Saturday, April 26, 2008

the inimitable Anita

It's the birthday of Anita Loos. I most happily first made acquaintance with her in a paper my daughter wrote in high school. A Hollywood brat when Hollywood was itself infant, she was a child actress but quickly transformed herself to screenwriter. Much of her fascination comes from this early decision. Glamorous, charming, and well-connected with studio big shots, she was a celebrity of a different sort. One that's still surprisingly rare.

Today in Literature profiles her today: Loos, Lorelei, Literature

The collection on her given by is excellent.

Career highlights include the comic novel Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Her screen credits are summarized in the poster images (below) I've taken from the presentation.

She also wrote for Broadway: The Whole Town's Talking (1932), Happy Birthday (1946), and her dramatization of Colette's novel Gigi (1951).

She wrote for high-brow magazines like Harper's Bazaar, Vanity Fair, and -- take note -- The New Yorker.

Memoirs include her successful autobios A Girl Like I (1966) and Kiss Hollywood Goodbye (1974), as well as books on Broadway such as her 1972 book Twice Over Lightly: New York Then and Now, written in collaboration with friend and actress Helen Hayes.

Posters of some of the movies for which she wrote scripts:

Some quotes:
"Fate keeps on happening."

"The people I'm furious with are the Women's Liberationists. They keep getting up on soapboxes and proclaiming women are brighter than men. That's true, but it should be kept quiet or it ruins the whole racket."

"If we have to tell Hollywood good-bye, it may be with one of those tender, old-fashioned, seven-second kisses exchanged between two people of the opposite sex, with all their clothes on."

"There is a serious defect in the thinking of someone who wants -- more than anything else -- to become rich. As long as they don't have the money, it'll seem like a worthwhile goal. Once they do, they'll understand how important other things are -- and have always been."

"I really think that American gentlemen are the best after all, because kissing your hand may make you feel very good but a diamond and a sapphire bracelet lasts forever."

"A girl with brains ought to do something with them besides think."

"I once witnessed more ardent emotions between men at an Elks' Rally in Pasadena than they could ever have felt for the type of woman available to an Elk."

"Show business is the best possible therapy for remorse."

"The rarest of all things in American life is charm. We spend billions every year manufacturing fake charm that goes under the heading of public relations. Without it, America would be grim indeed."
Wikipedia gives some good anecdotes:
In 1921, Loos was among the first to join the Lucy Stone League, an organization that fought for women to preserve their maiden names after marriage.

Asked how to say her name, she told The Literary Digest "The family has always used the correct French pronunciation which is lohse. However, I myself pronounce my name as if it were spelled luce, since most people pronounce it that way and it was too much trouble to correct them." (Charles Earle Funk, What's the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936.)

She once commented. "I've had my best times when trailing a Mainbocher evening gown across a sawdust floor. I've always loved high style in low company." Anita Loos died in New York City at the age of 93 from natural causes. She is interred in Etna Cemetery, Etna, California, with her second husband, John Emerson, her parents, her brother and sister, and maternal relatives.

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