When Tom Lewis, an advertising and broadcasting executive, met Loretta Young in 1939, he was introduced to her “adopted” daughter, Judy.
Although Loretta had been briefly married to actor Grant Withers, years before, it had been a civil ceremony. Thus when Tom and Loretta (a practising Catholic) decided to marry it could be in the Catholic Church.
After the marriage Tom adopted Judy and Judy Young became Judy Lewis. (There she is all grown up and with her mom on the right in the above photo.)
“I never asked her if Judy was her own daughter and she never told me,” Lewis explained to me when I interviewed him extensively for the book I wrote with Ed Epstein on the famous star, Loretta Young.
Hello everybody. Joe Morella here again with more on the paternity of Judy Lewis.
The actress, producer, and later clinical psychologist and counselor, Judy Lewis wrote that Clark Gable was her father, and that she got that information from her mother back in the mid Sixties. Ms. Lewis’ The New York Times obit — that ran on the paper’s front page on Nov. 30 — relates her version of the story.
But when I interviewed Tom Lewis many years ago, he refuted that version of the oft told rumor. Lewis contended that although Loretta was undoubtedly Judy’s mother, he personally doubted Gable could be her father.
In the late 40s and early 50s Loretta and Tom saw Gable socially. Gable was a heavy drinker by then and Lewis, himself, could belt back a few. He recalls sitting around their pool with Clark watching as Tom and Loretta’s two young sons, Christopher and Peter, frolicked in the water.
“Gable was desparate for children and if Judy was his, he was certainly unaware of it.”
In addition Tom Lewis felt that although she was a fine actress, even Loretta couldn’t have pulled off such a masquerade in front of Gable himself.
When I suggested to Lewis that co-author Ed and I theorized that Spencer Tracy could be Judy’s father, since Loretta had just ended a year long affair with Tracy before she left for her film with Gable (1935′s Call of the Wild), he thought long and hard.
Yes, he conceded it might be the case.
He certainly thought that Loretta was not one for “quick, intimate flings,” and told me “that is not her type of relationship.” So he’d be more inclined to think Tracy the father, rather than Gable, who she’d only known briefly while they worked on a film.
One thing Lewis was certain about. ”Loretta was very courageous to have kept the child.” He also noted that Judy wasn’t ever kept in the background. Loretta loved her, was proud of her accomplishments, and helped promote her career.
For most people the Gable-as-father myth, now fortified by Ms. Lewis’ own contentions, has now been set in stone. But as one who has studied the life of the phenomenon known as Loretta Young I feel that without DNA proof there was only one person who really knew the truth. And perhaps she didn’t even share it with “the inner circle.”
(Tomorrow: Joe assays Loretta Young’s three husbands and her various lovers. You might well be surprised about who is included among the latter.)