Ida Lupino (4 February 1918 – 3 August 1995) was an
Anglo-American actress and singer, who became a pioneering director
and producer—the only woman working within the 1950s Hollywood
studio system to do so. With her independent production company, she
co-wrote and co-produced several of her own social-message films, and
was the first woman to direct a film noir, The Hitch-Hiker, in 1953.
In her 48-year career, she made acting appearances in 59 films and
directed eight others, mostly in the United States, where she became a
citizen in 1948. The majority of her later career as an actress,
writer, and director was in television, where she directed more than
100 episodes of productions ranging across Westerns, supernatural
tales, situation comedies, murder mysteries, and gangster stories.
She was the only woman to direct episodes of the original The Twilight
Zone series, as well as the only director to have starred in the
1 Early life and family
2.2 Director, producer and writer
4 Personal life
6 Influences and legacy
7 Awards and tributes
8 Complete filmography
9 Partial television credits
10 Radio appearances
12 Further reading
13 External links
Early life and family
Lupino was born in Herne Hill, London, to actress
Connie O'Shea (also
known as Connie Emerald) and music hall entertainer Stanley Lupino, a
member of the theatrical Lupino family, which included Lupino Lane, a
popular song-and-dance man. Her father, a top name in musical
comedy in the UK and a member of a centuries-old theatrical dynasty
dating back to Renaissance Italy, encouraged her to perform at an
early age. He built a backyard theater for Lupino and her sister Rita
(1920-2016), who also became an actress and dancer. Lupino wrote
her first play at age seven and toured with a traveling theater
company as a child.
She wanted to be a writer, but in order to please her father, Lupino
enrolled in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. She went on to excel
in a number of "bad girl" film roles, often playing prostitutes.
Lupino did not enjoy being an actress and felt uncomfortable with many
of the early roles she was given. She felt that she was pushed into
the profession due to her family history.
Lupino in a promotional photo for Moontide, 1942
Lupino made her first film appearance in
The Love Race (1931) and the
following year, aged 14, she worked under director
Allan Dwan in Her
First Affaire, in a role for which her mother had previously
tested. She played leading roles in five British films in 1933 at
Warner Bros.' Teddington studios and for
Julius Hagen at Twickenham,
The Ghost Camera
The Ghost Camera with
John Mills and I Lived with You
with Ivor Novello.
Dubbed "the English Jean Harlow", she was discovered by Paramount in
the 1933 film Money for Speed, playing a good girl/bad girl dual role.
Lupino claimed the talent scouts saw her play only the sweet girl in
the film and not the part of the prostitute, so she was asked to try
out for the lead role in Alice in Wonderland (1933). When she arrived
in Hollywood, the Paramount producers did not know what to make of
their sultry potential leading lady, but she did get a five-year
Lupino starred in over a dozen films in the mid-1930s, working with
Columbia in a two-film deal, one of which, The Light That Failed
(1939), was a role she acquired after running into the director's
office unannounced, demanding an audition. After this performance,
she began to be taken seriously as a dramatic actress. As a result,
her parts improved during the 1940s, and she jokingly referred to
herself as "the poor man's Bette Davis", taking the roles that Davis
Mark Hellinger, associate producer at Warner Bros., was impressed by
Lupino's performance in The Light That Failed, and hired her for the
femme-fatale role in the Raoul Walsh-directed They Drive by Night
(1940), opposite stars George Raft,
Ann Sheridan and Humphrey Bogart.
The film did well and the critical consensus was that Lupino stole the
movie, particularly in her unhinged courtroom scene. Warner Bros.
offered her a contract which she negotiated to include some freelance
rights. She worked with Walsh and Bogart again in High Sierra
(1941), where she impressed critic
Bosley Crowther in her role as
Her performance in The Hard Way (1943) won the New York Film Critics
Circle Award for Best Actress. She starred in Pillow to Post
(1945), which was her only comedic leading role. After the drama
Deep Valley (1947) finished shooting, neither
Warner Bros. nor Lupino
moved to renew her contract and she left the studio in 1947.
Although in demand throughout the 1940s, she never became a major
star, but was critically lauded for her tough, direct acting style.
