Anita Loos

Active - 1912 - 2008  |   Born - Apr 26, 1893   |   Died - Aug 18, 1981   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Romance

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Biography by AllMovie

American writer Anita Loos' father was a California newspaper publisher who, after enduring a spell of unemployment, became a theatre manager. Anita's first taste of show business was as a child actress (playing Little Lord Fauntleroy) in her father's playhouse. She continued acting into her teens, then turned to writing, churning out hundreds of 3-page plot synopses and at least one vaudeville sketch. She made her first movie sale at the Lubin Company in 1912; the first Anita Loos script to be produced, however, was Biograph's The New York Hat (1912), directed by D. W. Griffith. Because she looked about fifteen, and because for many years she misrepresented her date of birth, a myth grew up around Anita, alleging that she was writing Griffith scripts from the age of 12; vestiges of the Anita Loos legend were utilized for Peter Bogdanovich's 1975 film Nickelodeon, in which Tatum O'Neal played a pre-teen silent movie scriptwriter. Anita remained with Griffith until 1916, when she wrote some of the subtitles for his epic Intolerance; then she moved to the Douglas Fairbanks unit at Triangle, where she and her future husband John Emerson collaborated on several witty Fairbanks scenarios. By 1925, Anita felt written out and planned to retire, but a chance meeting with "dumb like a fox" blonde actress Mae Clarke prompted Anita to write her best-remembered novel Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. The book served as inspiration for a 1928 silent picture starring Ruth Taylor (the mother of Buck Henry), a 1949 Broadway musical starring Carol Channing, and a 1952 filmization of that musical starring Marilyn Monroe. Never a brilliant story constructionist, Anita was at her best contributing comic dialogue, which kept her busy at MGM throughout the '30s. In 1946 she returned to the theatre, this time as a playwright. Her most successful theatrical projects were the English translations of the Collette plays Gigi (1950) and Cheri (1957) (Anita had spoken fluent French since childhood). Anita Loos devoted her final years to writing several volumes of hilarious but highly unreliable memoirs; her last published work was a biography, The Talmadge Girls.

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