Loos Women

She was born 124 years ago today. 6 years later, she decided she wanted to become a writer. She is Anita Loos, and I loove her.

Following a childhood tagging along with her alcoholic father through the seedier parts of San Francisco, Loos ended up in Hollywood cranking out scripts for two-reelers; her first, The New York Hat, was directed by D.W. Griffith and starred Mary Pickford. She wrote dozens more, then graduated to features, a few of which are even famous, including San Francisco, which dramatized the last few days before the 1906 earthquake. (Before people made movies about the Titanic, the earthquake was the disaster go-to. Celine Dion, you are no Jeanette McDonald, even with her weird warbly voice and the awful colorization of this clip.)

But of course, everyone knows Loos for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, which started as a series of short stories inspired by Mencken and the bimbos he liked to have surrounding him, then became a play, and then a fabulous, insanely campy movie that would give drag queens and Nancy Walker inspiration for decades to come. Celebrate today by watching this gigglefest, followed by its logical stepchild.

Valerie Perrine, you are no Jane Russell, though you do share a similar weird disconnected look in your eyes. But then, Jane Russell, you are no Bruce Jenner. It all works out.

 But back to the Divine Miss Loos. The female screenwriter remains a rare bird; in Hollywood in general, when you factor out the front-of-camera talent, men outnumber women in ratios that haven’t changed nearly enough since Loos’ time. Celebrate this scrappy, delightful woman today, and while you’re at it, lift a glass to other women screenwriters including Viña Delmar (Make Way for Tomorrow and The Awful Truth), Sonya Levein (Curly Top, Daddy Long Legs), and the legends Betty Comden and Mae West. Write, girls, write!

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