Ida Lupino

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Ida Lupino
Ida Lupino publicity.jpg
Born (1918-02-04)4 February 1918
Camberwell, London, England
Died 3 August 1995(1995-08-03) (aged 77)
Los Angeles
Cause of death
Citizenship British
Alma mater Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Occupation Actress, director, writer
Years active 1931–1978
Spouse(s) Louis Hayward (m. 1938; div. 1945)
Collier Young (m. 1948; div. 1951)
Howard Duff (m. 1951; div. 1983)
Children 1
Parent(s) Stanley Lupino
Connie Emerald
Relatives Lupino Lane (uncle)

Ida Lupino (4 February 1918[2] – 3 August 1995) was an English-American film actress and director, and a pioneer among women filmmakers. In her forty-eight-year career, she appeared in fifty-nine films and directed seven others, mostly in the United States, where she became a citizen in 1948. She co-wrote and co-produced some of her own films as well. She appeared in serial television programmes fifty-eight times and directed fifty other episodes. Additionally, she contributed as a writer to five films and four TV episodes.[3]

Early life and family[edit]

Lupino was born in Camberwell, London, to actress Connie O'Shea (also known as Connie Emerald) and music hall entertainer Stanley Lupino, a member of the theatrical Lupino family. Lupino's birth year is 1918 and not 1914 as some biographies have claimed.[2][4] Her sister, Rita (born 1920), became an actress and dancer.

During World War II, Ida Lupino served as a Lieutenant in the Women's Ambulance and Defense Corps.[5] After taking a hiatus from appearing in films, she composed music for a short time, even having her piece "Aladdin's Lamp" performed by the L.A. Philharmonic in 1937. She worked briefly in radio.[6] As a girl, Ida was encouraged to enter show business by both her parents and her uncle, Lupino Lane, an acrobatic film and stage comic and director. At the age of seven Lupino wrote and starred in the play Mademoiselle for a school production. [7]



Lupino trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art for two terms and made her first film appearance in The Love Race (1931), the next year making Her First Affaire, a film her mother originally tested for.[6] She played leading roles in five British films in 1933 at Warner Bros.' Teddington studios and for Julius Hagen at Twickenham, including in The Ghost Camera with John Mills and I Lived with You with Ivor Novello. She moved to Hollywood at the end of that year for the opportunity to play the lead role in Alice in Wonderland (1933).[8]

Lupino starred in over a dozen films in the mid-1930s including Search for Beauty. This was an international film in which Paramount Studios conceived the idea of a competition amongst the English speaking countries to select the most attractive male and female winners of those countries and a number of USA states. There was, for example a Mr and a Miss Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, England, Scotland etc. who travelled to Hollywood to have a part in the film. The version released in New Zealand, for example, would have the New Zealand winners in it, the Australian version would have the Australian winners and so on. She worked with Columbia in a two-film deal, one of which being The Light That Failed (1939), a role she had acquired after running into the director's office unannounced and demanding an audition.[6] After this performance, she began to be taken seriously as a dramatic actress. As a result, her parts improved during the 1940s, and she described herself as "the poor man's Bette Davis"[9] as she acquired the leftover roles that Bette Davis refused.[10]

Mark Hellinger, associate producer at Warner Bros., was particularly impressed by this performance, and hired her for a role in They Drive by Night (1940), which led to a Warner Bros. contract, which she negotiated to include some free-lance rights.[6] She starred opposite Humphrey Bogart in this film and High Sierra (1941). Warner Bros. received a great amount of defiance from Lupino, who refused roles that she felt were "beneath her dignity as an actress." As a result, she spent a great deal of her time at Warner Bros. suspended.[10] For her performance in The Hard Way (1943), she won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress. She starred in Pillow to Post (1945), which would be her only comedic leading role in her film history.[6] She worked regularly and was in demand throughout the 1940s without becoming a major star until later. In 1947, Lupino left Warner Bros. after refusing to renew her contract. She then moved to Columbia Pictures, where she appeared in films such as Road House and On Dangerous Ground before developing a directing career.[6] Lupino often incurred the ire of studio boss Jack Warner by objecting to her casting or making script revisions deemed unacceptable. In 1942, she also rejected an offer to star opposite Ronald Reagan in Kings Row and was immediately put on suspension at the studio. Eventually, a tentative rapprochement was brokered, but their relationship remained strained, and after the drama Deep Valley (1947) finished shooting, neither party moved to renew her contract.[11]


