Ida Lupino Overview:

Legendary actress, Ida Lupino, was born on Feb 4, 1918 in London, England. Lupino died at the age of 77 on Aug 3, 1995 in Los Angeles, CA and was cremated and her ashes given to family or friend.


Early Life

Ida Lupino was born on February 4th, 1918 in neighborhood of Camberwell in London, England. Entertainment seemed to be in her blood as she was the first daughter of actress Connie O' Shae and music hall sensation Stanley Lupino. On her father's side, Lupino descended from a dynasty of theatrical performers, whose feats included acting, singing, and tightrope walking. Their success allowed the Lupino family to form relationships with prominent figures such as Charles Dickens and Prince Edward VII. Because of this Ida's early life was marked by resounding privilege and access to a very exclusive part of creative theatre culture. While her parents were on tour in the Americas, Ida and her younger sister were to the Clarence House, a highly regarded boarding school for girls. While there, at the tender age of seven, she began to take in interest in script writing and often acted in her own plays. Her first staged production was titled Mademoiselle, in which she both wrote and starred. This would prove not only to be the beginning of her acting career but of her directing career, as well.  By the time she was 12, Lupino had made her professional stage debut at the Tom Thumb Theatre in London.

Early Career

In 1931, at the age of 13, Lupino made her film debut as an extra in The Love Race. The film starred her father and was directed by one of her show business cousins. Later that she enrolled in the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. She studied there for two years, honing her craft and skills on the stage. During her off-time from her proper schooling, she would continue to educate herself outside of the classroom by observing her father on film sets, mastering the subtleties of film acting.  In 1932 she accompanied her mother to an audition for the film Her First Affaire. Although it was her mother was suppose to audition for the part, as soon the director, Allan Dwan, saw the 14-year old Lupino, he know she was right for the role. In the film Lupino played Anne, a young stubborn girl that falls for much older, betrothed man and will stop at nothing to get what she wants. She played the role so convincingly that her subsequent roles were all in the same vein. Lupino was often caked in make-up, with bleach-blonde hair playing roles years or perhaps even a decade older than her teenaged years. Despite being billed as the "English Jean Harlow," Lupino's acting tenure in Great Britain was short if not busy. In 1933 she appeared in five films, including The Ghost Camrea, Money for Speed, and Prince of Arcadia. In 1934 Lupino was noticed Paramount Pictures agent, Donovan Pedelty, who thought her the perfect candidate for role of Alice in Paramount' supcoming Hollywood production of Alice in Wonderland. Soon Lupino signed a six-month contract and sailed west for Tinsel Town.


Upon her arrival in Hollywood, Paramount producers immediately took Lupino off the Alice in Wonderland project, stating she looked far too mature for such a role. She was instead given the starlet treatment, making appearances at all the Hollywood hotspot with all the right people. Her first film for Paramount was the forgettable crime/comedy Search for Beauty. Although her next film, Come on Marines, was equally as forgettable, Lupino did receive positive reviews from the trade papers. She continued to star in sub-par roles, often comedies that were unsuitable for her dramatic talents. She was almost ready to leave Paramount in search of better roles until she was cast in Henry Hathaway's Peter Ibbetson opposite Gary Cooper and Ann Harding. Despite only appearing in two scenes, The Hollywood reporter stated the film was her best role to date. Due to the strength of her performance, Paramount sighed her to 52-week contract at $1,750 per month. She then starred in the 1935 musical comedy Anything Goes opposite Bing Crosby and Ethel Merman. Although the film was a hit, Lupino still felt her talents were being stilted. She would continue to act in less-than-seller for the next few years. Soon, she became so dissatisfied that's he asked to be released from her contract.

Although freed from her contract, Lupino was still having difficulty finding roles of merit. Her first away from Paramount was the forgettable RKO production Fight for Your Lady. In 1938 she was away from the screen completely. When she did return to the screen in 1939, it was first with Columbia Studios The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt, featuring a very young Rita Hayworth. She appeared in three more film that year, including another Columbia Picture Production, The Lady and the Mob and Twentieth Century Fox's The Adventures of Sherlock Homes. Although the two films were met with moderate success, it would not be until her next film that Lupino would have her breakout hit.

Big Break

In 1939 Paramount Studios was casting  their up coming big screen adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling novel The Light that Failed. The role, however, was not simple given to Lupino. The film was to be produced by Paramount Studios, the very studio she had left years before and now wanted to do with her. However, Lupino would not give up and forced her way into director William Wellmans' office in order to audition. Although the film's star Ronald Colman had his heart set on Vivien Leigh as his leading lady, Lupino impressed Wellman with her force of personality. The film centers around the character of Dick Heldar, who struggles to paint his final portrait before he goes blind. Lupino's role was that of Bessie Bloke, the very portrait that Heldar is attempting to finish. The film was hit with much of the praise going to Lupino's performance as the cockney English girl, a far from her days as Paramount Studios major ingenue. Impressed by her work, Warner Brother's was quick to sign Lupino's to a multi-year contract.

