A Woman to Know: Ida Lupino

I can't tolerate fools. Won't have anything to do with them. — Ida

(image via Wikimedia Commons)

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Hollywood bombshell, Howard Hughes's girlfriend, tabloid favorite and more -- but out of all these titles, Ida's favorite was "director." In the midst of her own acting and modeling career, Ida carved her own path to the director's chair. She was the only woman directing film and TV in the Hollywood studio system, and in 1949 she and her then-husband created their own production company, dedicated to bringing low-budget, socially-conscious films to the screen. She worked the sexual politics of a 1950s film set to her advantage. As she later wrote in her autobiography, "Often, I'd pretend to a camera man to know less than I did. That way I got more cooperation."

Within writing and directing, Ida celebrated her own series of "firsts": first woman to direct a film noir, first woman to break into television direction, first (and only) woman to pilot a series of "Twilight Zone" episodes. She scored two separate stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame -- one for her directing work and one for her movie roles. Before her death in 1995, she was an outspoken advocate for women in film, demanding that more women take top billing, and more female directors from diverse backgrounds get the experience needed to pilot their own productions. She encouraged women on her film crew to explore writing, producing and directing; and on set, she requested a special label for her director's chair: "Mother of Us All."

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