Ida Lupino still.jpg

In the mid-1940s, while on suspension for turning down a role,[12] Lupino became interested in directing. Her time on suspension allowed her to spend her time observing the filming and editing processes, which would aid her in her directorial endeavours.[10] She described herself as being bored on set while "someone else seemed to be doing all the interesting work." She co-wrote and co-produced some of her own films as well. She and her husband Collier Young formed an independent company, The Filmakers [sic], and Lupino became a producer, director and screenwriter of low-budget, issue-oriented films.[13] Their company would go on to produce twelve feature films, six of which she directed or co-directed, five of which she wrote or co-wrote, three of which she acted in, and one of which she co-produced.[14]

Lupino claims she “…did not set out to be a director,”[10] but it was a reality she had to face when her first directing job came unexpectedly in 1949 when Elmer Clifton suffered a mild heart attack and could not finish Not Wanted, a film she co-produced and co-wrote.[6] Lupino stepped in to finish the film but did not take directorial credit out of respect for Clifton. Although the subject of the film was controversial, it received a vast amount of publicity, and she was invited to discuss the film with Eleanor Roosevelt on a national radio programme.[14]

She went on to direct her own projects, becoming the first actress to produce, direct and write her own films.[15][16] Lupino once called herself a "bulldozer" to secure financing for her production company, and she referred to herself as "mother"—the quintessence of creation— while on set.[11]

In an article for the Village Voice, Carrie Rickey wrote that Lupino was a model of modern feminist filmmaking:

Not only did Lupino take control of production, direction and screenplay, but each of her movies addresses the brutal repercussions of sexuality, independence and dependence.[17]

Lupino (left) directing The Hitch-Hiker (1953)

After four "woman's" films about social issues – including Outrage (1950), a film about rape – Lupino directed her first hard-paced, fast-moving film, The Hitch-Hiker (1953), making her the first woman to direct a film noir. Writer Richard Koszarski noted:

Her films display the obsessions and consistencies of a true auteur.... In her films The Bigamist and The Hitch-Hiker Lupino was able to reduce the male to the same sort of dangerous, irrational force that women represented in most male-directed examples of Hollywood film noir.[18]

Lupino often joked that if she had been the "poor man's Bette Davis" as an actress, then she had become the "poor man's Don Siegel" as a director.[19] In 1952, Lupino was invited to become the "fourth star" in Four Star Productions by Dick Powell, David Niven and Charles Boyer, after Joel McCrea and Rosalind Russell had dropped out of the company.

Because she was a female director, her studio emphasised her femininity, often at the urging of Lupino herself. As one professor puts it "…Lupino's cinematic tenure can be understood as a varied and complex attempt to control both image and image reception." She even credited her refusal to renew her contract with Warner Bros. under the pretences of her domesticity, claiming "I had decided that nothing lay ahead of me but the life of the neurotic star with no family and no home." She wanted to seem unthreatening in a male dominated environment, which is made clear by a statement she made in which she says, "That's where being a man makes a great deal of difference. I don't suppose the men particularly care about leaving their wives and children. During the vacation period the wife can always fly over and be with him. It's difficult for a wife to say to her husband, come sit on the set and watch," in regards to the benefit of being a male director. Although directing became Lupino's passion, the drive for money kept her on camera, so that she could acquire the appropriate funds to make her own productions.[10]


Lupino continued acting throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Her directing efforts during these years were almost exclusively television productions such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Thriller, The Twilight Zone, Have Gun – Will Travel, Honey West, The Donna Reed Show, Gilligan's Island, 77 Sunset Strip, The Rifleman, The Virginian, Sam Benedict, The Untouchables, Hong Kong, The Fugitive and Bewitched.

