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Myrna Loy

Myrna Loy was an American actress best known for her portrayal of Nora Charles, wife of detective Nick Charles (played by William Powell), in The Thin Man series of madcap detective films (1934-1947).

Biographical fast facts

Full, original or maiden name at birth: Myrna Adele Williams

Date and place of birth: August 2, 1905, Radersburg, Montana, U.S.A. *

Date, time, place and cause of death: December 14, 1993**, at 6:22 p.m., Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City, New York, U.S.A. (Complications during surgery)

Marriage #1
Spouse: Arthur Hornblow, Jr. (m. June 27, 1936 - June 1, 1942) (divorced)
Wedding was performed by Justice Jaime S. Pardo, in Ensenada, Baja, Mexico.

Marriage #2
Spouse: John Hertz, Jr. (m. June 6, 1942 - August 21, 1944) (divorced)
Wedding took place at the home of John's sister on East 62nd Street, in New York City, New York, U.S.A.

Marriage #3
Spouse: Gene Markey (m. January 3, 1946 - August 1950) (divorced)
Wedding took place at the Terminal Island Naval Operating Base, Terminal Island, Los Angeles County, California, U.S.A.

Marriage #4
Spouse: Howland Sargeant *** (m. June 1, 1951 - May 31, 1960) (divorced)
Marriage took place at Fort Myer, Virginia, U.S.A.

Sibling: David Williams (d. 1982) (younger brother)

Father: David Franklin Williams (a rancher, politician who served in the Montana state legislature, and also worked in real estate and banking) (b. 1879 - d. November 7, 1918, Helena, Montana, of Spanish influenza)
Mother: Della Mae Johnson (d. 1966)

Burial site: She was cremated and her ashes interred at Forestvale Cemetery, Helena, Montana, U.S.A.

Error corrections or clarifications

* A number of sources including the 1994 edition of Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia, erroneously spell her place of birth "Raidersburg" Montana. As noted above, it's actually spelled Radersburg, Montana.

** The 1994 edition of Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia erroneously reports she died "Dec. 15, 1993." Obituaries and her death certificate clearly show she died the evening of the 14th.

*** The last name of her fourth husband is spelled Sargeant, not "Sergeant" as many sources report. Myrna Loy confirms this fact several times throughout her autobiography.

Trivia - Credits - Residences

Myrna fell in love with New York City on her first visit in 1935. Leland Hayward gave her the grand tour of the city she would later call home after her movie career slowed down.

Myrna Loy had an abortion in the mid-1930s resulting from her pre-marital relationship with future husband Arthur Hornblow, Jr.

At the height of her fame, she and her first husband had a butler, chauffer, cook, several gardeners, and live-in maids at their magnificent Hidden Valley estate, above Coldwater Canyon in Los Angeles.

She spent much of World War II doing work for the Red Cross in Washington, D.C.

Her active involvement in promoting liberal causes led to a mid-1940s article in the entertainment trade paper, the Hollywood Reporter, which accused her of being a Communist, ". . . serving a possible treasonable purpose." Loy promptly sued, and got a front-page retraction.

In 1947, John Huston, William Wyler, and Myrna Loy were among those who helped form the Committee for the First Amendment. The political action group was formed to present opposing views and help blunt the growing power of the House Un-American Activities Committee, and offer public support to the blacklisted Hollywood Ten. (The HUAC hearings set out to expose and root out Communists from positions of power and particularly those in the entertainment industry.)

April 19th, 1950, she was appointed to a three-year term on the National Commission for UNESCO. She worked tirelessly for the United Nations, Democratic candidates, and Civil Rights legislation.

She was married and divorced four times, and had no children (Asta doesn't count).

Myrna Loy was a founding member of the American Place Theatre, a non-profit theatre established in the early 1960s to foster promising new writers.

A diagnosis of breast cancer forced Myrna Loy into surgery in 1975 and again in 1979. She had been very private about her two mastectomies, but did address them briefly in her 1987 autobiography, Myrna Loy: Being and Becoming.

In 1991, Myrna Loy received an honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement in film.

