Friday, August 1, 2008

Birthday Girl: The Greatest Leading Lady of Them All

Happy 105th to one of filmland's stalwarts, the indispensable Miss Myrna Loy.

She was, in her own way, one of the great stars, but one who was always the top-billed woman, never quite the true lead - Mrs. Nick Charles, not quite Nora by right of primacy in the story.

Still, she was superb.

And she achieved her position only after dozens of pointless films in which she was cast as an Eastern menace, an Oriental houri, or a decorative exotic. Rather a feat for a girl from Radersburg, Montana.

She matured, in the mid 30s, into the fondly remembered Perfect Wife, a foil to William Powell, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy...

In later life, as stardom waned, she remained lovely, serene, and a smart, funny lady. Her memoir is one of the few truly worth reading for a sense of what it was like to Be There Then.

She was a trouper, doing summer stock, making the rounds of the talk shows, and then emerging from semi-seclusion toward the end to accept an overdue honorary Oscar and to defend the memory of her great friend Joan Crawford (if someone as sensible as Myrna says there's more to Christina's story than Christina lets on, I think we'd all best listen).

The last words she spoke in public, to an audience of tens of millions watching the Academy Awards, were typically reticent, typically gracious: "You've made me very happy; thank you very much."

And fade to black.

1 comment:

  1. I *adore* Myrna Loy, and I just *knew* that if anyone beat me to the punch in celebrating her birthday, it would be you, you rascal!