Feminists for Life Remembers Loretta Young

Award-winning actress Loretta Young starred alongside Cary Grant, Ethel Barrymore, David Niven, Clark Gable, and many others during her storied film career. 

Young, the third child in an impoverished family, was almost aborted. Her mother’s doctor urged her to abort and have another child when the family’s financial situation was more stable. Resisting pressure, Young’s mother instead sought help from her local church. Young began earning money for her family at age four with her performances on the stage and screen. She continued to support her mother until her mother’s death at age 96.

Loretta had a daughter out of wedlock with Clark Gable who was much older than Loretta. Knowing the film industry would pressure her to abort, her mother had her leave for a “vacation” in England to hide the pregnancy.

Her choice to have her daughter in secret, surrender her to an orphanage—only to then adopt her back as a toddler—was a reflection of the times. Loretta later married Tom Lewis and had two sons. Judy Lewis became the “adopted” daughter.

When Loretta was in her mid-eighties, she first heard of date rape, and told her daughter-in-law that Clark Gable raped her. Until then she thought (as most did and some wrongly still do), that it was a woman’s responsibility to prevent a man’s advances. That secret was not revealed until Loretta, Judy, and Clark Gable had all died.

Loretta Young was adamantly against abortion stating, “Be careful; be very careful. Abortion is wrong to start with, but in addition, you don’t know who or what you are aborting.”

Loretta Young died on August 12, 2000 after a battle with ovarian cancer. Feminists for Life celebrates the life given to her by her mother—and Loretta’s choice to give life to her children with the support of her family.

by Serrin M. Foster