Loos, Anita 1893–1981
Loos, Anita 1893–1981
PERSONAL: Born April 26, 1893, in Sisson, CA; died August 18, 1981, of a heart attack, in New York, NY; daughter of Richard Beers (a theatrical producer and newspaper editor) and Minnie Ellen (Smith) Loos; married Frank Palma, Jr., June, 1915 (marriage annulled one day later); married John Emerson (an actor, director, and playwright), 1919 (died March 8, 1956); children: one adopted daughter. Education: Attended high school in San Francisco, CA.
CAREER: Writer, 1912–81.
MEMBER: Dramatists Guild.
AWARDS, HONORS: Vanity Fair magazine award for "Red-headed Woman."
(With John Emerson) How to Write Photoplays, Mc-Cann (New York, NY), 1920.
(With John Emerson) Breaking into the Movies, Mc-Cann (New York, NY), 1921.
"Gentlemen Prefer Blondes": The Illuminating Diary of a Professional Lady (also see below; story collection), Boni & Liveright (New York, NY), 1925.
"But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes" (story collection), Boni & Liveright (New York, NY), 1928.
A Mouse Is Born (novel), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1951.
No Mother to Guide Her (novel), McGraw (New York, NY), 1961.
A Girl Like I (autobiography), Viking (New York, NY), 1966.
(Author of foreword) Dody Goodman, Women, Women, Women, Dutton (New York, NY), 1966.
(Translator and adaptor) Jean Canolle, The King's Mare (also see below), Evans Brothers (London, England), 1967.
(With Helen Hayes) Twice Over Lightly: New York Then and Now, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1972.
Kiss Hollywood Good-by (autobiography), Viking (New York, NY), 1974.
Cast of Thousands (autobiography), Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1977.
The Talmadge Girls: A Memoir, Viking (New York, NY), 1978.
San Francisco: A Screenplay (also see below), edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli, Southern Illinois University Press (Carbondale, IL), 1979.
Fate Keeps On Happening: Adventures of Lorelei Lee and Other Writings, Dodd (New York, NY), 1984.
Contributor to Reader's Digest, New York Times Magazine, Woman's Home Companion, Saturday Review, and Harper's.
(With John Emerson) The Whole Town's Talking, produced on Broadway at Bijou Theatre, 1923.
(With John Emerson) The Fall of Eve, produced on Broadway at Booth Theatre, 1925.
(With John Emerson) Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (based on their book of the same title), produced in New York, NY, at Times Square Theatre, 1926, musical adaptation (with Joseph Fields), produced on Broadway at Ziegfield Theatre, 1949.
(With John Emerson) The Social Register, produced in New York, NY, at Fulton Theatre, 1931.
Happy Birthday (produced on Broadway at Broadhurst Theatre, 1946), Samuel French (New York, NY), 1948.
Gigi (based on the novel by Colette; produced in New York, NY, at Fulton Theatre, 1951), Random House (New York, NY), 1952, revised edition, 1956.
Cheri (based on the novels Cheri and The End of Cheri by Colette), produced on Broadway at Morosco Theatre, 1959.
The Amazing Adele (based on the play by Pierre Barrillet and Jean-Pierre Gredy), produced in Philadelphia, PA, at Shubert Theatre, 1955.
Gogo Loves You, produced in New York, NY, at Theatre de Lys, 1964.
Something about Anne (based on the play The King's Mare by Jean Canolle), produced in London, England, 1966.
SCENARIOS FOR SILENT FILMS
The New York Hat, American Biograph, 1913.
The Power of the Camera, American Biograph, 1913.
A Horse on Bill, American Biograph, 1913.
A Hicksville Epicure, American Biograph, 1913.
Highbrow Love, American Biograph, 1913.
A Hicksville Romance, American Biograph, 1913.
A Fallen Hero, American Biograph, 1913.
A Fireman's Love, American Biograph, 1913.
A Cure for Suffragettes, American Biograph, 1913.
The Suicide Pact, American Biograph, 1913.
Bink's Vacation, American Biograph, 1913.
