Ida Lupino, a Hollywood Bio in Brief, The Personal File

Ida Lupino Looking Through Movie Cameralupino_29

In order to cover the entirety of the career of Ida Lupino, while venturing into every position that she filled while working in Hollywood both in the movies and on television would consume a rather large book. Also, most of her career has been well written of, with very few stones left unturned. So it is with some consternation that I have resigned myself to concern this short biography only with Ms. Lupino’s early years (just a two-year sample) beginning with her arrival in America and a cursory look at her first three movies. With that said, roll back the curtain, bring the lights down low and let the show begin…

Ida Lupino was born on Monday, February 4, 1918 to comedic actor Stanley Richard Lupino and actress Constance “Connie” Gladys O’Shea, in London, England. She would die on August 3, 1995, but in between she lived a full and shall we say a bigger than life, life.

Lupino 1933-1935:

Ida Lupino was signed by Paramount Pictures in the summer of 1933 to a long-term contract; transportation from London for her and her mother was included with her $600.00 per week salary.[1] A Los Angeles court had to approve Ms. Lupino’s contract, prior to it being finalized;[2] with the green-light from the bench, Ida and her mother Constance Lupino departed from Southampton, England, on August 19, sailing on the S. S. Berengaria, and arrived in New York on August 25, 1933.

Lupino’s father, Stanley was of Italian descent and her mother Connie, Irish; her father’s mother was Jewish. Upon arrival in the States the comments began to fly that Ida was more American than English; Connie O’Shea Lupino’s explanation was that of the “the mingling of bloods,” Italian, English, Irish and Jewish, that distinguished Ida as more American than British; this in her appearance and conduct as well as was noted, “She even talks like an American.”[3] This natural acclimation benefited Ida Lupino, as she was quickly assimilated in this culture and accepted as an American actress. Within the first two years of her living in the States, Lupino exclaimed that, “I am first a southern Californian and second an English woman;” she was and still clearly is claimed as an American Cinema and Television treasure.

The_Sandusky_Register_ Sandusky, Ohio, Sun__Sep_17__1933_

Sandusky Register, Sandusky, Ohio, September 17, 1933

The rumor-mill was fully churning by August of 1933, speculating that Lupino had been brought to the states, to play Alice, in the upcoming Paramount production, Alice in Wonderland (this gossip began in England) which would be directed by Norman Z. McLeod.[4] Lupino’s next leg of her journey was by air and when she arrived in Los Angeles she was airsick, in fact quite ill; once recovered and her land-legs beneath her, she was chaperoned by Tinsel-Town legends, Al Kaufman and Adolph Zukor as they visited the late-spots in Hollywood.[5]

The_Bee_ Danville, Virginia Mon__Aug_28__1933_

The Bee, Danville, Virginia, August 28, 1933

The_Oelwein_Daily_Register_ Oelwein, Iowa, Tue__Aug_29__1933_

Oelwein Daily Register, Oelwein, Iowa, August 29, 1933

The_Escanaba_Daily_Press_ Escanaba, Michigan, Thu__Aug_31__1933_

Escanaba Daily Press, Escanaba, Michigan, August 31, 1933

Ida’s first Paramount film was (eighth overall, the first seven produced in England), Search for Beauty, which was released in February of 1934, followed by, Come On, Marines!, (March of 1934), and Ready for Love which was released in November of 1934. This last entry for 1934, Ready for Love, was well advertised and well received, her last two films of 1934 co-starred Richard Arlen.

search-for-beauty-1934Come on MarniesReady_for_Love_1934

Everything seemed on pace and maybe even was outpacing Ida Lupino’s expectations of her acting plans when the unthinkable occurred to the young actress. May of 1934 saw the Los Angeles area experience infections of infantile paralysis (polio) at epidemic proportions.[6] Ms. Lupino’s world could have changed permanently on June 22, of 1934, when she was stricken with polio. Yet, the diagnosis after prompt use of the serum was that hers was a mild case; the fact that the inoculation effectively blocked the danger of paralysis (this according to her doctor) must have brought great solace to her and her loved ones. [7]

