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Loretta Young's Cautionary Tale: 1 Pregnancy, 1 Million Lies, 2 Messed-Up Women

The classy style that embodied Hollywood actress Loretta Young on screen hid a secret life and a very real little girl. Does anything good ever come from pretending you’re not who you are?

The recent news that the daughter of classic film actress Loretta Young died has stayed with me, and not in a good way.  I loved Loretta Young when I was a kid, but I never knew about any mystery daughter until she died. Now, her story won’t leave my heart.

Imagine that you’re given up for adoption at birth.  At 2, you’re “adopted” by a wonderful woman.  She marries when you’re 5, but he doesn’t like you and treats you badly. Your mother has 2 children with him. He refuses to adopt you, but you take his last name anyway.

At 31, you learn that your adopted mother is your birth mother. Soon after, you figure out what apparently, all of your friends, and all of Hollywood, already knew: Your father is a mega-famous actor — Clark Gable — and you met him only once. 

How messed up was this poor girl?  How messed up was her mother?

If you don’t know, Loretta Young almost always played the good girl, the classy girl…never the knocked up hollaback girl.  Devoutly Catholic, she gave her newborn to be raised by nuns until she retrieved her two years later.  

Ms. Lewis dealt with it all by becoming a family therapist, working with foster children and pregnant teens.  She exorcised some of the drama in 1994 by writing her biography, Uncommon Knowledge.  She said in an interview that year: ”It was very difficult for me as a little girl not to be accepted or acknowledged by my mother, who, to this day, will not publicly acknowledge that I am her biological child.”

Difficult?! Ya think?

Publication of the book embarrassed Loretta, who also continued to publicly deny Mr. Gable’s paternity. Loretta stopped speaking to her daughter until just before she died in 2000. Mr. Gable died in 1960 without ever speaking to his daughter again. (His legitimate heir, John, was born four months after Mr. Gable’s death.) 

Judy, bless her, married, divorced and had children and grandchildren of her own. She appears to have come out of it all in better shape than she had any right to be. 

Behind this story are the tales of an entirely new bag of pain to be considered: Moms who pass as NotMoms, with breaking hearts and Oscar-quality performances of lies guaranteed to poison the lives of both mother and child. 

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linda jenkins December 13, 2011 at 03:05 PM
Oh my God,I didn't kwow anything like this about Loretta young or Mr.Gable,I'm sure there are others in situations like this,I sincerely hope this story inspire them to be strong,not give up hopes and dreams and treasure your family.Most importantly know that You are somebody and have the right to be who you choose to be...Have a great day!
Deanna Rose December 13, 2011 at 10:05 PM
This is a very sad & disappointing story on several levels. I remember Loretta Young in movies and she had a weekly TV drama program. I admired her classy image and acting. I can't imagine why someone would not ackowedge their own child & live with the lie till death. It seems Loretta was more concerned with the opinion of people whe would never meet than the love for her own daughter.
The Littlest Ricky December 26, 2011 at 02:05 PM
Maybe its just me but isn't the real sadness here that a child was brought into the world by yet another "couple" whose desire for sexual satisfaction or perhaps the desire for a cuddly pet outweighed the fact that they a 18-21 year commitment they were unwilling to accept. All we have to do is look around our town and we see this drama played out every day. Get married people, have the protection of the legal system and and then make your babies.

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