This is what life was like before TMZ. While filming 'The Call of the Wild' in 1935, screen legend Clark Gable and then-rising star Loretta Young engaged in an off-screen extra-marital affair that resulted in a secret pregnancy, even more secret birth, and fake adoption. It wasn't until 31 years later that Judy Lewis (formerly Young) realized just how much she was deceived by Young, her birth mother posing as her adoptive mother. The secret love child of two Hollywood legends died this week at the age of 76 from complications due to lymphoma.
Gable, then 34, and Young, then 22, fell into an affair while filming 'Call of the Wild' in Washington state during the winter of 1935. When a pregnancy followed, Young had no choice but to go into hiding -- being a staunch Catholic, an abortion wasn't an option. "Wouldn't you [unhappy] if you were a movie star and the father of your child was a movie star and you couldn't have an abortion because it was a mortal sin?" the actress was quoted as saying by Lewis in her 1994 memoir 'Uncommon Knowledge.'
Young fled to Europe to hide the pregnancy, and returned to California to have the baby in secret in November of 1935. Lewis was handed over to a "series of caregivers," so that Young could return to stardom. It wasn't until 19 months later that Young announced she had "adopted" a daughter, the 19-month-old Judy.
Lewis said she was always treated as an outsider, in part because of her protruding ears -- which resembled her birth father's, Clark Gable. At age-7, she was taken for plastic surgery to to make the ears "less prominent." Lewis said she never knew Gable was her father, but it was an open secret by the time she was 23. Before marrying her future husband, Tom Tinney, he told her that "everyone knew" Gable was her dad.
The silver screen legend never had a relationship with Lewis, even though she was the only child he bore while alive. (His son was born four months after his death.)
Lewis and Young continued to have a strained relationship through much of their lives -- Young refused to talk to Lewis for three years after she published her memoir -- but, in a 2001 interview with Larry King, Lewis seemed somewhat resigned to how her life turned out. I would have liked them [to get married]," she said. "But that is just my dream, you know. Life is very strange. Doesn't give us what we want."
Lewis, who became a clinical psychologist specializing in foster care and marriage therapy, is survived by a daughter, two grandsons and two half-brothers.
[Photo: Everett Collection]
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