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For 23 years Judy Lewis lived as the adopted daughter of Loretta Young. Now in her mid-50s, she reveals that she is the natural child of Young and Clark Gable. Young and Gable became lovers in 1935 while costarring in Call of the Wild. Gable was married and Young divorced, though still in her early twenties. When Young and her mother told Gable that she was pregnant, he offered little help. To understand the bizarre nature of what ensued, one must know that Loretta Young's family had a history of drinking fathers who abandoned their families. The actress and her mother saw men as no good. Loretta, a childhood convert to Catholicism, viewed God himself as her absent father. Pregnant, she would have to live with her ""mortal sin"" -- abortion was no option. While filming The Crusades for Cecil B. De Mille, Young kept her fetus hidden under secret straps. Judy Lewis was born at home, just as the milkman arrived, and Loretta covered her mouth to silence her, apparently at her first breath, so that he wouldn't hear. Lewis, a therapist and family counselor, makes much of her early traumas with Loretta. Loretta wore a mask of virtue, would never play an immoral person on screen, and to this day will not publicly admit the truth about Gable. Highlights include Judy's long meeting with Gable when she was 15, not knowing he was her father; her fiancÉ's telling her of her parentage, which all Hollywood seemed to know; Judy's big showdown in her mid-30s with a still evasive Loretta; and her confrontation with her own daughter about Gable. Loretta's posture of morality is placed in the context of her own abandonment as a child, her dread of censure by the Catholic Legion of Decency, and her fear of being blacklisted under the film industry's Hayes Code. Gripping throughout.

Pub Date: April 10th, 1994
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster