Friday, February 10, 2023

For the Record: A Brief History of the Louise Brooks Society

For the Record: A Brief History of the Louise Brooks Society

The Louise Brooks Society was established in 1995 as a gathering place for like-minded individuals from around the world. The site’s followers hail from dozens of countries on six continents. They include film buffs and movie industry professionals, celebrities, teachers, students and other interested individuals from all walks of life. To date, more than 3,500,000 people have visited this website! Logs show individuals have visited from countries from across North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Australia and the Pacific — showing Louise Brooks is truly an international star.  It is hoped that those who visit these pages and share an interest in the actress will join in furthering in its efforts.

The Louise Brooks Societywas founded by Thomas Gladysz; the website is written, designed and maintained by Gladysz with the assistance of Christy Pascoe. The Louise Brooks Society operates with the consent of the Estate of Louise Brooks (Louise Brooks Heirs, LC), and have its permission to use the name and likeness of Louise Brooks in connection with its activities. Content original to this site is © 1995 – 2023 by Thomas Gladysz / Louise Brooks Society. All rights reserved.

(Left) With Louise Brooks fan and actor Paul McGann (the 8th Doctor Who) and
(Right) with film historian Kevin Brownlow


The Louise Brooks Society is devoted to the appreciation and promotion of the life and films of Louise Brooks. The mission of the society is to honor the actress by 1) stimulating interest in her life, films and writings, as well as her place in 20th century culture; 2) fostering and coordinating research; 3) serving as a repository for relevant material; and 4) advocating for the preservation and restoration of her films, writings and other related material.

The purpose of the LBS website is to promote interest in the actress by serving as a focal point for related activities; by disseminating accurate information including authoritative texts; and by offering individuals a variety of materials to aid in their appreciation of the actress. Above all, the LBS encourages the viewing of Brooks’ surviving films, and the fellowship of her admirers. Future projects will include the publication of new material about the actress (in the form of articles, books, and e-books), as well as the ongoing development of this website, its blog, and social media accounts. Future projects, such as video, podcasts, in-person talks, screenings and related events, are also under consideration.


Since first becoming interested / fascinated / obsessed with Louise Brooks, I have always appreciated meeting others who shared my enthusiasm for this singular silent film star. Early on, I searched for some kind of fan club — but found none. It then occurred to me that I might form a group. The idea of starting the Louise Brooks Society coincided with my growing interest in computing in the early 1990s. That’s when I realized there would be no better way of forming a group or club than over the internet. A fan club (in the traditional sense) is a way to share information and “meet” other like-minded individuals. Thus, enabled by the world wide web, the Louise Brooks Society was born.

The Louise Brooks Society website was launched in August, 1995. Since then, the LBS has become one of the leading websites devoted to any film star — silent or sound. In 1996, USA Today named the LBS a “Hot Site,” noting “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.” That was the website’s first media mention. 

The first feature story centering on the LBS appeared on the Wired magazine website in 1998. Other articles mentioning the LBS appeared early on in the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Atlanta Journal Constitution. In 2000, Rochester, N.Y. film critic and friend to Louise Brooks, Jack Garner, wrote an article in which he stated the Louise Brooks Society is “A fine example of a fan page, a thoughtful, artful site devoted to the life and times of a fabled silent movie legend.” Around the world, the LBS was mentioned in various publications including Stuttgarter Zeitung, Le Temps, London Times, Melbourne Age, and South China Morning Post.

The LBS has also been praised by Leonard Maltin on his Movie Crazy website, and by the late Roger Ebert, the Pulitzer Prize winning film critic. Before his passing, Ebert told me that he had used the site while researching Louise Brooks and Pandora’s Box. The LBS has also received email from distant relatives of Brooks, who mentioned they enjoyed surfing the website and learned much about their famous relation.

In 1999, with Frederica Sagor Maas, silent era
screenwriter whose story became Rolled Stockings


Here are highlights from the 25-plus year history of the Louise Brooks Society.

LBS Website: Launched in August, 1995, the LBS is a pioneering website that has proven itself among the most comprehensive, popular and long-lasting websites devoted to just about any film star — silent or sound, vintage or contemporary. For its efforts, the LBS has received considerable media attention in newspapers and magazines from around the world. In 2015, the LBS was singled out in Wild Bill Wellman: Hollywood Rebel, a biography of the celebrated director. As an educational resource, this 100+ page website has drawn not only film historian, but also film buffs, teachers, students and academics.

 Internet Presence: The long running was started in June, 2002. It currently has more than 3500 posts and hundreds of subscribers, and has been visited more than 1,800,000 times (as of 2023). The LBS also maintains an active social media presence on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Flickr and elsewhere. See the LBS Social Media page for further details.

Advocacy: In 1998, inspired by the popularity of the LBS website, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) commissioned the Emmy nominated documentary Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu. The part played by the LBS in bringing the documentary to television was acknowledged by TCM as well as the director of the documentary. [See “Fan Site Sparks Biopic” (Wired) and “Lovely Lulu Lives Again / A decade after her death, silent-film star Louise Brooks is more popular than ever” (San Francisco Chronicle).]  

