Lewis was conceived while Loretta Young was unmarried but Clark Gable was married to his second wife, Maria Langham. The two were filming The Call of the Wild together.
Loretta’s pregnancy and Judy’s eventual birth were kept secret. The actress left her love child at an orphanage for 19 months, and only then did she return to adopt her. No DNA tests to prove anything in those days!
In fact, Young did not tell her daughter about her parentage until much later.
Judy was born on November 6, 1935, and was eventually raised by her biological mother and Young’s husband, Tom Lewis, whose last name she took. She never had any relationship with her biological father, Clark Gable. He visited her once, though, when she was aged fifteen. But he didn’t tell her why.
It was not until Judy was 31 that she discovered the truth of her father’s identity. Her mother told her privately but would never admit to it publicly. Judy also struggled with the fact that Loretta Young stuck to the story of Judy being her adopted daughter and would never admit the biological link.
It took Young until an authorized biography published after her death in 200 to admit that Lewis was her daughter with Gable.
But Judy’s resemblance to Clark Gable was clear and as a 7-year-od, her mother had her undergo surgery to correct her ears which stuck out very like her father’s.
Judy Lewis went into acting too, like her biological parents. She appeared in General Hospital before leaving acting to become a therapist.
By the time Judy was a young woman her parentage was an “open secret” in Hollywood. Even her husband told her so but she refused to believe him. If the secret had come out at the time of her birth, it would have meant the end of Loretta Young’s career. In her 1994 memoir, Uncommon Knowledge, Lewis acknowledged her mother’s difficult position, being unmarried, pregnant to a married man, both famous, and her being Catholic so an abortion was impossible.
Judy Lewis is survived by her daughter, two grandsons, and two half-brothers. She also now goes down in Hollywood legend.