Ida Lupino

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Ida Lupino
Ida Lupino publicity.jpg
Born (1918-02-04)4 February 1918
Herne Hill, London, England, United Kingdom
Died 3 August 1995(1995-08-03) (aged 77)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Cause of death Stroke
Citizenship British/American
Alma mater Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Occupation Actress, singer, director, producer
Years active 1931–1978
Spouse(s) Louis Hayward (m. 1938; div. 1945)
Collier Young (m. 1948; div. 1951)
Howard Duff (m. 1951; div. 1984)
Children Bridget Duff
Parent(s) Stanley Lupino
Connie Emerald
Relatives Lupino Lane (uncle)

Ida Lupino (4 February 1918[1] – 3 August 1995) was an English actress and singer who became a pioneering director and producer—the only woman working within the 1950s Hollywood studio system to do so. With her independent production company, she co-wrote and co-produced several of her own social-message films and was the first woman to direct a film noir, The Hitch-Hiker in 1953. In her 48-year career, she appeared in 59 films and directed eight others, mostly in the United States, where she became a citizen in 1948. The majority of her later career as an actress, writer and director, was in television, where she directed more than one hundred episodes of productions ranging from westerns, supernatural tales, situation comedies, murder mysteries and gangster stories.[2] She was the only woman to direct episodes of the original The Twilight Zone series and the only director to have starred in the series as well.[3][4]

Early life and family[edit]

Lupino was born in Herne Hill, London, to actress Connie O'Shea (also known as Connie Emerald) and music hall entertainer Stanley Lupino, a member of the theatrical Lupino family, which included her uncle, Lupino Lane, a popular song-and-dance man.[5] Her father, a top name in musical comedy in the UK and a member of a centuries-old theatrical dynasty dating back to Renaissance Italy,[2] encouraged her to perform at an early age. He built a back-yard theater for Lupino and her sister Rita (born 1920), who would also become an actress and dancer.[5] Lupino wrote her first play at age seven and toured with a traveling theater company as a child.[6]

She wanted to be a writer but to please her father, Lupino enrolled in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts at age 13 and went on to excel in a number of "bad girl" film roles, often playing prostitutes.[7]

Career[edit]

Actress[edit]

Lupino in a promotional photo for Moontide, 1942

Lupino made her first film appearance in The Love Race (1931) and the following year, at age 14, she worked under director Allan Dwan in Her First Affair, in a role her mother originally tested for.[8] 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.

Dubbed "The English Jean Harlow," she was discovered by Paramount in the 1933 film Money For Speed, playing a good girl/bad girl dual role. Lupino claimed the talent scouts only saw her play the sweet girl in the film and not the part of the prostitute and therefore she was asked to try out for the lead role in Alice in Wonderland (1933). When she arrived in Hollywood, the Paramount producers didn't know what to make of their sultry potential leading lady but she did get a five-year contract.[2]

Lupino starred in over a dozen films in the mid-1930s, working with Columbia in a two-film deal, one of which, The Light That Failed (1939), was a role she acquired after running into the director's office unannounced, demanding an audition.[8] After this performance, she began to be taken seriously as a dramatic actress. As a result, her parts improved during the 1940s and she jokingly referred to herself as "the poor man's Bette Davis," taking the roles that Davis refused.[9][10]

Mark Hellinger, associate producer at Warner Bros., was impressed by Lupino's performance in The Light That Failed, and hired her for a role in They Drive by Night (1940), leading to a Warner Bros. contract which she negotiated to include some freelance rights.[8] She starred opposite Humphrey Bogart in this film and in High Sierra (1941), where she impressed critic Bosley Crowther in her role as "adoring moll."[11]

She worked regularly and was in demand throughout the 1940s, never becoming a major star, but critically lauded for her tough, direct acting style. She often incurred the ire of studio boss Jack Warner by objecting to her casting, refusing roles that she felt were "beneath her dignity as an actress," and making script revisions deemed unacceptable. As a result, she spent a great deal of her time at Warner Bros. suspended.[10] In 1942, she 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 her relationship with her studio remained strained.

