Monday, November 30, 2015

Diary of a Lost Girl available at the Neue Galerie in NYC


The woman in gold wants everyone to know that the "Louise Brooks edition" of Diary of a Lost Girl is for sale at the Neue Galerie in New York City. That's were Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (also called The Lady in Gold or The Woman in Gold), a 1907 painting by Gustav Klimt, can also be found.

The Neue Galerie is a museum of German and Austrian art and culture, and the Margarete Böhme book, Diary of a Lost Girl, is featured among their new and noteworthy items in their gift shop. Check it out!


For more on this book, which was the basis for the 1929 film of the same name just released on DVD and Blu-ray by Kino Lorber, please visit http://www.pandorasbox.com/diary.  The book is also available at the George Eastman Museum gift shop in Rochester, New York.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Follow the Louise Brooks Society on Social Media

The Louise Brooks Society website was launched in 1995. That makes it something of an internet pioneer. The LBS was the first Louise Brooks website, and one of the earliest sites devoted to any actor or actress. With a goal of stimulating interest in her life and films, the LBS has always sought new ways of getting the word out.

One of its earliest efforts at reaching fans was through posting messages on bulletin board systems (BBS), listserves, newsgroups (Usenet), and on AOL and Prodigy, back when they were dominant. The earliest archived newsgroup post mentioning the Louise Brooks Society, from October 27, 1995, announces the website. Another, a query from the LBS asking about a screening of Pandora’s Box in Poland, dates to January 29, 1996. These posts, which can still be read, are now part of the Usenet Archive.

The LBS was an early adopter of social media, even before the term existed. In the past, it has had its own message board, Yahoo Group, Tribe.net page, email newsletter, and still lingering MySpace account. The LBS started blogging in 2002, first on LiveJournal and then on Blogger. Between them, there are thousands of blog posts, most of which now reside on the LBS blog at louisebrookssociety.blogspot.com. The LBS blog is a member of various blogger affiliations, including the Classic Movie Blog Association and LAMB (Large Ass Movie Blogs).

The same year that the LBS began blogging, it also jumped on the internet music bandwagon and launched its own online radio station on Live365. Since 2002, RadioLulu has been streaming Louise Brooks-inspired, silent film themed music of the 1920s, 1930s, and today. Thousands have tuned-in and “liked” its broadcast.

The LBS joined Twitter in January 2009, and has tweeted thousands of time. The LBS Facebook page goes back to 2010. It has been “liked” thousands of times as well, and there are many postings. The LBS joined YouTube in 2013. Check it out to see what videos can be found there.





Follow the Louise Brooks Society


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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Its the Old Army Game, starring W.C. Fields & Louise Brooks, screens at Museum of Moving Image

Its the Old Army Game (1926), starring W.C. Fields and Louise Brooks, screens in NYC at the Museum of Moving Image on Sunday, November 29th. The screening is part of the W.C. Fields in Astoria series. More information about this special event can be found HERE.


With live music by Donald Sosin Directed by A. Edward Sutherland. 1926. 70 min., 35mm print from the Library of Congress. With W.C. Fields, Louise Brooks. Fields plays a misanthropic, small-town pharmacist whose lovely shop assistant (Louise Brooks) gets him involved in a phony real estate scheme. The film is regarded as a high point of Fields’s silent filmography. The story was later revised and revamped in the talkies The Pharmacist (1933) and It’s a Gift (1934).

For more information about the film, check out the Louise Brooks Society filmography page. The film, especially interiors, were shot at Paramount’s Astoria Studios on Long Island (located at 3412 36th Street in the Astoria neighborhood in Queens) and in Manhattan. Location shooting, including exteriors, was done in Ocala and Palm Beach, Florida in February, 1926. The outdoor scenes in Palm Beach were shot at El Mirasol, the estate of multi-millionaire investment banker Edward T. Stotesbury. In 1912, after having been a widower for thirty-some years, Stotesbury remarried and became the stepfather of three children including Henrietta Louise Cromwell Brooks (known simply as Louise Brooks), an American socialite and the first wife of General Douglas MacArthur. In her heyday, she was “considered one of Washington’s most beautiful and attractive young women”. Because of their names, the two women were sometimes confused in the press. (Read more about the Palm Beach location on silentlocations.com.)




Tickets: $12 ($9 for senior citizens and students / free for members at the Film Lover level and above). Order tickets online. (Members may contact members@movingimage.us with any questions regarding online reservations.)
 
All tickets include same-day admission to the Museum (see gallery hours). View the Museum’s ticketing policy here.


Friday, November 27, 2015

Gift ideas for the Louise Brooks or silent film fan on your list

There are a handful of new releases in 2015 which would make a great gift for the Louise Brooks or silent film fan on your list. Click on the title links to make a purchase.

The Diary of a Lost Girl (Kino Lorber)
by G.W. Pabst

The second and final collaboration of actress Louise Brooks and director G.W. Pabst (Pandora's Box), DIARY OF A LOST GIRL is a provocative adaptation of Margarethe Böhme's notorious novel, in which the naive daughter of a middle class pharmacist is seduced by her father's assistant, only to be disowned and sent to a repressive home for wayward girls. She escapes, searches for her child, and ends up in a high-class brothel, only to turn the tables on the society which had abused her. It's another tour-de-force performance by Brooks, whom silent film historian Kevin Brownlow calls an actress of brilliance, a luminescent personality and a beauty unparalleled in screen history.


Special Features: Mastered in HD from archival 35mm elements, and digitally restored, Audio commentary by Thomas Gladysz, Director, Louise Brooks Society, Windy Riley Goes Hollywood (1930, 18 Min., featuring Louise Brooks)

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Louise Brooks Detective (NBM Publishing)
by Rick Geary

A fictional story centered on actress Louise Brooks, this graphic novel by Rick Geary is spun around her actual brief meteoric career as a smoldering film actress who popularized bangs. Geary fantasizes about her coming back to her home town of Wichita where she becomes intrigued by a murder involving a friend, a famous reclusive writer and a shady beau. Not before she gets herself in great danger will she emerge with the solution the police fail to grasp.

The author, Rick Geary, is related to Louise Brooks.