Selected film credits:
Pretty Ladies (1925)
Ben-Hur (1925)
What Price Beauty? (1925)
Satan in Sables (1925)
So This Is Paris (1926)
Don Juan (1926)
Across the Pacific (1926)
When a Man Loves (1927)
State Street Sadie (1928)
The Crimson City (1928)
The Desert Song (1929)
The Black Watch (1929)
The Squall (1929)
Cock o' the Walk (1930)
Bride of the Regiment (1930)
Rogue of the Rio Grande (1930)
The Last of the Duanes (1930)
Renegades (1930)
The Devil to Pay (1930)
A Connecticut Yankee (1931)
Rebound (1931)
Transatlantic (1931)
Consolation Marriage (1931)
Arrowsmith (1931)
Skyline (1931)
Emma (1932)
Vanity Fair (1932)
The Wet Parade (1932)
New Morals for Old (1932)
Love Me Tonight (1932)
Thirteen Women (1932)
The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932)
The Animal Kingdom (1932)
Topaze (1933)
The Barbarian (1933)
When Ladies Meet (1933)
Penthouse (1933)
The Prizefighter and the Lady (1933)
Night Flight (1933)
Men in White (1934)
Manhattan Melodrama (1934)
The Thin Man (1934)
Broadway Bill (1934)
Wings in the Dark (1935)
Whipsaw (1935)
Petticoat Fever (1936)
The Great Ziegfeld (1936)
Libeled Lady (1936)
After the Thin Man (1936)
Parnell (1937)
Double Wedding (1937)
Man-Proof (1938)
Test Pilot (1938)
Too Hot to Handle (1938)
Lucky Night (1939)
The Rains Came (1939)
Another Thin Man (1939)
I Love You Again (1940)
Love Crazy (1941)
Shadow of the Thin Man (1941)
The Thin Man Goes Home (1945)
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947)
Song of the Thin Man (1947)
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)
The Red Pony (1949)
Cheaper by the Dozen (1950)
Belles on Their Toes (1952)
The Ambassador's Daughter (1956)
Lonelyhearts (1958)
From the Terrace (1960)
Midnight Lace (1960)
The April Fools (1969)
Airport 1975 (1974)
The End (1978)
Just Tell Me What You Want (1980)

Selected stage credits:
Marriage-Go-Round (her stage debut)
There Must Be a Pony (1962) (with Donald Woods, Harlan Tuckman, and Peter Helm)
Barefoot in the Park (the national tour opened July 25th, 1964, at the Central City Opera House, Central City, Colorado, and co-starred Richard Benjamin and Joan Van Ark)
Don Juan in Hell (with Ricardo Montalban, Edward Mulhare, and Kurt Kasznar)
Dear Love (the national tour opened at the Alley Theatre in Houston, Texas, and co-starred Jerome Kilty)
Relatively Speaking (with Charles Sweigart and Ivor Barry)
The Women (her Broadway debut, with Alexis Smith, Kim Hunter, Rhonda Fleming, and Dorothy Loudon)

Selected TV-movies/Miscellaneous TV:
Death Takes a Holiday (1971) (with Melvyn Douglas)
Do Not Fold, Spindle, or Mutilate (1971) (with Helen Hayes, Sylvia Sidney, and Mildred Natwick)
The Elevator (1974) (with Roddy McDowall, Teresa Wright, and James Farentino)
Summer Solstice (1981) (with Henry Fonda)

Selected TV guest appearances:
General Electric Theater
The Virginian
Family Affair

A few of the stars Myrna Loy worked with on screen:
William Powell, Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable, Will Rogers, John Barrymore, Cary Grant, Maurice Chevalier, Ronald Colman, Marie Dressler, Boris Karloff, Ramon Novarro, Robert Montgomery, Jean Harlow, Jimmy Stewart, Gilbert Roland, and Paul Newman.

Residences of Myrna Loy:
Note that these residences may no longer exist, and it's possible the addresses have changed over the years. This is not to suggest that Myrna owned each and every one of these structures. We're only reporting the fact that she called them home at one point or another in her life.

5th Avenue, Helena, Montana, U.S.A.
Hart Avenue, Ocean Park, California, U.S.A.
Delmas Terrace, the Palms section of Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Garden of Allah (apartments), 8152 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, California, U.S.A.
Villa Narcissa, Vanderlip Drive, Palos Verdes, California, U.S.A.
Hidden Valley, Coldwater Canyon, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Rivas Canyon, Pacific Palisades, California, U.S.A.
Cherokee Lane, Beverly Hills, California, U.S.A.
Friendship (later McLean Gardens condominiums), Washington, D.C.
The Volney (a residential hotel), 74th Street and Madison Avenue, New York, New York
51st Street and 5th Avenue, New York City, New York, U.S.A.
425 East 63rd Street, New York City, New York, U.S.A.

NOTE: In her autobiography, Myrna Loy states, "We bought a house on Delmas Terrace in Culver City, a hamlet between Hollywood and the Pacific Ocean." While part of Delmas Terrace is indeed in Culver City, the Loy house was actually located within Los Angeles city limits. Some excellent detective work by the editor at The Palms-Village Sun, uncovered this error.


The most in-depth of more than three dozen sources consulted for this profile, was Myrna Loy's 1987 autobiography, Myrna Loy: Being and Becoming.

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