How the Day Was Saved, American Biograph, 1913.
Fall of Hicksville's Finest, American Biograph, 1913.
The Wedding Gown, American Biograph, 1913.
Yiddish Love, American Biograph, 1913.
Gentlemen and Thieves, American Biograph, 1913.
Pa Says, American Biograph, 1913.
The Widow's Kids, American Biograph, 1913.
The Lady in Black, American Biograph, 1913.
His Hoodoo, American Biograph, 1913.
The Deacon's Whiskers, Reliance Mutual, 1913.
His Awful Vengeance, Reliance Mutual, 1913.
All for Mabel, Reliance Mutual, 1913.
The Fatal Deception, Reliance Mutual, 1913.
For Her Father's Sins, Reliance Mutual, 1913.
Unlucky Jim, Kornick, 1913.
All on Account of a Cold, Kornick, 1913.
The Saving Grace, Cinemacolor, 1913.
A Narrow Escape, Cinemacolor, 1913.
Two Women, Cinemacolor, 1913.
The Wall Flower, Lubin, 1913.
A Bunch of Flowers, American Biograph, 1914.
When a Woman Guides, American Biograph, 1914.
The Road to Plaindale, American Biograph, 1914.
The Meal Ticket, American Biograph, 1914.
The Saving Presence, American Biograph, 1914.
The Suffering of Susan, American Biograph, 1914.
Where the Roads Part, American Film Manufacturing, 1914.
His Rival, American Film Manufacturing, 1914.
The Chieftain's Daughter (Some Bull's Daughter), Reliance Mutual, 1914.
The Fatal Dress Suit, Reliance Mutual, 1914.
The Girl in the Shack, Reliance Mutual, 1914.
His Hated Rival, Reliance Mutual, 1914.
A Corner in Hats, Reliance Mutual, 1914.
Nearly a Burglar's Bride, Reliance Mutual, 1914.
The Fatal Curve, Reliance Mutual, 1914.
The Million-Dollar Bride, Reliance Mutual, 1914.
A Flurry in Art, Reliance Mutual, 1914.
Nellie, the Female Villain, Reliance Mutual, 1914.
The Gangsters of New York, Reliance Mutual, 1914.
The Tear on the Page, American Biograph, 1915.
The Cost of a Bargain, American Biograph, 1915.
Pennington's Choice, Metro Pictures, 1915.
Sympathy Sal, Reliance Mutual, 1915.
Mixed Values, Reliance Mutual, 1915.
A Corner in Cotton, Quality Pictures, 1916.
Wild Girl of the Sierras, Fine Arts-Triangle, 1916.
Calico Vampire, Fine Arts-Triangle, 1916.
Laundry Liz, Fine Arts-Triangle, 1916.
French Milliner, Fine Arts-Triangle, 1916.
The Wharf Rat, Fine Arts-Triangle, 1916.
The Little Liar, Fine Arts-Triangle, 1916.
Stranded, Fine Arts-Triangle, 1916, also released by Sterling Pictures, 1927.
The Social Secretary, Fine Arts-Triangle, 1916, also released by Tri-Stone Pictures, 1924.
His Picture in the Papers, Fine Arts-Triangle, 1916.
The Half-Breed, Fine Arts-Triangle, 1916.
American Aristocracy, Fine Arts-Triangle, 1916.
Manhattan Madness, Fine Arts-Triangle, 1916.
The Matrimaniac, Fine Arts-Triangle, 1916.
The Americano, Fine Arts-Triangle, 1917.
In Again, Out Again, Artcraft Pictures, 1917.
Wild and Wooly (based on a story by H.B. Carpenter), Artcraft Pictures, 1917.
Down to Earth (based on a story by Douglas Fairbanks), Artcraft Pictures, 1917.
(With John Emerson) Reaching for the Moon, Artcraft Pictures, 1917.
(With John Emerson) Let's Get a Divorce (based on the play Divorcons by Victorien Sardou), Famous Players-Lasky, 1918.
(With John Emerson) Hit-the-Trail Holiday (based on the play by George M. Cohan), Famous Players-Lasky, 1918.