"A fun, twisty mystery for both film buffs and crime fiction lovers, and the final revelation is satisfying." — Publishers Weekly

"He knows his way around both history and crime stories. Geary is also possessed of a unique and charming art style, something I've dubbed 'faux woodcut,' which makes everything he draws look like it's lifted from some magical era of the past that never really existed, but should have." — Andrew A. Smith, Tribune News Service
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Louise Brooks, Frank Zappa, & Other Charmers & Dreamers (The Devault-Graves Agency)
by Tom Graves
 
Award-winning author and journalist Tom Graves in "Louise Brooks, Frank Zappa, & Other Charmers & Dreamers" collects the best of his long-form journalism and profiles as well as his in-depth interviews with a variety of curious personalities. The lead piece is "My Afternoon with Louise Brooks" about Graves's encounter in 1982 with the reclusive silent film legend Louise Brooks. He was the last journalist ever to sit bedside with Miss Brooks, who allowed very few people into her life. Also included are Graves's 1979 sit down with the king of Southern grit lit, Harry Crews, his discovery of the first Elvis impersonator, his search with the help of Quentin Tarantino to find actress Linda Haynes, who had vanished from Hollywood. Included are also Graves's in-depth question and answer interviews with: Frank Zappa, Mick Taylor of the Rolling Stones, Lee Mavers of the cult band the La's, and Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere and the Raiders. Some of Graves's best essays are also part of this anthology: his piece on the Sex Pistols in Memphis, an apology for biographer Albert Goldman, a revisit of Woodstock, and more.
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by William Wellman  Jr 
The extraordinary life—the first—of the legendary, under celebrated Hollywood director known in his day as “Wild Bill” (and he was!) Wellman, whose eighty-two movies (six of them uncredited), many of them iconic; many of them sharp, cold, brutal; others poetic, moving; all of them a lesson in close-up art, ranged from adventure and gangster pictures to comedies, aviation, romances, westerns, and searing social dramas.

Among his iconic pictures: the pioneering World War I epic Wings (winner of the first Academy Award for best picture), Public Enemy (the toughest gangster picture of them all), Nothing Sacred, the original A Star Is Born, Beggars of Life (with Louise Brooks), The Call of the Wild, The Ox-Bow Incident, Battleground, The High and the Mighty...
Wellman directed Hollywood’s biggest stars for three decades, including Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, and Clint Eastwood. It was said he directed “like a general trying to break out of a beachhead.” He made pictures with such noted producers as Darryl F. Zanuck, Nunnally Johnson, Jesse Lasky, and David O. Selznick.

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Ziegfeld and His Follies: A Biography of Broadway's Greatest Producer (University Press of Kentucky)
by Cynthia Brideson and Sara Brideson


The name Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. (1867–1932) is synonymous with the revues that the legendary impresario produced at the turn of the twentieth century. These extravagant performances were filled with catchy tunes, high-kicking chorus girls, striking costumes, and talented stars such as Eddie Cantor, Fanny Brice, Marilyn Miller, W. C. Fields, Will Rogers. and Louise Brooks. After the success of his Follies, Ziegfeld revolutionized theater performance with the musical Show Boat (1927) and continued making Broadway hits―including Sally (1920), Rio Rita (1927), and The Three Musketeers (1928)―several of which were adapted for the silver screen.

In this definitive biography, authors Cynthia Brideson and Sara Brideson offer a comprehensive look at both the life and legacy of the famous producer. Drawing on a wide range of sources―including Ziegfield's previously unpublished letters to his second wife, Billie Burke (who later played Glinda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz), and to his daughter Patricia―the Bridesons shed new light on this enigmatic man. They provide a lively and well-rounded account of Ziegfeld as a father, a husband, a son, a friend, a lover, and an alternately ruthless and benevolent employer. Lavishly illustrated with over seventy-five images, this meticulously researched book presents an intimate and in-depth portrait of a figure who profoundly changed American entertainment.

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The Roaring Road: Book 1 The Road West (Road Trip Dog Publishing)
by Johann M.C. Laesecke

(Jazz Age inspired fiction) 1924 – Prohibition has been the law since 1920 but that did not stop people from wanting alcoholic beverages nor did it stop the organizations that supplied them. Lack of good alcoholic beverages causes many speakeasies and gangs to manufacture low quality substitutes made from dangerous ingredients. Violence is on the rise as the gangs protect their turf and their products. Dan and Laure grew up in small villages in the far north and south areas of Chicago. They meet in unusual circumstances and Dan loves her at first sight. Laure has the same feelings for him but a past relationship causes her to be cautious and Dan is forced to undertake an impossible mission. Thus begins the adventure of The Roaring Road. Take a prototype Duesenberg and a Road Trip Dog - add mayhem, a mob chief, a group of highwaymen and a gang of bank robbers, a pair of kidnappers and assorted other villains, throw in visits to speakeasies plus the lure of Hollywood in the form of a prank devised by the infamous actress Louise Brooks that turns out to be wildly successful, and Laure is offered a role in the 1926 movie 'The Great Gatsby'. Automobiles, trains, aeroplanes, flapper glamour, adventure, mayhem and lust on the roads and rails and in the speakeasies and blind pigs of Prohibition. What could possibly go wrong?

The Roaring Road: Book 2 The Road East (Road Trip Dog Publishing)
by Johann M.C. Laesecke

(Jazz Age inspired fiction) 1926 - Laure and Dan are being drawn into Hollywood even as their challenge of moving their contraband inventory becomes critical. Laure is a dancer on the 1926 production of The Great Gatsby movie, while Dan has an offer to become a movie producer. There are others who want Laure, and not for her dancing. Trouble looms as kidnappers are sent to grab Laure and send her to Chicago where her life expectancy will be very short. The railcar full of wine and booze is hijacked and their friend Scott is taken as a hostage and is forced to become a morphine addict. Dan's crew captures the train and Scott back and they send him to the rehab clinic Scott and Dan helped fund. Trouble continues to come at Dan and Laure but they gather a small group of people with unusual talents to help. The Chicago gangs become more involved and more mayhem leads to a confrontation in Cherryvale, Kansas which happens to be the hometown of Louise Brooks. Come with us on our adventure tale of captures, rescues, recapture, speakeasies, mayhem and lust on the roaring roads and rails of the Prohibition era. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays, including Thanksgiving

There is a swell new book out from Schiffer, Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays: 1920-1970, by Karie Bible and Mary Mallory. Fans of silent film, of early Hollywood, and the studio era will all want to get a copy. At nearly 200 pages, this pictorial is chock-full of images you'll delight in looking at again and again. That's not a cliche, it's just the plain and simple truth.

The book description: "Marvelously illustrated with more than 200 rare images from the silent era through the 1970s, this joyous treasure trove features film and television’s most famous actors and actresses celebrating the holidays, big and small, in lavishly produced photographs. Join the stars for festive fun in celebrating a variety of holidays, from New Year’s to Saint Patrick’s Day to Christmas and everything in between. Legends such as Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Crawford, Judy Garland, and Audrey Hepburn spread holiday cheer throughout the calendar year in iconic, ironic, and illustrious style. These images, taken by legendary stills photographers, hearken back to the Golden Age of Hollywood, when motion picture studios devised elaborate publicity campaigns to promote their stars and to keep their names and faces in front of the movie-going public all year round."

Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays: 1920-1970 includes Louise Brooks in a Christmas themed pic. The book also includes many of Brooks' contemporaries and co-stars on various pages, including these Thanksgiving themed pics. The LBS recommends this new book.


