US film actor. A self-confident, independent woman as well as a glamorous comedian, she was a new kind of Hollywood star in the 1930s. She played Nora Charles in the Thin Man series (1934–47) co-starring with William Powell.
Her other films include The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932), Manhattan Melodrama (1934), Libeled Lady (1936), I Love You Again (1940), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), and Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948).
Loy was born in Montana. She danced in the chorus line at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Los Angeles, and began playing small roles in films, among them the silent version of Ben Hur (1926). She graduated to playing vamps, often Orientals, but got her big break when she was cast in The Thin Man, based on Dashiell Hammett's novel. Her husband-and-wife sleuthing team with William Powell proved hugely popular and led to several sequels, and to her pairing with Powell in other films. In a 1936 poll she was voted ‘queen of the movies’ (Clark Gable was voted ‘king’).
Loy devoted the World War II years to working for the Red Cross, and her subsequent film appearances were relatively infrequent, because she devoted much of her time to working for UNESCO. Midnight Lace (1960) was her last substantial screen role, though she later made occasional cameo appearances, and appeared on the Broadway stage in New York in a revival of The Women in 1973. She was presented with an honorary Academy Award 1990.
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