She was a sexy, tough babe on the screen who could confound audiences with her subtlety and surprising singing abilities.
She also was a genuine feminist pioneer in Hollywood, one of the few women to secure and maintain a berth as a commercial movie director.
You hear a lot about folks being one-of-a-kind. In Ida Lupino’s case, it wasn’t just blowing smoke. Unless you didn’t take her seriously — then she’d blow it right in your face, writes film noir savant Eddie Muller.
She appeared opposite some of the most notable leading men of the Thirties and Forties (see photo above), and even charmed the universally disdained Columbia Pictures’ Harry Cohn. Her career was a lengthy one. When movie acting ran dry, she turned with gusto to television, winning at least three prime time Emmy nominations.
She worked for nearly a half century, and knocked off 17 years before she died at age 77 in 1995. Let’s see how much you know about Ida Lupino. As usual, questions today and answers tomorrow. Here we go:
1) Question: Even though she played American gangster molls so ably on the screen, Lupino actually came from a distinguished British theatrical family whose roots went back centuries. a) True; or b) False?
2) Question: Offscreen Lupino was known for her all-purpose salutation to friends and strangers alike. What was it? a) Darling; b) Hey, babe; c) You; or d) Cheerio.
3) Question: Lupino was billed above Humphrey Bogart in 1941’s High Sierra, perhaps her most remembered classic movie. a) True; or b) False.
4) Question: Lupino had a weakness for actors, and married three of them. Which one of the following did she NOT wed? a) Howard Duff; b) Ronald Colman; c) Collier Young; or d) Louis Hayward.
5) Question: Lupino really did surprise audiences with her singing abilities. In which one of her films was her unheralded vocal talent most exposed? a) The Man I Love; b) Road House; c) They Drive By Night; or d) In Our Time.
6) Question: Lupino was sucked into the offscreen media probe into the death of a then famous actress found dead after attending a party. Who is this actress? a) Theda Bara; b) Clara Bow; c) Thelma Todd; or d) Marilyn Monroe.
7) Question: Lupino made one film opposite France’s most iconic screen actor, who had a very brief career in Hollywood. Can you name this actor? a) Maurice Chevalier; b) Alain Delon; c) Jean Gabin; or d) Lino Ventura.
8) Question: Lupino has the distinction of being the only woman to direct a film noir. a) True; or b) False?
9) Question: Lupino and actress Joan Fontaine shared more than costar billing in 1953’s The Bigamist. What else did they share? a) A dislike for one another; b) Husbands; c) Billing; or d) Movie agents.
10) Question: Lupino often referred to herself as the “‘poor man’s….” Can you fill in the blank and name the actress she was comparing herself to? a) Joan Crawford; b) Norma Shearer; c) Bette Davis; or d) Olivia DeHavilland.