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Louise Brooks Chronology

lulu  This chronology outlines Louise Brooks' life and career - as a dancer and showgirl, as an actress in films, and as a writer in the last decades of her life. Significant events, friendships and happenings in Brooks' life are also noted. To add context, notable cultural trends and political events during Brooks' lifetime are also indicated - as are milestones in American and world cinema.

YEAR DAILY LIFE LOUISE BROOKS MOTION PICTURES
1906

The Four Million, by O. Henry.

First radio program of voice and music in the USA.

Born Mary Louise Brooks on November 14th in Cherryvale, Kansas. Family includes parents Leonard & Myra Brooks, brothers Theodore and Martin, and sister June. Nickelodeons gain popularity in New York City.
1907

First Ziegfeld Follies in New York.

American suffragists begin campaign in New York.

  John Wayne born.
1908

The Diary of a Lost One, by Margaret Bohme, published in the United States.

  D.W. Griffith directs first film.
1909

London hairdressers give the first permanent waves.

 

First newsreels shown.

1910

Kansas atttorney general rules women may wear trousers.

Brooks appears as Tom Thumb's bride - her first stage role - in a Cherryvale church benefit. Over the next few years, accompanied by her mother Myra as costume maker and pianist, Brooks would dance at men's and women's clubs, fairs, and various other gatherings in southeastern Kansas. From the age of ten, Brooks wrote, "I was what amounted to a professional dancer."  
1911      
1912

Introduction to Psychoanalysis, by Sigmund Freud.

Titanic sinks on maiden voyage.

Woodrow Wilson becomes President of the United States.

   
1913

Woolworth skyscraper tops all others.

Modern art introduced to America at Armory Show in NYC.

First volume of Marcel Proust's Remembrances of Things Past published in France.

 

Famous Players Film Company releases its first film, The Prisoner of Zenda.

First films of Charlie Chaplin

1914

World War I begins in Europe.

 

The Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company releases The Squaw Man. This is Cecil B. DeMille's first picture, and the first feature–length motion picture to be filmed in California.

Mary Pickford signs a movie contract worth more than $100,000 per year. The star system is born.

Tillie's Punctured Romance, first full-length silent film comedy.

1915

Of Human Bondage, by Somerset Maugham.

Etudes for Piano, by Claude Debussy.

Love the Magician, by Manuel de Falla.

First transcontinental telephone call, New York-San Francisco.

 

A Fool There Was, with Theda Bara.

The Birth of a Nation, by D. W. Griffith.

Tillies Punctured Romance, by Mack Sennett.

1916

Theatre Arts Magazine founded.

Nights in the Garden of Spain, by Manuel de Falla.

 

Intolerance, by D. W. Griffith.

Famous Players-Lasky formed.

1917

America enters World War I. Revolution in Russia.

First Pulitzer Prizes awarded.

First Jazz record issued.

 

First Buster Keaton films.

Cleopatra, with Theda Bara.

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, with Mary Pickford.

1918

World-wide flu epidemic.

World War I ends. American troops return to the United States

Civil War in Russia.

Pandora's Box, by Frank Wedekind, published in the United States.

 

Poor Little Rich Girl, with Mary Pickford.

1919

Formation of the League of Nations.

Establishment of the Weimar Republic.

Bauhaus founded in Germany.

Prohibition begins in the United States.

Winesburg, Ohio, by Sherwood Anderson

Three-Cornered Hat, by Manuel de Falla.

 

Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, and D.W. Griffith form United Artists.

Daddy Long Legs, with Mary Pickford.

The Miracle Man, with Lon Chaney.

1920

The 19th Amendment gives American women the right to vote.

Sacco and Venzetti Trial.

Warren Harding elected President of the United States.

Flappers and Philosophers and This Side of Paradise, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Main Street, by Sinclair Lewis.

Brooks family moves to Wichita, Kansas. Brooks studies dance. Her education and family life are typical of the time, with Brooks showing a liking for reading and the arts.

Mary Pickford marries Douglas Fairbanks.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari by Robert Weine.

Mark of Zorro with Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.