(With John Emerson) Come On In, Famous Players-Lasky, 1918.
(With John Emerson) Good-Bye, Bill, Famous Players-Lasky, 1918.
(With John Emerson) Oh, You Women!, Famous Players-Lasky, 1919.
(With John Emerson) Getting Mary Married, Marion Davis Film Co., 1919.
(With John Emerson) A Temperamental Wife, Constance Talmadge Film Co., 1919.
(With John Emerson) A Virtuous Vamp (based on the play The Bachelor by Clyde Fitch), Joseph M. Schenck, 1919.
(With John Emerson) Isle of Conquest (based on the novel By Right of Conquest by Arthur Hornblow), Select Pictures, 1919.
(With John Emerson) In Search of a Sinner, Joseph M. Schenck, 1920.
(With John Emerson) The Love Expert, Joseph M. Schenck, 1920.
(With John Emerson) The Branded Woman (based on the play Branded by Oliver D. Bailey), Joseph M. Schenck, 1920.
(With John Emerson) The Perfect Woman, First National, 1920.
(With John Emerson) Two Weeks (based on the play At the Barn by Anthony Wharton), First National, 1920.
(With John Emerson) Dangerous Business, First National, 1921.
(With John Emerson) Mama's Affair (based on the play by Rachel Barton Butler), First National, 1921.
(With John Emerson) Woman's Place, Joseph M. Schenck, 1921.
(With John Emerson) Red Hot Romance, Joseph M. Schenck, 1922.
(With John Emerson) Polly of the Follies, First National, 1922.
(With John Emerson) Dulcy (based on the play by George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly), Joseph M. Schenck, 1923.
(With John Emerson) Three Miles Out (based on a story by Neysa McMein), Kenma, 1924.
(With John Emerson) Learning to Love, First National, 1925.
Publicity Madness, Fox Film, 1927.
(With John Emerson) Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (based on the play by Loos), Paramount, 1928.
Author of unproduced screenplays for silent films, including He Was a College Boy, Queen of the Carnival, The Mayor-Elect, The Making of a Masher, Path of True Love, A Girl like Mother, The Mother, The Great Motor Race, A No Bull Spy, A Balked Heredity, A Blasted Romance, Mortimer's Millions, A Life and Death Affair, The Sensible Girl, At the Tunnel's End, and How to Keep a Husband, all for American Bio-graph; The Deadly Glass of Beer, The Stolen Masterpiece, The Last Drink of Whisky, Nell's Eugenic Wedding, The School of Acting, A Hicksville Reformer, The White Slave Catchers, The Style Accustomed, The Deceiver, How They Met, The Burlesque, The Fatal Fourth, The Fatal Fingerprints, and Wards of Fate, all for Reliance Mutual; The Earl and the Tomboy, for Lubin; Heart that Truly Loved, for Pictorial Review; and Mountain Bred, for Mabel Normand.
Also author of The Telephone Girl and the Lady. Also author of title cards for the silent films Macbeth, Lucky Film Producers, 1916, and Intolerance, D.W. Griffith, 1916.
(With John Emerson) The Struggle, United Artists, 1931.
Red-Headed Woman (based on the novel by Katherine Brush), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1932.
(With Elmer Harris) The Barbarian (based on the story by Edgar Selwyn), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1933.
(With Howard Emmett Rogers) Hold Your Man, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1933.
(With John Emerson) The Girl from Missouri, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1934, released in England as 100 Per Cent Pure.
Biography of a Bachelor Girl, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1935.
(With Frances Marion and H.W. Haneman) Riffraff, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1935.
San Francisco (based on a story by Robert Hopkins), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1936.
Mama Steps Out, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1937.
(With Robert Hopkins) Saratoga, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1937.
(With Jane Murfin) The Women (based on the play by Clare Booth), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1939.
Susan and God (based on the play by Rachel Crothers), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1940, released in England as The Gay Mrs. Trexel.
(With Edwin Justin Mayer and Leon Gordon) They Met in Bombay (based on a story by Franz Kafka), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1941.
