By Emily Leider
University of California Press, $34.95, 411 pages
No scandal has ever been attached to the perfect wife of the Silver Screen, which is perhaps why no one has written about her….until now. In Myrna Loy: The Only Good Girl in Hollywood, author Emily W. Leider reveals the woman behind the cocked eyebrow and knowing smile, while highlighting her close relationships with many Hollywood luminaries along the way.
Leider takes us from her early days in Montana, (those country roots would stay with her all her life) to her pre-starlet days in California, (where Sid Grauman gave Myrna her first job) and leads us into her longstanding career in films. Practical, yet sophisticated, and always with a witty line up her sleeve, Loy became the ideal counterpart to Hollywood’s leading men: among them Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Cary Grant and Montgomery Clift. Today, she is most easily recognized as Nora to William Powell’s Nick in The Thin Man series. Sadly, try as she might, Loy’s film persona didn’t meld with her four failed marriages. Despite any disappointment, Loy managed to maintain her dignity and we come to know the real Myrna Loy as a fiercely loyal friend, patriot, and humanitarian.
Movie buffs will appreciate the careful research that went into this book, while readers wanting intimacy will delight in hearing Myrna’s own voice come through; as her autobiography, Being and Becoming, is generously referred to throughout the book.