She often incurred the ire of studio boss Jack Warner by objecting to
her casting, refusing roles that she felt were "beneath her dignity as
an actress," and making script revisions deemed unacceptable. As a
result, she spent a great deal of her time at Warner Bros.
suspended. In 1942 she rejected an offer to star opposite Ronald
Reagan in Kings Row, and was immediately put on suspension at the
studio. Eventually, a tentative rapprochement was brokered, but her
relationship with her studio remained strained. In 1947, Lupino left
Warner Brothers and appeared for 20th Century Fox as a nightclub
singer in the film noir Road House, performing her musical numbers in
the film. She starred in
On Dangerous Ground
On Dangerous Ground in 1951, and may have
taken on some of the directing tasks of the film while director
Nicholas Ray was ill.
Director, producer and writer
While on suspension, Lupino had ample time to observe filming and
editing processes, and she became interested in directing. She
described how bored she was on set while "someone else seemed to be
doing all the interesting work."
Lupino (left) directing The Hitch-Hiker, 1953
She and her husband
Collier Young formed an independent company, The
Filmakers [sic], to produce, direct, and write low-budget,
issue-oriented films. Her first directing job came unexpectedly in
1949 when director
Elmer Clifton suffered a mild heart attack and
could not finish Not Wanted, a film Lupino co-produced and
co-wrote. Lupino stepped in to finish the film, but did not take
directorial credit out of respect for Clifton. Although the film's
subject of out-of-wedlock pregnancy was controversial, it received a
vast amount of publicity, and she was invited to discuss the film with
Eleanor Roosevelt on a national radio program.
Never Fear (1949) was her first director's credit. After producing
four more films about social issues, including Outrage (1950), a film
about rape, Lupino directed her first hard-paced, all-male-cast film,
The Hitch-Hiker (1953), making her the first woman to direct a film
noir. The Filmakers went on to produce 12 feature films, six of which
Lupino directed or co-directed, five of which she wrote or co-wrote,
three of which she acted in, and one of which she co-produced.
Lupino once called herself a "bulldozer" to secure financing for her
production company, but she referred to herself as "mother" while on
set. On set, the back of her director's chair was labeled "Mother
of Us All...". Her studio emphasized her femininity, often at the
urging of Lupino herself. She credited her refusal to renew her
Warner Bros. under the pretenses of domesticity,
claiming "I had decided that nothing lay ahead of me but the life of
the neurotic star with no family and no home." She made a point to
seem nonthreatening in a male-dominated environment, stating, "That's
where being a man makes a great deal of difference. I don't suppose
the men particularly care about leaving their wives and children.
During the vacation period, the wife can always fly over and be with
him. It's difficult for a wife to say to her husband, come sit on the
set and watch."
Although directing became Lupino's passion, the drive for money kept
her on camera, so she could acquire the funds to make her own
productions. She became a wily low-budget filmmaker, reusing sets
from other studio productions and talking her physician into appearing
as a doctor in the delivery scene of Not Wanted. She used what is now
called product placement, placing Coke, Cadillac, and other brands in
her films. She shot in public places to avoid set-rental costs and
planned scenes in preproduction to avoid technical mistakes and
retakes. She joked that if she had been the "poor man's Bette
Davis" as an actress, she had now become the "poor man's Don Siegel"
as a director.
The Filmakers production company closed shop in 1955 and Lupino's last
director's credit on a feature film was in 1965 for the Catholic
schoolgirl comedy The Trouble With Angels, starring Hayley Mills. She
did not stop acting and directing, however, going on to a successful
television career throughout the 1960s and '70s.
Ida Lupino in It Takes a Thief, 1968
Lupino continued acting until the 1970s. Her directing efforts during
these years were almost exclusively for television productions such as
Alfred Hitchcock Presents; Thriller; The Twilight Zone; Have Gun –
Will Travel; Honey West; The Donna Reed Show; Gilligan's Island; 77
Sunset Strip; The Rifleman; The Virginian; Sam Benedict; The
Untouchables; Hong Kong; The Fugitive; and Bewitched.
