Louise Brooks

By: Lynn Peril
November 14, 2010

These days, it’s impossible to look at a photo of LOUISE BROOKS (1906-85) without also seeing all the beatnik, punk, and hipster girls who, over the decades, appropriated her sleek black bob. A dancer by training, and an iconoclast by nature, Brooks was more than an exquisitely beautiful woman with a dramatic haircut. She made only a handful of films, the best ones (Pandora’s Box and The Diary of a Lost Girl, both 1929) in Berlin. By 1938, her motion picture career was over — and the legend of the impetuous flapper who walked away from stardom had begun. Always reclusive and famously acerbic, Brooks found her true métier when she was in her 60s, as a film historian and chronicler of early Hollywood. She remained reticent about at least one aspect of her own past, however. She was, Brooks wrote, “unwilling to write the sexual truth that would make my life worth reading. I cannot unbuckle the Bible Belt. That is why I will never write my memoirs.”


On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: William Steig.

READ MORE about members of the Partisan generation (1904-13).

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