Louise Brooks, nicknamed “Lulu” after her role in the 1929 silent classic, “Pandora’s Box”, is the ultimate 1920’s flapper. Born in Kansas in 1906, she began dancing at a young age with the Denishawn Dancers, and eventually made her way to New York City where she became a chorus girl in George White’s Scandals. From there she became a featured dancer in the 1925 Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway. While at the follies, she came to the attention of Paramount Pictures producer Walter Wanger who signed her to a five year deal with Paramount. Brooks hated the ‘Hollywood’ scene and left for Europe after her contract was up with Paramount. It was in Europe where she made her two best films,“Pandoras Box” (1929) and “Diary Of A Lost Girl”. Both by the legendary silent film director G. W. Pabst and both are considered cinematic classics. She made twenty-five films in her short acting career with her last in 1938. After she retired from films, she led a quiet life, spending her time reading and painting. She eventually became an accomplished author, writing several books, including her own biography. She died of a heart attack on August 8 1985, in New York. She was 78 years old. Although Brooks is widely praised by modern critics for her acting ability, she is mostly remembered for her bobbed haircut, her beauty and china doll like face, and her sexually liberating lifestyle.
One of my favorite sites about old classic movies is called Silent Stanzas. On this site a young lady writes poetry and anecdotes about silent film. Her writings are very, very good. A step above most and many steps above what I’m capable of. It was there I found “Scrubbie’s Sonnet”, an ode if you will to Louise Brooks. I liked it so much, I included in my post below. I hope she doesn’t mind.
Her liquid gaze could melt the coldest heart,
Her perfect face framed ‘round by ebony;
Since early on her dancing was an art –
Lithe hands and limbs in quaking ecstasy.
Not one to walk on eggshells, biting wit
And knife-blade tongue would often trouble make;
But unrelenting, in the face of it
She’d stand, too proud to let it see her break.
From featured player to forgotten star,
To author/critic, razor-edged and quick:
A sharpened, honey-coated scimitar,
A heady blend of sex and arsenic.
With such a life – complex beyond compare –
How strange her strongest legacy’s her hair