Monday, January 14, 2013

Out & About--Celebrating Loretta Young's Centennial at the Hollywood Museum

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.  "We were so excited to see friends and family who we haven't seen in years," Linda told me, such as 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.  "Our reaction to the event was very emotional," Linda confessed. "Both Chris and I broke into happy tears. We walked in and were completely bowled over."  They certainly were not alone.

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 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.

One can see how much glamour 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 Jean Louis--one of my heroes responsible for Gilda and Pillow Talk--and several of his designs are also included in the exhibit.

"Pulling the show together has been a labor of love," Linda shared. "Starting in May through the very day of the opening, we've been amazed and touched by the generosity of the Loretta Young collectors who were willing to share their treasures with a wider audience."  These collectors have become invaluable to the preservation of Hollywood history as most of the inventory of the movie studios--from photographs to costumes--were blown to the wind with a series of auctions starting in the 1960s.  Much of this exhibition, in fact, is due to the dedication of collector Salvador Iglesias, Jr.  

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 family has been humbled that so many are continuing to honor her.  "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

Fun with photographers with my guest Charlie Tabesh, TCM's Head of Programming

More fun with friend Lana Morgan from Hollywood Legacy

Loretta was the very first Max Factor girl
and made up in a pink room "For Brunettes Only"

Don't tell anyone, but I actually enjoyed the room for Brunettes the best... 
look at this dressing table

Lana capturing a satisfied smirk on my face as I enter the room "For Blondes Only"

Lana Turner was one of the Max Factor blondes

Dressing table where blonde Marilyn Monroe would get her look

Ceil Chapman dress that Marilyn wore to Korea in 1951 
(and in case you are wondering, it's small)

The highs and lows of Marilyn's life collected at the Museum

From Marilyn to Marlene...
walking past the wall of beauty at Max Factor to the elevator for the exhibition

Photographers rushed in when I was greeted by two gentlemen--Loretta's son Chris Lewis (on right)
and her TV son Johnny Crawford, who loaned this letter from Loretta with her steps for a successful life

Johnny and Loretta on TV's The Loretta Young Show,
which Chris points to (below) as the crowd snaps another photo

Friend Mary Hall from The Recessionista and writer for the Huntington Post also came to celebrate
(thanks for the picture, Mary!)

Spencer Tracy and Loretta had a great love affair around the time of Man's Castle (1933)...
one of her letters to him has more than stood the test of time and is unbelievably sexy reading

Loretta learned a lot about glamour from the studio system's great costume designers...
here she is in Adrian for Midnight Mary (1933)

 Travis Banton was another designer Loretta worked with, 
such as the slinky silk she wore in the lush period drama The Crusades (1935)

Loretta's glamour was apparent offscreen as well as on--here she is in sumptuous mink in 1937
with frequent co-star Tyrone Power, Jr. at Grauman's Chinese Theater

Another mink she loved offscreen was on display at the Hollywood Museum

Her glamour was so well known that there were even branded sewing patterns--"Loretta Young's Choice"-- 
so that every woman could look as stylish as Loretta

Karen Noske, friend and image consultant at Movie Star Makeover,
contributed much to the exhibition...right down to sewing this classic from Loretta's patterns 
(I've got to have it!) 

Loretta's offscreen wardrobe was always amazing, 
and included designers such as Galanos and Werle' (white coat and skirt, respectively)

Hats were an important accessory to Loretta's look and the museum showcase was stunning,
especially this Lilly Dache leopard number 

I loved seeing all of Loretta's favorite everyday purses in the exhibit...
so similar to my own style, we even share the same black Joseph Magnin clutch

Loretta later married longtime friend and costume designer Jean Louis,
one of my heroes who was responsible for the style of Gilda and Pillow Talk along with many others

"I tell my clients to look to her as an example of ageless glamour and style. 
Loretta positively glowed at every stage in her life!" --Karen Noske

Loretta at home in Jean Louis

One of Jean's most celebrated dresses for Loretta (also seen below) is surrounded by photos of others, 
including Marilyn Monroe's infamous "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" illusion gown

Thanks to the Hollywood Museum, Salvador Iglesias, Jr., 
and Linda Lewis for the images of Loretta Young and the museum


Marline said...

What a perfectly delightful recounting of your big night at the Max Factor building and you looked wonderful! Love how you teamed pink accessories with your red dress...NICE! And thanks for the nice mentions you gave me...I only wish I had been there to share in the joy! Looks like everyone had a marvelous time and that the Hollywood Museum will be hosting many fans and admirers over the coming months. I heard that it's the biggest event of its kind they've ever had, with the largest turnout, which is such a testament to the enduring legacy of Loretta! Thanks for this wonderful report!!! See you in April! Love, Kay

Anonymous said...