Lupino appeared in 19 episodes of
Four Star Playhouse
Four Star Playhouse from 1952 to
1956. From January 1957 to September 1958, Lupino starred with her
Howard Duff in the
CBS sitcom Mr. Adams and Eve, in which
the duo played husband-and-wife film stars named Howard Adams and Eve
Drake, living in Beverly Hills, California. Duff and Lupino also
co-starred as themselves in 1959 in one of the 13 one-hour
The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour
The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour and an episode of The
Dinah Shore Chevy Show in 1960. Lupino guest-starred in numerous
television shows, including
The Ford Television Theatre
The Ford Television Theatre (1954);
Bonanza (1959); Burke's Law (1963–64); The Virginian (1963–65);
The Mod Squad
The Mod Squad (1969);
Family Affair (1969–70); The
Wild, Wild West (1969);
Nanny and the Professor
Nanny and the Professor (1971); Columbo: Short
Fuse (1972); Columbo: Swan Song (1974);
Barnaby Jones (1974); The
Streets of San Francisco;
Ellery Queen (1975); Police Woman (1975);
Charlie's Angels (1977).
She has two distinctions with
The Twilight Zone
The Twilight Zone series, as the only
woman to have directed an episode ("The Masks"); and the only person
to have worked as both actress and (uncredited) as a director in an
episode ("The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine").
Lupino made her final film appearance in 1978 and retired from the
entertainment business at the age of 60.
Lupino's Filmakers movies deal with unconventional and controversial
subject matter that studio producers would not touch, including
out-of-wedlock pregnancy, bigamy, and rape. She described her
independent work as "films that had social significance and yet were
entertainment ... based on true stories, things the public could
understand because they had happened or been of news value." She
focused on women's issues for many of her films and she liked strong
characters, "[Not] women who have masculine qualities about them, but
[a role] that has intestinal fortitude, some guts to it."
In the film The Bigamist, the two women characters represent the
career woman and the homemaker. The title character is married to a
woman (Joan Fontaine) who, unable to have children, has devoted her
energy to her career. While on one of many business trips, he meets a
waitress (Lupino) with whom he has a child, and then marries her.
Marsha Orgeron, in her book Hollywood Ambitions, describes these
characters as "struggling to figure out their place in environments
that mirror the social constraints that Lupino faced.". However,
Donati, in his biography of Lupino, said "The solutions to the
character’s problems within the films were often conventional, even
conservative, more reinforcing the 1950s' ideology than undercutting
Lupino's films are critical of many traditional social institutions,
which reflect her contempt for the patriarchal structure that existed
in classical Hollywood. Lupino rejected the commodification of female
stars in Hollywood and as an actress, she resisted becoming an object
of desire. She said in 1949, "'Hollywood careers are perishable
commodities,' ("Lupino Legend"), and sought to avoid such a fate for
Lupino in 1979
Lupino's interests outside the film and television industries included
writing short stories and children's books, and composing music. Her
composition "Aladdin's Suite" was performed by the Los Angeles
Philharmonic Orchestra in 1937.
She became an American citizen in June 1948 and a staunch
Democrat who supported the presidency of John F. Kennedy.
Lupino was married and divorced three times. She married actor Louis
Hayward in November 1938. They separated in May 1944 and divorced in
Her second marriage was to producer
Collier Young on 5 August 1948.
They divorced in 1951. When Lupino filed for divorce in September that
year, she was already pregnant from an affair with future husband
Howard Duff. The child was born seven months after she filed for
divorce from Young.
Lupino's third and final marriage was to actor Howard Duff, whom she
married on 21 October 1951. The couple had a daughter, Bridget, on
23 April 1952. Lupino and Duff divorced in 1983.
She petitioned a California court in 1984 to appoint her business
manager, Mary Ann Anderson, as her conservator due to poor business
dealings from her prior business management company and her long
separation from Howard Duff.
Lupino died from a stroke while undergoing treatment for colon cancer
Los Angeles on 3 August 1995, at the age of 77. Her memoirs,
Ida Lupino: Beyond the Camera, were edited after her death and
published by Mary Ann Anderson.