About the Authors: Film historian and photo archivist Mary Mallory is the author of Hollywoodland and the eBook Hollywoodland: Tales Lost and Found. She writes on Los Angeles and film history for the blog The Daily Mirror and serves on the board of Hollywood Heritage. Karie Bible is the official tour guide at Hollywood Forever Cemetery and co-author of Location Filming in Los Angeles. She has lectured at numerous venues, including the RMS Queen Mary and the Homestead Museum, and has appeared on Turner Classic Movies.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Louise Brooks and John Held, Jr.: A Dual Discovery

Louise Brooks and John Held, Jr.: A Dual Discovery
By Michael Smith

Back in 1995 during my junior year of high school I was sitting in History class learning about the 1920's.  In the chapter of our textbook dedicated to the Prohibition Era there was an illustration that really caught my fancy, and I was fascinated by the style of the men and women in the drawing.  The caption said the name of the artist but unfortunately I didn't write it down and it escaped my memory for the next few years.

Fast forward to 1999: I am taking an illustration class in college and the professor tells us to choose any illustrator we want, past or present, and make an illustration in his or her style.  I immediately knew who I would pick: the artist who created that drawing in my junior year high school History class textbook, but the problem was I didn't remember his name;  however, I knew the internet could help me.

After several computer-lab hours of searching terms like "1920's illustrators", "1920's cartoonists", and "1920's artists" on pre-Google era search engines that would be considered primitive today, I finally rediscovered the name of the artist I had originally discovered four years earlier: John Held, Jr.

But that wasn't the only thing I came across.

During my search through countless websites dedicated to 1920's culture, I saw a photo of an absolutely gorgeous girl with a perfectly trimmed jet black bob.  Her name was Louise Brooks and after doing a separate search for information on her, I learned she was a dancer and silent-film actress in the 20's and early 30's.  I was immediately smitten.  Wanting to see more pictures, I visited the Louise Brooks Society website for the very first time.  As I was browsing the photos, my professor walked behind me, stopped dead in his tracks, and exclaimed, "Wow, Michael, she is *beautiful*!!!" with much emphasis on the word beautiful.  I had been gazing wide-eyed at a portrait of Louise and due to my instructor's reaction I could tell she was something special, still making men stare all these years later.

About a month went by and I took a trip to New York City with the student newspaper staff at my college. Someone said they were going to go check out an old book store named Gotham Book Mart so I decided to tag along.  We arrived at the store, and since my fellow staff member said this place had been there for decades and decades, I asked the girl at the counter if they had anything by John Held, Jr. (since I also knew he worked in the city during his prime.) She didn't know the name and wasn't sure (I don't think they even had a computer to search their inventory) but she asked me what subject it would be and I told her he was an artist that did cartooning and illustration. So she pointed me towards a shelf that had comic strip related books on it and that was that.

I walked over to the shelf, and two seconds later a young man (probably a manager) walks out from the back room and asks me, "Did you just ask if we had anything by John Held, Jr.?" and I said, "Yeah..." He replies, "Did you know he designed our sign back in the 20's?" My eyes got huge and I don't even remember what I said, if anything, but I do remember immediately running out the door, looking up, and gazing at an original piece of art by one of my favorite artists from one of my favorite eras that had been hanging over a New York City sidewalk for seventy-plus years.  (See the attached photo of the sign, I found the photo on the internet.  I don't know who owns the copyright to this photo but I wanted to include it with my essay to show what the sign looks like.)
 

What are the odds??? Overall a pretty wild experience.

Part 2: What Louise Means To Me

If it wasn't for John Held, Jr., I don't know when I would have discovered Louise.  I know I would have stumbled upon her eventually due to my strong interest in the 20's because she is an icon of the era and any website or book about the Jazz Age wouldn't be complete without mentioning her, and it wouldn't be worth looking at without showing her picture.

Louise is my muse and in 2014 she inspired me to start a community page on Facebook called Louise Brooks Fan Club.  This page has over 6,000 Likes and gets more and more just about every day.  Since I also post photos of other beautiful actresses, showgirls, models, artwork, music, and fashion from the Roaring 20's, Louise Brooks to me is the personification of that decade.  Not only is she "the quintessential flapper" she is also the physical embodiment of the entire era.  Louise is the main focus of my page, tying all my seemingly-random posts together, making them all on-topic and appropriate.  But most importantly she helped me create a creative outlet for myself where I can share photos I like, music reviews I've written, clever captions I come up with, my sense of humor, and my random thoughts on art and beauty with thousands of people, something I've wanted ever since I first heard the word "blog".  And for that I will be forever grateful to our beloved Brooksie.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Lulu gets around: Louise Brooks in the Dutch East Indies

This rare clipping depicts Louise Brooks arrival in Berlin to begin work on Pandora's Box. What is amazing about this clip is that it comes from Bataviaasch Nieuwsblad, one of the leading and largest daily newspapers in the Dutch East Indies. It was based in Batavia (now Jakarta) on Java, but read throughout the archipelago. Lulu sure did get around.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Louise Brooks in Norway, part 2

This post originally appeared on Facebook. The clippings were found by Tor Lier, and he also authored the commentary and provided the translations. It is a great haul of previously undocumented material.

«LOUISE BROOKS IN NORWAY»

An article in A-Magasinet, the weekly magazine format supplement of Aftenposten.
«Louise Brooks opdager Europa» (Louise Brooks discovers Europe).


Signed anonymously «Correspondent», this appears to be a translation of a syndicated article from another country. From the wording, I’d guess that it’s of German origin. . It would be too much of a task translating the whole thing, but here are some interesting passages: "She was at the top, and great things were expected of her, when the talkies fever broke out in America and made the situation uncertain for the movie stars. Louise Brooks, too, experienced difficulties. Her contract with Paramount had expired, and there were conditions attached to its renewal that the new star did not appreciate.


That’s when Louise Brooks discovered Europe."

 (… A diatribe against American movie people’s dismissal of European films follows…)
"However, Louise Brooks, or her manager — or both of them together — had seen a German film and were amazed at what those poor Europeans were able to achieve.
Negotiations with German companies followed, and one day the lovely Louise found herself in Berlin."

(… The following paragraphs deal with German skepticism of having an American play Lulu, as we’ve heard from Louise herself and other sources.
"It cannot be denied that we had pictured a different kind of Lulu, perhaps a Greta Garbo, or why not Brigitte Helm?"

(…)
"The general audiences were ecstatic. This was just how they wanted Lulu, childishly innocent in all her sin, as if apologetic for all the evil she did.
However, the critics were cool. Many of them felt that the performance of the American star was very slight.
And the following day, the papers were furious: What was all this farce about the hunt for the perfect Lulu, when all the while the contract with the American star lay safely in the film company director’s safe? And criticism of poor Louise was as harsh as it can be in Berlin when you’ve accidentally upset the critics.
But in spite of all this, the film is playing to packed houses."
--
What I find odd here is the bit about Louise and he agent starting negotiations after taking an interest in German films. Unless I misremember, all reports tell of Pabst discovering Louise in A Girl In Every Port, and his offer coming to her out of the blue. Was this concocted by the article writer, or an after-the-fact embellishment from Louise’s agent?




