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08/12/2010

Ten years ago: Loretta Young

August 12, 2010 |  7:18 am

image from www.latimes.com A Golden Age film actress who collaborated with a long roster of leading men, on screen and off, won an Oscar and then made a successful jump to early TV, Loretta Young died at age 87 on Aug. 12, 2000.

"Young's gritty determination to be a star -- and her hardheaded business sense -- kept her in front of the cameras for decades after most stars from Hollywood's Golden Age had faded into nostalgia," noted her Times obituary. Young, a devout and demonstrative Catholic, may have been equally hardheaded -- at least in public statements -- about Judy Lewis, the girl Young adopted in 1937 but who was long rumored to be her biological daughter with Clark Gable. (Lewis made that claim herself in a 1994 autobiography.)

Loretta Young -- then going by her birth name, Gretchen -- debuted in the movies at age 4, as a child weeping on an operating table. Her ambition was evident almost from the start: "She would run to the front of the pack during crowd scenes to make sure her face flashed prominently," the obituary recalled. "I was always sure," she reportedly said, "that I was going to be a big star, not just an actress."

A big star she was: She made nearly 100 movies, and her role as a Swedish immigrant in "The Farmer's Daughter" (1947) won her an Academy Award. After another Oscar nomination for "Come to the Stable," she moved to television in the '50s and '60s, then turned to charity work. The obituary goes into more depth on Young's contradictions -- the twice-divorced actress wouldn't say the word "divorce" on screen -- and her third marriage, as an octogenarian.

-- Michael Owen

Photo: Loretta Young in an undated file photo. Credit: Reuters

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