Louise Brooks seemed to have a lightning quick career – she starred in over two dozen movies before she was 22, ranging in everything from silent films to Westerns, before disappearing from the silver screen for good. It isn’t to say that she faded into oblivion; in fact, Brooks had an active career until her death at age 78, working as a dancer, an actress and a writer.
Mary Louise Brooks was born in Kansas on November 14, 1906. She first got her taste for the stage through dance companies in New York, joining the Denishawn Dancers at the age of 15. She was fired from the company after two years, but very quickly found work dancing with groups like George White’s Scandals and with the Broadway show The Zeitgeist Follies.
In 1925, she was noticed on the Broadway stage and offered a film contract with Paramount.
What followed was a slew of successful movies, causing Brooks to become one of Hollywood’s biggest silent film stars. Her trademark haircut, a sleek, black, Dutch bob received as much attention as her acting roles.
In 1928 she started to make European pictures, most famously 1929’s Die Büchse der Pandora (Pandora’s Box).
Brooks received scrutiny from the American film industry for abandoning Paramount to work in Europe. Her film career suffered, and she stopped making movies after appearing in 1938’s Overland Stage Raiders alongside John Wayne.
She eventually found work as a writer and published her memoir, Lulu in Hollywood, in 1981. On August 8th, 1985, Brooks passed away after suffering from a heart attack.
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