skip navigation
Myrna Loy

Myrna Loy

Up
Down

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (25)

Recent DVDs

 
 

The Rains Came DVD "The Rains Game" (1939) is a sweeping historical romance. Based on the book by... more info $14.98was $14.98 Buy Now

From The Terrace DVD Paul Newman stars in this intriguing film based on John O'Hara's best-selling... more info $14.98was $14.98 Buy Now

The Thin Man DVD William Powell and Myrna Loy star as sleuthing spouses in this adaptation of... more info $5.99was $19.98 Buy Now

Cheaper By The Dozen (1950)/Cheaper By The... Get more laughs for your buck in this 2-disc collection bringing together two... more info $19.98was $19.98 Buy Now

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House... New York adman Jim Blandings is ready to say goodbye to his cramped city... more info $19.98was $19.98 Buy Now

Cary Grant: The Signature Collection... Destination TokyoWhat the World War II - era film Air Force is to the skies,... more info $49.98was $49.98 Buy Now



Also Known As: Myrna Williams Died: December 14, 1993
Born: August 2, 1905 Cause of Death: complications from surgery
Birth Place: Raidersburg, Montana, USA Profession: actor, dancer, dance instructor, film advisor for UNESCO

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

With her almond-shaped eyes, tilted-up nose, and ladylike but wry and relaxed manner, Myrna Loy was one of Hollywood's most popular actresses of the 1930s and maintained that stardom for decades. She came to embody the perfect wife--sympathetic, wise and sexy--opposite William Powell, Clark Gable and others. Loy was the ultimate proof that marriage and companionship in the movies need not be an exercise in mutual henpecking or a mere happy ending, but rather something fun and exciting in and of itself.A former dancer, Loy began in films as a bit player from the mid-20s and was primarily cast as mysterious, exotic types for the first decade of her career. Loy entertainingly wrecked many a home and stole many a leading man (however temporarily) from the arms of his wife or fiance in films including "The Squall" (1929) and "Consolation Marriage" (1931). She occasionally snagged a more realistic or sympathetic part, as in "Cock of the Walk" (1930) or "Arrowsmith" (1931), but Loy's dominant image was summed up in films like "13 Women" (1932), in which her vengeful half-caste murders the sorority sisters who snubbed her long ago, and "The Mask of Fu Manchu" (1932), as the title villain's daughter,...

With her almond-shaped eyes, tilted-up nose, and ladylike but wry and relaxed manner, Myrna Loy was one of Hollywood's most popular actresses of the 1930s and maintained that stardom for decades. She came to embody the perfect wife--sympathetic, wise and sexy--opposite William Powell, Clark Gable and others. Loy was the ultimate proof that marriage and companionship in the movies need not be an exercise in mutual henpecking or a mere happy ending, but rather something fun and exciting in and of itself.

A former dancer, Loy began in films as a bit player from the mid-20s and was primarily cast as mysterious, exotic types for the first decade of her career. Loy entertainingly wrecked many a home and stole many a leading man (however temporarily) from the arms of his wife or fiance in films including "The Squall" (1929) and "Consolation Marriage" (1931). She occasionally snagged a more realistic or sympathetic part, as in "Cock of the Walk" (1930) or "Arrowsmith" (1931), but Loy's dominant image was summed up in films like "13 Women" (1932), in which her vengeful half-caste murders the sorority sisters who snubbed her long ago, and "The Mask of Fu Manchu" (1932), as the title villain's daughter, gleefully whipping his white captives.

In retrospect, 1932 began the real turnaround in Loy's career, her delightful flair for comedy first highlighted with her supporting performance as the man-hungry Vantine in Rouben Mamoulian's musical masterpiece "Love Me Tonight" (1932). She also provided sophisticated competition for nominal star Ann Harding in "The Animal Kingdom" (1932) and "When Ladies Meet" (1933) and brought her trademark subdued sexiness to an early important lead opposite John Barrymore in the whimsical "Topaze" (1933).

Stardom awaited her, and, in 1934, W.S. Van Dyke cast Loy opposite ideal co-star William Powell in the first of the hugely successful "Thin Man" comedy-mysteries, confirming her as a favorite with movie audiences around the country. Her Nora Charles came from money but was eager for thrills, and so she pushed husband and former detective Nick into one comic adventure after another as he solved seemingly impenetrable whodunits. Loy's best non-"Thin Man" films opposite Powell (with whom she made 14 joint appearances in all) include the drama "Evelyn Prentice" (1934) and the screwball farces "Libeled Lady" (1936), "I Love You Again" (1940) and "Love Crazy" (1941). Her best efforts with Clark Gable, meanwhile, include "Wife vs. Secretary" (1936) and Loy's own personal favorite among her starring vehicles, "Test Pilot" (1938). Her popularity peaked in the late 30s, and when Gable was voted "King of Hollywood" in a popularity poll, Myrna Loy was right beside him as elected "Queen".

Increasingly active in politics after her WWII service with the Red Cross (she was a founding member of the Committee for the First Amendment), Loy continued a career distinguished by her fine performance opposite Fredric March in William Wyler's Oscar-winning study of postwar readjustment, "The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946). She also extended her perfect wife image opposite Cary Grant in the delightful "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" (1948) and the enjoyable "Cheaper by the Dozen" (1950) opposite Clifton Webb. She became very active in promoting liberal causes, was a thorn in Richard Nixon's side for decades before it became popular, and was the first film star to work for the United Nations. Loy continued in occasional character roles with star billing from the mid-1950s until the 80s ("Lonelyhearts" 1958, "The April Fools" 1969, "The End" 1977), and ventured successfully into stage work as well. Her final film work was a lovely supporting performance as Alan King's long-suffering secretary in Sidney Lumet's comedy, "Just Tell Me What You Want" (1980). She also performed beautifully opposite Henry Fonda on the TV drama "Summer Solstice" (1981).