1921

Anna Christie, by Eugene O'Neill.

 

Charges are leveled against Fatty Arbuckle after the death of a young actress.

The Kid, with Charlie Chaplin.

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, with Rudolph Valentino.

The Three Musketeers, with Douglas Fairbanks.

1922

First recordings by Louis Armstrong with the King Olivier Orchestra.

Tales of the Jazz Age and The Beautiful and the Damned, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The cocktail is introduced.

U.S. Post Office burns copies of Ulysses, by James Joyce.

Tomb of Tutankhamen discovered.

Etiquette, by Emily Post.

Arrives in New York City. As a fifteen year old, joins the Denishawn Dance Company, whose members include Martha Graham, Charles Weidman and others pioneers of modern dance. Led by Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn, Denishawn is the leading modern dance troupe in America.

Cops, by Buster Keaton.

Nosferatu by F. W. Murnau.

1923

James P. Johnson creates the Charleston.

First birth-control clinic founded in New York City.

Calvin Coolidge assumes Presidency after death of Harding.

The Adding Machine, by Elmer Rice.

Salome with Alla Nazimova.

Wallace Reid dies.

Safety First with Harold Lloyd.

Hunchback of Notre Dame with Lon Chaney.

1924

Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin.

The Show-off, by George Kelly.

Beggars of Life, by James Tully.

Birth of Surrealism in France.

Loudspeaker invented.

First photographs transmitted across the Atlantic by wireless telegraphy.

Leaves Denishawn and moves to New York City. Lives briefly at the Algonquin Hotel. Eventually lands a job as a chorus girl in the George White Scandals. Brooks becomes acquianted with the Scandals' in-house composer, George Gershwin.

Sails with friend Barbara Bennet (sister of Constance and Joan) to Europe. At age 17, gains employment at a leading London nightclub - the Cafe de Paris - where her appearance as a dancer is a stunning success. Brooks is the first person to dance the Charleston in London.

Greta Garbo's first major role in The Saga of Gosta Berling.

Thomas Ince dies under mysterious circumstances.

Thief of Bagdad, with Douglas Fairbanks.

1925

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser.

John Scopes convicted for teaching evolution.

The New Yorker magazine founded.

Birth of New Objectivity.

Returns to New York City. Joins the Ziegfeld Follies, and performs in the Ziegfeld production, Louie the 14th when it opens in Washington D.C. Meets businessman (and future NFL tycoon) George Marshall, with whom she maintains a longterm, on-and-off again relationship.

Brooks is elevated from the chorus to one of Ziegfeld's "Glorified Girls." Does a specialty dance during the 1925 Summer Follies, which also includes W.C. Fields and Will Rogers. Vargas paints her portrait, which hangs in Florenz Ziegfeld's office.

Summerlong affair with Charlie Chaplin. As part of the Manhattan "smart-set," Brooks' friends and acquaintances of the time include the wealthy and the artistic - the later including Robert Benchley, Michael Arlen, Herman Mankiewicz, H.L. Mencken, Anita Loos, Humphrey Bogart and others.

Appears in her first film, The Street of Forgotten Men. Signs five year contract with Paramount.

Makes the November cover of Art & Beauty Magazine as "Louise Brooks, Ziegfeld Follies." Described as a journal "for art lovers and art students," this is Brooks' first appearance on a magazine cover.

The Joyless Street by G. W. Pabst.

Battleship Potemkin by Sergei Eisenstein.

The Gold Rush with Charlie Chaplin.

Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney.

Greed by Erich von Stroheim.

1926

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, by Anita Loos.

The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway.

Gang warfare in Chicago over control of illicit liquer.

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Brief appearance in The American Venus (with Esther Ralston, Lawrence Gray) draws critical praise and helps launch film career.

Featured as a flapper in the Malcolm St. Clair-directed A Social Celebrity (with Adolf Menjou, Chester Conklin).

Featured in It's the Old Army Game (with W.C. Fields). The film is directed by Eddie Sutherland, a well known director of the time who would direct Fields' in other films.

Marries director Eddie Sutherland in July.

