TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (10)
|Also Known As:||Gretchen Michaela Young||Died:||August 11, 2000|
|Born:||January 6, 1913||Cause of Death:||ovarian cancer|
|Birth Place:||Salt Lake City, Utah, USA||Profession:||Cast ... actor|
After the rigors of a convent education interrupted her nascent career (she had broken into film as a bit player at the age of three), Loretta Young resurfaced at age 14 to play a supporting role in "Naughty But Nice" (1927), netting herself a contract with First National (the precursor of Warner Brothers).
By the mid-30s Young, having made a strategic switch to the Fox lot, had blossomed into one of Hollywood's more prominent leading ladies, capably adorning dozens of (mostly mediocre) productions. With her prominent cheekbones, limpid-pool eyes and Joan Crawford-style mouth, Young was often utilized for her stylish beauty and ladylike screen personality rather than the acting talent suggested by "Platinum Blonde" (1931), "Midnight Mary", "Man's Castle" and "Zoo in Budapest" (all 1933, and an excellent showcase triple bill for Young). Young, however, did enjoy the very occasional meaty, charming, or relatively offbeat role, as in "The Story of Alexander Graham Bell" (1939) and Orson Welles' "The Stranger" (1946).
Young's career reached its peak during the late 40s in such carefully mounted and entertaining vehicles as the fantasy "The Bishop's Wife" (1947), "The Farmer's Daughter" (1947), which unexpectedly won her an Oscar, the surprisingly gritty "Rachel and the Stranger" (1948) and the syrupy but likable "Come to the Stable" (1949), for which she netted a second Best Actress Academy Award nomination. Her subsequent vehicles, however, did not sustain the momentum; "Cause for Alarm" (1951) was a very interesting film noir, but films like "Half Angel" (1952) were too flimsy to be very entertaining.
By 1954 Young had abandoned the screen in favor of a successful second career as the centerpiece of TV's long-running anthology series "The Loretta Young Show" (1954-63). Clad in expensive floor-length gowns, Young would sweep grandly onto the set to introduce each installment of her series, many of which she also acted in. Reflecting her childhood training, she would close each episode with a quotation from the Bible which commented on the drama which had just transpired. After the show went off the air, Young completely retired from performing, not returning to the spotlight until her roles a quarter of a century later in two NBC TV-movies, "Christmas Eve" (1986) and "Lady in a Corner" (1989).
Her first husband was actor Grant Withers, her second was producer-writer Thomas Lewis and her third was fashion designer Jean Louis. In 1994 Young's daughter Judy Lewis wrote a book in which she revealed she had been fathered outside of wedlock by Clark Gable and that for years she had been led to believe that she had been adopted by Young.
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