Loretta Young Overview:

Legendary actress, Loretta Young, was born Gretchen Michaela Young on Jan 6, 1913 in Salt Lake City, UT. Young died at the age of 87 on Aug 12, 2000 in Los Angeles, CA and was laid to rest in Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, CA.

Early Life and Career

Loretta Young was born Gretchen Young in Salt Lake City, Utah on January 16th 1913. She was the daughter of Gladys and John Earle Young, who would separate when little Loretta was only three years old. Her mother took custody of Loretta and her two sisters and soon the three moved to southern California where Gladys opened a boarding house. The Young sisters quickly entered the world of on-screen acting, making her screen debut at four with an uncredited role in The Primrose Ring along side her sisters, Polly Ann and Elizabeth Jane. The film's star, Mae Murray, was so infatuated with the young Loretta that she offered to adopt the small child. Although adoption was out of the question, Gladys did allow Murray to take care of Loretta for a year in order to lift some of the financial burden of being a single mother.

Young continued to act for the next couple years, with bit parts in films like Sirens of the Sea, The Only Way and White and Unmarried. After her 1921 appearance in The Sheik, she took a hiatus from the big screen to attend Ramona Convent Secondary School. She eventually returned to the screen in 1927 as an extra in Naught but Nice, where she was noticed by the film's star Colleen Moore. Moore than pointed the young actress in the direction of her husband First National production manager John McCormick, who then signed the 14 year old actress to a long term contract with First National Pictures.

Hollywood Player

After singing with First National, Gretchen Young's stage name was officially changed to the now more familiar Loretta. Her first role under the new moniker of 'Loretta Young' was the 1928 Joseph C. Boyle drama The Whip Women. That same year she co-starred opposite Lon Chaney in the Herbert Brenon drama Laugh, Clown, Laugh. In the film Young played Simonetta, a young circus performer who becomes the object of affection from both a charming count and her adopted father. That same year she also appeared in the films The Magnificent Flirt, The Head Man, and Scarlet Sea. The next year she was named a WAMPAS Baby star of 1929 along with Jean Arthur, Anita Page and her sister, Elizabeth Jane, now called Sally Bane.

Through the late 1920s and into the 1930s Young displayed her unbreakable ambition, working on several films a year.  In 1929 she worked on seven films, including The Squall, The Careless Age and The Forward Pass. The next year she worked on nine films including Lose Ankles and The Devil to Pay!.  In 1930 the 17-year-old actress made national headlines when she married Grant Withers, a divorced actor nine years Young's senior. The newly weds then appeared in The Second Floor Mystery. The marriage was annulled just one year later. Young remained at First National for the next few years, building her reputation as an actress. She began maturing her screen image, growing from the naive, young ingenue  to one of Hollywood's most prominent leading ladies with films such as Play-Girl, The Call It Sin, Zoo in Budapest and Midnight Mary.

 Move to Fox and Private Scandal

By the mid-1930s Young left First National and signed a contract with Twentieth Century Fox. Her first film for the new studio was the forgettable musical Caravan. The next year she starred opposite Clark Gable in the big screen adaption of the Jack Thornton novel Call of the Wild. During the film's production, she and Gable began an affair that would eventually lead to her becoming pregnant. Due to the morality clauses in their contract, along with the fact that Gable was married at the time, they told no one but Loretta's mother. Also, thanks to Young's strong catholic beliefs she refused to terminate the pregnancy and instead traveled to Europe, away from the prying eyes of the American press and delivered her child in secrecy. She then returned to the U.S with her child named Judith and told the press she had adopted a child whole in Europe, never telling anyone outside of Gable and her mother the truth about Judith.

With a possible career ending scandal averted, Young's career continued to flourish. When she returned to the states, she starred in films such as The Crusades, Private Number, Ramona and Love Is News. In 1938 she enjoyed a great success with David Butler sports romance Kentucky - a Romeo and Juliet-type story set in the horse racing community of Civil War Kentucky. Her career continued to grow into the next decade with hits like The Story of Alexander Graham Bell, The Doctor Takes a Wife and The Lady from Cheyenne.  