Her performance in The Hard Way (1943) won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress.[5] She starred in Pillow to Post (1945), which would be her only comedic leading role.[8] After the drama Deep Valley (1947) finished shooting, neither Warner Bros. nor Lupino moved to renew her contract and she left Warner Bros. in 1947.[12] She moved to Columbia Pictures in 1948, where she appeared as a nightclub singer in the film noir, Road House, performing her musical numbers in the film. She starred in On Dangerous Ground in 1951 and may have taken on some of the directing tasks of the film while director Nicholas Ray was ill.[6]

Director, producer and writer[edit]

While on suspension, Lupino had ample time to observe filming and editing processes and she became interested in directing.[13] She described how bored she was on set while "someone else seemed to be doing all the interesting work."[10]

Lupino (left) directing The Hitch-Hiker, 1953

She and her husband Collier Young formed an independent company, The Filmakers [sic], to produce, direct and write low-budget, issue-oriented films.[2] Her first directing job came unexpectedly in 1949 when director Elmer Clifton suffered a mild heart attack and couldn't finish Not Wanted, a film Lupino co-produced and co-wrote.[8] Lupino stepped in to finish the film but didn't take directorial credit out of respect for Clifton. Although the film's subject of out-of-wedlock pregnancy was controversial, it received a vast amount of publicity, and she was invited to discuss the film with Eleanor Roosevelt on a national radio program.[14]

Never Fear (1949) was her first director's credit.[8] After producing four more films about social issues, including Outrage (1950), a film about rape, Lupino directed her first hard-paced all-male-cast film, The Hitch-Hiker (1953), making her the first woman to direct a film noir. The Filmakers would go on to produce twelve feature films, six of which Lupino 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 once called herself a "bulldozer" to secure financing for her production company, but she referred to herself as "mother" while on set.[14] On set, the back of her director's chair was labeled "Mother of Us All...".[2] Her studio emphasized her femininity, often at the urging of Lupino herself. She credited her refusal to renew her contract with Warner Bros. under the pretenses of 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 made a point to seem nonthreatening in a male-dominated environment, stating, "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."[7]

Although directing became Lupino's passion, the drive for money kept her on camera, so that she could acquire the funds to make her own productions.[10] She became a wily low-budget filmmaker, reusing sets from other studio productions and talking her physician into appearing as a doctor in the delivery scene of Not Wanted. She utilized what's now called product placement, placing Coke, Cadillac and other brands in her films. She shot in public places to avoid set-rental costs and planned scenes in pre-production to avoid technical mistakes and re-takes.[7] She joked that if she had been the "poor man's Bette Davis" as an actress, she had now become the "poor man's Don Siegel" as a director.[15]

The Filmakers production company closed shop in 1955 and Lupino's last director's credit on a feature film was in 1965 for the Catholic school-girl comedy The Trouble With Angels, starring Hayley Mills. She didn't stop acting and directing however, going on to a successful television career throughout the 1960s and 70s.[16]

Television[edit]

Ida Lupino in It Takes a Thief, 1968

Lupino continued acting until the 1970s. Her directing efforts during these years were almost exclusively for 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.

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 installments of The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour and an episode of The Dinah Shore Chevy Show in 1960. Lupino guest-starred on numerous television shows, 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 has two distinctions with The Twilight Zone series, as the only woman to have directed an episode ("The Masks") and the only person to have worked as both director and actress in an episode ("The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine").

Lupino made her final film appearance in 1978 and retired from the entertainment business at the age of 60.

Themes[edit]

Lupino's Filmakers movies deal with unconventional and controversial subject matter that studio producers wouldn't touch, including out-of-wedlock pregnancy, bigamy and rape. She described her independent work as, "films that had social significance and yet were entertainment ... based on true stories, things the public could understand because they had happened or been of news value." She focused on women's issues for many of her films and she liked strong characters, "[Not] women who have masculine qualities about them, but [a role] that has intestinal fortitude, some guts to it."[17]

