Myrna Loy was born Myrna Adele Williams 111 years today in Helena, Montana. She ranks very highly indeed in our personal pantheon of Hollywood stars, so her birthday is always, in our view, cause for celebration. Here are some ML Did-You-Knows:
- Loy was of Welsh, Scottish and Swedish descent.
- Though Gary Cooper also grew up in and around Helena, he and Loy never met until they had both moved to Hollywood.
- Her father was a rancher and a politician—the youngest person ever elected the Montana State legislature. He died of influenza when Loy was just 13, after which her family moved to Los Angeles.
- She began acting in school plays at 15; some of those productions were staged in Grauman’s Chinese Theater.
- Loy attended Venice High School, where the speech and drama awards are now called “Myrnas.” There’s a statue outside the school that bears her likeness. It’s titled “Inspiration.”
- Loy, who spoke out early and often against Hitler and the Nazi regime, saw her films blacklisted in Germany.
- She was John Dillinger‘s favorite movie star. He had just seen her in Manhattan Melodrama (1934) when he was gunned down by police as he left the theatre.
- Frequent costar and close friend William Powell‘s nickname for Loy was “Minnie.”
- Her father got her first name from the name of a train station he passed through, and it was pulp writer Paul Cain who suggested she changed her name from Williams to Loy.
- Loy moved to Manhattan in 1960 and remained there for the rest of her life. As she wrote of the Big Apple in her autobigraphy, “If you’re bored in New York, it’s your own fault. Something’s always happening. But in Hollywood, if you’re no longer reigning, you simply don’t matter.”
Happy birthday, Myrna Loy, wherever you may be!