Thursday, January 12, 2017

Louise Brooks: Day by Day 1906-1985, part four

A massive project which I have been working on (in between other projects) is Louise Brooks: Day by Day 1906-1985, a page on the Louise Brooks Society website. It is a work in progress.

Louise Brooks was 78 years old at the time of her death. All together, her life ran over the course of 28,758 days. She accomplished a great deal in her lifetime, appearing in 24 films, writing a book, appearing on radio, and performing hundreds of times on stage as a dancer. She also taught dancing, and worked as a professional ballroom dancer. However, relatively speaking, little is known about what Brooks was doing on any given day.

From the mass of material I have gathered, Brooks' activities can be traced to approximately a thousand days throughout her lifetime. Best documented is the 18 year period – running from 1922 through 1940, a period of 6939 days – when Brooks worked as a dancer and actress and many of her activities were a matter of public record.

Louise Brooks: Day by Day 1906-1985 attempts a day-by-day account of Brooks' life. It contains entries both significant and mundane, and is based on multiple sources including, first and foremost,  dates and events found in the Barry Paris biography. I also contains entries recorded by Brooks in her notebooks (which she kept from the mid-1950s through her death); other dates were gathered from various magazines and newspapers (especially those published where Brooks was resident), along with other disparate sources, such as census records  and passenger manifests.

I encourage anyone interested to check out what I have so far accomplished at Louise Brooks: Day by Day 1906-1985. There is more to come. If you can suggest documented specific dates related to Louise Brooks, please contact the LBS. In the meantime, here are a few highlights from the forties and fifties.

Feb. 23, 1940
Brooks-O’Shea Studio of Ballroom Dancing opens in Hollywood.

April 20, 1940
Dances at the Arrowhead Spring Hotel in San Bernadino, California.

June 15, 1940
Los Angeles Times reports Brooks the victim of reputed swindler Benjamin F. Crandall; according to articles from the time, Brooks lost $2,000 in a Hollywood magazine stock promotion scheme.

Jan. 1941
Reads and takes notes on the French philosopher Henri Bergson.

Aug. 3, 1942
Hired as a sales girl at Garfields, a department store in Wichita. Brooks works the accessories counter.

June ?, 1943
Meets with writer Robert Benchley, who gives her a copy of Pascal's Pensees.

June 29, 1943
Attends original Broadway production of Oklahoma! at the St. James Theatre in New York, with William S. Paley, Ben Gimbel and two others.

Dec. 24, 1944
Brooks and Lothar Wolff spend Christmas Eve with Blythe Daly and Jim Backus.

Dec. 15, 1948
Lowell, MA journalist (and future Jack Kerouac in-law) Charles Sampas muses about Brooks in his column, "I can remember Way Back When and actress named Louise Brooks was the Number One favorite of the Square Beaux...."

Nov. 10, 1949
Brooks sees Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn perform "Creative Dances on Ethnic Themes" at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Oct. 18-19, 1952
Eastman House screens Beggars of Life, an "adult silent film not recommended for children."

Nov. 10, 1952
Visits rectory of St. John the Evangelist's Church (55 East 55th Street at First Avenue, New York City) seeking spiritual counsel.

Dec. 13, 1953
Receives confirmation in the Catholic Church at St. Patrick Cathedral in New York City. Bishop Flannelly presides. Before the ritual of being confirmed, those seeking confirmation choose to take a saint's name with whom they identify. After confirmation, the confirmed can pray to the saint for guidance and protection. Brooks chooses St. Thérèse, "the little flower."

April 4, 1954
Attends reception at the guest house of John D. Rockefeller III in honor of Lillian Gish; others in attendance include Gloria Swanson, Josef von Sternberg, Neil Hamilton, Carmel Myers, Anita Loos, Ilka Chase, June Collyer, Aileen Pringle,  and others.




Winter 1956
At the Eastman House, view Pandora's Box for the first time. Brooks arranges a score of works made up of recordings of music by Kurt Weill.

May 5, 1957
Watches Gloria Swanson interview (by Mike Wallace) on television.

May 31, 1957
Diary of a Lost Girl screened at the Eastman House for members of the Cinema 16 film club from New York City. Brooks is likely in attendance, as is the film's assistant director, Paul Falkenberg. Also present is film historian Arthur Knight, cineastes Amos Vogel, animator and film director Gene Deitch, and others.


Oct. 27, 1957
Watches coverage of Queen Elizabeth visit to the United States on television.

Nov. 5 - 7, 1958
"Homage to Louise Brooks" takes place at Cinematheque Francaise; Brooks makes a short speech in French, and meets with Prix de Beaute co-star Georges Charlia. Brooks attends a reception in her honor, and reportedly signs hundreds of autographs.

April 30, 1959
Watches The Milton Berle Show on television. This episode included Tallulah Bankhead.

June 15, 1959
Views Loulou (1918), starring Asta Nielsen, at Eastman House.

Oct. 29, 1959
Views Empty Saddles at Eastman House; records in notebooks that this screening marked the first time she ever heard her voice on the screen.

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