Myrna Loy: Her Name Gives Me Joy

Her profile was the most requested by women of the 1930s of their plastic surgeons.

Her profile was the most requested by women of the 1930s of their plastic surgeons.

Thank you pulp fiction writer, Paul Cain, for suggesting it and Warner Brothers Studios for changing it.

Her father, traveling from the east coast by train back to Montana in early 1905, stopped at a small station named Myrna. He liked the name so well . . . he named her Myrna Adele Williams, born outside of Helena, Montana, on August 2, 1905.

Her father died in 1918 from the Spanish Influenza, so her mother moved the family to California.

Her career started with her dancing in a chorus line at the Grauman’s Chinese Theater.

Myrna broke barriers. She was one of a handful of actors who transitioned from silent films to talkies. She had roles in Don Juan, 1926, which had the first synchronized sound, and in the first talkie—The Jazz Singer, 1927.

In the 30′s to attract patrons, movie theaters would give out dish ware. In my university days, our Arts Department ran a movie series every Monday night, called Dish Night, giving us the history of a movie glued to a paper plate. My first dish night movie, It Happened One Night.

Myrna was turned down for the roll of Ellie Andrews. Claudette Colbert won the Oscar for best actress in the role.

We interrupt this post for a news flash: Canadian correspondent, Amb, announced on Sunday that “Fannie Cranium Dish Night” was the top search on her blog last week. After you finish reading this post, be sure to visit Amb and search for Dish Night so I can stay on par with Rob for “Robby C. toggle bolts at Canadian Tire”. . .

I’ll bet you can guess what my second dish night movie was.

In 1934, Loy was cast as Nora Charles in The Thin Man. Film director, W.S. Van Dyke, picked Loy after he had a taste of her wit, which her films never revealed. At a Hollywood party, he shoved her into a pool on a hunch. She handled the situation just as he envisioned Nora would.

Because of contract issues, Loy’s scenes had to be completed in three weeks. The film became the year’s blockbuster. It anchored her star in Hollywood. She referred to it as the movie “that finally made me . . . after more than 80 films.”

She and co-star, William Powell, performed in 14 films together, one of the most prolific match-ups in Hollywood history.

Rumored as the favorite actress of famed bank robber, John Dillinger, he came out of hiding to see her film, Manhattan Melodrama, 1934. The police shot him when he exited the theater. No melodrama there. Talk about instant publicity in a world before Twitter.

A trend setter, she quit acting during World War II and volunteered as the first actress or actor to work for the UN (UNESCO). So outspoken against Adolf Hitler, she landed on his Black List.

Men-Must-Marry-Myrna clubs formed due to her portrayal as “The Perfect Wife” in The Best Years of Our Lives, 1946. When asked, she said “Some perfect wife I am. I’ve been married four times, divorced four times, have no children, and can’t boil an egg.” — Thus rendering her performance in Cheaper by the Dozen more amazing.

Songs have been written about her.

She was never nominated for an Academy award, but given an honorary Academy Award in 1991—her last television appearance.

By the time of her death on December 14, 1993, she performed in 129 motion pictures.

Tracy – Fannie Cranium’s Guide to Irreverent Wisdom


About Fannie Cranium

Writing since she could first hold a pen, Tracy Perkins formed her alter ego, "Fannie Cranium" at the suggestion of her husband. Tracy understands smiling makes people wonder what she’s been up to.
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20 Responses to Myrna Loy: Her Name Gives Me Joy

  1. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez says:

    I have always been a Myrna Loy fan; even now I watch the Thin Man when ever it airs.

  2. Dave says:

    Never seen her, but I’ll have to check out The Thin Man now. With a name like Myrna, how can I resist? 🙂

  3. amb says:

    Oh, Fannie. This post makes me so happy on so many levels. Can we add some of the Thin Man movies to our long distance dish night programming??

    Never mind Myrna – you bring me joy, baby! 😀

  4. Reblogged this on Fannie Cranium's and commented:
    If you a fan of the Thin Man movies, meet Myrna Loy.

  5. aplscruf says:

    So interesting! I knew nothing about Myrna Loy, except for her funny name.

  6. Arto says:

    Love Myrna and the Thin Man series. Those flicks are fantabulous! They even make you say things like “fantabulous”. I haven’t seen all of her 129 pictures, or 5% of them for that matter, but in everything I’ve seen she’s pretty great. Liked the “can’t boil an egg” part too.

    • I agree, she’s fabulous in everything she’s in. During the first half of her career, she was type cast as a femme fatale, it took her years to overcome that stereo type. I’m glad she did.

      I love the fact that it got you to say “fantabolous” too. 🙂

  7. Liz says:

    Have enjoyed Thin Man movies–the witty banter and golden-age cocktails totally make that era–very much, but knew squat about Ms. Loy. Thanks for the wonderfully informative and well-written update 🙂 Another Score for Tracy a.k.a. Fannie 🙂 Though you being up means I’m next week, so better get going on that. Hope all is well on your end.

    • Hey Liz, I’m glad you like it. I figured the cocktails would be up your alley. Now we just have to work in the poptails…

      Looking forward to whatever you come up with for next week!

      • Liz says:

        don’t get those expectations too high (that’s my schtick, remember? 😉 ).

        Thinking we weren’t connected back when I wrote this, but follow the book link once you’re there. You would enjoy the read as it has great synopsis and photos and quotes from the old-time Hollywood films. And the cocktail recipes are lovely.

  8. Pingback: A Special Edition: That’s Amoré | Fannie Cranium's

  9. d.c. says:

    Pretty sure Myrna turned down It Happened One Night (Gable was only cast as punishment by Metro). Myrna claimed the script was a mess as offered, Capra instead starred her in Broadway Bill. So Claudette won the Oscar while the Queen of Hollywood, after six decades, was never nominated!

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