Blossoms in the Dust (based on a story by Ralph Wheelwright), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1941.
(With S.K. Lauren) When Ladies Meet (based on the play by R. Crothers), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1941.
I Married an Angel (based on the musical by Vaszary Janos, Lorenz Hart, and Richard Rodgers), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1942.
(With others) The Pirate, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1948.
Also author of unproduced screenplays, The Great Canadian and Alaska, for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; also author of dialogue for Blondie of the Follies, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1932.
ADAPTATIONS: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was filmed by Twentieth Century-Fox in 1953 and was adapted as a musical entitled Lorelei in 1974; But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes was filmed as Gentlemen Marry Brunettes by United Artists in 1955; Happy Birthday was adapted for television in Italy and the United States.
SIDELIGHTS: "I really never consider myself as a writer," Anita Loos once commented to Matthew J. Bruccoli in Conversations with Writers II. "I'm just a girl out there trying to get a fast buck." In a career spanning some six decades, Loos wrote over 150 screenplays and scenarios, as well as popular Broadway plays and books of memoirs. But she was always "in-dissolubly linked" with her best-selling story collection Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: The Illuminating Diary of a Professional Lady, as Alden Whitman noted in the New York Times. Adapted as a play, two musicals, and two movies, and translated into fourteen languages, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes established Loos's reputation as a writer of sparkling satire. Asked by Roy Newquist of Palm Springs Life whether she minded "being so closely identified" with the one book, Loos replied: "Heavens no, not as long as those lovely royalty checks keep coming in."
Loos began her career as a child actress in her father's theatrical company in San Francisco. By the time she was ten years old, her stage earnings were a vital cash source for her financially unstable family. Loos admitted on several occasions that her father's business often kept him away from home for long periods, usually in the company of other women. John Fitzgerald of the Detroit News quoted Loos explaining: "My mother was refined … my father was a charming tramp."
While still in her teens Loos became interested in the then-new medium of silent films, which were at first shown between live acts at local theatres. Believing that she could write a silent film as good as the ones shown in her father's theatre, Loos submitted the scenario for The New York Hat to D.W. Griffith's American Bio-graph Company, copying the company's address from a film canister. Griffith accepted the scenario and Loos received twenty-five dollars for her work. The resulting film featured prominent stars Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish, Mary Pickford, and Lionel Barrymore.
Between 1912 and 1916 Loos wrote at least 100 scenarios for the silent films, usually for American Bio-graph but, when a particular idea did not seem strong enough to Griffith, for other film companies as well. The exact number of Loos' silent films, the years they were released, and the production companies that made them, are questions that will never be answered defini-tively. Few records were kept by those in the business; many films, particularly the very short films, were never registered for copyright; and others were later lost through either haphazard storage or deliberate destruction for the silver nitrate content of the film itself. And to many people in the silent film world, the business was nothing but a transitory craze not to be taken too seriously. "We … looked on them as a fad that would soon lose public interest," Alden Whitman quoted Loos explaining.
Specializing in writing "slapstick comedies and romantic melodramas," as Thomas Grant noted in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Loos emerged as one of the luminaries of the silent film world. She wrote for such stars as Mabel Normand, Mae Marsh, Marian Davies, Francis X. Bushman, Constance Talmadge, Norma Talmadge, and Douglas Fairbanks, and worked with the legendary director D.W. Griffith. She also wrote the title cards for Griffith's Intolerance, one of the silent screen's classic films. Yet, despite her position in the industry, Loos never went to see any of her films. She told Bruccoli: "I never paid any attention to any of them. They were a job and I'd get them done." In 1916 Loos became the sole writer for Douglas Fairbanks after the success of the satirical film His Picture in the Papers. The film introduced a new element to the silent film genre: satirical title cards which were meant to contrast ironically with the action on the screen. Together with her future husband, director John Emerson, Loos and Fairbanks shaped the Fairbanks screen persona into one of the most popular and lucrative characters in the cinema industry. Speaking of Loos's writing for these early films, Joanne Yeck of the Dictionary of Literary Biography reported that she "introduced satire to the silent film. Her dialogue cards were bright with sharp wit, exposing her real talent for verbal comedy."