Page two of the article:



 
And the photos from page 1 in larger size:





























Thanks to Tor Lier for permission to reprint this material.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Louise Brooks in Norway, part 1

This post originally appeared on Facebook. The clippings were found by Tor Lier, and he also authored the commentary and provided the translations. It is a great haul of previously undocumented material.

«LOUISE BROOKS IN NORWAY»

In chronological order, some clippings from the archives of Aftenposten, the leading daily newspaper in Norway.

Aug. 30, 1926: Oslo premiere of Shingle-Eksperten (The Shingle Expert) (A Social Celebrity). Evidently considered a big enough picture to warrant two theaters.

The text reads: "ADOLPHE MENJOU has long since conquered both women’s and men’s hearts. In SHINGLE-EKSPERTEN he undoubtedly has one of his best parts, and he’s supported with surety and elegance by the lovely LOUISE BROOKS whose beauty has justifiably caught the attention of the whole world."
«Shingle» refers to the bobbed hair at which Menjou’s character is evidently an expert.

Jan. 19, 1927: Ad for Oslo showings of Før og efter bryllupet (Before and After the Wedding) (The Show-Off). Text reads: "In this jolly comedy, the triumvirate of everyone’s Lois Wilson; the lovely and charming Louise Brooks; and the famous comedian Ford Sterling, are leading the fun. Which guarantees a great time for the audience. This is a film you should see!!!"


May 18, 1927: Shingle-Eksperten (The Show-Off) in re-release.

Elsk Mig (Love Me) with Leatrice Joy and Edmund Burns could be either Hell’s Highroad (1925) or Made for Love (1926), I’m guessing it’s the latter.

Siste Chance (Last Chance) (Seven Chances)

Evig Din i 14 Dage with Clara Bow and Lawrence Gray has to be Kid Boots. Poor Eddie Cantor, the star of the film, isn’t mentioned!




Oct. 10. 1929: For once, the title «En pike i hver havn» is a literal translation of the original, A Girl in Every Port. Underneath, coincidentally, is an ad for a film featuring Sig Arno of Pandora’s Box. The original title of this film is Das Mädel mit der Peitsche (The Girl with the Whip)!

In an ad from five days later, Oct. 19, Louise is now first-billed over McLaglen!



Could not find a trace of the Pabst films in the ’29 or ’30 archives. Both Pandora and Diary may have fallen afoul of Norwegian censorship, which was quite strict, or there may have been other problems. However, the premiere of Prix de beauté (Skjønhetskonkurransen, literally «The Beauty Contest») (April 28, 1930) shows that the actress was not quite forgotten: «The Louise Brooks film of the year, made in Paris!»  Peculiarly, the ad credits cinematographer Rudolph Maté with being the director of the film!

Thanks to Tor Lier for permission to reprint this material.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Louise Brooks / silent film themed RadioLulu receives praise from NYC

Recently, the Louise Brooks Society received an email from a fan in New York City. Nick, who is employed at the Vito Russo Library at the Gay Center in NYC, wrote to offer congratulations on the 20th anniversary of the Louise Brooks Society. He also wanted it to be known that RadioLulu is played at the library every Saturday, and that "Everybody loves it."

Wow.

The library is named for Vito Russo (1946 – 1990), an American LGBT activist, film historian and author who is best remembered as the author of the book The Celluloid Closet, which was first published in 1981. Louise Brooks appears on the cover of the softcover edition from 1987. An excellent documentary film was also made from the book. If you haven't seen it, track it down and given it a viewing.

According to the Gay Center website, "Founded in 1991 to encourage and facilitate the reading and research of LGBT literature, the Pat Parker/Vito Russo Center Library is named in honor of individuals who championed LGBT causes in their professional and personal lives. The Center Library is a lending library connected with others around the city, sponsor of a monthly reading group, and producer and/or collaborator for literary events of interest to the LGBT community."

RadioLulu is a Louise Brooks-inspired, silent film-themed station streaming music of the 1920s, 1930s, and today. Located on the web at www.live365.com/stations/radiolulu — RadioLulu features music from the films of the silent and early sound era, as well as recordings by early stars, show tunes, a little sweet jazz, cabaret artists, contemporary tracks and more. In addition, there are theme songs, novelty numbers, torch singers and crooners — as well as a numerous tracks with “Lulu” or “LouLou” in the title. And of course, there’s Maurice Chevalier’s much-loved “Louise”. All together, RadioLulu features more than 430 tracks totaling almost 23 hours!

More about the station can be found on the LBS website at www.pandorasbox.com/louise_brooks_society/radiolulu

Thursday, November 19, 2015

New book with Louise Brooks cover

A new French novel features Louise Brooks on the cover. The book, released 17 Septembre 2015, is Archives of wind by Pierre Cendors. I would love to hear from anyone who has read the book to know if Louise Brooks features in the book in any way. Below is the book's publisher web page translated into English.


Archives of wind

Pierre Cendors

An engineering director - Egon Storm - withdraws from the world before the broadcast of a trilogy that revolutionizes the history of cinema. Since his solitude he mentions in a final message the existence of a mysterious man: Erland Solness.

Based on this simple plot, Pierre Cendors book with us wind Archive text with strange powers, hypnotic. A metaphysical thriller? An ecological road movie? Fitting dizzying levels of reality, pushing ever more power of fiction, the author was never gone so far in his work.

"My story is not a novel. It is not more of a will than a confession. It is a talismanic formula to leave the world without leaving a white shamanic speech, something like a playground out in the great cosmic game is played where our existence. "

The Author

Pierre Cendors is a French language writer born in 1968. Archives of wind is his fifth novel.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Discovering Louise, by Marlu Akers Stroud

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Louise Brooks Society (which went online in 1995), fans of the actress were asked to submit their story of discovery -- of how they first came across Louise Brooks. This is the third in a series of posts.
This piece, "Discovering Louise," is by Marlu Akers Stroud, a relation of the actress. Stroud wrote, "My grandmother (Louise's aunt) moved to California as a young married lady so that is where my mom was born and raised and subsequently myself. My mom and her sisters remember traveling as children to visit Myra's home but by that time Louise was gone and on her way. They never met Louise but were close to her sister June."

---

Louise Brooks (right), with her sister June
I was born in 1951. The name “Louise Brooks” was not a household name. I don’t remember ever being aware of her name until I was a young adult, maybe after her death. I’m not sure. This may seem surprising since Louise was a member of our family, a first cousin to my mother, but it is true. I did not know of her.

