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Academy Award-winning actress Loretta Young arrived on American TV screens via NBC on 20 September 1953, generating a great deal of publicity.
At that time, few Hollywood stars would venture into the new medium of television, believing their film career would be over if they condescended to go to work for “the enemy”.
Young’s show, mainly aimed at women, was a half-hour dramatic anthology featuring her in different roles each week, written to showcase her versatility as an actress.
Each show opened with Young dramatically bursting through a door wearing a striking and glamorous gown and sweeping up to the camera to greet her viewers and introduce whatever play she was presenting that week.
Shows ended with her addressing her viewers once again, reading a piece of poetry or a passage from the bible that emphasised the message of the play in which she had just appeared.
When it first aired, Young’s show was titled A Letter To Loretta since Loretta read a letter each week – purportedly from a viewer asking for advice – and then proceeded to “answer” the letter in the form of the weekly drama.
The letter concept was dropped in 1954 and the name of the series was changed to The Loretta Young Show.
Over the years, Loretta portrayed a multitude of characters, including an actress, a reporter, a businesswoman, a housewife, an empress, and a Japanese war bride!
Among the leading men who appeared with her were Ricardo Montalban (who appeared on the show nine times), John Newland (who co-starred 13 times), Eddie Albert, George Nader, Craig Stevens, Claude Akins, James Daly and Regis Toomey.
NBC aired re-runs of the show in the 1960s under the title The Loretta Young Theater. Young sued NBC in 1972, claiming that her contract was violated when the syndicated series was released, contrary to her contract, showing the star with outdated hairstyles and fashions.
The star was awarded a reported $599,000 to settle the case.