Judy Lewis: One of Hollywood's Best Kept Secrets

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp./PhotoFest

The on-set lovechild of Clark Gable and Loretta Young's "Call of the Wild" tryst, Lewis didn't know her true parentage until she was 31 years old.

This story appears in the June 1 issue of The Hollywood Reporter.

Just like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Old Hollywood knew a thing or two about how to cover up an out-of-wedlock child.

Still, the former governor's baby with a married housekeeper, who then moves with her husband to Bakersfield -- Bakersfield! -- lacks some of the drama and panache of how stars' personal lives were once managed.

In 1935, the single (and more Catholic than the pope) Loretta Young, 22, became pregnant with a child fathered by the married (to second wife Ria Langham) 34-year-old Clark Gable. The actors had a romance while filming the Yukon gold rush film Call of the Wild in Bellingham, Wash.

The pregnancy was handled with CIA-like precision: Young took a hiatus at the height of her career, traveled to Europe, returned to California and kept out of sight until the baby was born in a Venice house owned by her mother. The infant girl named Judy was then given to an orphanage, and 19 months later, Young adopted her (got that?).

The child met her father once when she was 15, but no mention was made of the parental connection, and Gable never publicly acknowledged his paternity. When she was 31, the daughter -- who revealed the secrets of the affair in the 1994 autobiography Uncommon Knowledge -- confronted her mother regarding the rumors of her parenthood.

Young promptly vomited and told Judy she was "a walking mortal sin."

Judy Lewis, now 75, went on to have a respectable acting career, mostly in daytime TV, and later became a psychotherapist.

Young also had two sons with producer Tom Lewis. As for Call of the Wild, it was such a hit that The Hollywood Reporter said the box-office take "has the local United Artists jabbering and the listeners to their stories going round in circles."

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