Ida Lupino (1918-1995)

Ida Lupino
Ida Lupino
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Ida Lupino was an English born film actress notable for being one of the first and most respected female film directors in Hollywood. In her long career she appeared in 59 films and directed eight. She also appeared in and directed many episodes of television series. In addition, she contributed as a writer to films and TV.


Ida Lupino was born in Camberwell, South London, England on 4 February 1918. She had one younger sister, Rita, who became an actress and dancer. The Lupino's were one of England's most famous theatrical families dating back hundreds of years. Her father, Stanley, was a popular variety hall comedian in England, and her mother, Connie, was an actress and dancer. Her uncle who named himself Lupino Lane, appeared in many short Hollywood silent films during the 1920s and later had a major hit in the British musical 'Me and My Girl', in which he created the "Lambeth Walk," ballroom dance.

Ida suffered from polio as a child but made a full recovery. She was interested in acting and the theater from an early age and is reputed to have written and produced her first play, called "Mademoiselle", at age seven, acting in a highly detailed model theatre built by her father.

Both her parents and her uncle, Lupino Lane, encouraged Ida to enter show business, and after private boarding school she entered the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1931. She made her first movie appearance in a walk-on role in 'The Love Race' directed by Lupino Lane, in the same year and spent the next several years playing minor roles, eventually finding her way to Hollywood in 1935, with advance billing as the "Jean Harlow of England."

Hollywood Actress

Ida started in Hollywood playing in minor roles in fairly uninspiring run of the mill movies such as 'Peter Ibbetson' in 1935, and 'Anything Goes' in 1936. Her star really began to rise in 1939 when she appeared in William Wellman's 'The Light That Failed' after which she began to be taken seriously as an actress.

She began to receive stronger roles in a series of melodramas for Warner Brothers during the 1940's, including 'They Drive By Night' in 1940, and 'High Sierra' in 1941, both with Humphrey Bogart, 'The Sea Wolf' in 1941, 'The Hard Way' in 1942, for which she won a New York Film Critics award, 'The Man I Love' in 1946 and 'Deep Valley' the following year.

Hollywood Director

She was now a well known star but as the decade drew to a close Ida became unhappy with the roles being offered to her and made the decision, notably courageous for a woman at that time, to focus more on directing movies, writing scripts and developing talent in others. She left Warners and with her husband, Collier Young, formed a series of companies which produced several low budget films.

Her first directing job came by accident in 1949 when she stepped in to finish 'Not Wanted', which she also co-wrote, replacing the existing director, Elmer Clifton when he became ill three days into shooting. Her officially credited directorial debut followed in the same year when she made 'Never Fear' about a dancer stricken with polio.

She got the accolade in Hollywood of being an "actor's director" and she tackled social themes which other film companies avoided such as in the rape drama 'Outrage' in 1950. 'Hard, Fast and Beautiful' followed in 1951, and the outstanding noirish thriller 'The Hitchhiker' in 1953.

She did not ignore her acting career and freelanced in several worthy movies such as 'Lust for Gold' in 1949, 'On Dangerous Ground' in 1952, 'The Big Knife' in 1955 and 'While the City Sleeps' in 1956. Her last film directing job was 'The Trouble With Angels' in 1966, starring Rosalind Russell and Hayley Mills.

Television Career

During the 1950's Ida gradually began to focus, as both actor and director, on the new medium of television, where she largely worked until her retirement in the late 1970's. She was one of the stars (1952-56) of the dramatic television anthology "Four Star Playhouse" and appeared with her third husband, Howard Duff, in the situation comedy 'Mr. Adams and Eve' for three years in the late 1950's. She directed many episodes of popular television series such as 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents', 'Gilligan's Island', '77 Sunset Strip', and 'The Untouchables'. She also appeared in 'The Streets of San Francisco' in 1974.

The most notable of her later motion-picture performances came in 'Junior Bonner' in 1972 and her last screen appearance was in 'My Boys Are Good Boys' in 1978 after which she retired from acting, aged 60.


Ida fiercely protected her private life. She married three times, firstly in 1938 to actor, Louis Hayward. They divorced after ten years in 1948 and in the same year she married Collier Young, a production assistant at Columbia Pictures. She and Young formed Filmmakers, Inc. production company which they co-owned until 1980 although they divorced in 1951. In that year she married actor Howard Duff with whom she had a daughter, Bridget in 1952. She and Duff separated in 1972 and divorced in 1983.

Ida Lupino died in Los Angeles on 3 August, 1995 from a stroke while undergoing treatment for colon cancer. She was 77 years old. She was buried in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.

She was one of the most underrated actresses of Hollywood's Golden Age but will be remembered primarily as one of Hollywood's pioneers. For a while she was the only female director in Hollywood and was only the second woman to be inducted into the Director's Guild. She bravely blazed a trail for which many others have had cause to be grateful.

Ida Lupino Academy Awards

No Nominations:

Ida Lupino Filmography as Actress

The Love Race
Her First Affaire
The Ghost Camera
High Finance
Money for Speed
I Lived with You
Prince of Arcadia
Search for Beauty
Come on Marines
Ready for Love
Paris in Spring
Smart Girl
Peter Ibbetson
Fiesta de Santa Barbara
Anything Goes
One Rainy Afternoon
Yours for the Asking
The Gay Desperado
Sea Devils
Let's Get Married
Artists & Models
Fight for Your Lady
The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt
The Lady and the Mob
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Light That Failed
Screen Snapshots Series 18, No. 6
High Sierra
The Sea Wolf
Out of the Fog
Ladies in Retirement
Life Begins at Eight-Thirty
Forever and a Day
The Hard Way
Thank Your Lucky Stars
In Our Time
Hollywood Canteen
Pillow to Post
The Man I Love
Deep Valley
Escape Me Never
Road House
Lust for Gold