Excerpt From 'Forever Young'

Two winners in a row! How could Loretta have doubted God’s hand in her career? She often wondered. She had thought, when she was blacklisted, that her acting days were over. But nothing could have prepared her for the next step. One morning, she and Tom were having brunch with Irene Dunne and her husband when the phone rang. It was Dore Schary. “Do you remember me telling you that you could win the Academy Award for Katie?” he asked Loretta.

“How could I forget?” she laughed.

”Well, you’re one step closer. You’ve been nominated for best actress.”

Loretta was thunderstruck, especially as Schary read her the list of the other nominees. How could this be? Joan Crawford for Possessed, Susan Hayward for Smash-Up, Dorothy McGuire for Gentlemen’s Agreement, and one of her best friends, Rosalind Russell, for Mourning Becomes Electra. It was unbelievably wonderful for Rosalind, who usually did light-hearted parts, and had really struggled through this role, a heavy Eugene O’Neil saga. Once, after Sunday Mass, Loretta had asked her how it was going. “Loretta,” Roz had answered through gritted teeth, “all the director says to me is ‘Hate him!” (the leading man). “Hate him!

HATE HIM MORE!’ I swear, if he says that to me again, I’m going to kill him!” The women had laughed together. They, along with Irene Dunne, were often dubbed “The Three Nuns” by people in the industry, due to their Catholic faith and careful choice of parts, and they understood each other well. But if Katie had been a departure for Loretta, Rosalind had also stepped outside her niche. The two women had already celebrated Roz’s Golden Globe award for Electra, which was usually a ticket to the Oscar. In addition, Roz had been nominated Best Actress last year for Sister Kenny, and had lost. She was the sure winner, Loretta decided.

In those years, after the nominees were announced, the Daily Variety held a straw poll. Rosalind won it by a wide margin, thus confirming Loretta’s views. (Loretta finished fifth, out of five.) But Roz was not convinced she was a shoo-in. On the morning of the awards, she phoned Loretta. “Nervous?” she asked.

“Not really. I’m just happy to be one of the five, and wear this beautiful Adrian dress.” ”Loretta, my mother is getting out of her sickbed to come with us tonight and watch me win,” Roz told her. “But God and I know who’s the real winner. So when you get the Oscar, I want you to unscrew it and throw half of it to me!” “Don’t be an idiot,” Loretta said fondly. “You deserve it, and you’re going to win it. I’ll see you tonight.”

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