Featured in The Show-Off (with Ford Sterling), Just Another Blond (with Dorothy MacKaill, Buster Collier, Jr.), and a flapper comedy directed by Frank Tuttle, Love 'Em and Leave 'Em (with Evelyn Brent, Lawrence Gray).

"Dixie Dugan" - a syndicated comic strip by John H. Striebel, makes its debut. Brooks' life as a chorus girl inspires the strip's main character, which is based on J.P. McEvoy's stage play Show Girl.

Appears on the October cover of Motion Picture Classic.

Metropolis by Fritz Lang.

Secrets of a Soul by G. W. Pabst.

Don Juan, with John Barrymore.

The General with Buster Keaton.

Death of Rudolph Valentino at age 31.

1927

Duke Ellington performs at the Cotton Club in Harlem.

Charles Lindbergh flies solo from New York to Paris.

The Canary Murder Case, by S. S. Van Dine.

Elmer Gantry, by Sinclair Lewis.

 

Napolean by Abel Gance.

Wings by William Wellman.

Berlin - Symphony of a City by Walter Ruttman.

Metropolis by Fritz Lang.

It with Clara Bow.

The Jazz Singer with Al Jolson.

1928

Herbert Hoover elected President of the United States.

Lady Chatterley's Lover, by D.H. Lawrence.

The Well of Loneliness, by Radclyffe Hall.

The Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht with music by Kurt Weill. An American in Paris by George Gershwin.

Howard Hawks directs Brooks in A Girl in Every Port (with Victor McLaglen, Robert Armstrong, Sally Rand). The movie is popular in Europe. Blaise Cendrars declared it "the first appearance of contemporary cinema." Director G.W. Pabst sees the film and decides (controversially) to cast the American Brooks as the German heroine "Lulu."

After directing Wings, William Wellman features Brooks in Beggars of Life (with Wallace Berry, Richard Arlen). Also stars in The Canary Murder Case (with William Powell), the first of the Philo Vance detective films.

Photographed by Edward Steichen for Vanity Fair. During the 1920's, Brooks would also be photographed by Nickolas Muray, James Abbe, Alfred Cheney Johnston, George Hurrell, James Doolittle, George P. Hommel, Otto Dyar, Eugene Richee and other well known photographers.

Brooks quits Paramount after B.P. Schulberg denies her a raise. Arrives in Germany at the invitation of director G.W. Pabst. Brooks stars in Pandora's Box (with Franz Lederer, Fritz Kortner). The actress would consider this film her finest work, though the film would not fare well with critics or at the box office.

Brooks returns to New York in December. She rejects an offer of $10,000 from Paramount to do voice-overs for the still unreleased Canary Murder Case. While in New York, meets William S. Paley, with whom she is romantically involved.

The Passion of Joan of Arc by Carl Theodor Dreyer.

The Circus with Charlie Chaplin.

The Wedding March by Erich von Stroheim.

1929

St. Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago.

With collapse of the stock market, the United States is plunged into an economic depression.

A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway.

All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque.

Spends time in Paris and the French Riviera before journeying to Germany, where Pabst directs Brooks in the silent Diary of a Lost Girl (with Fritz Rasp, Valeska Gert). With the advent of the talkies, the movie quickly disappears.

Brooks returns to New York barely long enough to be summoned to France for the filming of Prix de Beaute (with Georges Charlia), based on a story by Pabst and Rene Clair, along with additional scripting by Clair. The ex-patroit Italian Augusto Genina directs.

Talkies begin to replace silent films.

First Academy Awards given for 1927 / 1928.

RKO motion picture corporation formed.

Un chien andalou by Luis Buneul.

1930

The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett.

The Revolt of the Masses, by Ortega y Gassett.

Relocates to Hollywood in search of work. Role in the two-reeler Windy Riley Goes to Hollywood, directed by Fatty Arbuckle. Bit part in It Pays to Advertise (with Carole Lombard).

Deaths of Mabel Normand and Lon Chaney.

Paramount stops playing its films in RKO's theaters.

The Blue Angel, with Marlene Dietrich.