In 1989, Christmas, my mother gave me a copy of the biography by Barry Paris about Louise and told me that this book was about her cousin and she (Louise) had been a movie star in the silent films. That same year my sister-in-law did a genealogy chart. It did not include cousins but Louise was mentioned in a summary.  At that time I thought the whole thing was kind of interesting but I was not all that curious about her. I did not read the book until years later.

Looking back a few years; my grandmother, aunt to Louise and sister to Myra, Louise’s mother, lived with our family for a few years. Apparently she kept in contact with Louise by letter but if she told me about it I do not remember. Grandma used to burn the letters after reading them because the content “was not for our eyes”. Funny. To be honest, the only reason I read Mr. Paris’s biography is because my grandmother was mentioned in it. My grandmother died in 1976, nine years before Louise.

In the years since their deaths my mother and my sister-in-law would occasionally mention the LB websites and fan clubs but I was busy with my life and did not think much about it.

Fast forward to 2012. My first grandchild had been born and I became interested in the family tree, family history and the like. I was determined to create records to leave to my grandchildren. Thus my acquaintance with Louise Brooks.

In the beginning of my research I discovered that her name was actually Mary Louise. Mary is the name of her grandmother, my great grandmother. Mary is my mother’s name as well.

I then read the biography as well as other books, articles and various internet sources. I read about her mother. I printed every photo I could find. I spent hours and hours getting to know this infamous cousin. I watched Pandora’s Box as well as shorter video clips from other films and interviews. When I view photos of her smiling she reminds me of my grandmother as a young woman.  Also the picture of her as an older woman with such bad arthritis; this too was my grandmother, her aunt.

Eventually I made my way to the box containing my grandmother’s photographs. There were no pictures of Louise as an adult but there were a few of her as a child and a few of her immediate family.

In the beginning of this project I admit to being a little “star struck”. I thought it was pretty special to be related to a film star. She was beautiful, talented, intelligent and outspoken. But as of this day and this writing I feel sad about her life. I think she was a wonderful talent but I think she was very hurt by her childhood and by her mother and by the industry. She made some personal mistakes and she was victimized by some. She had a lot of bitterness. The end of her years were lonely and she was known to be pretty harsh with people, just as her mother had been.

When I think of Mary Louise Brooks I prefer to think of the little girl before the stardom. She was our cousin.  She was a sweet little person headed into a big, big world. Too early, too soon, and too young.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Last call: Seeking your Louise Brooks story of discover


To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the Louise Brooks Society is soliciting short essays from the actresses' many fans asking them to describe how and when they first came across Louise Brooks, and what the actress means to them. The length of the piece is up to the writer, with the only requirement being that it be detailed and individualized. Pieces that range from short anecdotes to full fledged compositions are welcome.

Selected submissions will be run here on the Louise Brooks Society blog, and the best piece (in the eyes of the LBS) will be awarded some Louise Brooks swag - like the just released KINO Diary of a Lost Girl Blu-ray bundled together with a signed copy of the Louise Brooks edition of The Diary of a Lost Girl (PandorasBox Press). The deadline for submissions is December 1, 2015 with the prize awarded later that month (before Christmas). Send submissions to LouiseBrooksSociety@gmail.com

AND STAY TUNED FOR TOMORROW'S VERY SPECIAL PIECE ! 


Monday, November 16, 2015

Met Brings New Production of Lulu to Theatres on November 21

A live performance of The Met's new production of William Kentridge's staging of Alban Berg's opera, Lulu, will be shown in theaters across the United States and Canada on Saturday November 21st at 12:30pm ET. Lulu is screening as part of "The Met: Live in HD," which reaches more than 2,000 movie theatres in 70 countries around the world. For more information on local times and participating theatres, visit metopera.org (for the United States) or cineplex.com (for Canada).


Acclaimed artist and director William Kentridge applies his unique theatrical vision to Alban Berg's Lulu, one of the most important, not to mention notorious, stage works of the 20th century. Based on Frank Wedekind's stage plays, Berg's notorious femme fatale shatters lives, including her own. Soprano Marlis Petersen has excited audiences around the world with her portrayal of the tour-de-force title role, a wild journey of love, obsession, and death. Susan Graham joins a winning cast, including Daniel Brenna and Johan Reuter.

There is a bit of Louise Brooks found in this production. For more information on local times and participating theatres, visit metopera.org (for the United States) or cineplex.com (for Canada).

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Play about Louise Brooks in Denver

Louise Brooks is a character in a new play which will be given a public reading in Denver, Colorado on Monday, November 16th. The reading, at the Café Max (2412 E. Colfax Ave.), is part of the And Toto Too Theatre Company Reading Series.

Lost Creatures, by Melissa McCarl, centers on the meeting of Brooks and the British drama critic Ken Tynan. The play "follows the evening in May of 1978 when British theatre critic Kenneth Tynan met his long time cinematic idol Louise Brooks. He travels to her dingy little apartment in Rochester, NY where she has sequestered herself for many years. He is there ostensibly to write a profile on Brooks for the New Yorker, but he discovers that they are kindred spirits, and in spite of an age gap of twenty years, theirs becomes an unlikely love story discovered through a marathon dialogue about sex, philosophy, art, and criticism.  There is also a silent third character, Lulu, (based on Louise’s role in her most famous silent film Pandora’s Box) who drives the action of the play."

Lost Creatures stars Billie McBride, Mark Collins, and Erica Sarzin-Borillo, and is directed by Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski.

The event is free, though patrons are asked to purchase something at the restaurant  has donated his space to this performance. More information at www.andtototoo.org/the-reading-series/ and on Facebook.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Happy birthday Louise Brooks

Happy birthday to Louise Brooks, who was born on this day in 1906 in Cherryvale, Kansas.


Happy birthday to Louise Brooks, whose one and only French film, Prix de beaute, is among her best. Louise Brooks celebration in San Francisco: more info at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thomas-gladysz/louise-brooks-celebration_b_8549624.html

Friday, November 13, 2015

Louise Brooks Society event in San Francisco on November 14

A special event celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Louise Brooks Society and the release of the new KINO DVD and Blu-ray of The Diary of a Lost Girl will take place in San Francisco at 2:00 pm on Saturday, November 14th. (Which also happens to be Louise Brooks birthday.) The event will take place at Video Wave, a video rental business of special significance to the history of the LBS.


Video Wave is now located at 4027 24th Street in the Noe Valley neighborhood of San Francisco. Recently, the San Francisco Chronicle featured the business. Read the article HERE.

Mark your calendars. This a meet and greet event. There will be NO screening, as reported in an article in the Noe Valley Voice. Thomas Gladysz, Founding Director of the LBS will be present signing copies of the new Diary of a Lost Girl DVD / Blu-ray (which features Gladysz's audio commentary) along with copies of his earlier book, the "Louise Brooks edition" of The Diary of a Lost Girl. Each will be for sale.