In 1919 Loos married Emerson and the two went on to collaborate on a number of films and plays. It was only years later, in her autobiography Kiss Hollywood Good-by, that Loos confessed that her husband's "'collaboration' consisted of glancing over my morning's work while he was eating breakfast in bed." By the late 1920s the couple had done well enough to leave screenwriting and move to Europe. Loos's movie fame allowed her entrance to European high society, and she was soon a regular at the country houses of royalty. Numbered among her friends were Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Aldous Huxley, H.G. Wells, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. But Loos's European lifestyle came to an abrupt end with the stock market crash of 1929; Emerson had invested the couple's money in the market and lost it all. In 1931 Loos returned to the United States to be-come a screenwriter with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer at a salary of $3,500 a week.
During the 1930s Loos worked with Irving Thalberg, the head of MGM studios and the man Loos later claimed taught her all about the "talkies." Her first film for the studio was Red-Headed Woman, the story of a young vamp who breaks up a marriage. Thalberg had already had several writers try their hand at the script, including F. Scott Fitzgerald but not one had been able to render the story in the ironic manner Thalberg wanted. He thought that Loos might be able to treat the story's sexual slant humorously. Loos did. The resulting script catapulted lead actress Jean Harlow to instant fame. But the film, because of "its lighthearted view of sex," as Yeck reported, also ran afoul of the religious community. Red-Headed Woman, Yeck wrote, "started the national protest of women's clubs and church groups that eventually culminated in the formation of the Breen Office," a censorship group that was to set the "acceptable" standards for the film industry for years to come. Writing in Kiss Hollywood Good-by, Loos noted that the film outraged many people because "our heroine, the bad girl of whom all good husbands dream, ended her career as many such scalawags do, rich, happy, and respected, without ever having paid for her sins."
In 1936 Loos wrote San Francisco for MGM, a film inspired by her close friend Wilson Mizner. Loos and Robert Hopkins, who wrote the original story for the film, had known Mizner for many years. Mizner had worked in gambling houses, sold nonexistent Florida real estate, and engaged in a score of other fraudulent operations before finally opening a legitimate business, the Brown Derby Restaurant in Hollywood. His notorious past, colorful anecdotes, off-color remarks, and unfailing charm made Mizner a favorite with many among the Hollywood set, including W.C. Fields. After Mizner's death in 1933, Loos and Hopkins wrote San Francisco, as Loos explained in Kiss Hollywood Good-by, "to the glory of Wilson Mizner and the Frisco all three of us knew when we were kids." In the film, Blackie Norton, played by Clark Gable, is a Barbary Coast gambler in the San Francisco of the turn of the century who is inspired to go straight after the great earthquake of 1906. The story is partly based on Mizner's own career as a gambling house operator. San Francisco, Yeck reported, was "by far the most commercially successful film Thalberg ever produced." Loos admitted in Kiss Hollywood Good-by that "it became one of MGM's most durable hits."
Although she enjoyed great success as a writer for Hollywood films, Loos is best known for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, a book she later adapted as a play, a musical, and for the screen. The story of an uneducated and naive young flapper who uses her charms to coax expensive gifts from her "gentlemen friends," the idea for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes apparently came to Loos during a cross-country train ride in the early 1920s. One of her fellow passengers was a blond Broadway actress on her way to Hollywood for a screen test. Over the course of the journey, the men on the train fawned over her while Loos, a brunette, steamed. Her resentment took shape as a series of loosely linked satirical short stories written in diary form. But on other occasions Loos claimed that she wrote Gentlemen Prefer Blondes because her friend H.L. Mencken had been infatuated with a particularly brainless blond and she wanted to show him his mistake.
Whatever the source of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Alden Whitman maintained that "Loos seldom permitted precise facts to spoil a good story, so the true origins of her book are in doubt." The stories were first published in Harper's Bazaar and immediately caused sales of the magazine to quadruple. The story proved popular when published in book form in 1925; since its first appearance there have been some eighty-five editions of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and the book has even been translated into Chinese.
