In 1931, English actress Connie Emerald took her daughter Ida along when she auditoned for a role in the film Her First Affair. It was a part Emerald wanted badly. Once they were there, Ida was asked to play the part and won the role. The movie was released in the United Kingdom in 1932, and eventually Ida became a famous film and television star as well as one of the world's very few esteemed female directors.
Ida Lupino was born Feb. 4, 1918 (though variously stated as 1914 and 1916) in Camberwell, London, where she later attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. Her father was the then-popular entertainer Stanley Lupino, who was descended from a theatrical family tradition that went back centuries. Speaking of her father one day she said, "I knew it would break his heart if I didn't go into the business." Her first love was writing.
The Lupinos moved to New York, arriving aboard the Berengaria, and then to Hollywood, where teenaged bleached blonde Ida began to win roles in dozens of low-budget movies. The only significant film appearances she had in the 1930s were in Peter Ibbetson (1935) and The Light That Failed (1939), which proved her great ability to act.
In 1940 the now dark-haired Lupino captured audiences with her obsessive, murderous behavior in They Drive by Night. In Sea Wolf (1941), she stood her ground with Edward G. Robinson, and in High Sierra (1941) she was pitted against Humphrey Bogart, proving she was as strong as any man.
Lupino was married to actor Louis Hayward 1938-1945. He enlisted as a Marine at the beginning of World War II, and his experience in the conflict commanding the photographic unit that filmed the battle of Tarawa (November 1943) which won an Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject, left him badly shell-shocked after a bloody four-day battle, and his condition led to their divorce. During the war, Lupino served as a lieutenant in the Women's Ambulance and Defense Corps.
Lupino's tough demeanor was a fascinating compliment to her beautiful face and, in The Man I Love (1947), she played a nightclub singer of Gershwin's greatest hits who was able to hand-slap a man with a gun to submission. In one memorable scene, after Robert Alda confidently grabbed her and kissed her deeply, she uttered with a divine disgust designed to bring him to a new low, "Not bad … not good!" In one scene she was sewn into a gown so tight she fainted on the set; she was caught by Alda before she hit the floor and the costume had to be cut off to revive her. News of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki distracted the crew and players that summer, but the steamy atmosphere created a tension audiences adored.
In 1948, her film Road House, directed by the great Jean Negulesco, was a huge success, with its dark riveting dialogue and sultry characters filled with love, lust and corruption. In 1948, Lupino and her second husband, Collier Young, founded Emerald Productions, named after her mother (it would be rechristened The Filmmakers in 1950) and Ida began writing scripts on controversial topics like bigamy, rape and unwed mothers. The director of Not Wanted (1949), Elmer Clifton, had a heart attack three days after filming started on the set and Lupino took over. Lupino gave screen credit to Clifton.
Lupino had a very productive year in 1953 when she directed more dark and foreboding films, such as The Young Lovers, starring Sally Forest and Hugh O'Brien, and The Hitch-Hiker, generally accepted as the first "film noir" directed by a woman. That year also saw the release of The Bigamist by the production company Lupino had founded with Young. The movie had real-life drama, as Lupino not only directed, but co-starred alongside Joan Fontainenow the new Mrs. Collier Young.
Lupino's directing skills covered an enormous range of stories, from Hitchcock-style drama to family situation comedies, but was often commissioned for work with tough westerns, which were wildly popular at the time.
She made her television acting debut in 1952 on CBS as one of the stars of the dramatic television show Four Star Playhouse, which ran through 1956. In 1955 she was commissioned to direct an episode for Screen Director's Playhouse, "No. 5 Checked Out," for which she also wrote the script. Lupino directed more than 50 programs, five made for television movies, and acted in many others. She was the only female director in television, and worked with all the major networks. In between, she starred in several Hollywood films such as Women's Prison (1955), The Big Knife ( 1955) While the City Sleeps (1956) and Strange Intruder (1956). Sh starred with Howard Duff, her third husband in the situation comedy Mr. Adams and Eve from 1957-1958. The marriage lasted from 1951-1984.
Her final film appearances included playing the role of Steve McQueen's mother in Junior Bonner (1972) and her final role in in My Boys Are Good Boys in 1978.
Before retiring in 1978, Lupino starred in 59 Hollywood films and had guest roles in many popular television shows such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Untouchables, The Mod Squad, The Virginian, Columbo and The Fugitive, as well as in comedies such as I Love Lucy, Gilligan's Island, The Ghost & Mrs. Muir and others. She has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for contributions to both film and television, located at 6821 Hollywood Blvd. and 1724 Vine St.
Lupino was only the second woman admitted to the Director's Guild, the first being Dorothy Arzner in 1937. The star died of a stroke Aug. 3, 1995.
Steve Starr is the author of Picture Perfect-Art Deco Photo Frames 1926-1946, published by Rizzoli International Publications. A photographer, designer writer and an artist, he is the owner ofSteve Starr Studios, where the walls are adorned with his personal collection of over 950 original Art Deco photo frames filled with images of Hollywood's most elegant stars of the early 20th Century.
Starr's photography, STARRLIGHT, appears in various publications including Windy City Times, Entertainment Magazine, Chicago Social-CS Magazine, Candace Jordan of CandidCandace.com, Red Carpet Concierge of Chicago, TCW-Today's Chicago Woman, Journal Skyline, Michigan Avenue Magazine, En Chicago, Windy City Style, and the Chicago Art Deco Society Magazine.
Visit www.SteveStarrStudios.com where you can enter The Starrlight Room and view a portion of his frame collection, read Starrlight stories, and enjoy photos, letters, and autographs that he has received from his favorite luminaries.
Starr's celebrity photos include Janet Jackson, Fergie, Beyonce, Mario Lopez, Dionne Warwick, John Leguizamo,Floyd Mayweather, Devin Hester, Nadine Velazquez, Antoinne Walker, Carlos Zambrano, Eduardo Verastegui, Jim Belushi, Fantasia, Alfred Molina, William Peterson, Mickey Rooney, Geraldo Rivera, Robert Davi, Ernest Borgnine, Daniel Sunjata, Vince Vaughan, Raquel Welch, Hugh Hefner, Jim McMahon, ChazPalminterri, Jamie Foxx, Richard Dent, Angie Dickinson, Jacqueline Bissett, Victor Skrebneski, Lynda Carter, Joan Allen, Christian Siriano, Rita Moreno, Esai Morales, Tony Curtis, Ty Pennington, Martin Landau, Carol Lynley, EvanLysacek, Debra Messing, Ron Howard, John Travolta, Tom Brokawe and Princess Yasmin Aga Khan.
His newest book is STARRLIGHT-Glamorous Latin Movie Stars of Early Hollywood- Maria Montez~Rita Hayworth~Carmen Miranda~LupeVelez and Dolores Del Rio. Published by First Flight Books, 2010. Fullcolor, 84 pages, Hardbound in Silver Linen. Available through Steve Starr Studios, selected events and stores.
Phone 773-252-5171 for further information. Email SSSTARRLIGHT@gmail.com .