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Saturday, 12 August, 2000, 10:48 GMT 11:48 UK
Elegant beauty Loretta Young dies
Loretta Young in 1941
Loretta Young: American beauty
The elegant beauty Loretta Young, whose acting career extended from silent movies to television, has died aged 87 of ovarian cancer.

She passed away at the home of her sister Georgian Montalban and actor Ricardo Montalban early on Saturday, said longtime agent and friend Norman Brokaw.

Loretta Young was born Gretchen Young in January 1913. Her big Hollywood break came by chance. A director telephoned asking for her sister Polly Ann who was unavailable for an audition at the time.

Gretchen, aged 14, went instead. Although it was only for a bit role, it led to a contract and a name change to Loretta.

Famous for close-ups

Presenting Warren Beatty with an Oscar in 1982
Sharing the spotlight with Warren Beatty at the 1982 Oscars
She was soon on her way to a career in which she made almost 100 films that exploited her elegant beauty. Loretta Young became famous for the "close-ups" that were always included.

She was born in Salt Lake City and she was three years old when her mother took her and her three sisters to Hollywood to run a boarding-house.

With her blue eyes, porcelain complexion and exquisite features, Loretta Young soon graduated to leading roles.

She made headlines in 1930 when the actor Grant Withers, who was previously married and nine years her senior, eloped with the 17 year-old Loretta.

Loretta Young with James Stewart in 1941
On the town with James Stewart in 1941
The marriage was annulled the following year when they co-starred in a film ironically entitled Too Young To Marry.

Glamourous

Loretta Young was not just a pretty face. Her performance in The Farmer's Daughter won her an Oscar and her appearance in Come to the Stable was well received.

In 1953 she retired from the big screen to begin a second and highly successful career as the star of TV's The Loretta Young Show.

For eight years she made a glamorous entrance in stunning gowns at the start of each weekly show to announce the drama that followed. She played the leads in about half of the plays, winning three Emmy Awards.

In the early 1960's she devoted most of her energies to charitable work, coming out of retirement in 1985 to appear in the television series Dark Mansions.

In 1994 her daughter Judy, in a biography of her mother, claimed her father was the Hollywood icon Clark Gable.

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