Ida Lupino in It Takes a Thief, 1968

Lupino appeared in nineteen episodes of Four Star Playhouse from 1952 to 1956. From January 1957 to September 1958, Lupino starred with her then husband, Howard Duff, in the CBS sitcom Mr. Adams and Eve, in which the duo played husband and wife film stars named Howard Adams and Eve Drake, living in Beverly Hills, California. Duff and Lupino also co-starred as themselves in 1959 in one of the thirteen one-hour instalments of The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour. Lupino guest-starred on numerous television programmes, including The Ford Television Theatre (1954), Bonanza (1959), Burke's Law (1963–64), The Virginian (1963–65), Batman (1968), The Mod Squad (1969), Family Affair (1969–70), The Wild, Wild West (1969), Columbo: Short Fuse (1972), Columbo: Swan Song (1974), Barnaby Jones (1974), The Streets of San Francisco, Ellery Queen (1975), Police Woman (1975) and Charlie's Angels (1977), to name a few.

She is also noted as having two distinctions with The Twilight Zone. She is the only woman to have directed an episode ("The Masks") and the only person to have served as both a director and an on-screen performer (in "The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine"). She made her final film appearance in 1978 and retired at the age of 60.

Personal life[edit]

Lupino in 1979

In June 1948, Lupino became an American citizen.[1][20]

Lupino was a staunch Democrat who supported the presidency of John F. Kennedy.[21]


Lupino was married and divorced three times. She married actor Louis Hayward in November 1938. They separated in May 1944 and divorced in May 1945.[22][23] Her second marriage was to producer Collier Young on 5 August 1948. They divorced in 1951.[24] Lupino's third and final marriage was to actor Howard Duff, whom she married on 21 October 1951.[25] The couple had a daughter, Bridget on 23 April 1952.[26] Lupino and Duff divorced in 1983.[27]

In 1983, Lupino petitioned a California court to appoint her business manager, Mary Ann Anderson, as her conservator due to poor business dealings from her prior business management company and her long separation from Howard Duff.


Lupino died from a stroke while undergoing treatment for colon cancer in Los Angeles on 3 August 1995, at the age of 77.[28] Lupino's memoirs, Ida Lupino: Beyond the Camera, were edited after her death and published by Mary Ann Anderson.[29]


Lupino has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contributions to the fields of television and film. They are located at 1724 Vine Street and 6821 Hollywood Boulevard. She won the inaugural Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress for The Devil's Rain.[30]


