Filled Under: Ida Lupino
“I’d love to see more women working as directors and producers. Today it’s almost impossible to do it unless you are an actress or writer with power. I wouldn’t hesitate right this minute to hire a talented woman if the subject matter were right.” ~ Ida Lupino
Ida Lupino was an English-born film actress and director, and a pioneer among women filmmakers. In her forty-eight year career, she appeared in fifty-nine films and directed seven others, mostly in the United States. She appeared in television shows fifty-eight times and directed fifty other episodes. Lupino also contributed as a writer to five films and four TV episodes.
Lupino was born Feb 4, 1918 in London, England into an English family of performers. Her father, Stanley Lupino, was a music hall comedian, and her mother, Connie Emerald (1892–1959), was an actress. As a girl, Ida Lupino was encouraged to enter show business by both her parents and her uncle, Lupino Lane. She trained at RADA and made her first film appearance in “The Love Race” (1931) and in 1932 appearing in “Her First Affaire”. She moved to Hollywood in 1933 spent the next several years playing minor roles. After appearing in “The Light That Failed” (1939) Lupino began to be taken seriously as a dramatic actress and her parts began to improve during the 1940s. Lupino described herself as “the poor man’s Bette Davis.” She soon became known for her hard-boiled roles, as in such films as “They Drive by Night” (1940) and High Sierra (1941), both opposite Humphrey Bogart. For her performance in “The Hard Way” (1943), Lupino won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress. She worked regularly and was in demand throughout the 1940s without becoming a major star until later in her career. In 1947, Lupino left Warner Brothers to freelance. Notable films she appeared in around that time include “Road House” (1948), “Woman In Hiding” (1952), and “On Dangerous Ground”(1952).
In the mid-1940s, while on suspension from Warner Brothers for turning down a role, Lupino became interested in directing. She described herself as being bored on set while “someone else seemed to be doing all the interesting work.” Lupino and her second husband Collier Young formed an independent company, The Filmakers and Lupino became a producer, director and screenwriter of low-budget, issue-oriented films. Her first directing job came unexpectedly in 1949 when Elmer Clifton suffered a mild heart attack and could not finish “Not Wanted”, a film he was directing for Filmakers. Lupino stepped in to finish the film and went on to direct her own projects, becoming Hollywood’s only female film director of the time. In an article for the Village Voice, Carrie Rickey wrote that Lupino was a model of modern feminist filmmaking, stating: “Not only did Lupino take control of production, direction and screenplay, but each of her movies addresses the brutal repercussions of sexuality, independence, and dependence.” After directing four ‘woman’s’ films about social issues, including “Outrage” (1950), a film about rape, Lupino directed her first hard-paced, fast-moving picture, “The Hitch-Hiker” (1953), making her the first woman to direct a film noir. Writer Richard Koszarski noted that: “Her films display the obsessions and consistencies of a true auteur… In her films The Bigamist and The Hitch-Hiker Lupino was able to reduce the male to the same sort of dangerous, irrational force that women represented in most male-directed examples of Hollywood film noir.” Lupino often joked that if she had been the “poor man’s Bette Davis” as an actress, then she had become the “poor man’s Don Siegel” as a director. In 1952, Lupino was invited to become the fourth star in Four Star Productions by Dick Powell, David Niven and Charles Boyer, after Joel McCrea and Rosalind Russell had dropped out of the company.
Lupino continued acting throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Her directing efforts during these years were almost exclusively television productions such as “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”, “Thriller”, “The Twilight Zone”, “Have Gun – Will Travel”, “The Donna Reed Show”, “Gilligan’s Island”, “77 Sunset Strip”, “The Ghost & Mrs. Muir”, “The Rifleman”, “The Virginian”, “Sam Benedict”, “The Untouchables”, “The Fugitive” and “Bewitched”. She appeared in 19 episodes of “Four Star Playhouse” from 1952 to 1956. From January 1957 through September 1958, Lupino starred with her then husband, Howard Duff, in the CBS sitcom “Mr. Adams and Eve”. Duff and Lupino also co-starred as themselves in 1959 in one of the 13 one-hour installments of “The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour”. Lupino also guest-starred on numerous television programs, including “The Ford Television Theatre “(1954), “The Twilight Zone” (1959), “Bonanza” (1959), “Burke’s Law” (1963–64), “The Virginian” (1963–65), “Batman” (1968), “The Mod Squad” (1969), “Family Affair” (1969–70), “Columbo” (1972–74), “Barnaby Jones” (1974), “The Streets of San Francisco” (1974), “Ellery Queen” (1975), “Police Woman” (1975) and “Charlie’s Angels” (1977). Lupino made her final film appearance in “My Boys Are Good Boys” (1978). She retired from show business altogether in 1978 at the age of 60.
Ida Lupino was married and divorced three times: to actor Louis Hayward (November 1938 – 11 May 1945), producer Collier Young (1948–1951), and actor Howard Duff (October 1951 – 1984). Lupino and Duff had one child, a daughter, Bridget Duff, born on April 23, 1952.
Lupino died from a stroke while undergoing treatment for colon cancer in Los Angeles on August 3, 1995 at the age of 77.
Lupino has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contributions to the fields of television and motion pictures. They are located at 1724 Vine Street and 6821 Hollywood Boulevard.