Influences and legacy
Lupino learned filmmaking from everyone she observed on set, including
William Ziegler, the cameraman for Not Wanted. When in preproduction
on Never Fear, she conferred with Michael Gordon on directorial
technique, organization, and plotting. Cinematographer Archie Stout
said of Ms. Lupino, "Ida has more knowledge of camera angles and
lenses than any director I've ever worked with, with the exception of
Victor Fleming. She knows how a woman looks on the screen and what
light that woman should have, probably better than I do." Lupino also
worked with editor Stanford Tischler, who said of her, "She wasn’t
the kind of director who would shoot something, then hope any flaws
could be fixed in the cutting room. The acting was always there, to
In her encyclopedia of women directors, Reel Women, Ally Acker
compares Lupino to pioneering silent-film director Lois Weber, for
their focus on controversial, socially relevant topics. With their
ambiguous endings, Lupino's films never offered simple solutions for
her troubled characters, and Acker finds parallels to her storytelling
style in the work of the modern European "New Wave" directors, such as
Margarethe von Trotta.
Ronnie Scheib, who issued a Kino release of three of Lupino's films,
likens Lupino's themes and directorial style to directors Nicholas
Ray, Sam Fuller, and Robert Aldrich, saying, "Lupino very much belongs
to that generation of modernist filmmakers." On whether Lupino should
be considered a feminist filmmaker, Scheib states, "I don't think
Lupino was concerned with showing strong people, men or women. She
often said that she was interested in lost, bewildered people, and I
think she was talking about the postwar trauma of people who couldn't
go home again."
Author Richard Koszarski noted Lupino's choice to play with gender
roles regarding women's film stereotypes during the studio era: "Her
films display the obsessions and consistencies of a true auteur... In
her films The Bigamist and The Hitch-Hiker, Lupino was able to reduce
the male to the same sort of dangerous, irrational force that women
represented in most male-directed examples of Hollywood film
Lupino did not openly consider herself a feminist, saying, "I had to
do something to fill up my time between contracts. Keeping a feminine
approach is vital — men hate bossy females ... Often I pretended to
a cameraman to know less than I did. That way I got more
cooperation." Village Voice writer Carrie Rickey, though, holds
Lupino up as a model of modern feminist filmmaking: "Not only did
Lupino take control of production, direction, and screenplay, but
[also] each of her movies addresses the brutal repercussions of
sexuality, independence and dependence."
By 1972, Lupino said she wished more women were hired as directors and
producers in Hollywood, noting that only very powerful actresses or
writers had the chance to work in the field.
Award winning actress Bea Arthur, best remembered for her work in
Maude and The Golden Girls, had great admiration for Lupino in her
younger days and was motivated to follow in Lupino's footsteps as an
actress saying that, "My dream was to become a very small blonde movie
Ida Lupino and those other women I saw up there on the
screen during the Depression."
Awards and tributes
Lupino has two stars on the
Hollywood Walk of Fame
Hollywood Walk of Fame for contributions
to the fields of television and film — located at 1724 Vine Street
and 6821 Hollywood Boulevard.
New York Film Critics Circle Award - Best Actress, The Hard Way, 1943
Inaugural Saturn Award - Best Supporting Actress, The Devil's Rain,
A Commemorative Blue Plaque is dedicated to Lupino and her father
Stanley Lupino by The Music Hall Guild of Great Britain and America
and the Theatre and Film Guild of Great Britain and America at the
house where she was born in Herne Hill, London, February 16, 2016
Carla Bley paid tribute to Lupino with her jazz composition
"Ida Lupino" in 1964.
Selected credits as actress and/or director
Love Race, TheThe Love Race
Minor supporting role; uncredited
Her First Affaire
Ghost Camera, TheThe Ghost Camera
Money for Speed
I Lived with You
Prince of Arcadia
Search for Beauty
Come On, Marines!
