On the Bedside Table - Myrna Loy The Only Good Girl in Hollywood

Emily W. Leider, author of Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino and Becoming Mae West has penned a biography of one of my favorite actresses who began in the silent era and blossomed in the talkies.  Order at Amazon.com.

I've been slow to read this, much to my chagrin.  I've not wanted to put the book down.  It's that good, yes, it is really THAT good.

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 with just the right touch. There is a nice balance between the biography and the chronicle of the film career. Unlike so many other biographies of the last few years, this is not padded out with recaps of film plots. Leider's prose, in so many ways, reflects or mimics the manner, the lightness, the quirkiness of Loy's own voice as she tosses off quips with William Powell. It's a pure delight to read.

Loy's life was very full and really devoid of scandal like so many other stars of the day. Perhaps this might make people overlook Loy as the subject of a biography. They should not, Leider's excellent detective work uncovers some secrets that Loy kept under wraps or only hinted at in Loy's own excellent autobiography Being and Becoming. Leider also fills us all in on Loy's interesting life as an activist. Myrna Loy was really much more, much deeper than Nora Charles and this book tells you why. I'm beyond grateful she portrayed Nora Charles as delightfully as she did, but I'm more grateful to read about and learn from her life off screen. Not a perfect wife, but quite a life. If you're a fan of Myrna Loy and her films, this is a must read.
I forgot to add a comment on the judicious use of photos in the book, most are shots I'd not seen.  Some incredible portraits, like the Ted Allan portrait used on the cover. 


Cliff Aliperti said…
I didn't dislike the book, but I did think it relied too much on Being and Becoming. I think I might just love Being and Becoming too much!

Thanks for the review, I enjoyed reading it!

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