Ida Lupino was born in London England on Friday February 4th, 1918. She was the first
born of British stage comedy players Stanley and Connie Emerald Lupino.
Ida’s two great uncles Mark and Harry almost made their living on the
stage. As did her grandfather George Lupino who had a great influence on Ida’s life.
Because Ida’s parents were often out due to their performing schedule, Ida was
baby sat by her grandfather. He taught her to paint, sing and recite Shakespearean passages despite being an
invalid (he was felled by a stroke in his sixtieth year). When Ida was 7 her grandfather
Ida was then sent off to school at Clarence House in Hove, England. She
wrote and produced a play called Mademoiselle which convinced her she should become a
writer. She also began acting out scenes with her sister.
When she was 12 she made her first professional stage appearance at the Tom Thumb Theatre in
London. When she was 13 she auditioned for and was accepted into the Royal Academy of Dramatic
After working in several plays she decided to try her hand at movies. Her cousin
Lupino Lane, a comedy actor, helped her obtain work as an extra at British International
The first picture in which she had a starring role was Her First Affaire came about when her
mother auditioned for the role (taking Ida along). The role was for a girl around 14 years
old. Her mother was 35 at the time, but looked very young.
The director, Alan Dwan, however took one look at Ida and said he wanted her
for the part. At the time in England, it was unusual for a young girl to play a young girl
on the screen. The roles usually went to older girls who looked young.
Soon after Ida was publicized as the “English Jean Harlow”.
Her next film was Money for Speed (1933). She played a heartless gold digger. She also
played a money-hungry blonde in High Finance also released in 1933.
In The Ghost Camera (1933) she played the sister of a detective (John
Mills). Mill’s character is searching for a camera that contains film that shows a
murder taking place.
Ivor Novello was her co-star for her next picture I Live with You (1933).
Novello, an English move matinee idol, also happened to be Ida’s
Ida made one more British film, 1933’s Prince of Arcadia before making the trip
Paramount Pictures’ British agent Donovan
Pedelty saw Ida’s performance in Money for Speed and thought she
would be perfect the role of Alice in Alice in Wonderland.
He signed her to a six month contract at $650 per month.
When she arrived in Hollywood, Paramount executives took one look at her and
instantly new she was not right for the role. She was too “mature”. The role went to Charlotte
For the next six months Ida was given the “starlet treatment”. She made the round of the
nightclubs accompanied by studio-selected dates. One of her frequent escorts was Howard
Her American film debut was Search for Beauty (1934). Her
co-star was Larry “Buster” Crabbe. The New York Times labelled
it “depressing”.Ida once reflected that “the greatest thing about it
was that I met my best girlfriend Ann Sheridan, We
were both homesick. We didn’t want to be stars. We just wanted to meet some nice guy and settle
Her second Paramount film was Come on Marines (1934) which also had
Sheridan in the cast. In Variety’s review of the movie they said
“Miss Lupino, while not getting much of an opportunity so far at Paramount, still suggests fine
Her next film was Ready for Love (1934) (which also featured Ann
Sheridan in a tiny bit part).
She followed Ready for Love with a farce called Paris in
Spring (1935). In it Ida’s character contemplates jumping off the Eiffel Tower
because her betrothed has stopped loving her.
Next Ida starred in a comedy called Smart Girl (1935) where she played a
rich girl who is forced to go to work after she loses her wealth.
Afterwards Ida said “I’m not funny, I’ll never be funny. If I can’t get a part I can
sink my teeth into I’m going back home.”
Ida’s option with Paramount was about to expire and she was hoping to get
roles that were more suited to her talent.
Ida’s next film was Peter Ibbetson. The Hollywood
Reporter announced that it was Ida’s“best role to date” even
though she appeared in only two scenes.
The film was directed by Henry Hathaway and starred Gary Cooper. On the
strength of her performance Paramount signed her to a 52-week contract at $1750 per
In autumn of 1935, Ida’s father paid a visit to Hollywood. On December 14th, he
threw a party at the Trocadero Club with Ida acting as hostess.
The guest of honor was actress Thelma Todd who Stanley knew from
working with her on the British-made film You Made Me Love You (1933).
Following the party, Thelma Todd was found dead in her garage. Her murderer was never
found and the case today remains one of Hollywood’s unsolved mysteries.
Ida’s next film was Anything Goes (1936) a loose adaption of
ColePorter’s Broadway musical hit.
Paramount then loaned her out to the production team of Mary
Pickford and Jesse Lasky for 1936’s One Rainy
Afternoon in which she played an ice-skating instructor.
Her next film was Yours for the Asking (1936), a film that also featured James
Gleason, George Raft, Edgar Kennedy and Delores Costello Barrymore.
