One of my favorite silent film actress’ is Louise Brooks. Her iconic “page boy” look is still a replicated style in various forms today. She was really a daring woman who wasn’t afraid of saying now and although turning her back on the Hollywood scene eventually led to her being blacklisted in Hollywood, she still managed to capture the interest of millions and today is a fan favorite.
Louise “Brookies” Brooks was born in Cherryvale, Kansas on November 14, 1906 to parents who were less then parental. Her mother an artistic sort was famous for saying “that any squalling brats she produced would take care of themselves.
Louise began dancing at an early age and joined the Denishawn Dancers and with them she left for New York. Not long after arriving in the city she joined the Ziegfeld Follies, and eventually became one of the most fascinating and alluring personalities ever to grace the silver screen.Louise made her debut in the silent film The Street of Forgotten Men in 1925. Although it was an uncredited role she captured the attention of directors and was soon playing female leads in several silent comedies and flapper films.
The film “A Girl in Every Port” directed by Howard Hawks where she played a vamp proved to be a pivotal role in her career. And skyrocketed her to fame. 1928 was also the year she began her career in sound films. Her first being “Beggars of Life.” This film was filmed on location along railroad tracks and as a result the boom microphone was invented as a way of capturing sound for the film.
Louise enjoyed her fame and was seen regularly in the company of William Randolph Hearst and his mistress at his palatial home San Simeon. Louise’s trademark bob haircut is still recognized today. Despite her fame and recognized face, Louise heated the Hollywood lifestyle left Paramount after being denied a raise and moved to Europe and appeared in many films by G.W. Pabst. As a result of her snubbing of Paramount, and her refusal after returning to Hollywood to participate in sound retakes of several films resulted in her being blacklisted. And the voice that appears in the movies The Canary and the Murder Case is not Brooks.
Louise’s career officially ended in 1938 and the total count of all her movies was only 25 films. After her “retirement” she spent her time enjoying reading and painting and became a rather accomplished writer, authoring several books one of which was her own autobiography.
On August 8, 1985, Louise died of a heart attack in Rochester, New York. She was 78 years old.