Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Black Orchid

Hello Be-Bops! Yesterday, it was 14th November that's why in order to celebrate Louise Brooks' birthday, I want to pay tribute to her on my blog. Since I last watched her silent film 'Pandora's box' (1929), she became my favorite flapper, the queen of silent-movies. I couldn't look her away. She radiates a incomparable captivating sensuality. Brooks' portrayal of a seductive, thoughtless young woman whose raw sexuality and uninhibited nature bring ruin to herself and those who love her. This film was initially unappreciated, eventually made her a star.
Pandora's box (1929)
Provocative Louise Brooks in Pandora's Box
In 1906, Louise Brooks was born in Cherryvale, Kansas into a difficult family. Her father, Leonard Porter Brooks, was a busy solicitor, who wasn't very strict with his practice to discipline his children. Her mother, Myra Rude was an autistic pianist and their relationship was always at each other's throats. Since she was 5 years old, Brooks was an unfriendly girl who looked her famous hairdo; the bob cut in which the hair is typically cut straight around the head at about jaw-level, often with a bang at the front.
Young Louise Brooks 
The Bob Cut was copied by thousands of women
She spent her childhood  surrounded by books and listening to music. She used to perform in front of the neighbourhood children, being her main hobby. It reads, her father had stored so many books that the foundations collapsed in the library area. Growing up, she fervently read Dickens, Thackeray, Carlye, Darwin, Emerson, and Twain masterpieces, nevertheless her favorite author was Goethe who always went with her at dressing rooms. Louise Brooks was a cultured gal, at the school she got good grades in English, Latin, Social Sciences and Maths. She was always reading pieces of literature and writing a diary when she took a break in the shootings. She starred in 17 silent films and, late in life, that diary helped her to write the  witty memoir, 'Lulu in Hollywood'. In the neighbourhood, she was fiercely criticized, chit chat everywhere because Brooks was a rebel, perceptive and unusual girl.

My Disquieting girl
Despite her mother's protection her nine-year old was shattered when a neighbour sexually abused her. Myra was very cruel because she said that Brooks led him on. That fact deeply marked her life, she was incapable of real love and what she defined as 'sexual pleasure' must have bondage features. When she was 14, Brooks became a Lolita because she fell in love with a married man, 'He was one of my cradle snatcher', she said.
Love this pic ♥
After that, she left Kansas and moved in Los Angeles, where she started her career as a dancer joining the Denishawn modern dance company (whose members included founders Ruth St. Denis, and Ted Shawn, as well as a young Martha Graham) in 1922. Next year, Brooks had advanced to a starring role in one work opposite Shawn. A long-simmering personal conflict between Brooks and St. Denis boiled over one day, however, and St. Denis abruptly fired Brooks from the troupe in 1924, telling her in front of the other members that 'I am dismissing you from the company because you want life handed to you on a silver salver'. The words left a strong impression on Brooks; when she drew up an outline for a planned autobiographical novel in 1949, 'The Silver Salver' was the title she gave to the tenth and final chapter.
Also, she had a very high level of culture and this didn't help her in the relationships. Men felt awkward in front of her because they couldn't speak about authors and masterpieces as she did. This was the main reason because of she went to Algonquin Hotel, where bohemian people used to live in.
A woman and two men: Rolled Stockings (1927)
She was nicknamed 'The Black Orchid' due to her hectic life. Getting fed up with double standard, she went away Europe thanks to her friend Barbara Bennett and overthere she was the first woman who danced charleston. She met Marlene Dietrich in a rich decadent European environment, however she was going to see each other some years later.
She was the first woman who danced charleston
At 18 years old, she wrote an article for The New York Times, about the comedy film 'No, no, Nanette' (1940) because whoever must be its author, fell asleep when the movie opened. It was such a successful article that the most famous critics imitated her style. People strongly criticized her, because she was only interested in books, fashion, alcohol and intellectuals such as Aldous Huxley.
Louise Brooks was a cultured person
In 1925, there was another sexual scandal. She met Charles Chaplin and they were shutted away in a room at Ambassador Hotel for 2 months. They did sex orgies with another couple, and at the same time they were playing the piano, dancing, perfomancing, singing...a little bit of everything...
Louise Brooks was object of desire for many people, including Marlene Dietrich, however it was Charles Chaplin who pulled it off.
She enjoyed fostering speculation about her sexuality, cultivating friendships with lesbian and bisexual women including Pepi Lederer and Peggy Fears, but eschewing relationships. She admitted to some lesbian dalliances, including a one-night affair with Greta Garbo. She later described Garbo as masculine but a 'charming and tender lover'. Despite all this, she considered herself neither lesbian nor bisexual.
What was her most famous quality? Brooks had sex appeal. In the 20's , nobody knew what that word meant, however directors took advantage of it. Louise was a pioneer girl, sex isn't taboo for her.
The hottest pic of Louise Brooks
In the summer of 1926, Brooks married Eddie Sutherland, and their honeymoon was at Ambassador Hotel , but this time it took her two days. By 1927 she had fallen 'terribly in love' with George Preston Marshall, owner of a chain of laundries and future owner of the Washington Redskins football team, following a chance meeting with him that she later referred to as 'the most fateful encounter of my life'. She divorced Sutherland, mainly due to her budding relationship with Marshall, in June 1928.
Eddie Sutherland and Louise Brooks
In 1929, she starred German silent melodrama 'Pandora's Box', directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst in his New Objectivity period. The film is based on two plays by Frank Wedekind and Brooks plays the central figure, Lulu. This film is notorious for its frank treatment of modern sexual mores, including one of the first screen portrayals of a lesbian. It reads, this role was going to be to Marlene Dietrich, and she was furious as she didn't get the role.
Brooks then starred in the controversial social drama 'Diary of a Lost Girl' (1929), based on the book by Margarete Böhme and also directed by Pabst. In this film, she dances, has sex and drinks alcohol...A new scandal in Europe, as you can imagine. Next year, she starred 'Prix de Beauté' . All these films were heavily censored, as they were very 'adult' and considered shocking in their time for their portrayals of sexuality, as well as their social satire. In North America, producers ignored her.
Pandora's Box theatrical poster
Brooks was fed up with Hollywood and retired from the screen after completing one last film, the John Wayne western 'Overland Stage Raiders' (1938) in which she played the romantic lead with a long hairstyle that rendered her all but unrecognizable from her 'Lulu' days. After that she came back to New York and finally she  returned to her hometown, Wichita, where she was raised. Overthere, she became Catholic. She loved being in state of sin, to go to a confession and to have sex as a prostitute. She loved being in state of sin over and over again, in a vicious circle.