Ready for Love
Paris in Spring
Mignon de Charelle
La Fiesta de Santa Barbara
Short film made in Technicolor, with several celebrities appearing as
One Rainy Afternoon
Yours for the Asking
Gay Desperado, TheThe Gay Desperado
Let's Get Married
Artists and Models
Paula Sewell/Paula Monterey
Fight for Your Lady
Lone Wolf Spy Hunt, TheThe Lone Wolf Spy Hunt
Lady and the Mob, TheThe Lady and the Mob
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, TheThe Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Light That Failed, TheThe Light That Failed
Screen Snapshots Series 18, No. 6
Promotional short film
They Drive by Night
Sea Wolf, TheThe Sea Wolf
Out of the Fog
Ladies in Retirement
Life Begins at Eight-Thirty
Hard Way, TheThe Hard Way
Mrs. Helen Chernen
Forever and a Day
Thank Your Lucky Stars
In Our Time
Pillow to Post
Man I Love, TheThe Man I Love
Escape Me Never
Lust for Gold
Woman in Hiding
Deborah Chandler Clark
Country Dance Attendee
Hard, Fast and Beautiful
Seabright Tennis Match Supervisor
On the Loose
On Dangerous Ground
Beware, My Lovely
Mrs. Helen Gordon
Hitch-Hiker, TheThe Hitch-Hiker
Bigamist, TheThe Bigamist
Private Hell 36
Amelia van Zandt
Big Knife, TheThe Big Knife
While the City Sleeps
Trouble with Angels, TheThe Trouble with Angels
Woman in Chains
The Strangers in 7A
I Love a Mystery
Devil's Rain, TheThe Devil's Rain
Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress
Food of the Gods, TheThe Food of the Gods
My Boys Are Good Boys
Partial television credits
As actress and/or director
The Twilight Zone
Barbara Jean Trenton
"The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine"
"The Saga of Annie O'Toole"
Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour
"Lucy's Summer Vacation"
"The Last of the Sommervilles"
Kraft Suspense Theatre
"One Step Down"
"A Distant Fury"
The Twilight Zone
"A is for Aardvark"
"How Brillig, O, Beamish Boy"
It Takes A Thief
Lady "Maudie" Matchwood
Lady "Maudie" Matchwood
"Return of Maudie"
Roger Stanford's Aunt
"I Will Be Remembered"
Screen Guild Players
Nurse Edith Cavell
Stars over Hollywood
Chasten Thy Son
^ Recorded in Births Mar 1918 Camberwell Vol. 1d, p. 1019 (Free BMD).
Transcribed as "Lupine" in the official births index
^ a b c d e f g h Acker, Alley (1991).
Reel Women – Pioneers of the
Cinema, pp. 74-78. The Continuum Publishing Company, New York, NY.
Ida Lupino on IMDb
Ida Lupino Biography, Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved on 4 July
^ a b c d Flint, Peter B. "Ida Lupino, Film Actress and Director, Is
Dead at 77," The New York Times. August 5, 1995. Retrieved on April
^ a b
Ida Lupino Milestones, Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved on April
^ a b c d e f Donati, William (1996).
Ida Lupino A Biography,
University press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-1895-6
^ Grishman, Grossman, Therese, Julie (2017). Ida Lupino, Director: Her
Art and Resilience in Times of Transition.
United States of America:
Rutgers University Press. p. 5. ISBN 9780813574929.
^ a b c d e f Hagen, Ray & Wagner, Laura (2004). Killer Tomatoes:
Fifteen Tough Film Dames, pp. 103-114. McFarland & Company Inc.,
Jefferson, North Carolina. ISBN 978-0-7864-1883-1
^ Katz, Ephraim & Klein, Fred & Nolan, Ronald Dean (1998). The
Film Encyclopedia 3rd edition, p. 858. Harper Perennial, New York, New
York. ISBN 0-06-273492-X
^ a b c d e Orgeron, Marsha (2008). Hollywood Ambitions, pp. 170-179.
Wesleyan University, Middleton, Connecticut.
^ Kurtti-Pellerin (Producers), (November 4, 2003). Divided Highway:
The Story of
They Drive by Night
They Drive by Night (documentary short). Turner
Entertainment Co., USA: Kurtti-Pellerin.
^ Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times, film review, "High Sierra,
Considers the Tragic and Dramatic Plight of the Last Gangster,"
January 25, 1941. Accessed: January 29, 2008.
