Judy Lewis died of cancer last week, and the secret came spilling out. She was the daughter of movie star Loretta Young and acting legend Clark Gable. That was the secret, one which Loretta Young kept from the world — and even from her own daughter.
In the 1930s Loretta Young and Clark Gable starred together in the movie “Call of the Wild.” During the filming of that movie, the two had what would have been considered a lurid affair. Gable was married. Young was a single woman and a devout Catholic. When she discovered that she was pregnant, Young went to great lengths to hide the pregnancy in order to avoid a scandal. A baby born out of wedlock to a Hollywood starlet would have been front-page news.
Loretta Young fled to Europe. After the baby girl was born, she was kept sequestered with a nurse for months and then turned over to an orphanage. When baby Judy turned two, she was adopted – by Loretta Young. The child was never told that she was actually her mother’s biological daughter. In fact, it was not until 1966, when Judy was 31 years old, that her mother divulged the secret to her — and Loretta Young insisted that her daughter keep quiet about her parentage. By that time, Gable had died. Twenty years later, during a heated argument between mother and daughter, Young threatened to sue Lewis if a book ever came out that revealed the truth. The exchange ended with Young shouting, “Leave this house. I never want to see you in my house again!”
But Judy did write her memoir, which was finally published in 1994. In it, she speaks of “all the years of hurt and abandonment, all the feelings of not belonging, of being an outsider in my own family, years of repressed emotions that couldn’t be contained any longer.”
While Loretta Young was alive, her daughter asked her if she would “ever acknowledge to the world that I am your child and that Clark Gable is my father?”
The mother replied. “No. I will never acknowledge what I consider a mortal sin – my mortal sin.”
But which was Loretta Young’s greatest sin? A baby born out of wedlock – or thirty years of lying to, and deceiving, her own child?
Gary Frank is an Arizona Family Law attorney with more than 30 years of experience in handling divorce, child custody, and all matters pertaining to children and families. If you are in need of expert advice in the area of Family Law, please feel free to contact our office by phone at (602) 383-3610
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