As the daughter of one of Hollywood’s richest citizens, Peggy Lloyd could have had an “easy living” kind of a life. Yet, she stubbornly chose to become her own, independent woman, and fought tooth and nail to make a decent living in Hollywood for herself and her children.
Gloria Gabrielle Freeman was born on April 15, 1925, in Los Angeles, Califronia, to single mother Gloria Freeman. Her father (whatever his name was) was allegedly from Nebraska and her mother from Pennsylvania. Miss Freeman gave up Gloria for adoption soon after birth. She was put in a Pasadena orphanage.
Peggy was adopted at the age of 5 by Harold and Mildred Lloyd. Harold Lloyd was a famous comedian, and the richest man in Hollywood – he was a shrewd investor and canny businessman. They already had two children, a son, Harold Lloyd Jr. and a daughter, Mildred Gloria, whose companion Gloria was destined to become.
They renamed her Marjorie Elisabeth, she was nicknames Peggy almost from day one.
Peggy lived the high life as Lloyd’s daughter – she was chauffeured to school in a limo, and the family lived in the fabulous Lloyd estate (Green Acres, one of the first mansions in Beverly Hills) that had it’s own nine hole golf course and an Olympic sized pool. In 1930, after the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, Lloyd became paranoid about the safety of his own children. As Gloria Lloyd later said to a journalist:
“That was a scary time because we were old enough to know what was going on. We had two guards outside of our room with guns in holsters. Nice guys – they made fun for us children. But they used to go with us wherever we went, even to the tennis court. One taught me how to rollerskate. We weren’t allowed to go many places. So it was a very sheltered childhood.”
By all accounts, Harold and Mildred, as parents, were generous to the point of overindulgence. I quote Gloria’s independent obituar:
“The children even had a private zoo. But Harold insisted they learn the value of money. At 13, Gloria and her friends had a lemonade stand on Benedict Canyon Drive. They charged a dime a glass, but Mildred made sure they gave the profits to the church.When Gloria and Peggy were students at UCLA. Lloyd ran the family on strict Victorian lines. Drinking was forbidden. Pocket money was limited to $30 a month while the girls were at college, and they were expected to travel there by bicycle.
“As we grew up we had to be heavily chaperoned. It seems a little strange now, but we went out on dates with the chauffeur and the governess. Boyfriends came to the estate and were screened by Clementine, our housekeeper for 45 years. We felt like a Hollywood royal family.”
Peggy attended Westlake School for Girl and, as mentioned in the quote, enrolled into UCLA and USC, majoring in art.
Despite the family’s wealth, Peggy wanted to work and carve her own mark on the world. Being a very beautiful woman, it was only natural that she try her hand in modeling. Soon, Peggy was all over the papers, modeling clothes and advertising for this and that. In 1943, she landed a role in Cover girl, and started her career in Hollywood, the town where she was practically royalty.
Again, I quote some of the previous posts about her movie career:
Her first credit is Cover Girl, a now classic Rita Hayworth/Gene Kelly Technicolor musical. While today remembered primarily a springboard for the two stars (Gene Kelly, loaned out from MGM; finally got the treatment he deserved at his home studio after this movie, and Rita crawled out of the B movies and supporting role sin A movies and got her due with Gilda and other great movies), it’s a fun, sweet movie nonetheless. Rita is simply enchanting, and Gene, while his character is somewhat of a jerk, redeems himself with his superb, athletic dancing. A great and breezy way to pass an hour and a half!
Peggy was one of 14 cover girls who appeared in it. The others were Betty Jane Hess, Eileen McClory, Dusty Anderson, Jinx Falkenburg, Cecilia Meagher, Anita Colby, Francine Counihan and so on.
After her death, Peggy was featured in an American Masters episode about her father, where she talked about their relationship and how was it to growing up in such an environment.
In 1946, Peggy made it in the California debutante book, along with her sister, Gloria, and Shirley Temple.
Peggy married movie producer Almon Bartlett “Bart” Ross on April 17, 1948. Ross was born on July 5, 1923, making him just two years older than Peggy. His father was a well known doctor in Beverly Hills. Their son David Lloyd Ross was born on May 26, 1950. They separated and divorced in 1953. In 1954, Bart married Erin Considine, another daughter of well heeled showbiz parents (her mother was Carmen Pantages, of the Pantages dynasty, and her dad director John Considine Jr.). That marriage did not last either, and he married lastly to Mary Carmenla Clark in 1961. He died in 1970.
After her divorce, Peggy refused to return to the Lloyd’s house, and instead took an apartment with a friend and started a career as a Hollywood gossip columnist. She had to learn everything from a scratch, but Peggy was a smart, sharp woman and quickly paved her own way. She was proud to be able to support her son all on her own.
Peggy had a one sided crush on society columnist Jim Copp. One of her first dates after her divorce were Don Taylor (then freshly divorced from Phyllis Avery) and Bob Fullerton. She let her hair down, driving in a fiee truck around town with her friend Ginny Simms. In late 1953 and early 1954, she had a serious romance with Dick Ogden, but he left her and she carried a torch for several months afterwards. Peggy dated first Harry Crocker and then Herbert Hirschmoeller for a brief time in the 1955, and then met her next husband, a young actor Robert, “Bob” Patten.
They married on March 3, 1956, in Las Vegas. Patten was born on October 11, 1925 in Tacoma, Washington. He came to Hollywood in 1925 and was to become a major character actor in showbiz. The real marriage lasted only 8 months, and her friend Betty Plant even testified that Patten told her he could not stand Peggy any more, since he disliked “good wives”. They won a divorce in December 1956, and afterwards Peggy found out she was pregnant. This did not change her decision about her marital state – they did not remarry. Their son Robert Patten Jr. was born on August 3, 1957 in Los Angeles.
As Harold Lloyd’s daughter, Peggy was very active socially. She knew everybody who was somebody from the movie colony, and was a good friend with Charlie and Oona Chaplin, giving many interview about the couple. Peggy also gave many soirees at her home in San Fernando Valley, hosting many a famous people. She was on good terms with her sister and brother, and the only child who remained in normal contact with the elder Lloyd and Mildred.
I was very impressed by Peggy, as she became a publicist and refused all help from Harold for financial support. She candidly told a reported that “I am over 21 and mom and dad are not responsible for my mistakes.” Bravo for Peggy! A very down to earth, normal millionaire’s daughter! Peggy later worked in a variety of other jobs: as a talent scout for a radio DJ, restaurant hostess, bookkeeper for an advertising agency and saleswoman.
Peggy tried to find her birth mother in about 1972, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. This started a trend in the papers, where adopted children seeker the truth about their birth parents. I don’t know how exactly it transpired, but Peggy met with her birth mother, then known as Dorothy Callison.
Peggy did not remarry and lived the rest of her days in California.
Marjorie Elisabeth Lloyd died on November 18, 1986, from lung cancer in Newport, Orange County, California.
Her former husband Bob Patten died in 2001. The last surviving Lloyd sibling, Gloria, died in 2012.