Loretta Young was an American actress who graced the screen with her charming presence for nearly eight decades until her eventual retirement in 1994. She was born with the name Gretchen Young, although that would later change. She and her two sisters, Polly Ann and Elizabeth Jane, were all involved in acting from a very young age. Elizabeth Jane later took the stage name of Sally Blane, and was a successful actress who appeared in over 100 films. Polly Ann also acted as an adult, but she wasn’t quite as well known as Elizabeth Jane.
Loretta Young, however, soared in popularity over her sisters. Her first role as an actor was in the silent film Sweet Kitty Bellairs, when she was just three years old! After that, she continued to act into high school, when she was discovered by manager John McCormick, who entered her into a contract. John McCormick’s wife, Colleen Moore, was impressed by her acting ability, and suggested she go by the name Loretta instead of Gretchen. The first time she was billed under her new stage name was in the 1928 film The Whip Woman.
Loretta Young soon became a darling of American film. Before long, she was co-starring with some of the most popular male actors at the time. In 1953, she was even given her own television show, which was originally named Letters to Loretta. The name was eventually changed to The Loretta Young Show, and it ran until 1961. The show was incredibly successful, and she earned three Emmy Awards for her work.
Audience members and devout fans were always stunned by her grace and beauty onstage. While she and her sisters all began acting at a young age, it seems only Loretta Young had the true gift of an actor. In total, she appeared in 112 films, with some of her most acclaimed being The Farmer’s Daughter, Come to the Stable, and Ramona. Sweet Loretta Young was beloved by the nation. Whenever she appeared on screen, she made acting look easy.
In real life, however, Loretta Young was incredibly troubled. Behind that smiling facade, she hid a tragedy so devastating that she kept it a secret from everyone except her daughter. Years after her death in 2000, the horrifying truth has finally been revealed. In today’s video, we’re going to reveal the tragic reason why Loretta Young had to keep her baby with Clark Gable a secret.
Loretta Young’s Beginning
Loretta Young was born on January 6th, 1913, in Salt Lake City, Utah to Gladys and John Earle Young. When she was only two years old, however, her parents divorced. A year later, Loretta’s mother moved her and her sisters to Hollywood. Seeing talent in her daughters, Gladys had all of them work as child actors. Loretta was the youngest of her sisters, but she was the daughter who would rise to the greatest heights. She took a break from acting for a few years. While she attended high school at Ramona Convent Secondary School, she was approached by John McCormick who, sensing her talent, had her sign an acting contract. She returned to film in 1928, and before long, she was landing big roles.
Meeting Clark Gable
In 1935, Loretta Young was cast as one of the leads of the Twentieth Century Pictures film The Call of the Wild. She was cast alongside famous actor Clark Gable. While Loretta Young was only 22 at the time, Clark Gable was 34, and was already married to his second wife, Maria “Ria” Franklin Prentiss Lucas Langham.
Clark Gable was known as the “King of Hollywood,” and it was likely a daunting task for Loretta Young to act by his side. However, Clark Gable’s reputation as a charmer on screen held up behind the scenes, as well. Despite his marriage, he was well known for “seeing” other women, and he was involved in numerous affairs. While working side by side with Clark Gable, Loretta Young got to know him better and better.
A Terrible Secret
During filming, Loretta Young learned that she was pregnant with Clark Gable’s child. She was absolutely horrified by the news, and she knew that if it got out, it would permanently damage her reputation and career. She also knew that, if the film studio found out about her pregnancy, she would be pressured to have an abortion. However, Loretta Young was a devout Catholic all her life, and firmly believed that abortion was a sin. She conferred with her mother and sisters, who helped her develop a plan to keep the pregnancy a secret from the rest of the world.
When Young reached the later stages of pregnancy, and could no longer hide her condition, she took a vacation to England. She returned to California after a time, but insisted that she was ill from a chronic condition. This helped her to hide her pregnancy until she finally gave birth on November 6th, 1935. She gave birth to a beautiful daughter named Judith, after St. Jude, the patron saint of difficult situations.
Just a few weeks after she was born, however, Loretta Young gave her to an orphanage. Young Judith was passed around through various orphanages until nineteen months after her birth, when Loretta Young “adopted” Judith. It was a brilliant plan that allowed her to keep her daughter without arousing any suspicions. However, there was another terrible secret about her daughter that wouldn’t be revealed until years after Loretta Young’s death.
Learning the Truth
While Loretta Young’s secret plan was airtight in theory, it didn’t work as well in practice. Young Judith strongly resembled both her birth parents, and it wasn’t long before the whole of Hollywood had guessed the truth. Still, Loretta kept up appearances and refused to admit the truth- for a while, at least.
It wasn’t until Judith was 31 years old that she finally questioned her mother. Loretta heavily explained the situation. Loretta also admitted the situation to Joan Wester Anderson, who wrote her authorized biography. However, she only did this on the condition that the book would be published after her death.
Loretta disclosed one more secret to her daughter however. While watching Larry King Live, Loretta Young learned about the concept of date rape. For the longest timeYoung had been taught that women were supposed to reject a man’s advances. If she was unsuccessful, Young believed it was the woman’s fault. It wasn’t until she watched the show that Young finally realized that she wasn’t to blame for what happened to her. She confided in her daughter that, although she had gone on a date with Clark Gable, she had had no desire to engage in sexual intercourse with him. Clark did not listen to her, however, and Loretta Young was tragically raped.
What Clark Gable did to poor Loretta Young was horrible, but she was thankfully able to overcome her struggles and accomplish many other great things in her life. Make sure you stick around until the very end of the video, because we’re going to reveal all the good that Loretta Young accomplished even after her retirement! And if you’re enjoying this video so far, please take a moment to like the video and subscribe to our channel for more!
A Woman of Many Talents
Despite all of the struggles she faced, Loretta Young knew she had a lot to offer in the world of film and television. In 1947, Loretta Young won her Academy Award for her role in the film The Farmer’s Daughter. She was later nominated for her second Academy Award in the 1949 film Come to the Stable.
In 1953, Loretta Young was given her own television series, The Loretta Young Show. This dramatic anthology series lasted for eight seasons and aired a total of 165 episodes. She played the hostess of the show and also starred as the lead in many episodes. For her amazing work on the show, Loretta Young received three Emmy Awards. This made her the first actor in history to receive both an Academy Award and an Emmy Award.
By the mid-1950s, Loretta Young was working so hard on her show that it was having a dramatic effect on her health. She had the producers include a number of guest hosts and stars so that she wouldn’t have to spend as much time filming. As a result, she was able to focus more on her health.
In the 1980s, however, Loretta Young discovered that she was quite underweight. She finally quit smoking, which she had been doing since she was eight years old. Quitting helped her gain back a healthy amount of weight. Still, the worst of her health problems were yet to come.
Leaving an Impression on the World
Loretta Young officially retired in the 1960s, although she did come out of retirement briefly for a few television and film appearances.
During her retirement, however, Loretta Young was not idle. Still very close to her Catholic faith, she was active in the church and donated to many Catholic charities, alongside her close friends Irene Dunne, Rosalind Russell, and Jane Wyman.
Sadly, towards the end of her life, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She died on August 12th, 2000, and her ashes were laid to rest in her mother’s grave.
Loretta Young faced a lot of adversity in her life, but her tough spirit allowed her to persevere. Did you think it was a good idea for Loretta Young to keep her daughter a secret, or do you think she shouldn’t have gone to all the trouble? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe to Facts Verse for more!