"Myrna Loy, Luminous Activist"
February 3, 2006 12:37 PM Subscribe
“Wouldn’t you know, the kid they pick to play tramps is the only good girl in Hollywood.” Before Myrna Loy rose to stardom with Manhattan Melodrama and The Thin Man (both 1934), she was often relegated to playing vamps, mistresses, and other assorted flavors of wicked women. Then, after 80 movies playing mostly bad girls, Montana native Loy became “the perfect wife.” “Men Must Marry Myrna Loy” clubs were formed around the country. She and Clark Gable, in a poll conducted by Ed Sullivan, were voted by 20 million of the nation’s moviegoers as The King and Queen of Hollywood. She was FDR's favorite actress, and John Dillinger died just to see her new movie. A staunch anti-Nazi since the mid-Thirties (to MGM's dismay, Hitler promptly banned her films from the lucrative German market), wondered aloud in the press why blacks were always given servants' roles, and was the first major star to buck the studios in a contract dispute (the issue: equal pay for equal work. She was making half what William Powell was, didn't like it and quit work for nearly a year until MGM capitulated). When WWII broke out she quit Hollywood and worked full time for the Red Cross, and helped run a Naval Auxilary Canteen. More inside.
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