Warner Brothers Years

Lupino's first film for her new studio was opposite Humphrey Bogart and George Raft in the truck-driver film noir They Drive By Night. The film was massive success with critics and audiences with Lupino earning rave reviews. Happy with the Success of They Drive By Night Warner Brothers immediately reunited her with Bogart, this time in the Raoul Walsh film noir High Sierra. In the film Lupino plays a dance-hall gal turned gun moll who's caught the eye of gangster "Mad Dog" Roy Earle, played by Bogart. The film was another hit and once again Lupino received a considerable amount of praise from the critics. That year, she also starred in another hit film, Michael Curtis' big screen adaption of Jack London's The Sea Wolf. Despite a pay raise and the apparent popularity she had with audiences, Lupino quickly grew frustrated with the roles offered by Warner Brothers. She felt herself as something of "poor mans Bette Davis." In 1942 she was assigned two roles, King's Row and Castle in the Clouds but refused and was subsequently suspended. While most stars ran off on vacation while suspended, Lupino did the opposite. She hung around sets, learning all the work that went into making a film behind the cameras and eventually found herself in the editing room, learning how to filmmakers roped all the pieces together.

In 1943 she starred the musical drama The Hard Way directed by Vincent Sherman. For her efforts she won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress. She followed that up with an appearance in the Hollywood Canteen film Thank Your Lucky Stars. Two years later she appeared in her only comedic leading role Pillow to Post. In 1947, when her contract with Warner Brothers expired, neither Lupino nor the Studio showed any interest in renewing it, and soon Lupino became a free agent.

Behind the Camera

After leaving Warner Brothers, Lupino acted in Columbia Pictures Lust for Gold opposite Glenn Ford. The film was not a significant hit and would mark the decline of her acting career. However, that would not matter since Lupino had other career options in mind. In 1948 she formed her own production company, Emerald Pictures, with her second husband, Columba Producer Collier Young. Together they financed an independent social issue film, The Judge, directed by Elmer Clifton. The film was able to make a profit and Lupino immediately began work on another social-issue film, again to be directed by Clifton.

In 1949 Lupino penned was produced her first film, Not Wanted. In the middle of the film preproduction stage, the director, Elmer Clifton, fell ill and was unable to finish the project. With more knowledge on the film than anyone else, Lupino made the decision to director the film herself without credit. From the first take to the last, it was Lupino who was calling the shots. With a budget of only $150,000, she made the choice to use guerilla-style shooting techniques on the streets of L.A to reduce cost and add an aesthetic of realism to the piece. The film would go on to make over a million dollars at the box-office and Lupino found herself very comfortable in the directors chair. Although not the first female director in Hollywood, Lupino received a great amount of attention for her directing ambitions.

Between 1949 and 1951 Lupino directed four social issues films. Although these films were not considered large blockbuster or financial hits, they were noted for featuring strong female protagonists with realistic, female problems. The most controversial of these films was 1950's Outrage, which centered on the rape of a woman and its psychological aftermath. In 1953 Lupino directed the film noir thriller Hitch-Hiker, telling the story of murderous hitcher who pledges to kill the two gentlemen who picked him up. Later that year she directed the marital drama The Bigamist.

Later Career and Life

For the next two and a half decades Lupino remained busy both in-front and behind the camera. She appeared in b-pictures such as Women's Prison, The Big Knife and Strange Intruder through out the mid-1950s before moving mostly into television by the 1960's. On TV, she made many memorable guest appearances on shows such as General Electric Theater, The Rogues and The Wild Wild West. Her most famous guest appearance came in 1968 when she played Dr. Cassandra on the beloved Batman series. She would continue to appear one television well into the 1970s. During this time Lupino also stayed active with her directing work, mostly on the medium of TV. She successfully took the helm of popular series such as The Fugitive, The Twilight Zone and Gilligan's Island.  

As the 1980s rolled around, Lupino entered retirement. During this time her long battles with alcohol addiction only grew worse and she would spend the rest of the decade in solitude, estranging herself from even her family. By the 1990s Lupino health began to decline, suffering from both physical and mental ailments. Ida Lupino died on August 3rd, 1995 of a stroke. She was 77 years old.

(Source: article by Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub).



She was honored with two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the categories of Television and Motion Pictures. Lupino was never nominated for an Academy Award.

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Ida Lupino Quotes:

Emily Bronte: All our lives there has been too much left unsaid between us. Loving is the only thing that really matters, Charlotte. It's worthwhile being hurt a bit to find that out. The world has always frightened me a little, so I'm really not afraid to leave it now. Though sometimes, when I hear the wind blowing through the heather, or see the sun go down beyond Wuthering Heights, I think, perhaps, I'd like to stay just a little longer.

Mary Malden: Tell me, how is it to be a cop?
Jim Wilson: You get so you don't trust anybody.
Mary Malden: [who is blind] You're lucky. You don't have to trust anyone. I do. I have to trust everybody.

Marie Garson: Yeah, I get it, 'ya always sorta hope 'ya can get out, it keeps 'ya going.

read more quotes from Ida Lupino...

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Ida Lupino on the
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Ida Lupino Facts
Lupino is an Italian surname. Her ancestors came from Bologna, Italy.

Her daughter was born on April 23, 1952. She only weighed 4 pounds and almost died.

Not only is she the only woman to direct an episode of "Twilight Zone" (1959) ("The Masks"), she is also the only person to star in an episode ("The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine") and direct one.

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