Louise Brooks

Submitted by on Sep 26, 2015

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Louise Brooks 3

Mary Louise Brooks, also known by her childhood name of Brooksie, was born in the midwestern town of Cherryvale, Kansas, on November 14, 1906. She began dancing at an early age with the Denishawn Dancers (which was how she left Kansas and went to New York) and then with George White’s Scandals before joining the Ziegfeld Follies, but became one of the most fascinating and alluring personalities ever to grace the silver screen. She was always compared to her Lulu role in Ящик Пандоры (1929), which was filmed in 1928. Her performances in A Girl in Every Port (1928) and Beggars of Life (1928), both filmed in 1928, proved to all concerned that Louise had real talent. She became known, mostly, for her bobbed hair style. Thousands of women were attracted to that style and adopted it as their own. As you will note by her photographs, she was no doubt the trend setter of the 1920s with her Buster Brown-Page Boy type hair cut, much like today’s women imitate stars. Because of her dark haired look and being the beautiful woman that she was, plus being a modern female, she was not especially popular among Hollywood’s clientle. She just did not go along with the norms of the film society. Louise really came into her own when she left Hollywood for Europe. There she appeared in a few German productions which were very well made and continued to prove she was an actress with an enduring talent. Until she ended her career in film in 1938, she had made only 25 movies. After that, she spent most of her time reading and painting. She also became an accomplished writer, authoring a number of books, including her autobiography. On August 8, 1985, Louise died of a heart attack in Rochester, New York. She was 78 years old.

Louise Brooks was one of the most fascinating personalities of Hollywood, always being compared with her most important characterization as protagonist: Lulu in Georg Wilhelm Pabst ‘s Ящик Пандоры (1929). Along with her beauty and talent she had an independent streak and refused to accept the restrictive role that women had in American society, and pretty much went her own way, which caused quite a bit of controversy. Not everyone found her rebellious nature off-putting, though; in 1926 she was the inspiration for the comic heroine Dixie Dugan and in the zenith of her fame for Valentina of Guido Crepax. She started her career as a dancer in the Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway, and Hollywood soon came calling. She didn’t care for the Hollywood scene at all, though, and traveled to Europe, where she made her most memorable films. Her dissatisfaction with Hollywood in general led her to quit films altogether in 1938; she was at the peak of her career, but just gave it all up. After that she spent her life writing, reading and painting until her death in 1985.

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Her cremated remains are interred at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Rochester, New York, USA. At her memorial service Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”was played and passages from”Lulu in Hollywood” were read.

Trying to make a Hollywood comeback after working in Europe, she turned down an offer to star with James Cagney in the classic Врaг общества (1931). The role could have revitalized her career.

After retiring, went on to write many witty and intelligent essays on the film industry.

Opened a dance studio in Beverly Hills. It failed because of a financial scandal involving her business partner. On 30 July 1940, Brooks boarded a train back to Kansas, leaving Hollywood for good. She opened a dance studio in Wichita and wrote a booklet, “The Fundamentals of Good Ballroom Dancing.”

Briefly the mistress of CBS founder William Paley. who secretly provided her with a yearly pension for the rest of her life.

Filed for bankruptcy. (6 February 1932)

A 20th Century-Fox talent scout spotted a girl named Linda Carter in a play and offered her a screen test. “Linda Carter” was actually Brooks, who was attempting a comeback. (July 1938)

Was the inspiration for the stage play “Show Girl,”which, in turn, inspired the comic strip”Dixie Dugan.”She was also the inspiration for Italian cartoonist Guido Crepax ‘s comic strip/graphic novel”Valentina.” Brooks and Crepax became pen pals as a result.

Her first autobiography, entitled ‘Naked On My Goat’, was thrown into an incinerator by her own hand.

In Neil Gaiman ‘s novel “American Gods”, the character Czernobog called her the “greatest American actress of all time.”.

Her favorite actress was Margaret Sullavan .

Provided the inspiration for the British band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark ‘s 1991 hit “Pandora’s Box.” The promo video clip features lead singer Andy McCluskey intercut with images from Ящик Пандоры (1929).

Biography in: “The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives.” Volume One, 1981-1985, pages 106-107. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1998.

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