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Significant Women in Film History: 1900s-1920s

Anita Loos (1881-1981)

Born in 1881, Anita Loos spent her childhood in San Francisco. At the age of eight, her father urged Loos and her sister to begin acting in a stock company. Although acting made money for Loos and her family, she held dreams of being a writer. By 1911, Loos would be introduced to short films through the theater where she acted, which would play the reels after performances. She would soon try her luck writing screenplays and soon be writing and sending in scripts to the Biograph company. Her scenario The New York Hat would be the first to be produced. By 1915 she had moved to Hollywood, where D.W Griffith secured her a job on the payroll at the Triangle Film Corporation, making her the first writer to ever be put on a payroll at a production company. She would go on to write a number of sucessful action films for Douglass Fairbanks. Her films were often noted for their witty intertitles and Photoplay would go on to dub Loos as” The Soubrette of Satire” because of this. Throughout the 10’s and 20s, Loos screenwriting career would continue to prosper. By 1925 Loos would publish her most famous work Gentlemen Prefer Blondes which would be adapted into a film starring Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russel in 1953 (although she had no part in this particualr adaption). The novel proved popular enough that she would be able to adapt her novel for the Broadway stage not soon after and write a sequel, But Gentlemen Marry brunettes in 1927. Although she took a break due to marital issues she would return to writing for the silver screen with Red Headed Women and continue to write for MGM throughout the 1930s. In 1936 she would win an Academy Award for the film San Francisco. She would write the screenplay for one of the most famous films of the 1930s, The Women in 1939. Although she was apprehensive about changes the censors required, the film has gone on to remembered for its sharp dialogue that only Loos could have written. Throughout the 1940s she continued writing for the screen and stage. By the 1950s her biggest contribution would be the stage adaption of Collette’s Gigi, starring the then unknown Audrey Hepburn who Loos claimed to have discovered in a hotel lobby in Monte Carlo. By the 1960s she would go on to begin writing a volume of memoirs which she would continue to do into the 1970s. On August 18, 1981, Loos would die from natural causes.