This month marks what would have been the 100th birthday of Loretta Young and it seems that all of Hollywood is celebrating. To kick off the Centennial, Turner Classic Movies made Loretta their TCM Star of the Month and the Hollywood Museum now hosts its eagerly anticipated exhibition for Loretta--fittingly called "Hollywood Legend: 100 Years of Glamour & Grace." Last Tuesday was the opening night party co-hosted by The Hollywood Reporter and Loretta's own family invited me to be there.
Despite the fact that I arrived mere moments after the doors opened, the lobby of the Hollywood Museum was already packed with guests. The excitement for the exhibition was such that people couldn't wait to get in...ignoring the usual practice and pretense in LA of arriving fashionably late. Loretta's son and daughter-in-law, Chris and Linda Lewis, welcomed nearly 400 people to the opening night party. Among the guests was Tyrone Power, Jr., son of Loretta's frequent dashing co-star, who was the very visage of his famous father as he worked the room. Daniel Selznick, grandson of MGM founder Louis B. Mayer and son of David O. Selznick, brought his own Hollywood legacy to the event. Jane Wyman and Michael Reagan, President Reagan's son who grew up with Chris. Others I met included Loretta's TV son (and The Rifleman star) Johnny Crawford, whose note from Loretta was featured in the collection. My own guest for the evening was Charlie Tabesh, TCM's Head of Programming, and it was such fun to share Loretta's legacy with him.
The exhibition itself was incredible. An entire floor of the Hollywood Museum was wall to wall with Loretta memoribilia. Not surprisingly, it was the clothing in the collection that caught my eye and everything from her movie and television costumes to offscreen wardrobe was there, including coats, dresses, hats, purses, gloves, and jewelry. Her awards glittered under the lights as much as her jewels, and fans were able to see her Oscar, Emmys, and many other accolades. There were also posters and photographs galore of her incredible life as well as personal correspondence, which featured a steamy love letter to Spencer Tracy. It was amazing to see so much of Loretta and her style in one place. Even the family was overwhelmed by the power of the exhibit. "
The show has been about a year in the making, starting with an idea from mutual friend and Movie Star Makeover image consultant Karen Noske. After the last TCM Classic Film Festival, she visited the Hollywood Museum and immediately knew it was the perfect venue to celebrate Loretta's Centennial. The museum is housed in the original Max Factor Building, and Loretta happened to be both the first Max Factor model as well as his favorite. Of course she had beautiful bone structure and everyone admired how she seemed lit from within. Karen, a longtime Loretta fan, quickly urged Linda to contact the museum about hosting an exhibit, an idea that was met with great enthusiasm.
“We were delighted to spotlight one of the greatest Hollywood legends,” said Donelle Dadigan, Founder and President of the Hollywood Museum. Loretta "transcended motion pictures and television. It is especially poignant to showcase the collection at the Hollywood Museum in the historic Max Factor Building.” That in itself really was an exciting part of the evening...to tour the building's Art Deco design and architecture so steeped in Hollywood history. It was the place that every star and starlet--Lana Turner, Heddy Lamar, Rita Hayworth, among many others--would go to get their perfect makeup look. The first floor preserves the various rooms from Max Factor where dressing tables are still stocked with precious products from the era. And again, Loretta was there first.
Jean Louis--one of my heroes responsible for Gilda and Pillow Talk--and several of his designs are also included in the exhibit.lamour was a part of her legacy through this exhibit, the result of innumerable conscious choices and a dedication to perfection. From the moment she stepped on screen, she understood the impact of style and collaborated with many designers throughout her career. In fact, she led the way by bringing the best costume designers from film to dress her on television as well. For audiences, the fashion featured on each show was an event. Her trademark entrance on The Loretta Young Show--"the twirl"--allowed her to expertly show every outfit to its advantage. She later married longtime friend and colleague, costume designer
The most thrilling part of this Centennial celebration has to be the number of people who are really getting to know Loretta now. As I have learned over the years, there is much to admire. Of course, her career is beyond impressive. Reaching the pinnacle of success in film and television, she was the first actress to win both an Academy Award and an Emmy. But what continues to draw us to Loretta is unquestionably her style. It was her glamour that surrounded us in the Hollywood Museum that night and made everyone so giddy. As I have written about before, the legacy of her style still acts as an inspiration to designers today, such as my couture friends from Mon Atelier who also attended last Tuesday's event. In every era that Loretta Young was on film, she was stylish...from her head down to her toes. This was true offscreen as well. And let's not forget the graciousness that endeared her to millions.
"The experience has been remarkable on so many levels," Linda enthused as we said goodbye. "As family, its easy to take her career for granted. To rediscover the legacy of Loretta has been an unexpected benefit." Discover it for yourself and join me through the Hollywood Museum as you get to know this "Hollywood Legend: 100 Years of Glamour & Grace."
ABOVE (left to right): Linda Lewis, TCM's Charlie Tabesh, me, and Chris Lewis
I was rushed into a crowded building that night,
so I offer daytime shots of the Hollywood Museum so you can appreciate the Art Deco details