The book follows beautiful Lorelei Lee on a tour of Europe with her friend Dorothy. Lorelei's inane observations about European society and culture, and her frankly materialistic attitude toward sexual relations, form the basis of the comedy. "As a fictional character," Grant wrote, "Lorelei harks back to an earlier comic stereotype, the malaprop-inclined, misspelling rustic busybody." Fitzgerald noted that Loos "gave the world neither blonds nor gentlemen but managed to make both shimmer through the eyes of one diamond-loving Lorelei Lee." Perhaps the book's most famous line is Lorelei's observation that "kissing your hand may make you feel very good but a diamond lasts forever." In the course of her European tour Lorelei acquires a number of both kisses and diamonds, including a $7,500 tiara from an English nobleman. She ends the book safely ensconced on Park Avenue, the wife of a wealthy man. "Lorelei's stunning progress from smalltown girl to metropolitan socialite," Grant remarked, "makes her story seem like an urban version of the familiar American tall tale, a delightfully improbable yarn perfectly suited to the 1920s era of excess."
Critical response to Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was enormously favorable. George Santayana, William Faulkner, James Joyce, Edith Wharton, H.L. Mencken, and Aldous Huxley were among those who recommended it. Years later, Peter S. Prescott of Newsweek could still note that Gentlemen Prefer Blondes "remains one of the great American comic novels."
The adaptations of the book also proved successful. Loos's stage version of 1926 ran on Broadway for 201 performances. A 1949 musical version enjoyed a run of 740 performances and launched the career of actress Carol Channing. The popular song "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" is from this play. In 1974 yet another Broadway adaptation appeared under the title of Lorelei. Loos also wrote a silent film version of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes which was produced in 1928; a later film, featuring Marilyn Monroe as Lorelei, appeared in 1953.
Loos followed Gentlemen Prefer Blondes with a sequel, But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes, recounting the romantic misadventures of Lorelei's girlfriend Dorothy. Lorelei, who has married successfully, assists Dorothy in her quest to enter Manhattan society. But Dorothy's eventual marriage to a rich polo player comes only after a series of trials, including a marriage to a cocaine addict who is killed by mobsters. One of the novel's high points, according to Grant, is a scene in which the two women visit the Algonquin Hotel and acidly comment on the circle of writers and journalists who frequented the hotel bar in the early 1920s. "Loos's portrayal of the Algonquin wits," Grant wrote, "has become established wisdom. She was one of their first critics, and one of the most accurate." Other reviewers, such as the New Republic critic, found that, like its predecessor, But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes contains "that wonderful mixture of canned, naive sentiment and equally naive, but extremely business-like gold-digging."
In 1946 Loos returned to the Broadway stage with Happy Birthday, a comedy set in a Newark saloon and starring her old friend Helen Hayes. Revolving around an inhibited librarian who finally opens up after a few drinks at the local tavern, Happy Birthday ran for 564 performances on Broadway. Speaking to Bruccoli about the play, Loos explained the basis of its plot: "I had this old maid go into a bar and get tight, and in the process of getting tight she regenerates her whole life." Later Loos stage efforts included two popular adaptations of novels by the French writer Colette: Gigi in 1951, and Cheri in 1959.
Beginning in the 1960s Loos began to publish a series of memoirs about her long career as a writer for Hollywood and Broadway. Written in a chatty, informal style, these books are peppered with lively anecdotes and reminiscences about the many famous people she knew. Grant explained that Loos's memoirs chronicled "her own long, lucrative career and the dazzling times in which she worked." In her review of A Girl Like I, Sister M. Gregory of Best Sellers found that the "book is more than an autobiography; it is an intriguing bit of Americana that mirrors the brash confidence, rugged independence and changing mores of a rapidly growing, prosperous country." Speaking of Kiss Hollywood Good-by, Joel Sayre of the New York Times Book Review remarked that if the book reached the best-seller lists, it would be because of Loos's "marvelous, casual putting forth of bizarre doings and sayings." Writing in the Christian Science Monitor, Guernsey Le Pelley called the same book "a jolly adventure in trivia…. But along with all the flotsam are many delectable and interesting tidbits, which make the book bouncy and largely enjoyable. Also [the book] holds up a mirror of unintended satire to that demi-Disneyland called Hollywood." In similar terms, Richard Lingeman of the New York Times, reviewing Cast of Thousands, warned that "one should not regard [Loos's] witty, determinedly surface view of life as the sign of a superficial mind. Actually, Miss Loos is a sharp-eyed chatterbox, who lets fly some quick cynical shafts."
