The Kennedy Center

Myrna Loy


Myrna Loy
(actress, born August 2, 1905, Raidersburg, Montana; died December 14, 1993)

Known in 1930s Hollywood as the Perfect Wife, Myrna Loy was an actress whose personal integrity supported her artistic growth.

Best known for her work in The Thin Man series of films (1934 to 1944), she was by turns witty and challenging, supportive and understanding of William Powell's Nick Charles. It was one of those rare on -screen collaborations which served to illumine and refine the male-female relationship of a generation of movie-goers: "That movie marriage, always securely based emotionally, but playing with hostility, flirtation, and raillery, served in its time as the epitome of an adult, liberated partnership, " says David Thomson in A Biographical Dictionary of Film. "Equally, it was part of Myrna Loy's appeal that she was so often the hero's wife, suggesting sexual liberation without actually exploiting it."

Loy's career was not a meteoric rise to fame . Engaged by several studios in succession--MGM, then Warners and later Fox, and back to MGM--Loy worked at her craft, preparing well for the advent of "talking pictures" by taking voice lessons. In late 1936 she was named America's most popular female star in a poll of fans and exhibitors by Ed Sullivan. Her best work was yet to come, with Frederic March in William Wyler's The Best Years of Our Lives.

Loy served as assistant to the director of military and naval welfare for the Red Cross in World War II. She was later appointed a member-at large of the U.S. Commission to UNESCO. Her acting career by no means ended in the 1940s. She continued to actively pursue stage and television appearances in addition to films in subsequent decades.

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