“My dancing school work was getting me exactly nowhere. The twenty-five a month was getting us into debt….
“I heard, then, that Fanchon and Marco were putting on one of their revues at the Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre. I applied for the job and got it. I was one of thirty girls doing the dance numbers. I stayed there for one year and three months, made thirty dollars a week and was grateful….
“Then – then something happened to me that was to be the turning point for me…Henry Waxman, the photographer, happened to have an idle evening on his hands. He dropped into the Egyptian. I chanced, that night, to be the central figure in the dance numbers. He happened to notice me, and thought I would make a good photographic subject. He came back stage and offered to photograph me. I was flattered and accepted the very kind offer, which was to be without cost to me.
“No one had ever photographed me before. The pictures were made. They turned out beautifully. A day or so later, [Rudolph] Valentino happened to be in Waxman’s studio. He saw my pictures and he asked about me. He went to see me at the Egyptian. The next day Henry Waxman called me. I was to go to the studio where Mr. Valentino would make a test of me…” – Myrna Loy
Source: Gladys Hall (1935)
Photographer: Henry Waxman (1925?)
“I rushed out of the projection room, ran home and cried for hours. I was really ashamed of myself. It was so awful . . .” — Myrna Loy on failing her screentest for Cobra (1925)
Photographer: Henry Waxman
“I was a homely kid with freckles that came out every spring and stuck on me till Christmas.” — Myrna Loy
Photographer: Henry Waxman
“Sex-appeal exists in a woman, regardless of whether she is beautiful or not. Many physically unattractive women are popular with men because of ‘something’ they possess which reaches out and collides with the men’s personality.” — Myrna Loy in 1925, shortly after she signed with Warner Bros.
Photo: What Price Beauty? (1925)
“To awaken a man’s interest, I think a woman should try and acquire the elusive, tantalizing charm of half hidden thoughts to throw a cloak of mystery and strangeness about her. Never should a woman argue or contradict or seem stubborn – it pleases a man so when he feels infallible.” — Myrna Loy (really a studio publicist building her up as a vamp)
Photo: Across the Pacific (1926)
The Crimson City (1928). Co-starring John Miljan.
“[Vamping] isn’t a thing one can explain, is it? Every man is different, but aren’t all men alike? You have to take both those things into consideration, and I’d rather do a thing than talk about it.” – Myrna Loy
Photo by Max Munn Autrey
“Anyone who has heard a ‘playback’ of his or her voice two minutes after recording knows what a thrill it is.” — Myrna Loy on talking pictures.
“I was glamorous because of magicians like George J. Folsey, James Wong Howe, Oliver Marsh, Ray June, and all those other great cinematographers. I trusted those men and the other experts who made us beautiful. The rest of it I didn’t give a damn about. I didn’t fuss about my clothes, my lighting, or anything else, but, believe me, some of them did.” — Myrna Loy
Black Watch (1929). With Victor McLaglen. Directed by John Ford.
“Almost every man will turn around to look at a pretty woman, but it takes a vamp to keep a man’s head turned.” – Myrna Loy (or rather, a publicist)
“What was her magic? I don’t know. She was just magic!” — Maureen O’ Sullivan
“Nobody thought of me as the virgin, I guess. I had these slinky eyes and a sense of humor.” — Myrna Loy
“I was lucky, really. In those days, the so-called leading lady was always a blonde. She had what you’d call ‘regular’ features, I guess. There was something about my face – I don’t know, it was different. So I was playing character parts from the age of 17 on. I was never an ingenue, never in my whole life.” — Myrna Loy
Source: Phyllis Battelle (1959)
Photo: Thirteen Women (1932)
“It was the hardest work in the world. You got up at 4:30 a.m. so you could be at the studio by 7 and on the set by 9. They were very long hours. I complain about it now, but I always thrived on it. It served as an outlet for me.” — Myrna Loy
Source: Karen Heller (1988)
Photo: Thirteen Women (1932)
“I’m quite aware that I don’t look American. Off the screen, with all my freckles, I look a little more what I am – Myrna Williams, born in Montana. But the camera seems to emphasize my peculiarities, so that I am not really convincing as an American.” — Myrna Loy
Source: Margaret Reid (1929)
Photographer: Fred R. Archer
“Most of the sex I’ve seen on the screen looks like an expression of hostility towards sex.” — Myrna Loy
Photo: The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932)
The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) trolley card. With Boris Karloff.
“You see, I’m not a siren at all. I am just a human person, and it has been, and is now, my ambition to play human roles on the screen. So I rebelled at being Oriental, Spanish, Moorish, Indian, French – any role that compelled me to be a siren or a vampire. Sooner or later I would be so thoroughly stamped it would be useless for me to try any other role.” — Myrna Loy
Source: Henry Dougherty (1934)
Photo: George Hurrell (1932)
“Well, I pushed him off the porch. Imagine, a grown man acting like that! He was drunk with power, that’s what he was. He thought everyone should fall down when he was around. He believed his own publicity, that he was irresistable. My friend, Loy MacFarlane, was waiting inside the house on her hands and knees, waiting to catch a glimpse of her idol. Aferwards, she said, ‘How could you do that to Clark Gable?’ I said he was a stupid, ignorant man. But she didn’t care. Lou said, ‘I wouldn’t care if he couldn’t read.'” — Myrna Loy describing an unwanted pass Gable made to her while his second wife, Rhea Langham, was in the car.
“I can’t say I have ever made a conscious effort to insure that any of my characters should be especially ‘charming’ and ‘natural.’ They are just women, like myself. I try to determine how they think, mentally adjusting myself in that direction. Beyond that I try to make my work a matter of even flow, rather than sudden impassioned effort.” — Myrna Loy
Source: Whitney Williams (1936)
Photographer: George Hurrell
“Every star I know in Hollywood acknowledges the same fact. With luck you can climb. Without it, your brakes don’t work even when you coast.” — Myrna Loy
Photo: C.S. Bull (1938)
“I never enjoyed my work more than when I worked with William Powell. He was a brilliant actor, a delightful companion, a great friend and, above all, a true gentleman.” — Myrna Loy