Judy Lewis, the secret daughter of Loretta Young and Clark Gable, has died of cancer at the age of 76. The first 19 months of her life were spent hidden in a Catholic orphanage, given up by her mother.
It was not until she was an adult did Judy Lewis learn she had been conceived in the 1930s by the leading stars of "Gone With the Wind." They had become involved during Jack London's classic novel, "Call of the Wild," with the then-married Clark Gable never acknowledging throughout her life that she was his legitimate daughter. During the movie's filming, a blizzard has snowed everyone in for several days---leading to the extramarital affair by 34-year-old Clark Gable with young 22-year-old Loretta Young. (NY Times)
During the 1930s, to become pregnant out of wedlock and especially to a married man (he was married to Rhea Langham) was a social taboo for women. It was not until after this period would effective birth control measures allow women more freedom in their lives. But during this era, the acting contracts had morals clauses in them. Once this was broke, they were immediately fired.
With a reputation of being "a symbol of beauty, serenity, and grace," Loretta Young was a devout Catholic who chose clean wholesome roles in her acting. One of her nicknames was Saint Loretta. According to her interview in CNN, becoming publically pregnant was not an acceptable situation, particularly as she had been cast as the star in Cecil B. DeMille's religious film, "The Crusades."
If MGM chanced to found out about the affair, their careers in the movies would be over. Both reputations were on the line and jobs were difficult; this period was deep in the heart of the depression. But for any woman to adopt a child was an acceptable thing, which became Loretta Young's way out of her situation.
Judy Lewis would shortly enter the acting field as a young adult. After becoming a marriage and family therapist, working with pregnant teens and foster children, she would write her memoir in 1994 entitled "Uncommon Knowledge."
She said that whenever she watched Gable's loving scenes with his on-screen daughter in "Gone With the Wind," she cried.
"It's very sad to me," she told the London Telegraph in 2002, "because he's so dear with her. I pretend it's me." (LA Times)