Dear Loretta Devotees,|
I have written, with the full cooperation of Miss Young, "Loretta Young: Journey of a Hollywood Soul". Perhaps you saw me interviewed for the A&E Biography on Loretta. I'm looking for a publisher who loves Loretta as much as you and I do, and who sees her moral values as a plus. What I don't want is a publisher anxious to fit Loretta's story into the usual movie star book cookie cutter formula that trades on the sensational and superficial. As I'm sure you'll agree, Loretta is not the usual movie star and now I suspect that finding the right publisher isn't going to happen by following the usual path. I've tried that, no problem getting editors to agree to a submission, it's just that they end up wanting a very different slant. So, I'm asking your help. Read the following excerpts and if you feel that this book warrants attention and if you have contact with an editor or publisher whom you think would embrace this project, and who has sufficient distribution channels to reach Loretta's admirers, please respond to this site.
(April, Vanity Fair Magazine)
Here are some excerpts:
This is the story of the struggles and triumphs of a woman with two potent, often conflicting ambitions: to be a movie star and to save her soul. One ambition led her into the arms of two of the most famous men in the world, Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable, the other caused her to flee them. This is not the story of a goody-goody, going about her business of doing good deeds. This is the story of a strong, mesmerizingly beautiful, ambitious woman, full of contradictions: she has been both playful and forbidding, self-centered and compassionate, spontaneous and rigid, truthful and machiavellian, judgmental and loving, very sophisticated and very child-like. And, in the balance of her eighty-some years, she has never stopped trying to become something better. This is the story of a very human being who is ultimately hopeful and is more and more convinced that God is the reason why. This is an intimate story about a soul whose journey has traversed through the magic, the glamour, the promise, the power, the exhilaration, the aggression, the desperation, the loneliness, and the emptiness, known as Hollywood.
Loretta boarded the train for Mt. Baker, Washington, just north of Bellingham, where the location filming would be done. A friend of Sally's, Frances Early, accompanied her as a companion. It was on the train where Loretta first met Clark Gable. Careerwise, Clark Gable was riding high. At age 34, he would be presented an Academy Award the following Spring for his role in the very popular IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT. In his personal life, there were rumors that the state of his marriage was fragile. Ria Langham Gable, a wealthy divorcee from Texas, had met Clark Gable, seventeen years her junior, when he was performing on the New York stage. Gable's pursuit of Loretta began immediately. Loretta wasn't particularly surprised; by now she was used to getting that kind of attention from her leading men. She found him very attractive, possessing a pure male animal instinct over which he had complete control. There was something dangerous about him that was appealing, and of course, she found him marvelously good-looking. Add to that his charm and humor, and Loretta found him hard to resist.
After 20th Century became 20th Century Fox, Zanuck moved his operation to the former Fox Studios on Pico Avenue. Renovations were made, including a new building for his star dressing rooms. With the exception of Shirley Temple who had her own bungalow, Loretta was Zanuck's top female star and was consequently assigned the number one dressing room. Located on the ground floor, the apartment included an office, kitchen, living room and bath. In addition, Loretta had a portable dressing room, crammed with closets and mirrors, that was rolled around from set to set. On top of this, she required a mirror right on the set for last minute primping. Further reinforcing her image as a star, Loretta was attended by an entourage that included her wardrobe woman, makeup person, hairdresser, and stand-in. Add to that, her studio driver who, driving Loretta's Cadillac Towncar, not only chauffeured her to and from her home, but from set to set during the day. Completing her attendants was the cook Loretta hired to prepare breakfast and lunch. From the studio's point of view, the thinking was that if you treated an actor like a star, they'd act like a star. They'd develop a persona larger than life, and this created a mystique that generated fan fascination, ultimately netting big money at the box office. Loretta was still in her early twenties.
Just as ALONG CAME JONES was wrapping, Loretta discovered, much to her delight, that she and Tom were expecting their second child. When it was confirmed that she was already four months pregnant, she assumed the studio would postpone the picture until after the baby was born. Instead, she and her agent were called in to meet with the studio's board. They made it clear that if Loretta was more interested in having a family than furthering her career, then they would have to cancel her contract. Put another way, either she abort the baby or she would be dropped. Loretta looked at her friend Bill Goetz, but he couldn't look at her and turned his head away. She looked at her agent and he too was looking away. She then addressed the Chairman and asked, "Is that all?" He responded, "Yes" and Loretta simply got up and left the meeting. Later that day, she responded through her agent that in no way would she terminate her pregnancy. That was that, but it would take several months to negotiate the ending of her contract.