Lupino was cleared to return to work by the middle of July, but after staying pool-side too long and receiving severe sunburn, her recuperation was further postponed. Still unable to do more than sit up in bed in the third week of July she rested yet the more;[8] her father had come to the States to be with her during her convalescence. The family planned a trip for Ida back home to England, scheduled for September 1, but Ms. Lupino was hit with the flu and was confined to bed by her personal physician (Dr. T. Percival Gerson[9]) for a week to ten days, delaying their trip for more than a month.[10] Mr. and Mrs. Lupino and Ida would finally leave for England in early October of 1934, arriving on the 19th. The visit with friends and family lasted nearly three months and on January 9 of 1935, Ida, her mother and her younger sister, Rita, sailed from England for the United States, with Ida’s health fully recovered and her purpose undeterred.

Shamokin_News_Dispatch_ Shamokin, Pennsylvania, Tue__Oct_9__1934_

Shamokin News Dispatch, Shamokin, Pennsylvania, October 9, 1934

Some general thoughts and perceptions of Ida Lupino:

Actress, writer, producer and director, the First Lady of Hollywood-Multiplicity and the Poster-Girl for Film Noir, both in front of the camera and behind; Lupino starred in some of the finest of the hard-edged films of the 1940’s. As with many actresses, she began with simple turns in sweet and neat movies, those mainly in 1930’s; she won no Academy Awards, nary a nomination from Mr. Oscar, but in 1943 she did receive Best Actress for The Hard Way from the New York Film Critics Circle Awards.[11] Ida Lupino or “Mother of Us All”, as she was know on the set when directing, was the second (Dorothy Arzner the first) woman accepted into the Directors Guild of America, a member from 1950 to 1995.[12]

Beautiful, a snappish speaker, pleading tones that brought the high and low vocal qualities together; and a crisp directing style, belonged to Lupino. She was direct and to the point, with a frugal hand upon the film’s helm; her producing and writing interests were stories that could have been torn from the headlines of newspapers and magazines. Whatever the thought regarding her acting and directing abilities, no one can doubt that Ida Lupino blazed the trail for women who aspired to more than just to act in film.


Films in which Ms. Lupino had duties as Director, or Writer or Producer, including movies that she served in more than one capacity:

Director, Writer and Producer

Director, Writer and Producer

Director and Writer




Director and Writer



Ida Lupino as an actress only:

lupinoparis-in-spring-movie-poster-1935-1020197046lupinoPoster - Anything Goes (1936)_06lupinoThe+Gay+Desperado+(1936)lupino6lupinothe-adventures-of-sherlock-holmes-movie-poster-1939-1020503585lupinoPoster - Light That Failed, The (1939)_04lupino1_20110515_123844lupinohigh-sierra-movie-poster-1941-1020416082lupinoPoster - Sea Wolf, The (1941)_06lupinoout_of_the_foglupino3086015709_0d3dd676b3lupinoThe_Hard_Way_1943_movie_posterlupinoIn_Our_Time_FilmPosterlupinopillow-to-post-movie-poster-1945-1010541394lupinoPoster - Escape Me Never (1947)_08 lupinobig_knife

By C. S. Williams

[1] Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) July 30, 1933

Santa Cruz Sentinel (Santa Cruz, California) October 3, 1933

[2] Santa Cruz Sentinel (Santa Cruz, California) October 3, 1933

[3] Sandusky Register (Sandusky, Ohio) September 17, 1933

[4] Harrisburg Telegraph (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) August 26, 1933

[5] Times (San Mateo, California) September 18, 1933

[6] San Bernardino County Sun (San Bernardino, California) May 28, 1934

[7] Fresno Bee (Fresno, California) June 23, 1934

[8] San Bernardino County Sun (San Bernardino, California) July 1, 1934

Bristol Daily Courier (Bristol, Pennsylvania) July 13, 1934

Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, Utah) July 22, 1934

Reading Times (Reading, Pennsylvania) August 7, 1934

[9] One of those responsible in establishing the Hollywood Bowl and its summer music festival,

[10] San Bernardino County Sun (San Bernardino, California) September 2, 1934

Times (San Mateo, California) June 23, 1934

[11] 1943-New York Film Critics Circle Awards

[12] Directors Guild of America, Quarterly, Winter, 2006

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