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Myrna Loy: The Only Good Girl in Hollywood

3.55  ·  Rating Details  ·  141 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
From the beginning, Myrna Loy's screen image conjured mystery, a sense of something withheld. "Who is she?" was a question posed in the first fan magazine article published about her in 1925. This first ever biography of the wry and sophisticated actress best known for her role as Nora Charles, wife to dapper detective William Powell in "The Thin Man," offers an unpreceden ...more
ebook, 424 pages
Published October 3rd 2011 by University of California Press (first published September 3rd 2011)
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Nancy L.
I wanted to like this one - I really did. I think Myrna Loy is so deserving of a full-length bio by a reputable author and publisher. I was so thrilled for this to come out that I went to LA to hear the author at the Hollywood Barn Museum and bought my copy there in December.

And now I've slogged through the whole thing and two things struck me:

1. There's nothing new here. Loy's own autobiography is so excellent (possibly my favorite of all star autobios) and Leider quotes liberally from it and
Oct 18, 2011 Donna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One wishes they could write as elegantly and as engagingly as Emily Leider does about the subject of her latest biography, Myrna Loy. Leider's impeccable research coupled with her elegant prose make for a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Myrna Loy is a much beloved star from Hollywood's golden age. Publicity at the time declared her to be a perfect wife on screen and it was assumed she was as much off screen as well. Leider informs us this was not the case. Leider chronicles Loy's life and film career
Myrna Loy is one of the MOST charming screen actors in the history of the movies, and she made a funny switch from orientalist vamp to sophisticated housewife, which I don't think anyone else ever did. She was also kind of private, it turns out - which shouldn't necessarily send up any red flags because, after all, she wrote an autobiography ("wrote" anyway) and also: Garbo was also v. private and look at that great Barry Paris biography! But Myrna Loy, as the introduction I should have read at ...more
Carl Rollyson
Jul 04, 2012 Carl Rollyson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some may be surprised to learn that this is the first biography of Myrna Loy (1905-93), a Hollywood icon beginning in the silent era and continuing through the 1940s and 1950s. Ending her film career in 1980, she continued to perform in theater and television productions into the 1980s. Loy is primarily identified with the role of Nora in the Thin Man movies, in which she starred opposite the suave William Powell. This biography is lauded by film scholars, critics, and Leider's fellow biographer ...more
I haven't read anything else on Myrna Loy, but always loved her movies, her restrained, natural acting style, and her courageous politics in the HUAC era. The book doesn't seem to offer anything I haven't read online, but it is nicely put together.

Favorite quotes...

'I don't know why anybody thinks its important to keep their youth. What's much more important is learning not to depend on youth and beauty. The true secret of survival is to be curious about life, to be interested in lots of things
Oct 22, 2012 Yasmin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting book about one of my favourite actresses. As was pointed out in the beginning of the book it is a hard task to do as her own autobiography was detailed. Although Miss Loy was not in favour of revealing very personal details and did insure not many letters and so on would be available to be scrutinised after her death. A practise I am in favour of. There are many personal details I don't believe perfect strangers need to know about people and even in death people should be acco ...more
Myrna Loy is an interesting character in the world of Hollywood--an actress who didn't court scandal and that makes this movie biography very interesting.

Because there is a lack of scandal or lack of publicity of scandal, the book focuses on Loy's film career and heavily depends on Loy's autobiography, "Being and Becoming".

Because of this, other parts of Loy's life were given shorter shrift, like her political beliefs and works or her married life.

Yet on the whole, Leider is a sympathetic biogr
JoAnne McMaster (Any Good Book)
I love Myrna Loy. She was a terrific actress, and her mannerisms conveyed everything she didn't say. A twist of her head, a sidelong look...well, you get the idea. At any rate, I was looking forward to this new book about her, and I was not disappointed.

Ms. Leider gives us a comprehensive account of Myrna Loy's life and career. She starts with Myrna's beginnings - namely, her parents' and grandparents' lives, who they were and their effect on Myrna. Her mother wanted more for her; her father exp
Mar 17, 2012 Victoria rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Although readable in its prose, this biography lacked the sort of bite and insight I had hoped for. It also could have gone into far more depth about Loy's activities outside of Hollywood. A great deal of the content which was provided, one assumes, to provide colour instead came off rather as filler. However, Loy is a fascinating subject, and this biog makes a nice alternative for those who prefer something a bit more critical than autobiography.
Apr 21, 2012 Ginny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been a fan of her work in The Thin Man series and somehow forgot about all the other movies I had seen her in until I read this biography. I recommend this for anyone who is a fan of film, the history of film, and an under-rated star of the screen in its golden age.
Margaret Sankey
Triangulating from Loy's memoirs and interviews with friends and studio workers, Leider charts the trajectory of a small-town Montana girl to years of (thanks to black and white film that hid her red hair and freckles) roles as exotic vamps and "other women" to the epitome (largely thanks to the Thin Man series) of WASP wife and mother. While this offers insight into the making of films like The Best Years of Our Lives and Cheaper by the Dozen, it is especially interesting for Loy's enduring fri ...more
Mar 25, 2016 Colleen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: old-movies
For everyone who complains about the injustice of Oscars--see exhibit A: Myrna Loy. Not only did she never win one, she was never even nominated. An actress who made consistently good films (124 of them!) for five decades as a star--granted many were comedies or popular vehicles that she helped carry and she never was lucky enough to work with big directors except for a few times. But come on, Best Years of Our Lives?

As a big Myrna fan I looked forward to this book, and it is a nice reference.
Gypsy Lady
Nov 08, 2012 Gypsy Lady rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Page 167
A few famous screen actors – Boris Karloff and Mae West for instance – actually liked typecasting. They liked having a niche, being associated with a single role or kind or character . . . An actor with a type owned a kind of work-insurance. He or she always had a safe place to go and could bank on being called on to play similar characters over and over again. Repeating an exaggerated and predictable type had once been the norm for vaudeville performers, for many stage players, and for
Dec 15, 2014 Alistair rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
As a fan of the Thin Man film and When the rains came, I was always going to be well disposed to read a life of Loy. She comes out of the book rather well, a well-liked and loyal friend who didn't succumb to being a Hollywood diva.
Unfortunately, I was bored. My standard for biographies is that I finish them feeling like I have a pretty good understanding of the subject, that I could walk up to them and strike up a conversation on a friend level instead of being strangers.

This book felt like a fleshed out IMDB page. I know way more about Myrna Loy than I did before reading it, but could have gotten most of the same information from IMDB. It's possible that Ms. Loy was just an extremely personal woman who left little inform
Sep 09, 2014 Anais rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
good biography and introduction to myrna loy, sadly we barely get to know her personality and real life as the book tend to focus on her public persona and movies.
Dec 18, 2011 Susan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I don't know why this book was written. I found out absolutely nothing about Myrna Loy or her life or her pictures that I did not already know. There were not enough pictures and certainly not enough unknown to warrant this bio.
May 23, 2013 Magda rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished, biography
Too many details about random or tangential people. A lot of research went into it, but it is not something I would enjoy reading.
Aug 19, 2012 Lori rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love to read Hollywood biographies. I also love Myrna Loy. I found this book very dry and a chore to read.
Oct 05, 2012 Thom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read, well researched and more insightful than these bios tend to be.
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