For our Monday Quiz this week, we chose Loretta Young as our subject. Today, here’s a bit more about this fine actress.
Years ago when Joe interviewed Young’s second husband (and the father of her two sons) Tom Lewis, Lewis (pictured above) revealed that Loretta had promised to give up her film career when she became a mother.
But World War II intervened, and since Lewis was busy founding and then operating Armed Forces Radio, Loretta convinced him to let her keep working. (Those were the days when husbands had a dominant say in whether wives worked or not.)
After the war, and with two infants AND her adopted daughter, (later revealed to be her own child with Clark Gable), Loretta was still not willing to stop working, even though she was not doing top notch material anymore.
Lewis told Joe that they had a serious talk about it and Tom said he’d agree to release her from her promise only if she took a new tact. She wouldn’t agree to ordinary film projects but work with the goal of only doing first class material with top directors and co-stars, with the goal of winning an Academy Award.
She started with an independent film for a new company, International Pictures. The film, 1945’s Along Came Jones, stars Gary Cooper in an off beat comedy/drama western. It was the start of Loretta’s peak years in the business.
In 1946, she starred in The Stranger with Orson Welles, who also directed. In ’47 she won the Oscar for The Farmer’s Daughter. She also starred opposite Cary Grant and David Niven in The Bishop’s Wife, which has become a holiday Classic.
In ’48 she made one of Joe’s favorites, Rachael and the Stranger, opposite William Holden and Robert Mitchum. And in 1949 another Oscar-nominated role (in Come to the Stable) capped this amazing 4-year period.
Tom Lewis felt that they had achieved their goals. That if she was going to devote herself to career rather than family life, at least it was a successful career. Although Loretta continued to make films for a few more years she was an astute business woman as well, and saw that television was the new Mecca.
Lewis had left radio and the advertising profession by this time and was producing films. Loretta convinced him that they should form a company to produce a TV series. The rest, as they say, is history. The Loretta Young Show is one of the classic TV series of the 1950s.
In the anthology series, Loretta portrayed a different character in a new story each week. Since she would often play older, unattractive women, Young decided that her fans must still see her as the the beautiful, fashionable movie star she was, therefore she and Lewis came up with the idea of her introducing each episode by whirling through a door, glamorously dressed and coiffed.
Loretta’s entrances became a staple of early TV.