Loy's deceptively straightforward artistry kept her from getting the types of flashy roles which netted Oscar nominations, but she was rewarded for her illustrious career with an honorary award in 1990. She was also feted with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Kennedy Center in 1988. The first of her four husbands was producer Arthur Hornblow, Jr. (married 1936-42) and the third was screenwriter-producer Gene Markey (married 1946-50).

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 MGM: When the Lion Roars (1992) (Archival Footage)
2.
 Just Tell Me What You Want (1980) Stella Liberti
3.
 The End (1978) Maureen Lawson
4.
 Ants (1977) Ethel Adams
5.
 It's Showtime (1976) Herself
6.
 Airport '75 (1975) Tipsy Mrs Devaney
7.
 Elevator, The (1974) Amanda Kenyon
8.
 Indict and Convict (1973) Judge Christine Taylor
9.
 Couple Takes a Wife, The (1972) Mother
10.
 Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate (1971) Sussy Tryon
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1912:
Family moved to Helena, MT when Loy was 7
1916:
Took part in a family trip to California which included a tour of the Universal Studios
1917:
Took dancing lessons from a Miss Alice Thompson; performed in a fundraising event in Helena and later repeated her "Bluebird" performance at a nearby Army base (date approximate)
1918:
Moved with family to California after the death of her father
1923:
Joined the chorus line of the pre-feature show at Graumann's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood at age 18 (date approximate)
1925:
Made film debut in "Pretty Ladies"; also played a bit part that year in the filming of the massive Biblical epic "Ben Hur"
1925:
Adopted name "Myrna Loy", suggested by a poet friend
1925:
Signed five-year contract with Warner Bros.
1930:
Signed one-year contract with Fox
1931:
Signed contract with MGM
1932:
Supporting role in musical comedy "Love Me Tonight" was a turning point in career, start the breaking of her typecasting as exotic vamps
1933:
Roles in "The Prizefighter and the Lady" and "Penthouse" complete transformation of image to that of sympathetic American romantic leads
1933:
First of seven films opposite Clark Gable, "Night Flight"
1934:
First of 14 teamings with William Powell, "Manhattan Melodrama"
1936:
Voted the number one box-office star by US theater owners
1938:
Voted "Queen of the Movies" in "New York Daily News" poll
1938:
Last film opposite Gable, "Too Hot to Handle"
1942:
Moved to New York
:
Put her film career on hold to work for the New York Red Cross as assistant head of welfare activities for much of the duration of WWII; also arranged entertainment for over 50 military hospitals and worked at stage door canteens
1947:
Founding member of the Committee of the First Amendment
1947:
Last of the "Thin Man" series of films opposite William Powell, "Song of the Thin Man"
1947:
Made last appearance with Powell, in a cameo role as his wife near the end of "The Senator Was Indiscreet"
1948:
After WWII, became a member of the US National Commission for UNESCO; first Hollywood celebrity to work for the United Nations; helped organize its Hollywood Film Committee
1950:
Went to England to star in the film, "If This Be Sin"
:
Active as a member of UNESCO's U.S. Commission
1956:
Took second billing to another actress for the first time in 20 years (since she and Jean Harlow co-starred with Powell and Spencer Tracy in "Libeled Lady" 1936) when she played a major but supporting role in "The Ambassador's Daughter", starring Olivia de Havilland and John Forsythe
1960:
Stage debut in "Marriage-go-Round"
:
Played the heroine's mother in a touring stage production of Neil Simon's "Barefoot in the Park"
1969:
Returned to features after a nine-year absence to play a supporting role opposite Charles Boyer in "The April Fools", starring Jack Lemmon and Catherine Deneuve
1973:
Made Broadway debut in a revival of Clare Boothe Luce's comedy, "The Women"
1974:
Toured in "Don Juan in Hell" with Ricardo Montalban, Edward Mulhare, and Kurt Kasznar
1980:
Final film appearance, "Just Tell Me What You Want"
1981:
Last acting role: starring opposite Henry Fonda in the acclaimed made-for-TV movie, "Summer Solstice"
1983:
Career feted in a syndicated documentary TV special, "Legends of the Screen"
1985:
Received tribute at Carnegie Hall in New York hosted by Lauren Bacall
1990:
Documentary profile, "Myrna Loy: So Nice to Come Home To", produced by and aired on cable network station TNT, hosted by Kathleen Turner
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Westlake School for Girls: Los Angeles , California -
Venice High School: Venice , California -

Notes

Myrna Loy twice made the annual nationwide exhibitors poll of top ten boxoffice stars, placing 10th in 1937 and 8th in 1938.

She was former advisor and officer, National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Arthur Hornblow Jr. Producer. Married 1936-42.
husband:
John Hertz Jr. Car-rental and advertising executive. Married 1942-44; heir to the Hertz Rent-a-Car company fortune.
husband:
Gene Markey. Producer, screenwriter. Married 1946-50.
husband:
Howland Sergeant. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for public affairs. Married 1951-60.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
David Williams. Cattleman. Died in the influenza epidemic of 1918; named his daughter after a railroad watering spot; was also a Montana state legislator who lobbied in support of Woodrow Wilson's push for the League of Nations.
mother:
Della Williams. Singer. Parents were of Welsh and Scottish extraction.
brother:
David Williams.

Bibliography close complete biography

"Myrna Loy: Being and Becoming" Alfred A. Knopf
"Myrna Loy" Pyramid Books

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute