barrymore also played. Young's choice came as a surprise to everyone, as everyone was counting on Rosalind Russell in Mourning Becomes Electra . She was also successful in two westerns: The Vagabond of Texas , in which she has to save Gary Cooper with her shooting skills more than once, and Rachel and the Stranger , in which she is sold as a white slave to William Holden for 40 US dollars and in the end his love wins. In 1949 she received her second Oscar nomination for the leading role in Henry Kosters ... and Heaven laughs .

In 1953, after her film career no longer satisfied her, the actress began a second, almost even more successful career in the medium of television. For over eight years, the glamorous appearance of Loretta Young in great evening wear was the hallmark of her program The Loretta Young Show (which was called Letter to Loretta in the first year ). The New Loretta Young Show followed from 1962 to 1963 , in which Young played a widow who makes a career as a politician. After that, Young did not take on any other roles until 1986. In 1964, Robert Aldrich tried to get Young to take on the role of the sick Joan Crawford in Lullaby for a Corpse . She refused, as did Vivien Leigh and Barbara Stanwyck . In 1972, Young successfully sued NBC for $ 600,000 in damages after the television station breached reruns of the Loretta Young Show .

Her last two films were made for television: For Merry Christmas, Mrs. Kingsley , her first television role since 1963, she received the Golden Globe for best leading actress in a mini-series or TV movie . For Spider in the Web from 1989 she was nominated again in the category. After that, Young ended her career in show business for good.

Private life

The actress was Catholic throughout her life. Even so, she had a tumultuous private life in her youth. So she ran away in 1930 with actor Grant Withers , whom she married in 1930 shortly after her 17th birthday. The marriage was annulled after a year at the instigation of Young's mother. In 1933, while filming A Man's Castle, she had an affair with Spencer Tracy , who for her sake had a public fistfight with William A. Wellman . Since both actors were Catholic and a divorce for Tracy was out of the question, the two separated in 1934. A good year later, in 1935, she began an affair with Clark Gable while filming Call Of The Wild and he became pregnant. Young gave birth to a daughter who she passed off as adopted. The daughter, Judy Lewis , who later became an actress herself, did not know about her celebrity father until adulthood.

Her second marriage was in 1941, when she married the advertising man Thomas Lewis, whose last name was also adopted by the "adopted" daughter Judy. Young and Lewis had two children; the marriage was divorced in 1968. In 1993 Young married the costume designer Jean Louis , who died in 1997, in his third marriage . Young died on August 12, 2000 at the age of 87 in the home of her sister Georgian Montalban of complications from cancer . She was buried in the family grave in Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City.

Filmography (selection)


Oscar / Best Actress
Golden Globe
Emmy - Best Actress Starring in a Regular Series (Best Actress in a Series)
  • 1950: Golden Apple Award for Most Cooperative Actress
  • 1988: Women in Film Crystal Award
  • 2 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame , each for film (6104 Hollywood Blvd.) and television (6141 Hollywood Blvd.) careers


  • Joe Morella, Edward Z. Epstein: Loretta Young. An Extraordinary Life. Delacorte, New York NY 1986, ISBN 0-385-29397-6 .
  • John Kobal: People Will Talk. (Personal Conversations with the Legends of Hollywood). Revised edition. Aurum Press Ltd, London 1991, ISBN 1-85410-172-2 .
  • Joan Wester Anderson: Forever Young. The Life, Loves, and Enduring Faith of a Hollywood Legend. The Authorized Biography of Loretta Young. Thomas More Publishing, Allen TX 2000, ISBN 0-88347-467-0 .

Web links

Commons : Loretta Young  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. BBC News - AMERICAS - Elegant beauty Loretta Young dies. In: news.bbc.co.uk. August 12, 2000, accessed July 28, 2020 .