Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Louise Brooks Society Celebrates 10 Years Online

The Louise Brooks Society, the largest and most popular website in the world devoted to any silent film star, celebrates 10 years on the internet. Since its launch in August 1995, nearly two million people have visited this pioneering site. The New York Times said, "The Louise Brooks Society is an excellent homage to the art of the silent film as well as one of its most luminous stars."

The LBS was founded as a fan-site, and over the years has evolved into a comprehensive on-line archive and center for "all things Lulu." This 250-page site features an array of information about the actress including a filmography, commentary, links, bibliographies, vintage articles and memorabilia, portrait galleries, a message board, and contributions from fans from around the world. The LBS has a long-running blog, as well as its own Louise Brooks themed radio station, aptly named RadioLulu.

The mission of the Louise Brooks Society is to honor the actress by stimulating interest in her life and films; by fostering and coordinating research on her life, films and writings; by serving as a repository for related material; and by advocating for the preservation and restoration of Brooks' films. To date, the LBS has co-sponsored events (including one with Barry Paris), mounted exhibits, "inspired" a documentary, and generated wide spread media interest in the actress.

In its first ten years, the LBS has been widely praised, having been written-up in publications from around the world including the Sunday Times (London, England), Stuttgarter Zeitung (Stuttgart, Germany), Le Temps (Paris, France), and Melbourne Age (Melbourne, Australia). The LBS has also received coverage in the San Francisco ChronicleGrand Rapids PressAtlanta Journal and ConstitutionRochester Democrat and Chronicle, and USA Today.

The site serves as home to the Louise Brooks Society - an internet-based fan club and the "first virtual fan club" in cyberspace. Most all club activities - including its newsletter, membership meetings, correspondence, and the participation of individuals - take place over the internet. At last count, its 1000+ members hail from 46 countries on six continents. Such a joining together by like-minded fans was only made possible by the advent of the world wide web.

The Louise Brooks Society - Highlights of 10 Years Online

1995 - The earliest pages of the Louise Brooks Society appear on the world wide web. The LBS is the first site devoted to the actress, one of the earliest devoted to any silent film star, and one of the earlier "fan sites" on the internet.

1996 - The LBS receives its first reviews. "USA Today" notes "Silent-film buffs can get a taste of how a fan club from yesteryear plays on the Web. The Louise Brooks Society site includes interviews, trivia and photos. It also draws an international audience." Later in the year, a British computing magazine, "Net Directory," names the LBS one of the five best sites in the world devoted to actresses.

1997 - Among its many web honors, the LBS is named a Hollywood Site of the Week and Celebrity Site of the Day. The LBS made Yahoo's Desert Island List and is named part of the Microsoft Network's One Click Away program.

1998 - Impressed by the popularity of the LBS, the television station Turner Classic Movies (TCM) gives the go ahead to a documentary on the actress. "Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu" plays to great acclaim and is nominated for an Emmy Award.

1998 - Pages from the LBS are referenced in a book on G.W. Pabst (Brooks' director in Pandora's Box and Diary of a Lost Girl) published by the Austrian Film Archive.

1999 - Numerous schools (from the junior high to university level) adopt pages from the LBS as suggested reading. The LBS is named a recommended site by the online version of the Encyclopedia Brittanica.

2000 - The University of Minnesota Press publishes Lulu in Hollywood by Louise Brooks, and Louise Brooks by Barry Paris. Each book is brought back into print following a petition campaign organized by the LBS.

2001 - The San Francisco Examiner includes the LBS in an article "Thirteen great film sites."

2002 - The LBS launches RadioLulu, a Louise Brooks-themed radio station. This internet-based station features theme songs from the films of Louise Brooks, vintage jazz, recordings by the actresses' contemporaries and co-stars, as well as recent pop and rock music about the silent film star (by Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark, Soul Coughing, etc.).

2002 - Pages from the LBS are referenced in three books, German Expressionist Films (Pocket Essentials); Sex in the City (Universe); and Photoplay Editions (McFarland).

2003 - Site traffic continues to grow. Visitor logs show that individuals have visited the LBS from more than 60 different countries including every nation in Europe as well as countries scattered across Asia and the Pacific, the Middle East, Africa and South America.

2004 - The bibliographies found on the website surpass 400 pages of printed material, making them one of the largest such collections of documentation so far assembled.

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