Selected credits as actress and/or director
Title Year As actress Role As director Notes
Love Race, TheThe Love Race 1931 Yes Minor supporting role
Her First Affaire 1932 Yes Anne
Ghost Camera, TheThe Ghost Camera 1933 Yes Mary Elton
High Finance 1933 Yes Jill
Money for Speed 1933 Yes Jane
I Lived with You 1933 Yes Ada Wallis
Prince of Arcadia 1933 Yes The Princess
Search for Beauty 1934 Yes Barbara Hilton
Come On, Marines! 1934 Yes Esther Smith-Hamilton
Ready for Love 1934 Yes Marigold Tate
Paris in Spring 1935 Yes Mignon de Charelle
Smart Girl 1935 Yes Pat Reynolds
Peter Ibbetson 1935 Yes Agnes
La Fiesta de Santa Barbara 1935 Yes Herself short film made in Technicolor with several celebrities appearing as themselves
Anything Goes 1936 Yes Hope Harcourt
One Rainy Afternoon 1936 Yes Monique Pelerin
Yours for the Asking 1936 Yes Gert Malloy
Gay Desperado, TheThe Gay Desperado 1936 Yes Jane
Sea Devils 1937 Yes Doris Malone
Let's Get Married 1937 Yes Paula Quinn
Artists and Models 1937 Yes Paula Sewell/Paula Monterey
Fight for Your Lady 1937 Yes Marietta
Lone Wolf Spy Hunt, TheThe Lone Wolf Spy Hunt 1939 Yes Val Carson
Lady and the Mob, TheThe Lady and the Mob 1939 Yes Lila Thorne
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, TheThe Adventures of Sherlock Holmes 1939 Yes Ann Brandon
Light That Failed, TheThe Light That Failed 1939 Yes Bessie Broke
Screen Snapshots Series 18, No. 6 1939 Yes Herself Promotional short film
They Drive by Night 1940 Yes Lana Carlsen
High Sierra 1940 Yes Marie
Sea Wolf, TheThe Sea Wolf 1941 Yes Ruth Webster
Out of the Fog 1941 Yes Stella Goodwin
Ladies in Retirement 1941 Yes Ellen Creed
Moontide 1942 Yes Anna
Life Begins at Eight-Thirty 1942 Yes Kathy Thomas
Forever and a Day 1943 Yes Jenny
Hard Way, TheThe Hard Way 1943 Yes Mrs. Helen Chernen
Thank Your Lucky Stars 1943 Yes Herself
In Our Time 1944 Yes Jennifer Whittredge
Hollywood Canteen 1944 Yes Herself
Pillow to Post 1945 Yes Jean Howard
Devotion 1946 Yes Emily Brontë
Man I Love, TheThe Man I Love 1947 Yes Petey Brown
Deep Valley 1947 Yes Libby Saul
Escape Me Never 1947 Yes Gemma Smith
Road House 1948 Yes Lily Stevens
Lust for Gold 1949 Yes Julia Thomas
Not Wanted 1949 Yes
Never Fear 1949 Yes
Woman in Hiding 1950 Yes Deborah Chandler Clark
Outrage 1950 Yes Country Dance Attendee Yes
Hard, Fast and Beautiful 1951 Yes Seabright Tennis Match Supervisor Yes
On the Loose 1951 Yes Narrator
On Dangerous Ground 1952 Yes Mary Malden
Beware, My Lovely 1952 Yes Mrs. Helen Gordon
Hitch-Hiker, TheThe Hitch-Hiker 1953 Yes
Jennifer 1953 Yes Agnes Langley
Bigamist, TheThe Bigamist 1953 Yes Phyllis Martin Yes
Private Hell 36 1954 Yes Lilli Marlowe
Women's Prison 1955 Yes Amelia van Zandt
Big Knife, TheThe Big Knife 1955 Yes Marion Castle
While the City Sleeps 1956 Yes Mildred Donner
Strange Intruder 1956 Yes Alice Carmichael
The Twilight Zone 1959 Yes Barbara Jean Trenton Episode: The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine
Bonanza 1959 Yes Annie O'Toole Episode: The Saga of Annie O'Toole
Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour 1959 Yes Herself Episode: Lucy's Summer Vacation
Thriller 1961 Yes Episode: The Last of the Sommervilles
Kraft Suspense Theatre 1963 Yes Harriet Whitney Episode: One Step Down
The Twilight Zone 1964 Yes Episode: The Masks
Bewitched 1965 Yes Episode: A is for Aardvark
Honey West 1965 Yes Episode: How Brillig, O, Beamish Boy
Trouble with Angels, TheThe Trouble with Angels 1966 Yes
Columbo 1972 Yes Roger Stanford's Aunt Episode: Season 1, Episode 6, Short Fuse
Junior Bonner 1972 Yes Elvira Bonner
The Strangers in 7A 1972 Yes Iris Sawyer
Devil's Rain, TheThe Devil's Rain 1975 Yes Mrs. Preston Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress
Food of the Gods, TheThe Food of the Gods 1976 Yes Mrs. Skinner
Charlie's Angels 1977 Yes Gloria Gibson TV series
My Boys are Good Boys 1978 Yes Mrs. Morton