Career Height

By the time the 1940s rolled in, Young was entering the height of her career with films like The Men in Her Life, A Night to Remember and China. In 1944 she starred in the film Ladies Courageous, which centered on the life of World War II women pilots as they flew planes from their factories to the destinations, thus doing her part for the war effort. Two years later Young starred opposite Orson Welles and Edward G. Robinson in the noir crime-drama The Stranger. In 1947 starred as Katrin Holstrom in the H.C Hunter comedy The Farmer's Daughter. In the film Young plays a young women who leaves the farm to study nursing in the city. Along the way, however, her career gets directed towards politics, eventually becoming a congresswoman. The film was a great success both at the box office and with the critics with Young gaining much of the praise. She would eventually walk away with the Best Actress Academy Award for her work in the film. That same year she starred in another comedy hit, The Bishop's Wife, opposite Cary Grant and David Niven.

In 1948 she starred opposite William Holden in the Norman Foster western Rachel and the Stranger.  The next year she starred in another well-received drama Come to the Stable opposite Celeste Holm. For her work she was nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award. She continued to act on the big screen into the next decade, starring in films such as Come to the Stable, Key to the City, and Paula. In 1953 she starred in the Joseph Pevney comedy It Happens Every Thursday.  The film would end up being her last escapade on the big screen.

Television and Later Career

After retiring from the big screen in 1953, Young decided to take her talent to small screen. She soon began hosting her own drama anthology series aptly titled The Loretta Young Show. From 1953 to 1961, Young hosted and occasionally starred in the NBC series and is remembered for her fabulous gowns and grand entrances. During the shows eight year run, Young won the Best Actress Emmy award in 1954, 1956, and 1958. After the show ended, Young began work on her new show, aptly titled The New Loretta Young Show. The new show, however, only lasted a season. By 1960 Young entered retirement and enjoyed a life of leisured by spending time with her family and traveling the world.

In 1986, after over twenty years away from the screen, Young returned to the little screen with the TV movie Christmas Eve. In 1989 she starred in another made for TV film Lady in the Corner. Her final screen appearance was as the narrator of the made-for-TV film Life Along he Mississippi. She then once again entered quiet retirement. Loretta Young died on August 12th, 2000. She was 76 years old. 

(Source: article by Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub).



Loretta Young was nominated for two Academy Awards, winning one for Best Actress for The Farmer's Daughter (as Katrin Holstrom) in 1947.

Academy Awards

YearAwardFilm nameRoleResult
1947Best ActressThe Farmer's Daughter (1947)Katrin HolstromWon
1949Best ActressCome to the Stable (1949)Sister MargaretNominated

She was honored with two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the categories of Motion Pictures and Television. Loretta Young's handprints and footprints were 'set in stone' at Grauman's Chinese Theater during imprint ceremony #37 on May 31, 1937.

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Loretta Young Quotes:

Berengaria, Princess of Navarre: We've been blind. We were proud dearest when we took the cross in our pride, we fought to conquer Jerusalem. We tried to ride through blood to the Holy Place of God. And now... now we suffer.
Saladin, Sultan of Islam: The Holy City of Allah.
Berengaria, Princess of Navarre: What if we call him Allah or God? Shall men fight because they travel different roads to him? There is only one God.

Katrin Holstrom: Ladies and Gentlemen, tonight I want to ask you for the most precious thing you own: your vote.

Cherry de Longpre: [Melody tells Cherry that she can't shoot; she responds with three well-placed shots] When I aim at something, I hit it and when I hit something its what I aimed at.

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Best Actress Oscar 1947

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Loretta Young on the
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Loretta Young Facts
Country singer Loretta Lynn was named after her.

In 1972, Miss Young sued NBC for violating her contract in allowing reruns of "The Loretta Young Show" (1953) (better known as "The Loretta Young Show") to be shown, wherein audiences might have ridiculed her gowns and hairstyles, which were by then 10 or even 20 years out of date. The court awarded her more than a half-million dollars.

Turned down the part of Ellie Andrews in It Happened One Night (1934). Claudette Colbert was then given the role and won a Best Actress Oscar for her performance.

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