Here is a listing for the event which ran in the UK on the Brenton Film website: http://www.brentonfilm.com/event/louise-brooks-society-20th-anniversary-celebration


Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Trip Through the Paramount Studio (1927), with Louise Brooks?

Only recently have I come across a reference to A Trip Through the Paramount Studio (1927), a short promotional film produced by the Paramount Studio. The 9 minute short reportedly includes Louise Brooks, along with a number of other well know stars of the time. The existence of the film is referenced on both IMDb and Silentera.com

Unfortunately, I am having trouble tracking down any information on this previously unknown (to me) film. I could not find any information about it searching through the trade journals of the time. Nor does there seem to be a copyright record for it.

A Trip Through the Paramount Studio was reportedly released in August 1927. Among those reportedly seen in the film (according to both of the above mentioned websites) are Richard Arlen, Mary Astor, Clarence G. Badger, George Bancroft, Wallace Beery, Sally Blane, Clara Bow, Evelyn Brent, Mary Brian, Betty Bronson, Clive Brook, Louise Brooks, Chester Conklin, Gary Cooper, Dolores Costello, Shirley Dorman, Fanchon, W.C. Fields, Victor Fleming, Raymond Hatton, Lloyd Hughes, Emil Jannings, Doris Kenyon, Fred Kohler, Blanche Le Clair, Mervyn LeRoy, Harold Lloyd, Dorothy Mackaill, Arlette Marchal, Marco, Frank Morgan, Gene Morgan, Pola Negri, Zasu Pitts, William Powell, Esther Ralston, Charles ‘Buddy’ Rogers, Milton Sills, Thelma Todd, Josef von Sternberg, Erich von Stroheim, and Fay Wray.

The source of the this impressive line-up of stars in unknown. According to Wikipedia, "Paramount later released A Trip Through the Paramount Studio (1927) in response to MGM's MGM Studio Tour (1925)." The only other reference to the film which I have been able to find is that it was shown in 2009 at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum in Fremont, California -- along with a few other short films of the time.

Does anyone know anything about this film? Has anyone scene it? I wrote to the Library of Congress asking after the film, as they are listed on SilentEra.com as having a copy of the film. I received the following affirmative response (along with an invitation to make an appointment to view the film in Washington D.C.).

"We have a 35mm print of the Paramount short in our collection:

A TRIP THROUGH THE PARAMOUNT STUDIO (1927, 9 minutes)

FEA 6141; FPB 1240

MAVIS: 1913678

AFI/Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History

Summary: Promotion reel shown solely to exhibitors during the West Coast Greater Movie Season. Featuring: Clara Bow (“That Million Dollar Girl” promotes Hula) W.C. Fields, Fay Wray, Esther Ralston, Richard Arlen, George Bancroft, Betty Bronson, Chester Conklin, Mary Brian, Clarence Badger, Fred Kohler, Arlette Marchal, Fanchon & Marco, The Rube Wolf Band, Sally Blane, Blanche Leclaire, Shirley Dorman."

Alas, no mention of Louise Brooks - but that doesn't necessarily mean she is not glimpsed in the film. The search goes on.
Louise Brooks (left) with other Paramount stars of the time. This is not a still from the film, or is it?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Louise Brooks celebration on November 14th

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival has long been a supporter of the Louise Brooks Society. Way back in 1997, their newsletter, Intertitle, ran a brief mention of the LBS in their very first issue! And today, some 18 years later, the SFSFF email newsletter mentioned the LBS again.
LOUISE BROOKS DAY!

Celebrate Louise Brooks's birthday (and the 20th anniversary of the Louise Brooks Society) on Saturday, November 14 at Video Wave on 24th Street. Thomas Gladysz will sign copies of the just-released Kino Lorber DVD/Blu-ray of The Diary of a Lost Girl with his commentary. Gladysz came to Kino Lorber's attention after he edited the 2010 "Louise Brooks edition" of Margarete Bohme's 1905 bestseller -- the basis for Pabst's 1929 film. The party starts at 2:00 pm. There will be treats!
Thank you San Francisco Silent Film Festival. I am looking forward to their upcoming Winter event, as should you. It is a full day of silent film on December 5th at the Castro Theater in San Francisco. Don't miss it. There will be great films and special guests a plenty.


The Louise Brooks Society is celebrating its 20th anniversary: here is a link to a piece about the event in the local Noe Valley Voice newspaper. Please note: there will NOT be a screening, just a meet and greet with candy treats, and a booksigning, a DVD release party, and who knows what else? Like pinback button giveaways (while supplies last).

Here are the links to the event on Brenton Films (out of the UK), and on Facebook and Eventbrite.


Monday, November 9, 2015

The sexual underground in Berlin and Paris in the 1920s and 1930s

In a filmed interview with Richard Leacock in the 1970s, Louise Brooks spoke of the rather wild nightlife she witnessed in Berlin while she was there filming Pandora's Box in late 1928. Brooks' experience in Berlin - she was there twice, once while filming Pandora's Box and a few months later while filming Diary of a Lost Girl, are detailed as well in Barry Paris' outstanding biography of the actress -- so is her experience in Paris while filming Prix de beaute (1930).

Two books, one a new release, focus on the wild nightlife and sexual underground of Berlin and Paris in the 1920s and 1930s. I have both books, as well as a couple of others by the author, Mel Gordon. (Especially fascinating is his The Seven Addictions and Five Professions of Anita Berber.) Each are recommended for those interested.

Voluptuous Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin, by Mel Gordon

From the publisher: When Voluptuous Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin first appeared in the fall of 2000, it inspired wide acclaim and multiple printings.

This sourcebook of hundreds of rare visual delights from the pre-Nazi, Cabaret-period “Babylon on the Spree” has the distinction of being praised both by scholars and avatars of contemporary culture, inspiring performers, filmmakers, historians straight and gay, designers, and musicians like the Dresden Dolls and Marilyn Manson.

Voluptuous Panic’s expanded edition includes the new illustrated chapter “Sex Magic and the Occult,” documenting German pagan cults and their bizarre erotic rituals, including instructions for entering into the “Sexual Fourth Dimension.” The deluxe hardcover edition also includes sensational accounts of hypno-erotic cabaret acts, Berlin fetish prostitution (“The Boot Girl Visit”), gay life (“A Wild-Boy Initiation!”), descriptions and illustrations of Aleister Crowley’s Berlin OTO secret society, and sex crime (“The Curious Career and Untimely Death of Fritz Ulbrich”).

Horizontal Collaboration: The Erotic World of Paris, 1920-1946, by Mel Gordon

From the publisher: Mel Gordon presents a companion volume to his highly praised pictorial history Voluptuous Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin.

Mel Gordon, author of Voluptuous Panic, the celebrated history about the sex culture of Weimar Berlin, returns with a stunningly illustrated look at Paris, The City of Pleasure, prior to and during German occupation during World War II.

