When Women Ran Hollywood

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message 1: by Juliette (new)

Juliette One of the most interesting things I learned while researching the early days of Hollywood for CITY OF FLICKERING LIGHT is that women were a driving force in early filmmaking. They worked in virtually every position in the industry, from “plasterer molder” (set construction) to producer.

There were a few popular actors, but actresses were the stars. "America's Sweetheart,” Mary Pickford, was consistently one of the highest paid actors of the teens and twenties, and the American Film Institute recently ranked her as 24th of greatest female stars of all time. Not only was a great actress, but she was also one of the four founders of United Artists, and the shrewdest, most knowledgeable business partner among them.

In 1916 the highest salaried director, male or female, earning an unprecedented $5,000 a week, was Lois Weber, who pioneered film techniques like the split screen and mirror shot. By comparison, in 2018 of the 100 top grossing films, women directed 4.

For over twenty years, the most sought after and highest paid screenwriter in Hollywood, male or female, was Frances Marion. She is the only woman to have won two academy awards for Best Original Screenplay. An estimated half of all screenplays produced before 1925 were written by women, compared to 15% in 2018.

“Once talkies arrived, in the late 20s, budgets soon tripled, Wall Street invested heavily, and moviemaking became an industry. Men muscled into high-paying positions, and women were sidelined to the point where, by the 1950s, speakers at Directors Guild meetings began their comments with “Gentlemen and Miss Lupino,” as Ida Lupino was their only female member.” ~ Cari Beachamp, Hollywood historian

Their names may no longer be widely recognizable, but these were among the many women who built and ran early Hollywood, shaped the industry in myriad ways, and influenced what we see on the silver screen even today.

message 2: by M.K. (new)

M.K. | 42 comments Hi Juliette .. reminds me of The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin. Best wishes for your novel.

message 3: by Juliette (new)

Juliette Yes! I haven't read that yet, but I've heard good things. And thanks for your kind wishes!

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