The exhibit is amazing - one must see in person for the full effect.
Since the pic of museum facade was taken, there have been added 3 incredible Loretta Young banners for all to admire as they walk or drive by museum.
Steve(museum curator), Linda & Chris(LY children) have done a wonderful job creating this exhibit!

Kimberly Truhler said...

Thank you Kay! Of course I thought about you the entire time and you were definitely there in spirit. You would have been so excited to see it all. I know that this is only the beginning of people getting to know the legacy of Loretta Young. So much to be proud of, Kay!

Kimberly Truhler said...

Thanks for your comment, James! I'd be happy to show a picture of the nighttime exterior if you'd like to send it along to me. There was so much excitement when I arrived that my entrance was all a blur! What a great evening and magnificent exhibition. People really do need to see it in person.

Miss Crayola Creepy said...

You go to the neatest events! How do you hear about them all? I'm so jealous! :)

Joel Williams said...

Wow, what a great event! Wish I could have been there...and how exciting that you got some photos with Ms. Young's son *and* television son.

Thanks for posting all the's like I was there.

Kimberly Truhler said...

Los Angeles is an incredible place, Miss Crayola Creepy. I try to stay connected to all the areas I care about--film, fashion, vintage--and find some great events. Wish I had time to do more!

Kimberly Truhler said...

Glad that you could feel me bringing you along, Joel. I always think of my TCM friends across the country when I go to events of this nature and want to share enough that you can virtually be there. It was an incredible night...had such a good time with everyone. Loved spending time with Loretta Young's family and friends!

Melissa Clark said...

Hi Kimberly! Thanks so much for this wonderful, detailed description of your night at the Loretta Young exhibit. As always with your "Out & About" posts, it was the next best thing to being there myself. I've learned so much about Loretta Young from you, Kay, and TCM this month. It's great to see people appreciating her work and legacy.

Me-TV is showing several hours of "The Loretta Young Show" this Sunday afternoon, as well as some interviews with her family members and coverage of the Hollywood Museum exhibit. Another chance for those of us not in Los Angeles to get at least a taste of what you experienced.

By the way, I think we need to find a transcript of the letter from Loretta to Spencer Tracy! I'm dying to know what it said, especially after seeing the two of them in "Man's Castle" this week on TCM! ;-)


Anonymous said...

Hello Kimberly!

The Loretta Young exhibit at the Hollywood Museum is absolutely amazing. I'm one of the collectors who lent items for the exhibit and found myself returning the day after the opening gala so I could take it all in.

I have a transcript of Loretta's letter to Spencer Tracy,one of the items I have loaned to THM.

All the best!


Christian Esquevin said...

Thanks for the write-up and great visuals Kimberly - for those of us who couldn't be there. The old Max Factor building and now Hollywood Museum was the perfect venue for the occasion. A beautiful occasion for such a great beauty - Loretta Young.

Kimberly Truhler said...

Thanks Melissa! You're definitely someone I think of when I go to events of this nature. So glad you enjoyed your virtual time at the Hollywood Museum. I'll have to transcribe the Spencer letter for can read it if you blow enlarge the size of the photo. They're so great together in MAN'S CASTLE, aren't they? It's great that so many are getting to know Loretta now and love that ME-TV is including her in their lineup!

Kimberly Truhler said...

Thanks Richard! How wonderful that you collectors have been so generous with your treasures of Loretta so that this exhibition has been possible. For those of us fans, it is a precious moment and deeply appreciate the opportunity to celebrate her legacy. Everyone associated with this event has done an incredible job!

Kimberly Truhler said...

I know you would have appreciated it, Christian, and so glad you were able to take a look at the photos and take a virtual tour of it all. It was incredible and hope that it's something that happens more and more often. These artists deserve these celebrations!

Linda Lewis said...

Kimberly - thank you for this wonderful piece on the opening of the LY Exhibit at The Hollywood Museum. We were thrilled that you & Charlie Tabesh from TCM were there - what a great addition to the party! It was lovely to meet your friends from Mon Atelier, too! This was a night to remember and you've captured it beautifully! Also, loved the accolades to Kay (Karen Noske) - she inspired and encouraged me throughout the last few months, that first phone call to THM wouldn't have happened without her cheering me on! :-) Her contributions to the LY 100th have been monumental! We're ever so grateful to you both & look forward to more LY events throughout 2013! Linda Lewis

Kimberly Truhler said...

Thank you Linda! That is high praise indeed and so glad I was able to capture the spirit of the evening. It was amazing and you, Chris, and Kay all have a lot to be proud of. Charlie and I were happy to be there and know that my friends from Mon Atelier loved every moment of it as well. So excited to see what other things are on the horizon for Loretta's Centennial Celebration...I know that the Hollywood Museum was only the beginning! It was so great to finally meet you in person and look forward to our next time together.

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