Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Loretta Young

I always thought Loretta Young was beautiful - but have to admit, after reading her personal bio of how she treated her daughter, Judy Lewis - I guess back then, the notoriety of being a big movie star was more important than her own daughter. Think of it - this little baby girl born and sent to a orphanage for 19 months and then lied to the public and even to her daughter - denying Judy her rightful parentage.

January 6, 1913 – August 12, 2000

Starting as a child actress, she had a long and varied career in film from 1917 to 1953. She won the 1948 best actress Academy Award for her role in the 1947 film The Farmer's Daughter, and received an Oscar nomination for her role in Come to the Stable, in 1949.  Born in Utah, she came to Hollywood when she was three years old. In 1930, at age 17, she eloped with 26-year-old actor Grant Withers.  

A supposedly strict Catholic (as she wanted her public persona to portray) she had affairs with Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable while on location for The Call of the Wild. During their affair, Young became pregnant. Due to the moral codes placed on the film industry, Young covered up her pregnancy in order to avoid damaging her career (as well as Gable's). When she began to show she went on a "vacation" to England. Several months later she returned to California. Shortly before the birth she gave an interview from her bed covered in blankets, stating the reason for her long movie absence was because of a condition she had had since childhood.

Loretta Young gave birth to Judith Young on November 6, 1935, in a house she and her mother owned in Venice, California. Three weeks later, she returned to movie-making. After several months of living in the house in Venice, Judy was transferred to St. Elizabeth's, an orphanage outside Los Angeles. When she was 19 months old, her grandmother picked her up and Young announced to gossip columnist Louella Parsons that she had adopted the infant. The child was raised as "Judy Lewis", taking the last name of Young's second husband, producer Tom Lewis.v

According to her autobiography Uncommon Knowledge, Judith was made fun of because of the ears she inherited from her father, Clark Gable. She states that, at seven, she had an operation to "pin back" her large ears and that her mother always had her wearing bonnets as a child. Over the years, she had heard rumors that Clark Gable was her biological father as she looked strikingly like him. In 1958, Lewis' future husband Joseph Tinney told her "everybody" knew that Gable was her biological father. The only time she remembered Gable visiting Lewis was once at her home when she was a teenager; she had no idea he was her biological father. Several years later, he turned up at The Loretta Young Show after Young had been in hospital for several months. Lewis was an assistant and was right behind her mother when she noticed Gable. They never had a relationship and she never saw him again.

Several years later, after becoming a mother herself, Lewis finally confronted her mother. After promptly vomiting, Young admitted Judith's true parentage, stating that she was "just a walking mortal sin."

Well what goes around comes around - In 1973, Young's son Christopher Lewis (a film director) at the age of 29 was arrested for child-pornography. He got off with a $500 fine. Her other son, Peter was in the famed rock group from San Francisco, Moby Grape. 

Her last years were spent going to church and devoting time to Catholic charities.

Still a beautiful woman, but flawed in so many ways.



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