Desert Sun, Number 17, 24 August 1981
(AP Laserphoto) Actresses Helen Hayes (left) and Lillian Gish attend the preview in New York Thursday of an exhibit entitled “Anita Loos and Friends.” The exhibit, to be shown at the Grand Central Art Galleries in the Biltmore hotel, is a memorial to the late author who died this week. The exhibit features memorabilia collected over the author’s 70-year career.
Anita Loos and Lillian Gish …
Memory is not necessarily truth—it is a constant civil war. If there is anyone who could have written the history of writing for the screen, it was Anita Loos. Yet doing so had not seemed important at the time.
She began selling random stories to various companies to help pay the family rent, and eventually she procured a studio job with D. W. Griffith as a so-called story editor. (She bought many of her own scenarios, thus doubling her income. But, after all, hers were the best.) She grew up with the newborn movie industry that led her into her great success with subtitles and on to feature films and early talkies. She moved to the big canvas of the golden years of studios such as Famous Players-Lasky (later known as Paramount), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and Twentieth Century Fox. Her great success with her brilliant novel, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, shot her like a comet into the world of celebrities and international society. Later, as a craftsperson of stage plays, she became a star maker and a biographer of talent. During the years she traveled in Europe and headquartered in New York, she continued writing by hand. Her humor spilled out of her writing to create laughter for the world, in spite of the secret sadness of her lonely life. (Mary Anita Loos)
Anita Loos is perhaps best known today tor informing the world that “gentlemen prefer blondes” and that “diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” Yet she did so much more than that. As early as 1917 her work was compared favorably with O. Henry’s,’ and for more than three decades she was one of Hollywood’s most respected and prolific screenwriters. Anita was also an accomplished novelist, a short-story writer, and a much-indemand New York playwright. Her full-page obituary in the Sew York Times in 1981 attests to the longevity of her celebrity status, but hard work went into that glamorous facade: Anita wrote almost every day for more than seventy of her ninety-four years.