Then once again she was loaned out to Mary Pickford and
Jesse Lasky for 1936’s The Gay Desperado.The New York
Times said it was a “first-rate musical” and the New York Herald
Tribune called Ida“comically effective”.
She was then loaned out to RKO for the low budget film Sea Devils (1937) and
to Columbia for the B-film Let’s Get Married (1937) opposite
At around this time she composed a musical score called Aladdin’s Lamp. It was performed by the
Los Angeles Philharmonic in the summer of 1937.
Ida actually preferred music to acting and said she hoped to one day be able to devote allher
energies to it.
Next up for Ida was the Raoul Walsh-directed, extremely popular
Artists and Models (1937).
The film starred Jack Benny and also featured the talents of Louis Armstrong,
Martha Raye, Judy Canova, and Richard Arlen – not to mention 40 of America’s
most beautiful models.
Ida’s role was not fulfilling as it was just a support role for Jack
Benny and Richard Arlen’s characters. Fed up, she demanded to be released from
Paramount agreed and told their gate-man to make sure she never again set foot on the
Her next film, for RKO, was a very forgettable picture called Fight for your
Lady (1937). Afterwards she returned to England to visit her father. In late
1937, she returned to California.
She got a job reading the female lead’s part of The 39 Steps for Cecil B. DeMille’s
Lux Radio Theatre.
She didn’t work for most of 1938.
On November 17th, 1938 she married actor Louis Hayward. She was 20.
Hayward was 29.
After 16 months off, she returned to movies with The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt and The Lady
and the Mob both for Columbia Studios and both released in 1939.
Next up was The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes for Twentieth
On September 18th, she joined Barbara Stanwyck and Brian Aherne for
another segment of Lux Radio Theatre this time featuring Wuthering Heights.
Meanwhile Ida found out that Paramount was producing Rudyard
Kipling’s The Light that Failed. Ronald Colman was cast as the star. Ida, still banned from the Paramount set, called up the film’s
director William A. Wellman and asked if she could read for the part.
“He told me to get my ass over there. Over I went, read, and he told me I had the part”, she
Years later Ida recounted that “he brought me back to Paramount at three times my
former salary and got me a dressing room on the first floor. Nothing could have been sweeter. It wasn’t such a
large role but it was colorful.”
Colman, who had his heart set on Vivien Leigh for the part, at first
displayed not altogether friendly behaviour towards Ida. He soon adjusted his demeanour and he and
Ida eventually became friends.
Frank S. Nugent in The New York Times said “her Bessie (Ida’s
character name) is another of the surprised we get when a little ingénue suddenly bursts forth as a great
Howard Barnes in The New York Herald-Tribune wrote “Ida
lupino, who I never have thought had much talent, is extremely fine as Bessie, the streetwalker who poses
for the hero and destroys his masterpiece in a moment of pique…”
Warner Brothers seeking a back up to their main female star Bette
Davis signed Ida to a long term contract.
Her first assignment was a secondary role in They Drive By
Night (1940) starring George Raft, Humphrey Bogart and Ann Sheridan. She played the wife of
Ed Carlson (played by Alan Hale) an ex-trucker who now owns a trucking company.
Ida ends up murdering her husband in hope of reigniting a romance with
Raft’s character who is head over heals for Cassie played by
Due to her performance, Warner Brothers heralded
Ida as“another Bette Davis”. Newsweek said
she “stole the show with her arresting performance”.
Her elevated status resulted in her being given the role of Marie Garson, a dance hall girl turned
gun moll, in High Sierra (1941).
Her co-star was Humphrey Bogart who played the role of “Mad Dog” Roy
Earle and aging gangster who wants to retire and settle down.
Ida’s next film was The Sea Wolf (1941). Directed by Michael
Curtiz and based on a Jack London story it also starred Edward G.
Robinson, John Garfield and Alexander Knox. It was to be one of Warner
Brothers most memorable films of 1941.
She was then matched up with John Garfield again in 1941’s Out of the Fog.
Bosley Crowther said Out of the Fog“doesn’t’ even come close
tobeing a really good film” and claimed that Ida’s performance was “much
too rigid and dour”.
However Howard Barness from The New York Herald-Tribune said
“Ida Lupino, as I have said so many times in the past, is one of the great actresses of the
screen, and she does not fall down in this instance.”
Humphrey Bogart had been the studio’s first choice for the role of George
Leach in The Sea Wolf, but
Ida and Bogart weren’t on good terms. It started on the set of
They Drive by Night when Bogart accidentally kicked her script across the
floor. It elevated during High Sierra when they had an argument over politics. John
Garfieldgot the part instead.
In Ladies of Retirement (1941) the 23 year old Ida played 45-year-old
house keeper Ellen Creed. The film also featured her husband Louis Hayward,
Evelyn Keyes and Elsa Lanchester.
