In 1929 Myrna Loy was an unknown actress and dancer in Hollywood, attracting attention for her darkly exotic beauty and sophisticated hard edged acting. This photograph, from the lavish Vitaphone early talkie “Show of Shows” features Loy in an orientalist jazz age view by Fred R. Archer that predicts her iconic turn in “The Mask of Fu Manchu.” This is an exceedingly rare and beautiful view of the Hollywood icon, and suffers only from a small chip in the upper right hand corner, very minimal edgewear, and one nick in Loy’s lip.
A biography of Myrna Loy:
During the late 1930s, when Clark Gable was named the King of Hollywood, Myrna Loy was elected the Queen. The legendary actress, who started her career as a dancer, moved into silent films and was typecast for a few years as exotic women. Her film titles from those early years include Arrowsmith (1931), Love Me Tonight (1932), The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932), and Manhattan Melodrama (1934), the film that gangster John Dillinger just had to see the night he was killed. Starting in 1934, with The Thin Man, opposite William Powell, she became Hollywood’s ideal wife: bright, witty, humorous. She and Powell were often teamed throughout the ’30s and ’40s, and many of the characters she played were strong, independent, adventurous women. In addition to The Thin Man series, Loy’s best appearances included The Great Ziegfeld (1936), Libeled Lady (1936), Wife vs. Secretary (1936), Test Pilot (1938), and Too Hot to Handle (1938). She took a break from filmmaking during WWII to work with the Red Cross, and in her later years she devoted as much time to politics as to acting (among her accomplishments, Loy became the first film star to work with the United Nations). She stands out in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948), Cheaper by the Dozen (1950), and its sequel Belles on Their Toes (1952). She received an honorary Oscar in 1991, two years before her death.