Miracles Do Happen!—Loretta Young
Late one night in April, 1945, Loretta Young lay wide awake in bed fighting the agonizing battle familiar to those who are desperately tired and long to sleep but can’t.
“Please, God,” she whispered, “let Tom come home safely. But if he must go, let him be prepared to meet You, and let it be quick and painless.”
Then she rebuked herself. Loretta knew that hundreds of thousands of other wives were equally distraught over the safety of their men in the service during the last bitter fighting before V-E day. She said a prayer, then, not just for Tom Lewis, but for all of them. Miraculously, a few moments later, a feeling of peace swept over her and she lapsed into a deep contented sleep.
“It was almost,” Loretta says, “as if a hand had reached out and patted me on the shoulder and a voice had whispered encouragement. In the normal way of thinking there was no logic to explain what I knew—that Tom was safe. But I knew it.”
The next morning Loretta’s bedside telephone rang at six A.M. It was Tom. He had flown into Washington the night before, direct from the-battle zone—landing at almost the exact time that Loretta had abruptly known that he was all right.
Now let the skeptics declare that this was just a coincidence. Almost everyone can recount similar experiences. But those of us who are of a normally religious turn of mind feel we have had personal proof of the power of prayer. Those who take pride in being modern sophisticates scoff at such a thought but cannot deny that there is much in life that cannot be explained.
“Prayers are always answered,” Loretta Young declares. “Sometimes almost miraculously. If you believe in prayer, you can make things happen that seem miraculous, that is, if you storm heaven with your prayers.”
It must be explained that Loretta makes no apology to friends or the public for the fact that she is religious, nor has she ever maintained the attitude that her beliefs make her a trifle “better” than anyone, inside or out of Hollywood. To the casual observer, her delicate, ethereal beauty makes her appear fragile, as though a brisk wind might pick her up and deposit her in the next county. Actually, Loretta Young’s personality is as lusty and direct as a truck driver’s, minus of course the tendency of many of those gentlemen to employ a vocabulary that can peel paint off walls.
“You might as well face it,” Loretta told me, “I am not going to be trapped into a deep discussion about miracles. I am perhaps as well versed in theology as the normal church-goer, but I might as well attempt to explain the mysteries of a delicate brain operation. But I will tell you some of the answers to prayers that I have experienced personally and some wonderfully inspiring experiences of people I know personally.
“To get down to cases. Two years ago one prayer of mine was answered so swiftly and surely that it seemed like a miracle to me. This answer came with blinding, split-second speed and no one could convince me that it was not a positive answer to my prayer.
“My two young sons and I were out walking. Peter, the youngest, ran on ahead, suddenly turning off the sidewalk, across the narrow parkway, and into the street. I called after him, frantically, but my four-year-old sprite was free as a bird. His entire world at the moment consisted of the empty street and the new wonders that lay on the other side of it.
“My vision swept the road in search of that inevitable speeding car. Normally, a half-hour could go by without anyone using that street, but there it was, a huge station wagon bent on setting a new speed record. Horror-stricken, I shrieked Peter’s name and stood paralyzed.
“He didn’t hear me. At that point he was about four feet into the street and pounding ahead on sturdy legs. I don’t know whether I had time to close my eyes, but I whispered ‘Please, God, please save him!’ ”
For an agonized moment that seemed an eternity, Loretta waited for the sound of screaming brakes and the indescribable pain of seeing her child lying crushed on the pavement. Then, as though she were watching a motion picture in which one scene is suddenly frozen on the screen, Loretta saw Peter standing stock still, just shy of the middle of the road, while with tires whining, the station wagon was rounding the turn just ahead.
Something had caused Peter to stop, amazingly, in his headlong romp. He couldn’t have heard his mother’s frantic call. He couldn’t have seen the station wagon, for a parked car to his left had hidden it from sight. Even if he had heard the sound of the approaching station wagon, he couldn’t have stopped, because his four-year-old reflexes could never have halted his momentum.
“It was prayer,” Loretta repeats, simply. “God said yes.”
“The true miracle,” she continues, “is a supernatural act of God which the human mind cannot logically explain. Just as a child cannot understand why an electric light goes on and off but accepts the fact with a perfectly natural faith, an adult cannot fully comprehend the actual cause of what we call a miracle but also accepts it as a matter of faith.”
One of Loretta’s favorite stories of the power of prayer concerns Pat O’Brien.
“Pat’s oldest daughter was only a baby at the time,” she says. “About two, I think. Anyway, she became terribly ill. The doctors did everything they could. They finally gave up in despair. There was no hope. It was only a matter of time. Pat went into his room alone. He went down on his knees and started saying his Rosary. He stayed there in his room, alone, on his knees all that day and night, praying, never moving. And they came in the next morning and told him his little girl had reached and passed the crisis and miraculously had lived.
“You can bring about apparent miracles through prayer. Actually, what you are doing is asking for spiritual guidance to help you get what you want. If it is right for you, you’ll get it. If it isn’t, you won’t. You just don’t get down on your knees and say ‘gimmee.’ And it will happen many times that a prayer will be answered for one individual, but not for another, even though the circumstances seem almost identical. This has happened to me. If this has happened to you, don’t let the result be that you become skeptical.”