Ladies in Retirement was Ida’s favorite film of hers. The
New York Times said “Give Ida Lupino the largest measure of credit, for her role is the clue to
suspense. Perhaps she is too slight to portray the stolid threat that lay in Flora Robson’s
original performance, but she is nonetheless the thin ribbon of intensity that makes the film
Twentieth Century Fox borrowed Ida to star opposite
French actor Jean Gabin in Moontide (1942). This
was Gabin’s American film debut.
Gabin(May 17th 1904 –November 15th, 1976) did not catch on with American audiences and
after Moontide he starred in only one more American film (The Imposter
(1944)) before heading back to France.
In 1942, Ida was commissioned a lieutenant by the American Ambulance
Corps. She was place in charge of dispatching emergency air raid ambulances in the Los
Angeles area. She had a special switchboard installed in her house. She took this assignment
On July 12th 1942, her father Stanley died in London. Unfortunately
Ida, her mother and her sister could not attend Stanley’s last rites due to
wartime travel restrictions.
Next up for Ida film-wise was 1942’s The Hard Way of which
Ida said, “Though The Hard Way did a great deal for my career as an actress, when I
sawthe picture at a preview I couldn’t stand looking at my own scenes. I thought the other actors were magnificent
but that my own performance was incredibly bad. I walked out in the middle of the picture.”
Time Magazine did not agree saying she deserved the “top acting honors” and
adding that she “plays the most hateful jade since Bette Davis in The Little Foxes."
The NewYork World-Telegram said “Miss Lupino joins Ruth
Chatterton and Bette Davis in the right to be a Great American
Her next film was Twentieth Century Fox’sLife
Begins at 8:30 (1942). Bosley Crowther in The New York
Times said Ida plays “a crippled daughter with compassion and
Ida’s next screen appearance was in Forever and a Day (1943) a
multi-episode story that featured the talents of 7 directors and producers and 79 name actors. Ida appeared in the
third episode playing a maid.
New York Film Critics gave Ida their best actress award of 1943 to Ida for her performance
in The Hard Way. Ida also appeared in Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)
performing a number called The Dreamer.
Ida’s next film In Our Time (1943) was not well-received by the
critics. Bosley Crowther said In Our Time“is as stale in its
methods as the things that it tells." She also appeared in Hollywood Canteen released
When her husband, Louis Hayward, came back from serving in the war he told Ida that he “didn’t
want to be tied down to one woman.”
They were divorced May 11th, 1945.
Soon after she suffered a nervous breakdown. For the next year she lived on her friend Sandra
Perry’s 42-foot yawl in Newport Beach (located 30 miles away for L.A.).
Later she would say, “There was nothing bitter when we parted. He’s a darling, wonderful man. It was just that
he was more mature than I. I was too young and full of life to have married then.”
Her next film to hit the theatres was the comedy Pillow to Post (1945) directed by
Vincent Sherman. It was filmed before she went on her Newport Beach hiatus. James
Agee in Time Magazine said it was “corn”, but added
“fortunately, however, corn is edible and the serious thinkers turn out to have a nice knack
Newsweek didn’t quite see it that way writing, “Although Miss
Lupino clowns courageously to invigorate a shop-worn theme, the spontaneous laughs are few and far
In April of 1946, Devotion was released. It was a fictionalized account of
the relationship between the Bronte sisters. It also starred Olivia de
Havilland. Bosley Crowther in The New York Times said it was
“a ridiculous tax upon reason and an insult to plain intelligence."
Next Ida played a blues singer in the 1946 release The Man I Love. In 1947, she played a
young lady with a speech defect in Deep Valley.
Her next film featured Eleanor Parker and Errol Flynn. In Escape
MeNever (1947) Ida sings (dubbed by Peg La Centra) an Erich
Wolfgang Korngold composition Love for Love. Bosley Crowther did not
approve of the film accusing it of being “something harsh and unbelievable, like a terrible faux pas in a
In 1947, Ida split from Warner Brothers.
She recounted how it happened to James R. Silke in his book “Here’s Looking at
“One night towards the end of my contract, there was Hal Wallis and Jack (Warner)
coming out of his office. Jack saw me and said, “Ida why are you here?”
“I’m about to be chewed out”
“Oh Ida, Ida, Ida sweet as apple cida…” he sang and we went into a soft-shoe
routine. Then he asked me to sign a four-year exclusive contract and I said, “No no, no! I
want a home, a husband, a child and I don’t want to be told someday that I will be replaced by some starlet
as I was told I would replace Bette (Davis).
He told me, “If you don’t’ sign you’ll never work for Warners again.” And I
The beautiful thing about Warner Brothers when I was there was I only worked with
great people, actors, directors, producers. But when I left, nobody said goodbye."
On June 25th, 1948, Ida became an American citizen.
On August 5th, 1948 she married Collier H. Young, a Columbia Pictures film executive (he
had been her ex-hubbie’s best friend).Ida was 30. Young was 39.
