At that time, Tom Lewis sat on various corporate boards and did some investing. One day, Loretta arrived home to the news that he had sold their house. "Tom, why?" she asked. Without even consulting her?
Tom had rented the Doheny Estate, located on a hill looking Beverly Hills, that boasted 55 rooms, two tennis courts, a huge swimming pool and five hundred acres of lawn and ranch. The Lewis' were now its new tenants.
Tom rarely explained financial matters, so Loretta fell back on her usual response: Put a Smile on Your Face and Ignore It. She would need all her energy for her next challenge, a role in Key to the City, with Clark Gable.
Although she and Clark had no doubt met at an occasional party since making Call Of The Wild together, they traveled in different social circles now, and had little in common. "Clark was married to his fourth wife, and drank heavily." Loretta remembered.
But, on the set, the two treated each other cordially, and avoided all personal discussions. Clark's contract allowed him to leave each day at 5 p.m. while Loretta had to stay until six or later, so there was little opportunity for after-hours socializing.
One hot day, while playing a scene at the top of a hill, Loretta fainted. Clark carried her to a hastily summoned ambulance, and she was taken to Queen of Angels hospital. There she discovered that she was pregnant. Within a short time, she miscarried.
The crew on Key sent her a photo of everyone involved in the movie, along with a huge sign saying, "Come back. All is forgiven!"
When "Key" was finished, Tom had another project in mind for his wife, one on which he and Loretta could work together.
Tom had discovered a radio script titled "Cause for Alarm," and wanted to produce it as a movie. He went to Dore Shary, who had produced The Farmer's Daughter - and was now the boss at M.G.M. studios. M.G.M. agreed to finance and distribute the project, which would be Tom's first job since the war ended, as well as the first time he and Loretta would work together. Loretta wanted nothing to come between them.
Cause For Alarm costarred Barry Sullivan, who played Loretta's bedridden husband in an intriguing story with a surprise ending. The result was very positive — the suspenseful film was finished in a record breaking two weeks, and some critics acclaimed it as Loretta's best performance to date.
Cause For Alarm would also open a door for Loretta. Soon she would leave the movie business behind and enter the brand new world of television.
Next: Goodbye, Movies
Excerpts © copyright 2000 Joan Wester Anderson. All rights reserved.