  1. ^ a b Donati, William (1996). Ida Lupino. University Press of Kentucky. p. 143. ISBN 0-813-11895-6. 
  2. ^ a b Recorded in Births Mar 1918 Camberwell Vol. 1d, p. 1019 (Free BMD). Transcribed as "Lupine" in the official births index
  3. ^ Ida Lupino at the Internet Movie Database
  4. ^ Acker, Alley, Reel Women – Pioneers of the Cinema, The Continuum Publishing Company, 1991, p. 75; ISBN 0-8264-0499-5
  5. ^ "Partners in Winning the War: American Women in WWII". National Women's History Museum. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Hagen, Wagner, Ray, Laura (2004). Killer Tomatoes: Fifteen Tough Film Dames. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company Inc. pp. 103–114. ISBN 978-0-7864-1883-1. 
  7. ^ Smith, Richard Harland. "Overview for Ida Lupino". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 7 March 2015. 
  8. ^ Ida Lupino TCM biography. Accessed 4 July 2011.
  9. ^ Katz, Ephraim; Klein, Fred; Nolan, Ronald Dean (1998). The Film Encyclopedia (3rd Edition ed.). New York: HarperPerennial. p. 858. ISBN 0-06-273492-X. 
  10. ^ a b c d e Orgeron, Marsha (2008). Hollywood Ambitions. Middleton, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press. pp. 170–179. ISBN 978-0-8195-6864-9. 
  11. ^ a b Anne Morra (2010). Butler, Cornelia & Alexandra Schwartz, ed. Modern Women: Women Artists at the Museum of Modern Art. New York City: Museum of Modern Art. pp. 235–237. ISBN 978-0-87070-771-1. 
  12. ^ Rickey, Carrie, "Lupino Noir," Village Voice, 29 October – 4 November 1980, p. 43
  13. ^ Acker, pp. 75
  14. ^ a b Hurd, Mary (2007). Women Directors & Their Films. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger. pp. 9–13. ISBN 0-275-98578-4. 
  15. ^ Acker, p. 75
  16. ^ "Never Fear" (1949) would be the first film she would receive directorial credit for. Hagen, Wagner, Ray, Laura (2004). Killer Tomatoes: Fifteen Tough Film Dames. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company Inc. pp. 103–114. ISBN 978-0-7864-1883-1. 
  17. ^ Rickey, VV, p. 43, as quoted in Reel Women by Acker, p. 76
  18. ^ Koszarski, Richard, Hollywood Directors, New York: Oxford University Press, 1976 ISBN 0-19-502085-5 (0-19-502085-5)
  19. ^ Wood, Bret. "Outrage (1950)". Turner Classic Movies Online. Retrieved 10 August 2008. 
  20. ^ O'Dell, Cary (1997). Women Pioneers in Television: Biographies of Fifteen Industry Leaders. McFarland. p. 175. ISBN 0-786-40167-2. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Ida Lupino, Louis Hayward Admit Separation". San Jose Evening News. 19 July 1944. p. 11. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  23. ^ "Actress Ida Lupino Files Suit For Divorce". St. Petersburg Times. 5 May 1945. p. 13. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  24. ^ "Ida Lupino To Seek Divorce From Producer". Toledo Blade. 3 September 1951. p. 2. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  25. ^ "Actress Ida Lupino Wed to Howard Duff". Eugene Register-Guard. 22 October 1951. p. 4. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  26. ^ "Ida Lupino Mother of 4-LB. Daughter". The Times-News. 26 April 1952. p. 9. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  27. ^ "Actress, director Lupino dies". The Daily Courier. 6 August 1995. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  28. ^ "Ida Lupino, 77; Actress, Pioneer Director". Albany Times. Retrieved 10 June 2012. 
  29. ^ "Ida Lupino: Beyond the Camera – New from BearManor Media". Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  30. ^ "The Academy of Science Fiction Fantasy & Horror Films". Saturn Awards. Retrieved 10 June 2012. 

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