MYRNA LOY: Being and Becoming by James & Myrna Loy Kotsilibas-Davis
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MYRNA LOY: Being and Becoming

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One of the best movie autobiographies ever published, outstanding for capturing the voice of its subject--and the voice of Myrna Loy is one of the great charms of cinema. Loy herein speaks in the tint-person but does not kiss and tell. In fact, aside from one aborted pregnancy (by producer Arthur Hornblow--whom she later married), there is not much kissing to tell about. Myrna is pursued by all the greats of the Golden Age on the Warner Brothers, Fox and Metro lots--John Barrymore, Gable (whom she pushed off her front porch into the bushes), Tracy, and others--but, well, she had to get up at five-thirty every morning to get to the studio for makeup by seven, and then a hair job, to be on the set by nine. She was 29 and had been vamping in pictures for nine years and involved in more than 80 pictures before her big breakthrough as Nora Charles in The Thin Man, playing to William Powell's suave Nick Charles. The buoyancy of their screen marriage, with Myrna underplaying to Powell's tipsy mugging and overplaying, along with the snappy adult dialogue adapted from Dashiell Hammett's novel, created the perfect screen couple. Adored as the perfect wife, she and Powell went on to fulfill 13 screen marriages. Now 82, Loy has made 124 pictures, and spent much of the past 20 years as a belated but highly successful stage actress, and devoted herself to UNESCO and UNICEF and to presidential politics. All her failed marriages ended in divorce. This is a big, solid read, quite often as comfortable as sitting beside Myma on a couch. Her rare harsh words are reserved for a longtime friend, Joan Crawford's egocentric adopted daughter Christina, whose tales of a battered childhood Myma regards as pure fantasy.

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 1987
Publisher: Knopf