Since I first became interested in Louise Brooks, I have always appreciated meeting others with whom to share my enthusiasm. Early on, I searched for some kind of fan club - but found none. Over time, it occurred to me that I might form a group. Starting the Louise Brooks Society coincided with my growing interest in computing and the internet. I realized there would be no better way of forming a fan club than over the world wide web. A "fan club" (in the traditional sense), would be a way to share interests and information. Thus, the Louise Brooks Society was born. Thanks to the moral support and contributions of numerous individuals over the years, the LBS has succeeded in bringing together a huge following of Louise Brooks fans from around the world.
The Louise Brooks Society was begun informally in late 1994, and launched as a website in August, 1995. Since that time, the LBS has grown to become one of the leading websites devoted to any film star.** In 1996, the LBS was named one of the five best sites devoted to actresses by Net Directory (issue 7), an English magazine. Since then, the LBS has recieved numerous other internet awards and designations. (Please see the Award Page for a partial list.)
The LBS has also been mentioned in the Melbourne Age (an Australian newspaper; April 16, 1998), The Atlanta Journal and Constitution (May 5, 1998), The Net, Microtimes, the Toronto, Canada 'zine Stained Pages (issue 3, Spring / Summer 1996), and Intertitle (#1, 1997), the newsletter of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. On September 12, 2000, Jack Garner of the Gannett News Service wrote an article entitled "All you want to know about movies, online" in which he stated "The Louise Brooks Society (www.pandorasbox.com): A fine example of a fan page, a thoughtful, artful site devoted to the life and times of a fabled silent movie legend, with rare articles from the '20s, and superb photos." That sentiment was echoes on July 14, 2002 in the Stuttgarter Zeitung, a German newspaper which called the LBS an "vorbildlichen website."
As well, the LBS was featured on national television on E! Entertainment, the cable network. In the Fall of 1998, the LBS was included in an episode of "Mysteries and Scandals" devoted to Louise Brooks. Other local television appearances in the San Francisco Bay Area include Jan Wahl's "Talking Pictures" (KRON-BayTV) in May, 1998. On July 12, 2000, the Louise Brooks Society made it's debut on internet television when it was featured on the Alex Bennet program on PlayTV.
In 1998, prompted by Brooks' remarkable popularity on the internet as evidenced by the LBS, Turner Classic Movies produced a documentary on the actress entitled "Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu." The inspiration provided by the LBS in bringing this documentary to the screen was written up in Wired and the San Francisco Chronicle. And in the year 2000, because of a groundswell of interest generated through the LBS, the University of Minnesota Press reissued two sought-after though out-of-print books - Louise Brooks' own Lulu in Hollywood and the acclaimed Barry Paris' biography of the actress. The efforts of the LBS in helping bring these two titles back into print was covered in Publisher's Weekly.
So far, the efforts and activities of the Louise Brooks Society have been largely focused on the development of this website. Numerous fans have contributed articles, pictures, and information. Others have translated articles or conducted research in libraries and archives around the world. One of the goals of the Louise Brooks Society is to document "all-things-Brooksie."
At times, the LBS has taken it's activities beyond cyberspace. In September of 1997, the LBS mounted a small exhibit at What's For Dessert, a popular neighborhood cafe in San Francisco, California. The exhibit, entitled "Louise Brooks: Portraits and Memorabilia," included vintage material such as sheet music, postcards, cigarette cards and magazines. A four page brochure was created, and individuals from across Northern California came to see the show. (Among the many fans who signed the guestbook was the son of Paramount photographer M.I. Boris.) In June of 1998, the LBS sponsored another Louise Brooks show at What's For Dessert. "Homage to Lulu" coincided with a citywide "Femmes Fatales Festival" which included the San Francisco Opera production of Alban Berg's "Lulu."
The Louise Brooks Society has also helped sponsor other events. In 1999, to coincide with annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival, the LBS hosted an event at The Booksmith with Rolled Stockings scenarist Frederica Sagor Maas. And in the year 2000, to celebrate the republication of Louise Brooks, the LBS co-sponsored an event at The Booksmith with biographer Barry Paris.
To be continued. . . .
** Two historical footnotes: The earliest archived newsgroup post mentioning the Louise Brooks Society (a query from the LBS itself) dates to January 29, 1996. [ An earlier posting, from October 27, 1995, announces the website. ] These posts are part of the 20-year Usenet Archive which contain over 700 million messages. The earliest archived LBS webpage dates to April 11, 1997. This page is part of the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.