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Louise Brooks

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Pandora
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« on: November 14, 2007, 10:25:38 pm »

My avatar is that of Louise Brooks, it also happens to be the avatar of Bluehue.  Since today is her birthday, what better day to pay tribute to her?

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Pandora
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« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2007, 10:29:48 pm »


Louise Brooks (14 November 1906 – 8 August 1985) was an American dancer, showgirl, and silent film actress. She became, at the end of her life, a writer and critic of the silent film era. In her prime, she was a rebel who threw away Hollywood stardom because she refused to play the Hollywood game. She went from one of Hollywood's brightest stars to a cashier working behind the counter in a department store, in only a decade. 
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« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2007, 10:30:41 pm »



Born November 14, 1906(1906-11-14)
Cherryvale, Kansas
Died August 8, 1985 (aged 78)
Rochester, New York
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Pandora
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« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2007, 10:32:10 pm »



Born Mary Louise Brooks in Cherryvale, Kansas, she was a daughter of a lawyer who was usually too busy with his practice to discipline his children, and an artistic mother who determined that any "squalling brats she produced could take care of themselves." Although she inspired her children with a love of books and music--she was a talented pianist who played the latest Debussy and Ravel for Louise--Myra Brooks failed to protect her nine-year old daughter from sexual abuse at the hands of a neighborhood predator. This event had a major influence on Brooks's life and career, causing her to say in later years that she was incapable of real love, and that this man "must have had a great deal to do with forming my attitude toward sexual pleasure....For me, nice, soft, easy men were never enough -- there had to be an element of domination." (When Brooks at last told her mother of the incident, many years later, her mother suggested that it must have been Louise's fault for "leading him on.")

Brooks began her entertainment career as a dancer, joining the Denishawn modern dance company (whose members included Martha Graham, Ruth St. Denis, and Ted Shawn) in 1922. A long-simmering personal conflict between Brooks and St. Denis boiled over one day two years later, however, and St. Denis abruptly fired Brooks from the troupe by telling her in front of the other members that "I am dismissing you from the company because you want life handed to you on a silver salver." The words left a strong impression on Brooks; when she drew up an outline for a planned autobiographical novel in 1949, "The Silver Salver" was the title she gave to the tenth and final chapter.

Thanks to her friend Barbara Bennett (sister of Constance and Joan), Brooks almost immediately found employment as a chorus girl in George White's Scandals, followed by an appearance as a featured dancer in the 1925 edition of the Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway. As a result of her work in the Follies, she came to the attention of Paramount Pictures producer Walter Wanger, who signed her to a five-year contract with the studio in 1925.  (She was also noticed by visiting movie star Charlie Chaplin, who was in town for the premiere of his film The Gold Rush. The two had an affair that summer.
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« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2007, 10:33:44 pm »


Brooks made her screen debut in the silent The Street of Forgotten Men, in an uncredited role in 1925. Soon, however, she was playing the female lead in a number of silent light comedies and flapper films over the next few years, starring with Adolphe Menjou and W. C. Fields, among others. She was noticed in Europe for her pivotal vamp role in the Howard Hawks directed silent "buddy film," A Girl In Every Port in 1928.

It has been said that her best American role was in one of the last silent film dramas, Beggars Of Life (1928), as an abused country girl on the run with Richard Arlen and Wallace Beery playing hoboes she meets while riding the rails. Much of this film was shot on location, and the boom microphone was invented for this film by the director, William Wellman, who needed it for one of the first experimental talking scenes in the movies.

At this time in her life, she was rubbing elbows with the rich and famous, and was a regular guest of William Randolph Hearst and his mistress, Marion Davies, at San Simeon, being close friends with Marion Davies's niece, Pepi Lederer. Her distinctive bob haircut, which became eponymous and still recognised to this day, had started a sensational trend, as many women in the Western world cut their hair like hers. Soon after the film Beggars Of Life was made, Louise, who loathed the Hollywood "scene", refused to stay on at Paramount after being denied a promised raise, and left for Europe to make films for G. W. Pabst, the great German Expressionist director.

Paramount attempted to use the coming of sound films to strongarm the actress, but she called the studio's bluff. It was not until 30 years later that this rebellious move would come to be seen as arguably the most savvy of her career, securing her immortality as a silent film legend and independent spirit. Unfortunately, while her initial snubbing of Paramount alone would not have finished her in Hollywood altogether, her refusal after returning from Germany to come back to Paramount for sound retakes of The Canary Murder Case (1929) irrevocably placed her on an unofficial blacklist. Actress Margaret Livingston was hired to dub Brooks' voice for the film, and the studio claimed that Brooks' voice was unsuitable for work in sound pictures.

