Park, Ida May (d. 1954)

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Park, Ida May (d. 1954)

Film director who worked at Universal Studios in the early 1900s. Date of birth unknown; died in 1954; married Joseph De Grasse (an actor).

Selected filmography:

Bondage (director, scenario, 1917); Fires of Rebellion (director, scenario, 1917); The Flashlight (director, scenario, 1917); Bread (1918); Broadway Love (1918); The Model's Confession (1918); Risky Road (director, adaptation, 1918); Vanity Pool (1918); Boss of Powderville (1918?); Amazing Wife (director, scenario, 1919); The Butterfly Man (director, scenario, 1920); Bonnie May (scenario, 1921); The Midlanders (scenario, 1921).

Lost to history along with her films, Ida May Park was one of only a handful of women directors at Universal Studios during the early 1900s. Unlike some women in film during the period, however, who acted and only occasionally directed a film or two, Park concentrated solely on directing, making a series of movies between 1917 and 1920. Since no directing credits for her appear after 1920, she might have returned to writing vehicles for her husband, actor Joseph De Grasse.

Park got her start as a stage actress, then branched out into writing. She began directing on her husband's projects, and made 12 features with him in as many months before going solo in 1917. Unlike Lois Weber , Park was not a revolutionary or an idealist, but, as suggested by Richard Koszarski, a pragmatist who "subordinated all else to getting the product out on time and under budget." "I want my people to do good work because of their regard for me and not because I browbeat them into it," she said in a 1918 interview for Photoplay. "I believe in choosing distinct types and then seeing that the actor puts his own personality into his parts, instead of making every part in a picture reflect my personality."

Park, who turned down her first opportunity to direct because she thought it was work unsuited to a woman, later changed her mind, writing that women's "emotional and imaginative faculties gives them a great advantage." Notes Koszarski, by 1934 Dorothy Arzner was the only woman director working in Hollywood.


Acker, Ally. Reel Women: Pioneers of the Cinema 1896 to the Present. NY: Continuum, 1991.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts