Thursday evening I was privileged to attend a wonderful event, the Loretta Young Centennial Birthday Tribute.
The tribute took place at the historic Alex Theatre in Glendale, California.
I described some of the plans for the evening last weekend, and it did not disappoint. Loretta Young has always been one of my favorite actresses, so attending an evening dedicated to celebrating her life and career was a very special experience.
Prior to the program I attended a reception in the upstairs lobby, where I met Loretta's son Christopher and his wife Linda. Chris and Linda are both warm and thoughtful, and it's been a pleasure becoming acquainted. They are both very committed to preserving Loretta Young's legacy and place in film history. Some of Linda's thoughts on her mother-in-law's career were discussed in last weekend's post.
Chris and Linda are standing next to one of Loretta's lovely gowns in the above photo.
Having recently admired Anne Jeffreys' performance in DILLINGER (1945), it was a treat to see her in person at the reception. Actor H.M. Wynant is at the left of the photo.
Chris and Linda Lewis greeted actress Kathleen Hughes (IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE) in the lobby. Hughes had a small role in Loretta's film MOTHER IS A FRESHMAN (1949). Director Randal Kleiser is behind Miss Hughes; he went to USC with Chris and worked with Loretta Young on a commercial.
More from Loretta Young's beautiful wardrobe on display in the lobby:
The tribute presented Loretta Young in film clips, trailers, and photographs; I especially loved a clip of her dancing with James Cagney in TAXI! (1932). Color home movies were a particular highlight for me, as it was a unique opportunity to have such a personal peek into Loretta's life. Her brother-in-law Ricardo Montalban could be glimpsed in some of the home movies as well.
A series of reenactments of five key moments from Loretta's life were interesting, but while it was a concept worth trying out, I felt the actors who portrayed Loretta as a young girl and as a more mature actress weren't able to fully convey Loretta's personality.
The real Loretta came through loud and clear, however, in a series of live remembrances from relatives and colleagues: Loretta Young was a hard worker with extensive technical expertise, a kind and thoughtful friend, and most especially dedicated to God and family.
Those speaking who had worked with Loretta Young were H.M. Wynant, Johnny Crawford, Joel Brokaw, Kathleen Hughes, and her NEW LORETTA YOUNG SHOW "daughters" Beverly Washburn, Sandy Descher, and Celia Milius. Anne Jeffreys and Marsha Hunt were there as representatives of Golden Era Hollywood, paying tribute to a woman they greatly admired.
The cast of THE NEW LORETTA YOUNG SHOW (1962-63):
I especially enjoyed an anecdote from Wynant, who worked with Loretta on her TV show. He said on his second day on the show she said to him "And now we go to see the dailies!" and he said demurred, saying he never watched himself on film. She took him by the hand and insisted he come with her, saying "That's how you learn!"
It was also mentioned that her TV program was a great learning experience for young directors who worked on the show, because of her knowledge of every aspect of filming. She was a film and TV professional in every sense of the word.
Johnny Crawford on THE LORETTA YOUNG SHOW (thanks to GlamAmor for the photo of a scene we watched at the tribute):
The program ended with the announcement that a seat in the newly remodeled theater had been dedicated in Loretta Young's name.
It was a warm and happy evening celebrating a very special woman. Thanks go to my fellow classic film blogger Kay Noske of Movie Star Makeover for helping facilitate my connecting with Linda Lewis, and of course to Chris and Linda for inviting me to cover the tribute.
More photos from this great evening are posted at the Official Loretta Young Facebook Page, including photos of attendees Daniel Selznick and Kat Kramer. The page is updated frequently, and I highly recommend that Loretta Young fans bookmark or follow it.
For even more on Loretta Young, please visit my 2012 birthday tribute, which includes links to over three dozen of my reviews of Loretta Young films.