Carving the way for women in TV & Film
As a child watching my beloved Black and white films, I always assumed Ida Lupino was an American Hollywood born actress. Especially when you see her kicking it with Humphrey Bogart in ‘High Sierra’ (1941) and Edward G Robinson in ‘Sea Wolf’ (1941.) I was surprised to find out she was from Herne Hill and had honed her craft at Wembley studios in ‘Money for speed’ (1933) two people on this movie would go onto greater things. David Lean made a brief appearance as a reporter he was also the films editor. Who would ever think he would end up making such colossal classics like ‘Laurence of Arabia’ (1962) and ‘Doctor Zhivago’ (1965.) Ida went from Wembley to Paramount and was nicknamed the “The English Jean Harlow,”
Ida Lupino was to carve a path for women in film and TV. Besides acting in 59 films, she was to become a writer/producer and was the first woman to direct and star in the cult TV series ‘The Twilight zone.’ Her directorial debut was back in 1949 on a movie called ‘Not Wanted’ when Elmer Clinton was struck down by a heart attack. Lupino co-wrote/produced and finished the film but didn’t take the directors credit in respect for the stricken director Clinton. The film was controversial for the era, Touching on the subject of pregnancy outside of marriage. However it did get her noticed having been invited for a radio interview in discussion with Eleanor Roosevelt. Ida first displayed her leadership qualities by getting suspended; a lot. she particularly upset Jack Warner (of Warner Bros’) by refusing roles and horrifying him with script revisions. She wasn’t Idle while on suspension having spent a much time learning from the technicians on set and cultivating her directing Skills.
Lupino was to direct seven other movies in America and became a citizen there in 1948. Besides being a writer for four films and numerous TV programmes, she has two stars on the Hollywood walk of fame.
James Mason made his debut performance at Wembley in ‘Late Extra’ (1935) a tale about a journalist who sets out to track down a cop killer. He was joined in this movie by the charismatic Alastair Sim, the Golden voiced Scotsman who is still my favorite scrooge (1951) to this day. Sim didn’t start acting until he was thirty but gained much experience performing Shakespeare plays at the Old Vic. He went on to make over fifty films and become an iconic presence in British Cinema.
James Mason went on to star in big movies like Hitchcock’s ‘North by Northwest’ (1959) and Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Lolita’ (1962) He was Nominated for three Academy Awards and three Golden Globes.
This movie was also blessed by a native from Illinois USA. Virginia Cherrill. This wonderful actress had been discovered by Charlie Chaplin who gave her a debut in his movie ‘City Lights (1931) She later went on to marry heart throb Cary Grant…for seven months. In July 1937 Cherrill married English peer George Charles- Villiers the 9th Earl of Jersey giving her the name Virginia Child-Villiers, Countess of Jersey. This union lasted for nine years. She eventually found happiness with a Polish airman Florian Martini and lived in Santa Barbara California until her death in 1996.
“How do I wish to be remembered, if at all? I think perhaps just as a fairly desirable sort of character actor.” -James Mason
“I was no great shakes as an actress” – Virginia Cherrill
“It was revealed to me many years ago with conclusive certainty that I was a fool and that I had always been a fool. Since then I have been as happy as any man has a right to be.” -Alastair Sim