WEIRDLAND: Happy Anniversary, Myrna Loy!

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Happy Anniversary, Myrna Loy!

Happy Anniversary, Myrna Loy!

Myrna Adele Williams (Myrna Loy) was born on August 2, 1905 in Radersburg, Montana, USA. She was labeled "Queen of Hollywood" and "The Perfect Wife" in the 1930s and 1940s. Myrna Loy became a big star during the Golden Age, being one of the most popular box-office stars. According to a list published in the TLA Video & DVD Guide of 2005, Myrna was the #1 female star of the 20th century in estimated movie tickets sales. The rest of the top ten actresses in ticket sales after Myrna Loy were: Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Barbara Stanwyck, Claudette Colbert, Judy Garland, Joan Crawford, Elizabeth Taylor, Ginger Rogers, and Katharine Hepburn.  Myrna Loy died on December 14, 1993 in New York City.

From the beginning, Myrna Loy’s screen image conjured mystery, a sense of something withheld. “Who is she?” was a question posed in the first fan magazine article published about her in 1925.

This first ever biography of the wry and sophisticated actress best known for her role as Nora Charles, wife to dapper detective William Powell in The Thin Man, offers an unprecedented picture of her life and an extraordinary movie career that spanned six decades. Opening with Loy’s rough-and-tumble upbringing in Montana, the book takes us to Los Angeles in the 1920s, where Loy’s striking looks caught the eye of Valentino, through the silent and early sound era to her films of the thirties, when Loy became a top box office draw, and to her robust post–World War II career. Throughout, Emily W. Leider illuminates the actress’s friendships with luminaries such as Cary Grant, Clark Gable, and Joan Crawford and her collaborations with the likes of John Barrymore, David O. Selznick, Sam Goldwyn, and William Wyler, among many others. This highly engaging biography offers a fascinating slice of studio era history and gives us the first full picture of a very private woman who has often been overlooked despite her tremendous star power. Source: www.ucpress.edu

“Myrna Loy and William Powell are the ham and eggs, the peaches and cream, the salt and pepper of the movies,” an MGM scribe commented as their fourth of six Thin Man films was being released. “They go together naturally as night and day.” The screen marriage of this matched pair of lithe bodies and insouciant spirits outlasted any of Myrna’s offscreen couplings and for their fans has never lost its luster.

Powell and Loy made fourteen films together between 1934 (the year they first worked together, in Manhattan Melodrama, and also the year of The Thin Man) and 1947. Their connubial bliss seemed so perfect that fans found it hard to believe that in real life they were never married to one another. During their heyday Loy regularly received fan mail seeking marital advice because of the obvious happiness of her union with Powell. When the couple came to San Francisco to make After the Thin Man in the mid-1930s, the St. Francis Hotel management, unaware that Jean Harlow, also in San Francisco, was Powell’s main squeeze at the time, booked Loy and Powell into its honeymoon suite.

Nick and Nora show their affection via mutual ribbing.“Nicky, I love you because you know such lovely people,” says Nora as one thug after another joins their party. When Nora asks him if he goes for a particular type of girl, Nicks answers,“Only you, darling—lanky brunettes with wicked jaws.” Nick and Nora rarely speak a straight line, so much do they love verbal and physical pokes in the ribs. But in the privacy of their hotel bedroom they never seem to have sex; they just dodge bullets, converse, re-cover from hangovers, and now and then try to catch forty winks.

Loy’s talent for partnership allowed her to draw on one side of herself when she faced Powell, another side with Gable. She excelled at picking up and answering cues, falling into step, “listening” with her entire body. "Manhattan Melodrama" (1934) was the first film William Powell co-starred with Myrna Loy. Powell had shared the screen with several actresses—he was too much the gentleman to name names—who didn’t connect with him, actresses who, he said, “seemed to be separated from me by a plate glass window”. With Myrna there was instant connection, no plate glass. From their initial scene together, Powell would remember, “a curious thing passed between us, a feeling of rhythm, complete understanding, an instinct for how one could bring out the best in the other.” —"Myrna Loy: The Only Good Girl in Hollywood" (2011) by Emily W. Leider

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