Loretta points out that she could never explain or attempt to prove the truth of miracles to anyone. There may be thousands, or hundreds of thousands who have never heard of the miracle at Lourdes, or the many others that have been verified through the years. If they cannot accept these as facts, then unfortunately, they will never be able to recognize those almost miraculous events that happen around them every day.
For instance, some years ago a priest who is an old friend of Loretta’s came to her to explain that he needed $5,000 for a trailer and a projection unit to take into Utah missionary territory. Loretta was upset, because she couldn’t at the time afford to donate the amount.
“I just don’t have that sort of money right now,” she explained, “but I’ll see what I can do among my friends.”
“We’ll work on this together,” the priest said. “I will pray.”
And Loretta prayed. And the answer came. Several days before, the Lux Radio Theater had asked Loretta to play in one of their weekly dramatic shows. But, because the studio contract at the time stipulated that she must pay the studio 50 per cent of her radio fees, she had been turning down air shows as a matter of principle. This, however, was different.
Loretta called the studio and asked if they would waive the 50 per cent clause in this particular case. The executive to whom she talked not only gave in, but sent her a sizable check of his own. Then, with another small prayer that the part would still be available, Loretta called the Lux people.
Call it coincidence, but the star who accepted the role in Loretta’s place got a heavy cold a few hours before and couldn’t do the show. The Lux man thanked heaven over the telephone, and well he should have. The following night. Loretta did the show and gave her check for $5,000 to the priest.
Most agnostics, psychiatrists and just plain people might not believe that this happened as a result of prayer. Loretta does believe it, and no one can deny that her faith has had a great deal to do with a happy life, while many of her sister stars, who believe only in luck and themselves, have reached a climax of unhappiness.
As Mrs. Tom Lewis, Loretta leads a full, busy life. Her happy marriage is not an accident, but the creation of a husband and wife who recognize their marriage as an adult partnership. They do not “adjust their halos” every morning. They are a pair of warm, exciting and adventuresome spirits) They have great standing, and wealth, too. But it has not made them arrogant or prejudiced.
On the latter point—the subject of prejudice—Loretta Young has another story well worth re-telling to those who have not heard it.
On the set of her last picture, Paula, she ran across a sound technician who had worked on previous pictures she made at Columbia. “Why, Dick Williams,” she exclaimed, “I haven’t seen you in ages. What have you been doing with yourself?”
The answer rocked her back on her heels. “A year ago,” he said, “I was a dead man!”
“Qh, stop it,” Loretta retorted.
“It’s true,” he persisted. And then he told his story:
Dick Williams was a Texan. A big, gruff man, proud of his southern heritage.
As has been the case with people all over the country, at times, Dick grew up with an unreasoning prejudice against Negroes. In his later years in Hollywood, he took to drink. Took to it all the way. He became, in fact, a drunken bum. No studio would hire him. Eventually his wife left him. He was thrown out of his apartment. He wound up in a shack, contracted pneumonia, and one day some neighbors found him on the floor of his miserable quarters, apparently a dead man. A doctor certified to the fact and sent him to a funeral parlor.
Moments before he was to be injected with embalming fluid, Dick Williams fluttered an eyelid. The undertaker, understandably nearly changed places with him. Dick was rushed to a hospital, where his condition was pronounced hopeless. Nevertheless, the usual emergency remedies were applied and he responded feebly.
What he needed was 24 hours nursing care, but the man was a refugee from Potter’s Field, stone broke. There were no funds to provide three nurses on eight hour shifts, but volunteers were found.
When Dick Williams, many hours later, regained consciousness, the first thing he saw was an anxious colored face peering into his own. He was a weak, sick man, so he could do nothing about the old feeling of revulsion that swept over him. Devotedly, the three negro women slav without thought of themselves to cure a man who hated them and all their people.
They not only saved his life. They renewed it and added purpose in place of the prejudice that had ruled his thinking. Today Dick Williams is back at work. One of the first things he did was to save every penny he could earn to buy those nurses three fine watches so important to them every day in wonderful lifework.
“It wasn’t much,” he told Loretta, “but it was all I could give them, then. Materially, I mean. What counts is the way I feel about it. I love those three women. They taught me real, brotherly love. I’ve found something I never had before. I lost my life, and it was given back to me. It was a miracle!”
So, is it so hard to understand why Loretta Young will frankly admit that she believes in prayers being answered? But still refuses to try to explain how they work? It’s enough that they do work—for her, and for others who truly believe in them.
Take the case of the prominent Los Angeles woman who suffered so acutely from arthritis. Medical science failed to stem the tide of pain. For two years she had been in a wheel chair unable to move her limbs. She often lunched at a drive-in, where she need not leave her car. A little car hop who waited on her noticed her great pain and brought her a small statue of Christ.
“Put this on the table beside your bed,” she told the woman. “I will burn candles for you, and on the ninth day from today you will have no more pain.”
On the ninth day, the woman remembered, but did not expect relief. She looked wistfully at the little statue, and in a moment she had lifted both arms above her head, something she had not been able to do in years. And from that day she has been free from pain.
Obviously, it happens every day. Loretta Young is not the only one who can tell us about such proof, but she does so with effective, factual honesty.
And you come away, knowing that what she has said is true.
—BY DAN JENKINS
It is a quote. MODERN SCREEN MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 1952