^ Morra, Anne (2010). Modern Women: Women Artists at the Museum of
Modern Art, pp. 235–237. Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York.
^ a b Rickey, Carrie (October 29 - November 4, 1980). "Lupino Noir,"
Village Voice, p. 43
^ a b c Hurd, Mary (2007). Women Directors & Their Films, pp.
9-13. Praeger, Westport, Connecticut. ISBN 0-275-98578-4
^ Wood, Bret. "Outrage (1950)".
Turner Classic Movies
Turner Classic Movies Online.
Retrieved 10 August 2008.
^ a b Everitt, David. "A Woman Forgotten And Scorned No More," The New
York Times, November 23, 1997. Retrieved on April 6, 2016.
^ Weiner, Debra (1977). Kay Peary, Karen & Peary, Gerald, editors.
Women and the Cinema, "Interview with Ida Lupino," pp. 169-178.
Dutton, New York, New York. ISBN 0-525-47459-5
^ Grisham, Grossman, Therese, Julie (2017). "Ida Lupino, Director".
Rutgers University Press – via JSTOR.
^ Donati, William (1996). Ida Lupino. University Press of Kentucky.
p. 143. ISBN 0-813-11895-6.
^ O'Dell, Cary (1997). Women Pioneers in Television: Biographies of
Fifteen Industry Leaders. McFarland. p. 175.
^ "Ida Lupino,
Louis Hayward Admit Separation". San Jose Evening News.
19 July 1944. p. 11. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
Ida Lupino Files Suit For Divorce". St. Petersburg Times. 5
May 1945. p. 13. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
Ida Lupino To Seek Divorce From Producer". Toledo Blade. 3
September 1951. p. 2. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
Ida Lupino Wed to Howard Duff". Eugene Register-Guard. 22
October 1951. p. 4. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
Ida Lupino Mother of 4-LB. Daughter". The Times-News. 26 April
1952. p. 9. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
^ "Actress, director Lupino dies". The Daily Courier. 6 August 1995.
Retrieved 9 March 2013.
^ "Ida Lupino, 77; Actress, Pioneer Director". Albany Times. Retrieved
10 June 2012.
^ "Ida Lupino: Beyond the Camera – New from BearManor Media". Turner
Classic Movies. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
^ Koszarski, Richard (1976). Hollywood Directors, Oxford University
Press, New York, New York. ISBN 0-19-502085-5
^ "The Academy of Science Fiction Fantasy & Horror Films". Saturn
Awards. Archived from the original on 10 February 2005. Retrieved 10
Stanley Lupino and
Ida Lupino Commemorated," The Music Hall Guild
of Great Britain and America. Retrieved on April 6, 2016.
^ Haga, Evan. (October 15, 2008) "Paul Bley Trio: Darkly Winsome
Jazz," NPR Music. Retrieved on April 11, 2016.
^ "Those Were The Days". Nostalgia Digest. 41 (3): 32–39. Summer
^ "Those Were the Days". Nostalgia Digest. 43 (3): 33. Summer
Ida Lupino Keeps Dangerous Secret". The Pittsburgh Courier.
Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh. June 20, 1953. p. 18. Retrieved July
15, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
Therese Grisham and Julie Grossman, eds. Ida Lupino, Director: Her Art
and Resilience in Times of Transition (Rutgers UP, 2017) 248 pages;
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Ida Lupino on IMDb
Ida Lupino at the TCM Movie Database
Ida Lupino at
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Mila Kunis (2010)
Emily Blunt (2011)
Anne Hathaway (2012)
Scarlett Johansson (2013)
Rene Russo (2014)
Jessica Chastain (2015)
Tilda Swinton (2016)
Films by Ida Lupino
Never Fear (1949)
Hard, Fast and Beautiful
Hard, Fast and Beautiful (1950)
The Hitch-Hiker (1951)
The Bigamist (1953)
The Trouble with Angels (1966)
Never Fear (1949)
The Hitch-Hiker (1953)
Private Hell 36
Private Hell 36 (1954)
ISNI: 0000 0000 7104 3711
BNF: cb125623016 (data)