Loretta Young at 100

The first starlet to score an Oscar and an Emmy luxuriated in Palm Springs

Loretta Young playing badminton in Palm Springs with English tennis star Fred Perry

As with many people, her love affair with the desert began at a young age. She discovered Palm Springs as a teenager and settled here 60 years later. She lived a quiet life, going to mass every day, occasionally dining at El Mirasol, and entertaining small groups of friends at her house in Deepwell Estates.

In other words, she was just a local. But she was also Loretta Young.

“She would blow you away when she entered a room,” says Linda Lewis, who is married to Young’s son Christopher. “She was fun and funny, elegant and sexy, and her goodness to people was always a guiding light for me.”

Young would have turned 100 this month. In honor of her centennial, a number of tributes will highlight a career that spanned 77 years. Locally, a small exhibit that includes photos and personal memorabilia from her life in the desert is on display at Palm Springs Historical Society. On Jan. 6, Young’s birthday, the city will rededicate her star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars, Mayor Steve Pougnet will issue a “Loretta Young Day” proclamation, and Desert Regional Medical Center will rededicate its Loretta Young Louis Memorial Chapel.

Hollywood hasn’t forgotten Young either. She was, after all, the first actor to win both an Academy Award and an Emmy. Turner Classic Movies has chosen her as its Movie Star of the Month and, in a nod to the breadth and longevity of her career, will air 40 of her 98 films. At The Hollywood Museum, Loretta Young: Hollywood Legend — 100 Years of Glamour & Grace features a large collection of photos, movie posters, scripts, clothing, and other memorabilia. The exhibition continues through April 2013.

This month, The Loretta Young Show, which aired from 1953 to 1961, will begin a run on Me-TV (Memorable Entertainment Television, www.metvnetwork.com). And on Jan. 15, Melvyn’s Restaurant in Palm Springs will present Loretta Young Memories as part of its “Dinner With …” series.

What would Young — who moved to Palm Springs to seek a simpler, less busy life — think of all of this attention? “I feel like she’s working with us,” Linda says. “She is very present for me, and it’s as though she’s whispering in my ear. I have no doubt she’s happy with what we’re doing.”

Christopher agrees, adding that, “She was a very alpha personality, and I can definitely tell that she’s encouraging us to do as much as possible. It sounds strange, but I know that in spirit she will be at all these events.”

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