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Feature: My Momentary Celebrity Obsession–Ida Lupino

Ida Lupino

I stumbled upon Ida Lupino utterly by accident while enjoying Bogart’s They Drive By Night. I was instantly spellbound by this rather unorthodox-looking woman who commanded the screen so significantly. I find it surprising that film history has left the woman rather unremembered considering her supreme talent.

I also rather identify with Lupino. Despite going through the typical blonde phase every newcomer to Hollywood seemed to endure, the woman’s early triumphs were as a dark-haired, scrawny and dark eye-makeup-clad gal, not too far flung from my own physical specifications. Lupino proved that her small body in no way would hinder her ability to give big shows that beat down even the toughest men. Her voice was full of sass in these days, and boy is she a sight to see.

Unfortunately, she often viewed herself as a less desirable alternate to Bette Davis, having also worked at Warner Bros. and often taking the scraps Davis turned down. I do not really see any comparison between the two, however, besides that both often played strong women.

As her career progressed, Lupino aged well into more mature roles that showed little of that small woman of past prowess but still held the same talent always present. Despite her on-screen abilities, Lupino would actually become quite well established in directing television.  She also developed production companies to find talent rather than provide it herself.

Somehow Lupino managed to win no awards over her career of more than 60 acting roles, seven directed pictures, and dozens of television episodes and specials. Perhaps this adds to her obscurity in Hollywood history. One need only watch one of her roles in the 1940s to be taken by her obvious skill. It is a wonder the Academy and others did not see it as well.


3 Responses

  1. I love love Ida’s performance in “They Drive By Night.” I recorded that movie because I thought it sounded interesting but was pleasantly surprised about how amazing it was!
    “The doors made me do it!!”
    I don’t think I’ve ever seen Ida in a bad movie. She is wonderful.

  2. Love Ida in ROAD HOUSE and ON DANGEROUS GROUND,two very different characters. Her throaty singing in the former is something to behold. She’s also worth watching in Private Hell 36.

    Vienna’s Classic Hollywood

  3. According to TCM, Ida Lupino was the biggest box office actress of the 1940’s. Her lack of deserved awards and recognition was a direct result of her admirable defiance of the studio system. Ida was incredibly talented and ahead of her time.

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