The Perfect Myrna Loy

Day 221 of Colourisation Project – December 14

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

Myrna Loy was an American film, television and stage actress, best remembered for her role of Nora Charles opposite William Powell in six Thin Man movies.

Although she was named Queen of the Movies in a 1936 national poll, Loy was never nominated for a competitive Academy Award throughout her prolific six decades film career, in which she had appeared in 129 motion pictures.  However in March 1991 she was presented with an Honorary Academy Award with the inscription “in recognition of her extraordinary qualities both on screen and off, with appreciation for a lifetime’s worth of indelible performances.

In 2014, Maureen O’Hara joined Loy in becoming the only two actresses to ever receive an Academy Award for acting without having been nominated previously.

Myrna Loy

Publicity Still – Myrna Loy – Coloured by Loredana Crupi

Loy who got her start in movies when she was discovered by Rudolph Valentino’s wife, Natacha Rambova in 1925, was enshrined in the hearts of Americans as ‘the perfect wife,’  after her role in The Thin Man series (1934-1947)based on the novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett. But it was a label she hated.

Off screen Loy disaffirmed the ‘perfect wife’ label with four marriages and four divorces.

As director Alan Pakula (Klute, Sophie’s Choice) who worked with Loy in the New York stage production There Must Be a Pony in 1957 put it:

“She didn’t do the dominant woman alone, the Bette Davis-Joan Crawford thing. But she was certainly post-feminist in terms of the characters she played. In the Powell-Loy pictures, the relationship between those two was as deep and as alive and as true as in any complicated story about a marriage I think you can have. And she was a working, collaborative wife. To young guys today, that’s the fantasy American woman. They want to marry bright women with minds of their own, careers of their own, wit, sexuality. Women who are a match. Myrna always had that. At the same time you always felt she really cared about her man in some very simple way.

“But there’s nobody like her in the movies today. I wrote a screenplay recently, about marriage, and when I finished I thought, ‘Well, Myrna Loy in 1940, she’d be wonderful. I wish. . . .’ I’m still looking for Myrna Loy.”

When Loy won that honorary Oscar in 1991, more than sixty-six years after she began her film career, she simply said in her acceptance speech via satellite hookup from her Manhattan apartment,”You’ve made me very happy. Thank you very much.”

It was to be her last public appearance.

Myrna Loy passed away on this day, December 14, 1993, at the age of 88. She was buried in her hometown, Helena, Montana.

For her contribution to the film industry, Myrna Loy has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6685 Hollywood Boulevard.


“Why does every black person in the movies have to play a servant? How about a black person walking up the steps of a courthouse carrying a briefcase?”  –  Myrna Loy [Challenging MGM bosses in the 1930s] 

This entry was posted in Colorization, Colourisation, Film, Hollywood, Photography, USA, Women, Women in Film & TV and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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