Additionally, in 2000, following a grass-roots campaign, the LBS helped bring both the Barry Paris biography of the actress and Louise Brooks’ own book, Lulu in Hollywood, back into print through the University of Minnesota Press. The LBS is acknowledged in each edition, and the books have remained in print since.


 Scholarship: The wealth of information found on the LBS is one of its primary achievements. Much of it, including the annotated filmographies, bibliographies, detailed chronology, are the result of thousands of hours of research. Research conducted by the LBS has also lead to a handful of groundbreaking discoveries regarding Brooks’ numerous childhood performances; the cultural life of Brooks’ mother; G.W. Pabst’s reasons for choosing Louise Brooks to play Lulu; the previously undocumented exhibition history of Pandora’s Box in the United States in the 1930s, etc…. Also uncovered during the course of research were rare audio recording of Brooks’ radio appearances in the 1960s! In 2018, the Irish Times newspaper noted, “An online tribute site, the Louise Brooks Society, contains an extraordinary day-by-day chronology of her life.”

Additionally, the Louise Brooks Society has contributed to the restoration of two Louise Brooks’ films, Now We’re in the Air (1927), and The Street of Forgotten Men (1925). The LBS is acknowledged in contemporary prints of both films.

Notably, the LBS has been cited in a number of books including Geheimnisvolle Tiefe G.W. Pabst (Austrian Film Archive, 1998), German Expressionist Films (Pocket Essentials, 2002), Photoplay Editions (McFarland, 2002), and Sirens & Sinners: A Visual History of Weimar Film 1918-1933 (Thames & Hudson, 2013), among others.

Publications: In 2010, the LBS published the “Louise Brooks edition” of Margarete Bohme’s The Diary of a Lost Girl, which served as the basis for the 1929 film. Notably, it was the book’s first English-language publication in more than 100 years. This unique edition was highly praised, and was the subject of an article in Deutsche Welle. Other publications of the Louise Brooks Society include Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film (2017, with a foreword by William Wellman, Jr.), Now We’re in the Air: A Companion to the Once Lost Film (2017, with a foreword by Robert Byrne), and Louise Brooks, the Persistent Star (2018). The hallmark of each of these illustrated books is the considerable research that went into each volume, as well as the new and little known information revealed in them. 

Due out in 2023 is The Street of Forgotten Men: From Story to Screen and Beyond. Also in the works and nearly completion is Around the World with Louise Brooks, a two volume work.

The first four publications of the Louise Brooks Society

Additionally, as the Director of the LBS, Thomas Gladysz has written numerous online articles, contributed material to various scholarly and general interest books, and provided liner notes and audio commentary to two DVD/Blu-ray releases from KINO Lorber, Diary of a Lost Girl (1929), and Beggars of Life (1928).

Exhibits: In 2005, 2010, and 2011 the LBS mounted Louise Brooks and silent film-related exhibits at the San Francisco Public Library. Each was accompanied by a well attended public program which featured a lecture, screening or presentation.

Events: Over the years, the LBS has co-sponsored a handful of events, including talks with silent era screenwriter Frederica Sagor Mass, Louise Brooks biographer Barry Paris, and film historian Peter Cowie (Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever). These and other events took place at various bookstores, libraries and theaters in the San Francisco Bay Area. The LBS has also co-sponsored or participated in a handful of other events, including screenings. As the Director of the LBS, Thomas Gladysz has introduced Brooks’ films at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, San Francisco Public Library, Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, Detroit Institute of Arts, and Action Cinema in Paris, France. His talks on the actress have taken place at the Hollywood Forever cemetery, Folsom Public Library, and Village Voice bookstore in Paris. Gladysz has also written program notes for screenings of Brooks’ films shown elsewhere around the United States. Images from some of the LBS events and exhibits can be found on the LBS Flickr account.

Promotion: Through its website, long-running blog, and various social media accounts, the LBS has promoted related books, DVD’s, articles, exhibits and events held all around the world. You can even find the LBS credited on the first edition of Laura Moriarty’s novel, The Chaperone. The LBS supplied the cover image, as it did for various other books published around the world. The LBS also had more than a little something to do with the depiction of Louise Brooks on the cover of Adolfo Bioy Casare' The Invention of Morel.

The enthusiasm and generosity of Brooks’ many fans have contributed to the growth of this website. Individuals from around the globe have shared rare material. Others have performed research, translated articles, visited libraries and archives, or sent images and interesting information. The LBS acknowledges their efforts, and appreciates the emails and letters others have sent from across the United States and the world. Judging by these fans, and knowingly repeating myself, Louise Brooks is truly an international star! Thank you one and all for your interest in Louise Brooks and the Louise Brooks Society.

At the San Francisco Public Library

THE LEGAL STUFF: The Louise Brooks Society™ blog is authored by Thomas Gladysz, Director of the Louise Brooks Society  ( Original contents copyright © 2023. Further unauthorized use prohibited.

At the George Eastman House

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