In the film, The Bigamist, the two women characters represent the career woman vs. the homemaker. The title character is married to a woman (Joan Fontaine) who, unable to have children, has devoted her energy to her career. While on one of many business trips, he meets a waitress (Lupino) with whom he has a child, and then marries her. Marsha Orgeron, in her book, Hollywood Ambitions, describes these characters as, "struggling to figure out their place in environments that mirror the social constraints that Lupino faced.".[10] However Donati, in his biography of Lupino, said, "The solutions to the character’s problems within the films were often conventional, even conservative, more reinforcing the 1950s' ideology than undercutting it."[7]

Personal life[edit]

Lupino in 1979

Lupino's interests outside the film and television industries included writing short stories and children's books, and composing music. Her composition "Aladdin's Suite" was performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra in 1937.[5]

In June 1948, Lupino became an American citizen[18][19] and a staunch Democrat who supported the presidency of John F. Kennedy.[7]

Marriages[edit]

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.[20][21] Her second marriage was to producer Collier Young on 5 August 1948. They divorced in 1951.[22] Lupino's third and final marriage was to actor Howard Duff, whom she married on 21 October 1951.[23] The couple had a daughter, Bridget, on 23 April 1952.[24] Lupino and Duff divorced in 1983.[25]

In 1984, 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.

Death[edit]

Lupino died from a stroke while undergoing treatment for colon cancer in Los Angeles on 3 August 1995, at the age of 77.[26] Lupino's memoirs, Ida Lupino: Beyond the Camera, were edited after her death and published by Mary Ann Anderson.[27]

Influences and legacy[edit]

Lupino learned filmmaking from everyone she observed on set, including William Ziegler, the cameraman for Not Wanted. When in pre-production on Never Fear, she conferred with Michael Gordon on directorial technique, organization and plotting. Cinematographer Archie Stout said of Ms. Lupino, "Ida has more knowledge of camera angles and lenses than any director I've ever worked with, with the exception of Victor Fleming. She knows how a woman looks on the screen and what light that woman should have, probably better than I do." Lupino also worked with editor Stanford Tischler, who said of her, "She wasn’t the kind of director who would shoot something, then hope any flaws could be fixed in the cutting room. The acting was always there, to her credit."[7]

In her encyclopedia of women directors, "Reel Women," Ally Acker compares Lupino to pioneering silent-film director Lois Weber, for their focus on controversial, socially-relevant topics. With their ambiguous endings, Lupino's films never offered simple solutions for her troubled characters, and Acker finds parallels to her storytelling style in the work of the modern European "New Wave" directors, such as Margarethe von Trotta.[2]

Ronnie Scheib, who issued a Kino release of three of Lupino's films, likens Lupino's themes and directorial style to directors Nicholas Ray, Sam Fuller and Robert Aldrich, saying, "Lupino very much belongs to that generation of modernist filmmakers." And on whether or not Lupino should be considered a feminist filmmaker, Scheib states, "I don't think Lupino was concerned with showing strong people, men or women. She often said that she was interested in lost, bewildered people, and I think she was talking about the postwar trauma of people who couldn't go home again."[16]

Author Richard Koszarski noted Lupino's choice to play with gender roles regarding women's film stereotypes during the studio era: "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."[28]

Lupino didn't openly consider herself a feminist, saying, "I had to do something to fill up my time between contracts. Keeping a feminine approach is vital — men hate bossy females ... Often I pretended to a cameraman to know less than I did. That way I got more cooperation."[2] But Village Voice writer Carrie Rickey holds Lupino up as 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."[13]

By 1972, Lupino said she wished more women were hired as directors and producers in Hollywood, noting that only very powerful actresses or writers had the chance to work in the field.[2]

Awards and tributes[edit]

Filmography[edit]

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

Radio appearances[edit]

Year Program Episode/source
1944 Screen Guild Players High Sierra[32]
1944 Suspense The Sisters