Horizontal Collaboration encompasses the Jazz Age, Depression, World War and Occupation, and Liberation. It concludes with the shuttering of the licensed brothels in 1946, which some Parisian intellectuals thought was the final “destruction of French civilization”.

The term “Horizontal Collaboration” refers to the sexual liaisons between French civilians and German occupiers from 1940 to 1944. These were extremely widespread and included both individual wartime relationships in addition to prostitution. As Allied armies swept across the French countryside, thousands of young women—and some men—were savagely punished by the authorities or by vigilante crowds, becoming a source of deep national shame.

Author Gordon redefines the pejorative term to mean something much broader: French men and women “horizontally collaborated” to overcome all social obstacles, divisions, and regulations. These obstacles include married and unmarried couples, straights and homosexuals, foreigners and locals, gun-toting soldiers and their vanquished subjects. The natural yearning for sexual pleasure equally corrupted all co-habitating partners.

Here is a NSFW promotional video for the recently released Horizontal Collaboration: The Erotic World of Paris, 1920-1946.


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The Seven Addictions and Five Professions of Anita Berber: Weimar Berlin's Priestess of Depravity, by Mel Gordon

From the publisher: The Seven Addictions and Five Professions of Anita Berber is the first contemporary biography of the notorious actor/dancer/poet/playwright who scandalized sex-obsessed Weimar Berlin during the 1920s.

In an era where everything was permitted, Anita Berber’s celebrations of “Depravity, Horror and Ecstasy” were condemned and censored. She often haunted Weimar Berlin’s hotel lobbies, nightclubs, and casinos, radiantly naked except for an elegant sable wrap, a pet monkey hanging from her neck, and a silver brooch packed with cocaine.

Multi-talented Anita saw no boundaries between her personal life and her taboo-shattering performances. As such, she was Europe’s first postmodern woman. After sated Berliners finally tired of Anita Berber’s libidinous antics, she became a “carrion soul that even the hyenas ignored,” dying in 1928 at the age of twenty-nine.

• Includes nearly two hundred photographs and illustrations, including some that recreate Berber’s salacious and enduring “Repertoire of the Damned.”
• Berber was a lover of Marlene Dietrich and influenced and associated with Leni Riefenstahl, Lawrence Durrell, Klaus Mann, and the founder of modern sexology, Magnus Hirschfeld.
• An early movie star, Berber acted in Fritz Lang’s Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler and the silent epic Lucifer. [ Berber also starred in Dida Ibsens Geschichte, the 1918 sequel to the the originial filmed adaption of Diary of a Lost Girl. ]


Mel Gordon is Professor of Theater Arts at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of twelve books, including The Grand Guignol, Dada Performance, The Stanislavsky Technique, and the Feral House title Erik Jan Hanussen: Hitler's Jewish Clairvoyant.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Pandora's Box starring Louise Brooks screens in Brooklyn

Pandora's Box, the G.W. Pabst directed film starring Louise Brooks, will be shown at the Brooklyn Public Library on Sunday, November 8.

The screening is free, and is part of a series of silent film screenings at the library curated and hosted by Ken Gordon. More information may be found HERE.

This special screening of the 1929 film coincides with the William Kentridge staging of the 1937 Alban Berg opera, Lulu, at the Metropolitan Opera in Manhattan on various dates during the month of November.

The film and the opera are both based on Frank Wedekind's plays Erdgeist (Earth Spirit, 1895) and Die Büchse der Pandora (Pandora's Box, 1904).

The screening, with live piano accompaniment by Bernie Anderson, will take place at the Central Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, at 10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11238, which is at the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Eastern Parkway.

Although the branch does not open until 1:00 pm, a side-door, on Eastern Parkway, will open at 12:00 noon, to allow entry to the Dweck Center Auditorium, where introductions will begin at 12:30 pm, and the film soon after.

Louise Brooks' birthday takes place on November 14th. Why not attend this special event to celebrate?


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Lulu-mania sweeps NYC


reprinted from Huffington Post:

Lulumania is sweeping New York, And Lulu, it seems, is everywhere.

Frank Wedekind's legendary femme fatale, who's beguiling behavior inspired nearly as many artists as Helen of Troy's beauty launched ships, can be found all over New York City.

Alban Berg's modernist opera, Lulu, which was based on Wedekind's two "Lulu" plays, Erdgeist (Earth Spirit, 1895) and Die Büchse der Pandora (Pandora's Box, 1904), has just opened a month-long run at the Metropolitan Opera. This new production stars the soprano Marlis Petersen and is directed by the South African artist William Kentridge, who's dynamic art for the staging of the opera proves as seductive and active as Lulu herself. The Met's new production of Lulu runs through December 3. On November 21, Lulu will be live streamed to theaters across the United States.


Meanwhile, across town, the Marion Goodman Gallery is showing "William Kentridge: Drawings for Lulu." This exhibit presents the original 67 Kentridge drawings used in the opera. Anyone who sees Lulu, who appreciates Kentridge's art, or who is inclined toward German Expressionism will want to see and study this must-not-miss show. (Bravo to the Marion Goodman Gallery website which so brilliantly displays this brilliant work.) "William Kentridge: Drawings for Lulu" is on display through December 19th.

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Kentridge's Lulu at Marion Goodman Gallery
PHOTO: Marion Goodman Gallery

Also on display at the Marion Goodman Gallery is a suite of four related linocut prints by Kentridge, as well as a new fine press edition of the Lulu plays which utilizes Kentridge's art. The book is from the San Francisco-based Arion Press, which has just released its edition of Wedekind's The Lulu Plays featuring the 67 Kentridge drawings (printed by four-color offset lithography) bound into the book.

 Kentridge's Lulu at Marion Goodman Gallery
PHOTO: Marion Goodman Gallery

The Arion Press edition of The Lulu Plays is a fine achievement. Four-hundred copies of this limited edition artist's book were printed by letterpress on luxurious creamy paper utilizing period type in fittingly black and red inks. The book, which is hand bound and comes in a slipcase, can be seen and no-doubt fondled at the Arion Press booth at the IFPDA Print Fair at the Park Avenue Armory through November 8.

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Louise Brooks as Lulu in the 1929 film Pandora's Box.
PHOTO: Louise Brooks Society

It is on November 8 that a free screening of the 1929 silent film, Pandora's Box, starring Louise Brooks -- the greatest Lulu of them all, will take place at Central Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. The sensational G.W. Pabst directed film was drawn from the Wedekind play, and in turn contributed to Berg's realization of his opera (composed from 1929-1935, premiered incomplete in 1937) just a few years later.

