Myrna Loy


You’d go through a lot of loys before you came across one as beautiful and funny as Myrna Loy.  I actually think that she is the best loy of all; but, I have to take into account that there are loys that I’ve never encountered.  Her career spanned three generations; fortunately, no one was hurt.

Myrna Loy was born Myrna Adele Williams in 1905 to two people who were just as surprised as we were.  Although born in Montana, she ended up in California because that is just the way things go.  She posed for a statue in 1921 and it ended up standing outside the high school she’d attended until it was vandalized in the eighties.  She was indeed a fox of a looker of a cutie pie.

Loy started in silent films in 1925.  She ended up playing the non-white girl in many movies due to the fact that most directors had never seen a non-white girl before.  The actress played a Chinese girl one last time in 1932’s Mask of Fu Manchu, with Boris Karloff in the title role as the mask.  The next year, she was in Men in White, with Clark Gable.  The Legion of Decency stated that the movie was “unfit for public exhibition”; then they watched it a few more times, just to make sure.

It was in the movie Manhattan Melodrama that Loy was finally noticed on a large scale; they later forced her to get off the scale so that they could weigh a crate of bananas.  She ended up making thirteen movies with her costar in that movie:  William Powell.  Their most famous pairing was in the Thin Man series of films.

Powell and Loy played Nick and Nora Charles, who were a detective and an heiress although not necessarily in that order.  Nora’s wit and playfulness were the perfect foil to her drunken louse of a husband.  Most movies ended with all the characters in a room waiting for Nick to announce the murderer.  You’d think that the murderer would be the one who DIDN’T show up…

She made the great melodrama The Best Years of our Lives in 1946, with Frederick March…although, she’d probably have made it even if he hadn’t shown up.  My favorite, The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer was made in 1947 and starred Cary Grant.  After one more movie with Grant, Loy mostly appeared on television.  In 1973, she appeared on Broadway and in a tortilla in Mexico.

Myrna Loy was politically active.  She was co-chairman of the Advisory Council of the National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing, definitely a long name by anyone’s standards.  The Kennedy Center gave her a life time achievement award in 1988 on the condition that she tell no one.  She received an honorary Academy Award in 1991 and an imaginary Nobel Peace Prize in 1992.

Myrna Loy died in 1993, her ashes interred in Helena, Montana where they could do the most good…


See also Zasu Pitts and Kathleen Freeman