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Robert Osborne - January 2013
Remind Me
Loretta Young

Robert Osborne on Loretta Young

A fascinating woman Lorett Young, who is TCM's Star of the Month this January. Despite her often playing, so convincingly, poor waifs (Man's Castle, 1933), simple shop girls (Employees' Entrance, 1933), humble wives (Cause for Alarm!, 1951), gentle farm women (Rachel and the Stranger, 1948) and even respectful servants (The Farmer's Daughter, for which she won a 1948 Academy Award®), I don't think anyone ever enjoyed being a glamorous, full-tilt movie star more than she. That even includes Joan Crawford, who was legendary for having been the maniacally determined personification of a screen star 24/7.

The difference between JC and LY is that behaving like a star was a job for Crawford, one she performed with total dedication. Loretta, by contrast, played the star out of pure joy. "The thing I love most about being an actress is dressing up in beautiful clothes," she once told me, after I'd made the mistake of suggesting that the downside of her profession had to have been the long hours required for wardrobe fittings and endless sessions with photographers. "Never!" she said. "I loved every minute of it! I never grew out of that phase of playing 'dress-up' when I was a child." She added: "I could happily stand for hours while Edith Head or Walter Plunkett stuck pins in a hem or added a bead onto a blouse. For me, that was pure joy."

Always stylishly chic and fashionably gowned, she remained a head-turner long after she'd retired from her 36-year career in films and those later years of success on television. To the end of her days, whenever Loretta would enter a room, either at a private party or an industry gala, she'd invariably stop the show--no matter what other famous faces were on board.

Even at home, she left nothing to chance, something I learned firsthand after an interview we did at her digs on Fountain Avenue in Los Angeles (where, for the record, for years she was Joan Crawford's landlady--Joan C. renting guest quarters on property Loretta owned when Crawford's main residence was in Manhattan). A secretary had greeted me at the door and ushered me into the living room, indicating where I was to sit. Soon after, Loretta swept in, greeted me, then relaxed into a chair opposite me. At one point during our session, she got up to serve me coffee, after which she sat in another chair. At the finish, not having totally completed our interview, we made a date for a follow-up visit. Later, I mentioned to a fellow journalist that the interview had gone well and that Loretta had looked sensational, and the friend said, "She is amazing. And when you're there next time, take a look at the ceiling in the living room. You'll see a hidden pink spotlight aimed at the two chairs in which Loretta always sits." He was absolutely right. On my next visit, there were pink lights exactly where he said they'd be (none, alas, aimed at the visitor's chair). But I have to say that made me admire the lady even more. She was not only playing "movie star" to the hilt but doing it with grace, joy and a keen sense of fun.

And that's what you'll get from this same ravishing lady every Wednesday this month on TCM: great movies, wonderful performances as well as grace, joy, fun...and beauty.

by Robert Osborne