Anna Christie, with Greta Garbo.

1931

Empire State Building opens in New York City.

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Small role in a Michael Curtiz-directed film God's Gift to Women (with Frank Fay, Laura LaPlante, Joan Blondell). Without her trademark bangs, Brooks poses with the bust of Dante for a publicity photo for God's Gift to Women.

William Wellman offers Brooks the feminine lead in Public Enemy, opposite the young and still little known James Cagney. Brooks at first accepts the role, but then changes her mind and returns to New York. Later, Brooks receives the lead in a play, Louder, Please. Prior to its Broadway opening, however, she is fired.

Gangster and horror films reach new popularity. Among the year's releases are Public Enemy with James Cagney; Little Caesar with Edward G. Robinson; Dracula with Bela Lugosi; and Frankenstein with Boris Karloff.

The Threepenny Opera, by G. W. Pabst.

1932

Franklin D. Roosevelt elected President of the United States.

 

Harry Cohn becomes head of Columbia Pictures

Scarface, by Howard Hawks.

Grand Hotel with an all-star cast.

1933

Hitler appointed German Chancellor. Roosevelt launches New Deal.

Prohibition passed in the U.S. with repeal of the 21st Admendment.

Hitler closes Bauhaus.

Marries wealthy Chicago playboy Deering Davis. With her husband forms the dance team of Brooks & Davis. Within six months leaves Davis and returns to New York where she meets Dario Borzani, a.k.a. Dario Lee, with whom she forms the dance team of Dario & Louise.

Ecstacy with Hedy Lamarr.

The Testament of Dr. Mabuse is banned; Fritz Lang leaves Germany.

King Kong with Fay Wray.

1934

Tender is the Night, by F.Scott Fitzgerald.

F.B.I. shoots John Dillinger, "Public Enemy #1."

 

Death of Marie Dressler.

1935

Roosevelt launches second New Deal.

Mr. Norris Changes Trains, by Christopher Isherwood.

Dario & Louise tour the midwest and later appear at the Capitol Theater in New York - everywhere receiving excellent reviews. The team stays together until August, and then disbands. Though away from Hollywood, Brooks is considered for the lead role in The Bride of Frankenstein.

Returns to Hollywood, where she meets Erich Von Stroheim at a part thrown by Pabst. Visits with old friends Robert Benchley and Humphrey Bogart.

 
1936  

Role in a western, Empty Saddles (with Buck Jones). Part in King of Gamblers cut.

 
1937

First performance of Lulu, by Alban Berg.

Small part in When You're in Love (with Grace Moore, Cary Grant).

 
1938

Our Town, by Thorton Wilder.

Co-stars in her last film, Overland Stage Raiders (with John Wayne), the 18th installment in the "Three Mesquiteers" series. Wayne would soon go on to achieve stardom in Stagecoach and other films.

 
1939

World War II begins with the invasion of Poland by Germany.

Nylon stockings appear on the market.

Death of Freud.

Goodbye to Berlin, by Christopher Isherwood.

 

Gone with the Wind by Victor Fleming.

1940

The Invention of Morel, by Adolfo Bioy Casares.

After her Beverly Hills dance studio fails, Brooks returns to Kansas. Opens a dance studio in Wichita and authors a booklet, "The Fundamentals of Good Ballroom Dancing."

The Great Dictator by Charlie Chaplin.

1941

The Last Tycoon, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

 

Citizen Kane, by Orson Welles.

1942

Magnetic Tape invented.

 

The Maltese Falcon, by John Huston.

1943  

Returns to Manhattan. Finds employment doing radio work on such CBS shows as Hobby Lobby, Aunt Jenny and the Ellery Queen mystery series. Over the next few years supporst herself with a variety of jobs, including publicity work and a sales position at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Also during this time, Brooks tries to make ends meet by gathering gossip items for the celebrated columnist Walter Winchell.

Casablanca by Michael Curtiz.

1944      
1945

United Nations chartered in San Francisco.

   
1946      
1947

A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams.

   
1948

Cold War begins. Witch hunt in Hollywood.

