Myrna Loy: Actress and Hero

Monday, March 19, 2018

Myrna Loy was born Myrna Williams on August 2nd, 1905 in Montana. After her father's death by influenza, Myrna moved to Los Angeles at age 13 with her mother and brother. While in California, she pursued dancing and acting, eventually working her way to the chorus at Grauman's. A few short years later, she took her talent to the screen, portraying vamp style characters. She was signed with Warner Brothers until 1931, after which she landed a contract at MGM in 1932. It was during her time at MGM that she appeared in the film Penthouse (1933), where director W.S. Van Dyke saw her as the perfect fit for the role of Nora Charles in The Thin Man series. Following the release of the first Thin Man, Myrna Loy rose to fame, cementing her status as the Queen of Hollywood.

Myrna Loy, early Hollywood years
For the next seven years, she continued to star in numerous iconic films, including three more Thin Mans, before respectably putting her career on hold to support the war effort. She had previously worked with the Red Cross in 1939, but by 1942 she had immersed herself full time.

Centered in New York, her Red Cross work involved visiting many military hospitals and engaging in bond rallies. In August of 1942, she participated in a Navy Relief benefit at the Paramount Theater, of which the proceeds were donated to the Navy Relief Society.

Myrna serves coffee to the troops, 1942
Myrna contributed to the screen actor's portion of the Hollywood Victory Committee, a group of people from the entertainment industry dedicated to raising the morale of American troops and selling war bonds. She is listed in the first yearly report of the committee in 1942.

By April of 1943, she had contributed so much to the Red Cross that her official title there became Assistant to the Director of Military and Naval Welfare of the American Red Cross in the North Atlantic Area. Under this position, she helped arrange bond drives, relief shows, and charity events for the American troops fighting overseas.

After a three year absence from films, Myrna returned to Hollywood in 1944 to film the fifth installment of The Thin Man series, titled The Thin Man Goes Home (1944). Just as soon as filming wrapped, she went back to New York to continue her volunteer work for the Red Cross. She would make another return to the screen in 1946 for what is regarded by most fans and critics as the most impactful performance of her career. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) is a film regarding the adjustment to life after the war. It resonated deeply with the American people, in such a way that everybody could relate, regardless of the part they played in the war.

with Teresa Wright in The Best Years of Our Lives
In 1947, she was a founding member of the committee for the First Amendment to protect our rights to the freedom of speech, religion, assembly, press, and petition. The committee was formed in response to the HUAC, and carried no political agendas, they were simply there to protect basic human rights that we should all have access to.

Even after the war had ended, Myrna continued to advocate for meaningful causes. She became a part of American history, and a hero to so many people, both on the screen and off.

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