It was July 15, 1945, and Loretta and Tom had returned home from a party at Claudette Colbert's only an hour before when it was imperative to rush to the hospital for the arrival of the new baby. There wasn't time for the Labor Room; Loretta was rushed straight into Delivery. Loretta remembers hearing, "It's a boy," and, thinking that Tom would be thrilled, drifting back into unconsciousness. The next time she woke up, there were no more harsh lights, no more pain, only a quiet peacefulness and a marvelous sense of having accomplished something wonderful. She looked at her new baby, Peter, and he was perfect. That feeling of contentment would stay with her for the entire day. In her deepest heart, she had always thought that she was put on earth to be a mother, and at that moment, a new baby seemed like the most important, the purest reason for her being alive. It was the happiest day of her life. For those few hours, her husband, their child, and Loretta were truly in a world of their own.
English portrait painter Simon Elwes persuaded Loretta to sit for a painting that, after a circuitous route, now hangs in Loretta's den. Elwes style of painting at that time was pointillism, a series of dabs of color, that combined together, portrayed Loretta more realistically than she wanted. He had captured a misty quality about her eyes that revealed her fragile state. Looking at it scared Loretta to death. At this time of her life, she was supposed to be on top of the world, walking into America's living room weekly, giving them a lift and one good idea each week with which to better their lives. If people saw this painting, they'd know she wasn't in control of her own life, begging the question of what good have all those wonderful mottos at the end of her show done for her? Loretta had reached the state of profound brokenness that, ironically, can elevate one beyond the human condition. In recalling that period, she reflects, "I remember thinking that everything was dragging on for so long; I didn't think that time would ever pass. I know now: "everything passes. I was really so worn out, mentally and physically and emotionally, but not, thank God, spiritually. That grew. That grew because in desperation, you turn to something bigger than you are. I turned to God."
Before Loretta left the States, she had had lunch with Bishop Fulton J. Sheen and he suggested that she be sure to visit a leprosarium in Taiwan. As it turned out, despite all the glamorous entertaining in Taipei, including a festival hosted by General Chaing Kaishek, the visit to the leprosarium would present the most memorable moments in Taiwan. Located about two hours outside of the capital, the leprosarium was composed of a couple hundred bungalows with a population of ten people living in each. The first bungalow they visited was inhabited by young men, all dressed solely in shorts, thus exposing many of the sores on their upper body and legs. There was a television in the corner and, most likely they recognized Loretta, as her show was now in syndication throughout the world, including Taiwan. They had stood when the priest had entered but when the women followed, every single one of them turned their faces toward the wall, and in spite of the priest's pleas, they refused to turn around. Finally, the priest looked at Loretta in resignation. She then approached one of the young men who had been hitting his hands on the wall and shaking his head. She placed her hand on his shoulder and spoke to him soothingly while patting him; this continued for about five minutes. Finally, he removed his hand from the wall and turned around to look at Loretta. Never in her life had she seen such a sweet look on anyone's face. She turned him all the way around and as she placed his head on her shoulder, she could see tears streaming down his face. They sat down on the floor together and Loretta continued talking with the priest interpreting. The young man nodded his head from time to time, but he never looked up again.
What could be said of her marriage to Jean, unlike her previous two, is that she entered it with total honesty. By that time in her life, Loretta knew herself well enough to realize that she needed to be the lead horse of any team, and in regards to Jean's needs at that time of his life, that was fine with him. As it turned out, their life together often bordered on the idyllic. During those years, Jean was able to give to Loretta a wonderful example of someone who lived in the present. One day, he was in their garden, just behind the pool, and he appeared to be studying a yellow flower. Intrigued, Loretta came up behind him and asked him what he was thinking. He replied that he was just thinking how beautiful the flower was.
Loretta is very accepting of the passing of time. You can see it in her appearance as she adopts a simpler, softer look with each passing year. What you don't see in Loretta's face is fear. She is confident of eternal life and this confidence, more than anything, explains how she continues to emanate a beauty that still astonishes.