Loretta Young, the elegant beauty whose
acting career extended from silent movies to television and
included an Academy Award for best actress in The Farmer’s
Daughter, died today of ovarian cancer, her longtime agent and
friend Norman Brokaw said. She was 87.
Young died at the home of her sister Georgian Montalban and actor Ricardo Montalban early this morning, said Brokaw, her agent for 50 years and chairman of the William Morris Agency.
“She was an incredible lady,” Brokaw said. “I learned from her that if you can handle yourself with class and dignity, you can work as long as you want in this business.”
Both on and off the screen, Miss Young presented the image of serene uprightness. In 88 movies dating from 1927 to 1953, she invariably played the strong-willed heroine with firm principles.
Won Three Emmys
From 1953 to 1963, she appeared on television in more than 300 episodes of The Loretta Young Show, opening the program with her much-satirized trademark of sweeping through a doorway, always in a high-style gown. She was nominated seven times for Emmys as best starring actress and won three times.
“During the series I played every role possible—Chinese, Japanese, Swedish, Indian, old, ugly, young, pretty,” she remarked in a 1973 interview. “It was a marvelous experience for an actress to do everything she had ever wanted to do. I got it out of my system.”
She retired at the end of The New Loretta Young Show in 1963, devoting her time to charities and a line of beauty products bearing her name. She returned to acting in 1986, appearing in a television movie, Christmas Eve.
During her Hollywood heyday, Miss Young appeared opposite most of the top male stars of her time. They included Lon Chaney, Ronald Colman, John Barrymore, Clark Gable, James Cagney, Spencer Tracy, Cary Grant, Charles Boyer, Tyrone Power, David Niven, Joel McCrea, Robert Mitchum, William Holden and Joseph Cotten. A shapely beauty with large blue-gray eyes and high cheekbones, Loretta starred at 15 in 1928 with Chaney in Laugh, Clown, Laugh. She was never less than a star afterward. In 1929 and 1930 she appeared in 15 movies, including Broken Dishes with the bluff, hard-drinking actor Grant Withers.
Was Married at 17
She eloped with him when she was 17, and they lived together for eight months before she filed for divorce in 1931, claiming she paid most of the bills. Miss Young never spoke of the marriage, and it never appeared in her official biography.
Her career flourished in the 1930s, with contracts to Warner Bros.-First National and then 20th Century-Fox. In 1934 she appeared in 10 films, including Born to Be Bad (Cary Grant), The House of Rothschild (George Arliss), The Devil to Pay (Ronald Colman), Caravan (Charles Boyer), Cecil B. DeMille’s The Crusades, Call of the Wild (Clark Gable), Shanghai (Charles Boyer).
Miss Young’s career flourished into the ’40s with such films as The Story of Alexander Graham Bell (Don Ameche), The Doctor Takes a Wife (Ray Milland), Bedtime Story (Fredric March), The Lady from Cheyenne (Robert Preston), China (Alan Ladd), Along Came Jones (Gary Cooper), The Stranger (Orson Welles).