Actress/screenwriter and filmmaker Barbara Loden started out as a fashion model in the late '40s. After taking acting classes in New York, Loden's acting career began to take off in the late '50s when she began performing on Broadway. She made her film debut in Elia Kazan's Wild River. It was a small role, but Kazan was impressed and gave her a much larger role in his 1961 film Splendor in the Grass. Three years later Kazan starred her in the debut production of the Lincoln Center Repertory Theater that he had just founded. For her work in that play, Arthur Miller's After the Fall, Loden earned her first Tony. She finally married Kazan in 1968 after appearing in a couple more Kazan stage productions and in his theatrically unreleased film Fade-In.
Shortly after her marriage, Loden went into partial retirement. She made her directorial debut in the critically acclaimed independent drama Wanda(1971), a film she also wrote and edited. It was the first major American feature to be directed by a woman since Ida Lupino began her directorial debut. Later that year Wanda earned the International Critics Prize at the Venice Festival; it was the only American film to appear at that year's festival. Despite the great praise she received for her film, Loden did not attempt another until around 1980 when she had begun production plans for an adaptation of The Awakening, a novella by Kate Chopin. Unfortunately Loden died of cancer before the project even started.