Real name: Myrna Adele Williams
Birthdate: August 2, 1905
Myrna Loy (August 2, 1905 – December 14, 1993) was an American motion picture actress. Perhaps her most famous role was as Nora Charles, wife of detective Nick Charles (William Powell), in The Thin Man series. In 1938, she was voted the "Queen of Hollywood," in a contest which also voted Clark Gable the "King".
In 1921, she posed for Harry Winebrenner's statue, titled "Spiritual", which remained in front of Venice High School throughout the 20th century and can be seen in the opening scenes of the film Grease (1978). The statue was vandalized in recent years, but a restoration is planned.
Her breakthrough occurred with the advent of talkies. In 1929, she improvised a "foreign" accent, sang and danced in Warner Brothers' first musical, The Desert Song (1929). Loy later commented on the film's success and noted, "it kind of solidified my exotic non-American image". She was quickly cast in a number of early lavish Technicolor musicals including The Show of Shows (1929), The Bride of the Regiment (1930) and Under A Texas Moon (1930). Loy became associated with musicals and when they went out of favor with the public, late in 1930, her career went into a slump.
Her success in Manhattan Melodrama and The Thin Man marked a turning point in her career and she was cast in more important pictures, and was given the opportunity to develop her comedic skills in films such as Wife vs. Secretary (1936) with Clark Gable and Jean Harlow and Petticoat Fever (1936) with Robert Montgomery. She made four films in close succession with William Powell: Libeled Lady (1936), which also starred Spencer Tracy and Jean Harlow, The Great Ziegfeld (1936), in which she played Billie Burke opposite Powell's Florenz Ziegfeld, the second "Thin Man" film, After the Thin Man, and the romantic comedy Double Wedding (1937). She also made three more films with Clark Gable. Parnell was an historical drama and one of the most poorly received films of either Loy's or Gable's career, but their other pairings in Test Pilot and Too Hot to Handle (both 1938) were successes.
Loy was married four times:
- 1936-1942 Arthur Hornblow, Jr., producer
- 1942-1944 John Hertz Jr. of the Hertz Rent A Car family
- 1946-1950 Gene Markey, producer
- 1951-1960 Howland H. Sergeant, UNESCO delegate
Loy had no children of her own, though it is documented that she was very close to the children of her first husband, Arthur Hornblow. "Some perfect wife I am," she said, referring to her typecasting. "I've been married four times, divorced four times, have no children, and can't boil an egg."
In later life, she assumed a more influential role as Co-Chairman of the Advisory Council of the National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing. From 1949 until 1954, she worked for UNESCO; she also was an active member of the Democratic Party.
On December 14, 1993, after battling breast cancer and enduring two mastectomies, she died during surgery, the exact nature of which was never specified in the reports of her death in New York City. She was cremated and the ashes interred at Forestvale Cemetery, in Helena, Montana.
In her childhood home of Helena, Montana, the Myrna Loy Center for the Performing and Media Arts opened in 1991 and sponsors live performances and films for under-served audiences.