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Recorded in Births Mar 1918 Camberwell Vol. 1d, p. 1019 (Free BMD). Transcribed as "Lupine" in the official births index
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Acker, Alley (1991). Reel Women – Pioneers of the Cinema, pp. 74-78. The Continuum Publishing Company, New York, NY. ISBN 0-8264-0499-5
  3. ^ Ida Lupino at the Internet Movie Database
  4. ^ Ida Lupino Biography, Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved on 4 July 2011.
  5. ^ a b c d Flint, Peter B. "Ida Lupino, Film Actress and Director, Is Dead at 77," The New York Times. August 5, 1995. Retrieved on April 11, 2016.
  6. ^ a b Ida Lupino Milestones, Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved on April 11, 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Donati, William (1996). Ida Lupino A Biography, University press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-1895-6
  8. ^ a b c d e f Hagen, Ray & Wagner, Laura (2004). Killer Tomatoes: Fifteen Tough Film Dames, pp. 103-114. McFarland & Company Inc., Jefferson, North Carolina. ISBN 978-0-7864-1883-1
  9. ^ Katz, Ephraim & Klein, Fred & Nolan, Ronald Dean (1998). The Film Encyclopedia 3rd edition, p. 858. Harper Perennial, New York, New York. ISBN 0-06-273492-X
  10. ^ a b c d e Orgeron, Marsha (2008). Hollywood Ambitions, pp. 170-179. Wesleyan University, Middleton, Connecticut. ISBN 978-0-8195-6864-9
  11. ^ Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times, film review, "High Sierra, Considers the Tragic and Dramatic Plight of the Last Gangster," January 25, 1941. Accessed: January 29, 2008.
  12. ^ Morra, Anne (2010). Modern Women: Women Artists at the Museum of Modern Art, pp. 235-237. Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York. ISBN 978-0-87070-771-1
  13. ^ a b Rickey, Carrie (October 29 - November 4, 1980). "Lupino Noir," Village Voice, p. 43
  14. ^ a b c Hurd, Mary (2007). Women Directors & Their Films, pp. 9-13. Praeger, Westport, Connecticut. ISBN 0-275-98578-4
  15. ^ Wood, Bret. "Outrage (1950)". Turner Classic Movies Online. Retrieved 10 August 2008. 
  16. ^ a b Everitt, David. "A Woman Forgotten And Scorned No More," The New York Times, November 23, 1997. Retrieved on April 6, 2016.
  17. ^ Weiner, Debra (1977). Kay Peary, Karen & Peary, Gerald, editors. Women and the Cinema, "Interview with Ida Lupino," pp. 169-178. Dutton, New York, New York. ISBN 0-525-47459-5
  18. ^ Donati, William (1996). Ida Lupino. University Press of Kentucky. p. 143. ISBN 0-813-11895-6. 
  19. ^ O'Dell, Cary (1997). Women Pioneers in Television: Biographies of Fifteen Industry Leaders. McFarland. p. 175. ISBN 0-786-40167-2. 
  20. ^ "Ida Lupino, Louis Hayward Admit Separation". San Jose Evening News. 19 July 1944. p. 11. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  21. ^ "Actress Ida Lupino Files Suit For Divorce". St. Petersburg Times. 5 May 1945. p. 13. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  22. ^ "Ida Lupino To Seek Divorce From Producer". Toledo Blade. 3 September 1951. p. 2. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  23. ^ "Actress Ida Lupino Wed to Howard Duff". Eugene Register-Guard. 22 October 1951. p. 4. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  24. ^ "Ida Lupino Mother of 4-LB. Daughter". The Times-News. 26 April 1952. p. 9. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  25. ^ "Actress, director Lupino dies". The Daily Courier. 6 August 1995. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  26. ^ "Ida Lupino, 77; Actress, Pioneer Director". Albany Times. Retrieved 10 June 2012. 
  27. ^ "Ida Lupino: Beyond the Camera – New from BearManor Media". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  28. ^ Koszarski, Richard (1976). Hollywood Directors, Oxford University Press, New York, New York. ISBN 0-19-502085-5
  29. ^ "The Academy of Science Fiction Fantasy & Horror Films". Saturn Awards. Retrieved 10 June 2012. 
  30. ^ "Stanley Lupino and Ida Lupino Commemorated," The Music Hall Guild of Great Britain and America. Retrieved on April 6, 2016.
  31. ^ Haga, Evan. (October 15, 2008) "Paul Bley Trio: Darkly Winsome Jazz," NPR Music. Retrieved on April 11, 2016.
  32. ^ "Those Were The Days". Nostalgia Digest 41 (3): 32–39. Summer 2015. 

External links[edit]