If you are looking for a little background on Kentridge's art and its use in the new production of Berg's opera, as well as the Arion Press edition of The Lulu Plays, check out this video of a recent onstage conversation between Kentridge and Arion publisher Andrew Hoyem which took place last month at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Those in upstate New York who can't make it to NYC can look forward to seeing some of this work in the future. The newly renamed George Eastman Museum in Rochester recently announced that Kentridge has given the definitive collection of his archive and art -- including films, videos and digital works, as well as his work for Lulu -- to the museum. Founded in the 1940s, the museum has one of the world's largest and oldest photography and film collections. And as fans of the actress well know, it was also the longtime home of Louise Brooks.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Diary of a Lost Girl screens in the UK

Diary of a Lost Girl, starring Louise Brooks, will be shown in Newnham, UK on Friday, November 6th at 7 pm -- with live musical accompaniment by Wurlitza. This should be fun. Check it out if you live in the area.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Lulu Forever


Although she died countless times on stage and on film, Lulu still lives. Frank Wedekind's immortal character -- the great femme fatale of the 20th century -- first appeared in his once controversial, now celebrated "Lulu" plays, Erdgeist (Earth Spirit, 1895) and Die Büchse der Pandora (Pandora's Box, 1904).

In the years that followed, Lulu was reborn in other art. Wedekind's plays were the basis for two great silent films in the 1920s, as well as Alban Berg's masterful opera of the 1930s. The plays and their stage performances, the films, and the opera all influenced one another. It is known, for example, that Berg saw G.W. Pabst's 1929 film Pandora's Box while composing his great modernist opera, as did his great champion and correspondent Theodor Adorno, who wrote that he was profoundly affected by Lulu.

There have been other later film adaptions, poems, paintings and drawings, comic books, and even erotica inspired by the character of Lulu, as well as a few rock and pop recordings like Rufus Wainwright's All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu (2010) and the Lou Reed / Metallica collaboration Lulu (2011).

Her origins remain obscure. Did Wedekind base the character on Lou Andreas-Salomé and his own frustrated relationship with the vivacious intellectual (who preferred the company of Nietzsche, Freud, and Rilke)? Or did Wedekind base Lulu on his mother, a one-time showgirl in Gold Rush San Francisco? She married Wedekind's father, an older and respectable professional, not unlike Dr. Schön in the plays.

Or, was Wedekind -- a rogue in his youth -- smitten with Lulu, a popular circus performer in Paris in the 1890s? We do know that Wedekind was inspired by the circus as well as Félicien Champsaur's 1888 circus pantomime, Lulu. In the prologue to Earth Spirit, the characters are introduced by an Animal Tamer as if they are creatures in a traveling circus. Lulu herself is described as "the true animal, the wild, beautiful animal" and the "primal form of woman."

Over the years, actresses from Eva Gabor to Judy Davis have played Lulu on stage and in film, while many others have sung the role in opera. Here is a shortlist of six great, memorable Lulus. Each has shaped the way we see the character today.

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Marlis Petersen as Lulu.
PHOTO: Kristian Schuller/Metropolitan Opera

Marlis Petersen: It would be something of an understatement to say there is great anticipation around the new production of Alban Berg's Lulu that opens at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The excitement building over this new Lulu stems not just from the fact that artist William Kentridge is behind the staging of this modernist masterpiece, but that Marlis Peterson will be singing the role of Lulu. The riveting German soprano (a blonde who sports a dark bob à la Louise Brooks) is appearing in her 10th and just announced final production of the opera. As an interpreter of Lulu, few have made the role so much their own. No wonder Peter Gelb, the Met's general manager, calls her "the leading Lulu of the day." Lulu opens at the Metropolitan Opera on November 5 and continues through December 3. On November 21, Lulu will be live streamed to theaters across the United States.

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Louise Brooks as Lulu in the 1929 film Pandora's Box.
PHOTO: Louise Brooks Society

Louise Brooks: The best known Lulu may well be Louise Brooks, the bobbed-hair, Kansas-born silent film star called to Germany to play Lulu in the G.W. Pabst directed film, Pandora's Box. Movie-goers at the time were dismayed. They asked, how could an American play what was an especially German character? Though she claimed not to know what it was all about, or even to have read Wedekind's text until years later, Brooks so convincingly inhabits the character of Lulu that any actress or singer playing the role is hard pressed to ignore her. In a recent piece, critic Graham Fuller suggests that Brooks the actress and not Pabst the director is the film's real auteur. It's not a new notion, but still a provocative one. A free screening of Pandora's Box will take place on November 8th at Central Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.

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Asta Nielsen in 1913, as Lulu in 1923, and turned from the camera in 1930.
PHOTO: Louise Brooks Society

Asta Nielsen: The first film Lulu was Asta Nielsen, the great Danish actress, who played Lulu in Earth Spirit (1923). One of the early international movie stars, she was noted for her large dark eyes, mask-like face, and androgynous figure. (Famously, she played Hamlet in 1921.) About her, the French poet Apollinaire once exclaimed, "She is everything! She is the drunkard's vision and the lonely man's dream." Be that as it may, Nielsen often and movingly portrayed strong-willed, passionate women trapped by tragic consequences. Due to the erotic nature of her performances, Nielsen's films were censored in the United States, and her work to this day remains obscure to American audiences.

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Tilly Newes and Frank Wedekind in Pandora's Box. Tilly Wedekind as Lulu in Earth Spirit. PHOTO: Louise Brooks Society

Tilly Newes: The second actress to play the role on stage was Tilly Newes. Pandora's Box was first staged in Nuremberg in 1904, but was banned by the German censor. Austrian writer Karl Kraus produced a private performance in Vienna the following year, and cast Newes, an Austrian actress, as Lulu. Newes and Wedekind, who played Jack the Ripper, had an affair, and after the playwright insulted her, the actress threw herself into a river. Wedekind rescued her, and soon proposed. Despite a difference of 22 years, they remained together until Wedekind's death in 1918. In 1969, she published an autobiography, Lulu - the role of my life. 


Kyla Webb in Lulu: a black and white silent play, which toured the country in 2006

Kyla Webb: Back in 2005 and 2006, the then newly formed Silent Theatre Company of Chicago staged a brilliant and singular adaption of the Lulu plays. Taking their cue from the silent cinema, this Lulu was performed without words. The intent was to say what words often cannot express -- here, gesture and body language did all the talking. At the heart of Lulu: a black and white silent play was an immensely talented young actress, Kyla Webb, in the title role. Webb was Lulu incarnate -- throwing her affections and body about with abandon on a razor's edge of danger and desire. A revival is in the works.

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Melanie Griffith as Lulu in Something Wild (1986).
PHOTO: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc

Melanie Griffith: Though she didn't play Wedekind or Berg's Lulu, Melanie Griffith was Lulu to a generation of moviegoers. In Jonathan Demme's 1986 thriller, Something Wild, Griffith is given the character's name and unpredictable personae, as well as Brooks' trademark hairstyle. Though a stylistic gloss on some of Wedekind's more profound themes, Something Wild remains a clever, layered, Hitchcockian take on the nature of desire and uncertainty.

reprinted from Huffington Post
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