Before Marilyn Monroe and Rita Hayworth, there was Louise Brooks. She was a star of the silent screen in 1920's and was known to have brought the image of the Flapper to mainstream society through her films. She also popularized the Bob cut as seen in the photo above.
Typical Flapper Fashion (1927)
Louise Brooks was raised by father who was a lawyer and a mother who was an artist. Her mother inspired her love of music and reading. Unfortunately her family was unable to protect her from sexual abuse by a neighbor. Louise was once quoted as saying, that man "must have had a great deal to do with forming my attitude toward sexual pleasure....For me, nice, soft, easy men were never enough – there had to be an element of domination". Sadly, after she told her mother, her mother believed it was Louise's fault and concluded she must have led him on.
Louise eventually went into dance which led her to become a chorus girl which then lead her to the Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway which then led her to be noticed by a film studio. She was given a five year contract in 1925. Charlie Chaplin took notice of her as well and they had a brief affair over that summer.
Soon she was the female lead in silent comedies and flapper films. One of her first big roles was Beggars of Life (1928) which included some talking sequences. Eventually she felt disillusioned with Paramount and left for Europe to make films G. W. Pabst.
Pandora's Box (1929), Diary of a Lost Girl (1929), and Prix de Beaute (Beauty Prize-1930) were all heavily censored and were considered to be "adult" films. I think today people tend to assume that because something happened over eighty years ago that there couldn't possibly be risque. What I admire about these films is that they spoke about things that society deemed scandalous but in actuality prostitution, sex outside of marriage, adultery, unwed mothers, suicide, and murder happened all the time. Those are some of the subjects conveyed in these particular films.
She eventually made her way back to Hollywood and continued to work throughout the 1930's. Louise retired from films in 1938, worked odds jobs, but settled on being a "companion" to wealthy men. Lousie led a colorful life filled with a variety of lovers and husbands. She was also a heavy drinker since she was fourteen as well as a notorious spendthrift, leaving her bankrupt in 1932.
Louise Brooks was not only an actress and dancer but also a very popular pinup girl. To me, her look was flawless. I can look at her photos over and over and not get bored. I truly believe the allure of a pinup girl is held on her face and how she expresses herself through her features. She can be tall, curvy, petite, older---it doesn't matter as long as she is able to express human emotion through her photos. A nice body is well nice but if the face doesn't say anything then the entire photo is obsolete. I, personally prefer photos that tell a story, I want to be moved by what I see. Louise Brooks was inspirational, just take a look....
Can you say STUNNING!!??
In 1955 she was rediscovered by James Card who was a curator of George Eastman House. With his help she began writing and eventually wrote her biography "Lulu in Hollywood" in 1982 (its now on my Amazon Wish list lol). She gave few interviews at the end of her life but here you can she the aged starlet speaking about her life and times.
Louise Brooks went by the beat of her own drummer. Perhaps she would have had a longer career if she wasn't so brash and head strong but I admire that she lived life perfectly imperfect.
When you think of the 1920's you think of the Bob cut and flappers and Louise Brooks was the one who brought that look to life.
Thank you Louise for the beautiful and often thought provoking work you left behind for all of us to enjoy!