Loos died of a heart attack on August 18, 1981, in New York City. Despite the many successes of her long career, she always maintained a cavalier attitude towards her work. Though Gentlemen Prefer Blondes firmly established her, she said of the story, "I had no thought of its ever being printed. My only purpose was to make Henry Mencken laugh which it did." Speaking of her career to Fitzgerald, she said: "I did it for the money and it was the easiest money I ever made." When questioned by Bruccoli about whether Gentlemen Prefer Blondes had obscured "the range of your other work," Loos replied: "I think Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is the range of my work. I think everything else I do is just earning a living." Perhaps one reason for her adamant refusal to place much value on her writings is revealed in a remark Loos made to Fitzgerald in the last interview she gave. "It was all so easy," she said. "It didn't seem to mean anything."
Critical evaluations of Loos's career usually stress the impressive range of genres in which she excelled. Her silent film work includes some of that genre's finest examples and introduced depth and subtlety to the medium. Her later films and plays feature sparkling, witty dialogue that ensures their lasting humor and audience appeal. And her character Lorelei Lee is, Grant believed, "a true American original…. So memorable [that she] ought to earn her inventor a place as one of the important minor figures among twentieth-century American humorists." Enid Nemy of the New York Times Book Review summed up Loos in this way: "The keenness of her eye never faltered, and for something like six decades she sliced neatly through the gauze that surrounds glamour and fame."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Authors in the News, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 1, 1976.
Carey, Gary, Anita Loos: A Biography, Knopf (New York, NY), 1988.
Conversations with Writers II, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1978.
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 11: American Humorists, 1800–1950, 1982, Volume 26: American Screenwriters, 1984, Volume 228: Twentieth-Century American Dramatists, Second Series, 2000.
Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook, 1981, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1982.
Loos, Anita, A Girl Like I, Viking (New York, NY), 1966.
Loos, Anita, Kiss Hollywood Good-by, Viking (New York, NY), 1974.
Loos, Anita, Cast of Thousands, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1977.
AB Bookman's Weekly, September 14, 1981.
Akron Beacon Journal, September 8, 1974.
Atlantic, October, 1960.
Best Sellers, October 1, 1966.
Boston Transcript, November 25, 1925.
Canadian Review of American Studies, spring, 1976.
Chicago Tribune, August 2, 1961; August 20, 1981.
Christian Science Monitor, September 18, 1974.
Detroit News, August 30, 1981.
Literary Review, November 21, 1925.
New Republic, June 13, 1928; August 10, 1974.
New Statesman, May 19, 1928.
Newsweek, August 31, 1981; December 17, 1984.
New York Times, April 29, 1918; September 23, 1918; October 27, 1919; January 23, 1922; February 23, 1925; December 27, 1925; January 16, 1928; May 20, 1928; December 11, 1935; March 2, 1935; January 13, 1936; June 27, 1936; July 23, 1937; September 22, 1939; July 12, 1940; June 27, 1941; July 4, 1941; September 5, 1941; July 10, 1942; August 19, 1981.
New York Times Book Review, May 6, 1951; August 18, 1974; March 23, 1977; November 27, 1984; December 30, 1984.
New York Tribune, December 27, 1925.
Palm Springs Life, October, 1974.
Publishers Weekly, September 4, 1981.
Saturday Review, June 9, 1928; September 24, 1966.
Time, August 31, 1981.
Times Literary Supplement, February 23, 1967.
Tribune Books (Chicago), November 26, 1978.