Prior to her marriage, she starred in Road House (1948) for Twentieth Century
Fox. Road House also starred Cornel Wilde, Richard Widmark and
Next she starred in Columbia Pictures’Lust for Gold (1949) with Glenn
Ford. This film marked a downward trend for Ida’s movie career.
To capitalize on the growing television craze (in 1949 there were approximately one million TV sets in
America),Ida wrote and produced (but did not act in) a film made for TV called
Also in 1949 she starred with stage actor Howard Duff in Woman in Hiding.
In 1950, she directed and co-wrote (but did not act in)Never Fear(actor
Hugh O’Brien’s first film).
Ida and her husband then partnered with Howard Hughes
RKO pictures. They would get access to RKO’s financing, distribution and facilities for 50% of the
profits from the films they made.
The first result was 1950’s Outrage, followed by Hard, Fast and Beautiful in
1951. Both films were directed by Ida, with her appearing only in bit parts.
On October 20th, 1951 she divorced Collier Young. The next day she married Howard
Duff.Ida was 33. Duff was 36. It was her third
marriage, his first.
At the time, Ida was the only active female writer/director in Hollywood. However she
also wanted to keep acting where she routinely charged $70,000 per picture.
She then acted in two pictures with Robert Ryan, On Dangerous Ground and
Beware My Lovely both release in 1952. Of Beware My Lovely the
Saturday Review said, “Just too many things keep happening at the wrong time, and the final
explanation of the hero’s aberration is altogether too naïve for belief.”
On April 23rd, 1952, Ida gave birth to a 4 pound, 3 ounce daughter
Next up she directed Edmond O’Brien and Frank Lovejoy in the box-office
sleeper The Hitchhiker (1953). She also co-wrote it. After that she starred in the
film Jennifer (1953) with her husband. During this time she and Howard Duff
In 1953 she also direct and co-starred in The Bigamist. It featured Edmond
O’Brien and Joan Fontaine(who at the time was married to Ida’s ex-husband
With Dick Powell, Charles Boyer, and David Niven, Ida formed the
company Four Star Productions. They produced the Four Star
Playhouse which debuted December 31st, 1953. Ida starred in 19 episodes.
The film Private Hell 36 was released in 1954. It was from a script Ida
co-wrote with her ex-husband Collier Young and starred Ida, Howard Duff and
Steve Cochran. The following year she co-starred again with Duff in
Women’s Prison (1955).
Robert Aldrich then signed Ida to star opposite Jack Palance
in 1955’s anti-Hollywood story The Big Knife based on a Clifford Odets play.
She then appeared in 1956’s Fritz Lang-directed While the City Sleeps about a
serial killer who preys on women. The cast also included Dana Andrews, Rhonda Fleming, George
Sanders, Vincent Price, Thomas Mitchell and John Barrymore Jr.
In 1956 her TV-directing career started with the Joseph Cotton-produced On Trial
series for NBC.
On January 4th, 1957 Ida and her husband Howard Duff appeared for the
first time in the CBS situation comedy Mr. Adams and Eve(they were to appear in 66 episodes
During the next nine years, her sole business focus was television, directing series such as Have Gun Will
Travel, Sam Benedict, The Untouchables, Alfred Hitchcock Presents. And acting in such series as
Bonanza and The Virginian.
In 1966 she returned to theatre-released films when she directed The Trouble with Angels
starring Rosalind Russell.
In 1972 she played Steve McQueen’s mother in Junior Bonner directed by
Sam Peckinpah. Kathleen Carroll wrote in The New York Daily
Times, “What a joy it is to watch seasoned pros like (Robert) Preston and Miss Lupino at
In September of 1972 Ida told columnist Pat Campbell, “I love that old man
of mine. We’ve been married for twenty-one years, and I’m still crazy about him.”
A few weeks later, Duff moved out of their
Brentwood home and into the Bel Air Sands Hotel.
“I’ve been dropped like a lump of ice,” Ida said. She later told Al Coombes of
The National Enquirer that “I feel so cheated. Everyone knew he was going out with other
girls—everyone except me. Now all I have left is my black cat Dollywood.”
In the 1970’s, Ida continued to make appearances in films such as I Love a
Mystery (TV) (1973) The Letter (TV) (1973) and the low-budget thriller The
Devil’s Rain (1975).
Her last film as 1978’s My Boys are Good co-starring Ralph Meeker.
Throughout the 80’s and early 90’s she kept a low profile saying “I am happier now, leading a more peaceful
existence…I am very suspicious of my fellow human beings. I have retreated from the whole Hollywood
While battling colon cancer, Ida Lupino succumbed to a stroke on August 3rd, 1995. Her
remains are interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California where she
is buried beside Errol Flynn.