Begins writing autobiography, Naked on My Goat, which after finishing it, she destroys in 1954.

 
1949

Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller.

   
1950      
1951

Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger.

   
1952

Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett.

 

Limelight, by Charlie Chaplin.

1953      
1954

I am a Camera, by John van Druten.

   
1955

Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov.

"60 Years of Cinema" at the Musee National d'Art Moderne in Paris features a huge portrait of Brooks at the building's entrance. Brooks' prominant position in the exhibit stirs considerable curiousity. When asked why he choose the somewhat obscure Brooks instead of Garbo, Dietrich or another, curator Langlois uttered his famous statement: "There is no Garbo! There is no Dietrich! There is only Louise Brooks!"

Meets James Card, the legendary film curator at George Eastman House. Card encourages her writing and renewed interest in film.

Rebel Without a Cause, with James Dean.

1956

Howl, by Allen Ginsberg.

Moves to Rochester, New York - home to the George Eastman House, where she studies film (watching hundreds of movies - including some of her own for the first time) and continues to write. Attempts collaborative book with Card.

First published article by Brooks, "Mr. Pabst," appeares in Image 5. Over the next two decades, articles by Brooks appear in Sight and Sound, Film Culture, Objectif, London Magazine, Focus on Film, Positif and elsewhere.

 
1957

Russia launches Sputnik.

Travels to Europe, where she visits Copenhagen, Paris and Madrid. Meets members of the European film community.

 
1958

John XXIII elected Pope.

Henri Langlois organizes a Louise Brooks retrospective at the Cinematheque Francaise. Brooks travels to Paris, where she stays for a month and meets with old friends and new acquiantences including Lotte Eisner, Kenneth Anger, Man Ray, Preston Sturges and Thomas Quinn Curtiss. Returns to Rochester.

 
1959      
1960

Civil Rights Bill passed in the United States.

Birth of Pop Art in the United States.

Ventures to New York City, where she delivers a short talk to accompany the premiere of Prix de Beaute. This trip would be her last outside Rochester.

 
1961      
1962    

Jules et Jim, by Francois Truffaut.

1963

President John F. Kennedy assassinated.

Pope John XXII dies and is succeeded by Paul VI.

   
1964

Beatles gain worldwide fame.

   
1965  

Begins correspondence and friendship with film writer - historian Kevin Brownlow.

Italian cartoonist Guido Crepax creates "Valentina," a comic strip later published in book form. Brooks serves as the inspiration for its lead character, and the cartoonist and actress exchange letters.

 
1966      
1967      
1968      
1969      
1970      
1971  

Pandora's Box published as part of the "Classic Film Scripts" series by Simon & Schuster; includes an essay by Brooks, "Pabst and Lulu."

 
1972      
1973      
1974      
1975

Ragtime, by E.L. Doctorow.

   
1976      
1977    

Death of Charlie Chaplin.

1978      
1979

Lulu by Alban Berg is performed in its entirety at the Paris Opera.

Development of the compact disc.

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Kenneth Tynan's "Louise Brooks: The Girl in the Black Helmet" appears in the New Yorker. Tynan's profile stirs considerable interest throughout the United States. Interest arises in Hollywood in filming Brooks' life story.

 
1980

Ronald Reagan elected President of the United States.

   
1981      
1982  

Knopf publishes Brooks' Lulu in Hollywood, a book of critical and autobiographical essays. New Yorker editor William Shawn writes the preface. Louise Brooks: Portrait d'une Anti-Star, the first book about Brooks, is also published in France by Editions Phebus.

Brooks is featured on the cover of the Fall issue of the Little Balkans Review. This issue of the literary journal also includes an essay about and an essay by Brooks.

 
1983  

Louise Brooks is the cover-story in the February Classic Images. A two-part article on Brooks would also appear in the April and May issues of Classic Images.

Brooks lives a solitary existance. For a number of years, she has been suffering from a crippling arthritis and other maladies.

 
1984      
1985  

Dies August 8th at age seventy-eight in Rochester, New York. Obituaries carried on the front page on many French and European newspapers.

 

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