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« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2007, 10:35:07 pm »

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« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2007, 10:35:58 pm »

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« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2007, 10:36:48 pm »

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« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2007, 10:38:57 pm »



Once in Germany she starred in the remarkable 1929 film Pandora's Box, directed by the respected director G.W. Pabst in his New Objectivity period. The film is based on two plays by Frank Wedekind (Erdgeist and Die Büchse der Pandora) and Brooks plays the central figure Lulu, who meets her fate at the hands of Jack the Ripper after a series of salacious escapades. This film is notorious for its frank treatment of modern sexual mores, including the first screen portrayal of a lesbian. Louise then starred in the controversial social dramas Diary Of A Lost Girl (1929), also directed by Pabst, and Prix de Beauté (1930), the latter being filmed in France, and having a famous, but mesmerizing, shock ending. All these films were heavily censored, as they were very "adult" and considered shocking in their time for their portrayals of sexuality, in addition to being highly critical of society. Although overlooked at the time because "talkies" were taking over the movies, these three films were later recognized as masterpieces of the Silent Age, with her role of Lulu now regarded as one of the greatest performances in film history.
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« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2007, 10:40:40 pm »


Louise Brooks stars as Lulu, a young and impulsive vaudeville performer whose raw sexuality and uninhibited nature bring about the downfall of almost everyone she meets. She marries a respectable newspaper publisher, but soon drives him into insanity, climaxing in an incident in which she accidentally shoots him to death. Found guilty of manslaughter, she escapes from justice with the help of her former pimp (whom she considers her father) and the son of her dead husband, who is also in love with her. After spending several months hiding in an illegal gambling den in France, where Lulu is nearly sold into slavery, Lulu and her friends end up living in squalor in a London garret. On Christmas Eve, driven into prostitution by poverty, Lulu meets her doom at the hands of Jack the Ripper.

The film is notable for its lesbian subplot in the character of Countess Augusta Geschwitz (in some prints Anna Geschwitz, played by Alice Roberts).

The title is a reference to Pandora of Greek mythology, who upon opening a box given to her by the gods released all evils into the world, leaving only hope behind.
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« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2007, 10:42:00 pm »


In Diary of a Lost Girl, Louise Brooks plays Thymiane Henning, the innocent and naive daughter of pharmacist Robert Henning (Josef Rovenský). Thymiane is raped by her father's assistant Meinert (Fritz Rasp) and gives birth to an illegitimate child. Meinert is revealed to be the father by an entry in Thymiane's diary, and she is forced to leave the baby with a midwife and attend a strict reform school for wayward girls. Rebelling against the school's rigid discipline, Thymiane and her friend Erika (Edith Meinhard) escape, but they are separated, and Thymiane's relief is short-lived. She discovers that her baby is dead, and after despondently wandering the streets, she re-unites with Erika, who is working in a brothel. In the end, Thymiane also becomes a prostitute, but she has profited from her misfortune by becoming more mature and gaining control of her own life.

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« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2007, 10:43:36 pm »

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« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2007, 10:45:45 pm »

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« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2007, 10:49:25 pm »



When she returned to Hollywood, in 1931, she was cast in two mainstream films: God's Gift to Women (1931) and It Pays to Advertise (1931). Her performances in these films, however, were largely ignored, and few other job offers were forthcoming due to her informal "blacklisting." Despite this, William Wellman, her director on Beggars of Life, offered her the feminine lead in his new picture, The Public Enemy starring James Cagney. But Brooks turned down the role in order to visit her then-lover George Marshall in New York City, and the part instead went to Jean Harlow, who began her own rise to stardom largely as a result of it. Brooks later explained herself to Wellman by saying that she hated making pictures because she simply "hated Hollywood," and film historian James Card later said that "she just wasn't interested....She was more interested in Marshall."  In the opinion of Brooks's biographer Barry Paris, "turning down Public Enemy marked the real end of Louise Brooks's film career."  During the remainder of the 1930s, she was reduced to playing bit parts and accepting roles in B pictures and short films; one of her directors at this time was a fellow Hollywood outcast, Roscoe Arbuckle, who was working under the pseudonym "William B. Goodrich" ("Will B. Good").
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« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2007, 10:51:59 pm »




Brooks retired from the screen in 1938 after completing one last film, the John Wayne western Overland Stage Raiders in which she played the romantic lead and, with a long hairstyle was all but unrecognizable from her "Lulu" days. She then briefly returned to Wichita, where she was raised. "But that turned out to be another kind of hell," she said. "The citizens of Wichita either resented me having been a success or despised me for being a failure. And I wasn't exactly enchanted with them. I must confess to a lifelong curse: My own failure as a social creature."  After an unsuccessful attempt at operating a dance studio, she returned East and, after brief stints as a radio actor and a gossip columnist, worked as a salesgirl in a Saks Fifth Avenue store in New York City for a few years, then eked out a living as a courtesan with a few select wealthy men as clients. Brooks unfortunately had a life-long love of alcohol (more specifically gin), having begun drinking heavily at the age of fourteen  and was an alcoholic for a major portion of her life, although she exorcised that particular demon enough to begin writing about film, which became her second life. During this period she began her first major writing project, an autobiographical novel called Naked on My Goat, a title taken from Goethe's Faust. After working on the novel for a number of years, she destroyed the manuscript by throwing it into an incinerator.

She was a notorious spendthrift for most of her life, even filing for bankruptcy once, but was kind and generous to her friends, almost to a fault. She was married twice, but never had children — she referred to herself as "Barren Brooks". She was first married to movie director A. Edward Sutherland in July 1926, and divorced him in June 1928. Her second husband was Chicago millionaire Deering Davis. They married in 1933, she left him five months later, and they divorced in 1938.

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