Happy Birthday Myrna Loy!

I am grateful to Aurora for reminding me that today is Myrna Loy’s 112th birthday – due a recent bout of illness I’ve been tardy with the blog, I even forgot it was Bill’s birthday on Saturday! Back in the game now though!

The famous Fountain of Education statue at Venice High School, California

An Exotic Vamp

Myrna Williams’ career as a Hollywood actress was marked out by her unconventionally attractive features – Myrna had been appearing in plays at Venice High School, and had a portfolio of photos produced that were noticed by Rudolph Valentino. On the recommendation of Natacha Rambova, Myrna began appearing as an extra in a number of pictures, starting with What Price Beauty (1925), a film that was publicised via this feature in Photoplay Magazine from September 1925:

This feature led to a contract from Warner Brothers, who changed Myrna’s last name to ‘Loy’ as it sounded more exotic and oriental, and so her career as the exotic vamp began. 

Finger Prints (1927)

However, Myrna was determined to appear in as many pictures as she was offered, no matter how incidental the role, as this would provide the exposure needed to move beyond the narrow confines of the exotic vamp. Hence the sheer number of films which appear below. Of course, many of the silent movies that Myrna Loy appeared in are lost:

Why Girls Go Back Home (1926)

The Gilded Highway (1926)

Across the Pacific (1926)

Finger Prints (1927)

Bitter Apples (1927)

The Climbers (1927)

Simple Sis (1927)

Pay As You Enter (1928)

State Street Sadie (1928) – part talkie

Fancy Baggage (1929)

Happily and unusually though, the majority of pictures Myrna appeared in have survived:

What Price Beauty (1925)

The Wanderer (1925)

Pretty Ladies (1925)

Sporting Life (1925)

Ben Hur (1925)

The Caveman (1926)

The Third Degree (1926)

When a Man Loves (1927)

The Heart of Maryland (1927)

A Sailor’s Sweetheart (1927)

The Girl from Chicago (1928)

A Girl in Every Port (1927)

The Crimson City (1928)

Noah’s Ark (1928) – part talkie

Hardboiled Rose (1929)

Granted, as noted above, Myrna Loy’s work ethic and determination to succeed meant that her appearances in the earlier films are as an extra or in bit parts. Years of typecasting was the result and Loy wasn’t able to shake off the exotic vamp character until well into the sound era.

However, Myrna’s first starring role was in 1927’s A Girl from Chicago with Conrad Nagel, so it is a pleasant surprise to see so many of her silent pictures still with us that we can enjoy.

References/Recommended Reading:

Hometowns to Hollywood – Myrna Loy

Photoplay Magazine, September 1925, p.72

Movies Silently – The Silent Life In 1925 – Ladies, Now Art Deco Hairstyles Are Yours For The Asking!


2 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Myrna Loy!

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