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Myrna Loy

From Academic Kids

Myrna Loy (August 2, 1905 - December 14, 1993) was a United States motion picture actress. Perhaps her most famous role was as Nora Charles in "The Thin Man" series of mapcap detective films and for her typecasting as a pert, perfect wife. Loy was known for her charm, grace and elegance.

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Myrna Loy in the 1920s

Born Myrna Adele Williams in Raidersburg (near Helena, Montana), the daughter of a rancher, David Franklin Williams, and his wife, Della Mae. Her unusual first name came from a train station whose name her father admired. She moved to Los Angeles, California when she was twelve, after her father's death. At the age of fifteen she began appearing in local stage productions. Natacha Rambova, the wife of Rudolph Valentino, arranged a screen test for her which she failed, but she persevered, and in 1925 appeared in the movie What Price Beauty. Her silent film roles were mainly those of vampish exotic women and for a few years she struggled to overcome this stereotype with many producers and directors believing that while she was perfect as these femme fatales, she was capable of little more. During her nine year struggle to establish herself, she appeared in nearly 80 films.

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Myrna Loy in the 1930s

Her breakthrough occurred in 1934 with two very successful films. The first was Manhattan Melodrama with Clark Gable and William Powell. Her performance in The Thin Man later the same year as William Powell's sophisticated, witty wife Nora made her a star. She and Powell proved to be a popular couple and appeared in 14 films together, the most prolific onscreen pairing in Hollywood history.

In 1936, she was voted "Queen of Hollywood" (in a contest which also voted Clark Gable "King") and was considered to epitomise the height of glamour and sophistication. During this period she was one of Hollywood's busiest and highest paid actresses. With the outbreak of World War II she all but abandoned her acting career to focus on the war effort and worked closely with the Red Cross. She was fiercely outspoken against Adolf Hitler and her name appeared on his "blacklist". She helped run a Naval Auxilary Canteen and toured frequently to raise funds.

She returned to films with The Best Years Of Our Lives in 1946 and played the wife of returning serviceman Fredric March. In later years Loy would recall this film as her proudest acting achievement. It also allowed Loy to make a film that demonstrated her social conscience. During her career she had championed the rights of black actors and characters to be depicted with dignity on film. In later life she assumed a more influential role as Co-Chairman of the "Advisory Council of the National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing". From 1949 until 1954 she also worked for UNESCO; she also was an active member of the United States Republican Party. Her film career continued sporadically (in 1960 she appeared in Midnight Lace and From the Terrace, and was not in another until '69 in The April Fools) and she also returned to the stage making her Broadway debut in a 1973 revival of The Women. Her autobiography Myrna Loy: Being and Becoming was published in 1987.

She received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center in 1986. Although she was never nominated for an Academy Award for any single performance, she received an Academy Honorary Award in 1991 "for her career achievement".

Loy was married four times. Her first husband was producer Arthur Hornblow Jr (1936-42); John Hertz Jr. of the rent-a-car family (1942-44); producer Gene Markey (1946-50), and UNESCO delegate Howland H. Sergeant (1951-1960). She had no children. "Some perfect wife I am", she said, referring to her typecasting. "I've been married four times, divorced four times, have no children, and can't boil an egg".

After surviving breast cancer and a double mastectomy, Myrna Loy died during cancer surgery in New York City and was cremated; her ashes are buried at Forestvale Cemetery, in Helena, Montana.

She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6685 Hollywood Blvd.

Filmography

External links

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