Overland Stage Raiders (1938)
She wrote a memoir 'Lulu in Hollywood'. One of her fan started to write some love letters to her, and Brooks answered him. He was very surprised, discovering she was a great writer, and it reads he became her lover. 
'Lulu in Hollywood' was a great success, I recommend you, next article: Tales from Louise Brooks.
Lulu in Hollywood
Brooks also had an influence in the graphics world – she had the distinction of inspiring some famous comics: the long-running Dixie Dugan newspaper strip by John H. Striebel that started in the late 1920s and ran until 1966, and the erotic comic books of Valentina, by the late Guido Crepax, which began publication in 1965 and continued for many years. Crepax became a friend and regular correspondent with Louise late in her life. Her famous hairdo is present at strips, as you can see :)


Dixie Dugan
On August 8, 1985, Brooks was found dead of a heart attack. She was buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Rochester, New York. Her death was a great shock to many European newspapers ,however in North America, she was ignored.
One of her last pic :(

Happy Birthday Mrs Brooks! 

This is my little tribute for you, my couple of hair black orchids.

Hair Black Orchids


  1. Pues le has hecho un lindo homenaje a Louise Brooks. Me ha gustado mucho y había un montón de cosas que ignoraba completamente. Muy interesante y emotivo. Un abrazo, Lorena.

    1. ¡Muchas gracias Mela! la verdad es que hacer este tipo de post es de mis favoritos. Me alegra mucho que te gustase :)
      Un beso!

  2. oooh, no conocía a lulu, me ha encandilado este post bebop remenber. Era francamente atractiva y con un magnetismo especial. Encarna a la perfeccion el espiritu de los felices 20's! Un alma inquieta, un poco loca pero sin duda una gran mujer. De las que ya no quedan. :-*

    1. jejeje...hay algunas cosas que chocan un poco, como lo del catolicismo, como bien me has dicho, no tenía mucho sentido que pudiendo disfrutar de su ya conocida libertad sexual, le diese por querer sentirse impura,confesarse y luego vuelta a empezar.Hay algunas cosas de verdad que no dejaran de sorprendernos. Proximamente más! jeje :)

  3. Es sorprendente ver cuántas mujeres rompieron moldes en una sociedad encorsetada y puritana. No tenía que ser nada fácil.
    Una mujer muy hermosa.
    Un bonito homenaje, Lorena.

    1. Hola Nena, la verdad es que si, conforme más descubro de sus vidas más me apasiona.
      Me alegro que te guste el homenaje.
      Un beso!

  4. Lo he leído todo con mucha atención porque no conocía nada de su vida y tenía muchas ganas de ver "La caja de Pandora". Me la agenciaré pronto. Louise Brooks es uno de los iconos del cine mudo. Me encantan sus fotos. Hace unos meses vi de ella un vídeo homenaje en el Youtube también muy bonito. Por momentos parece familia de los/las Bosé.

    En fin, que me alegra habérmela encontrado por aquí.

    Thank you, bonica. Un besote

    1. Hola Belane! te la recomiendo , te va a gustar mucho! es una película diferente, y el papel que hace Louise es embriagador, derrocha una sensualidad que no puedes apartar la vista de ella, mira que Marilyn era Marilyn, y otras divas que admiro muchísimo, pero lo de Louise es arrollador. Además lo interpreta tan tan bien, porque es que en el fondo, ese papel, era un reflejo de su propia estaba actuando.En fin, que era una femme fatale en toda regla.

      Oye y no había caído pero es verdad que en algunas fotos le da un aire a los Bosé, sobre todo en la 5º foto, que sale con una corona de flores, le da un aire a Bimba...bueno o más bien Bimba a Louise :)
      ¡Ya me contarás cuando la veas!
      Un beso reina!

  5. Really nice post.^^
    Maybe follow each other???
    My Blog

    1. Thank you circle! i'm gonna have a look!


  6. Thanks,for the follow,dear.^^
    Follow you back on gfc.
    Do you also follow me on bloglovin?
    Let me know follow you then back again.:-)

    1. I think i've just done it, but i'm not sure, i don't pay so much attention on bloglovin actually i have no idea how it works hahaha


  7. Bua Lorena, cada día aprendo una cosa nueva. Madre mía la de cosas que le pasaron a esta mujer!! buf...

    La fotos que más me gustan son (1º)la que está vestida con un tutú negro y (2º) la que lleva un vestido de plumaje. Me encaaaantan!! Bueno, he de decir tambien que la última foto me parece super significativa y, me cautiva sobretodo, que conservaba esa mirada tan peculiar suya. :)

    Un abrazo majetona!! :)

    1. Hola guapa! jajaja tu aprendes en Be-Bop y yo aprendo recetas! :D me gusta compartir cosillas con todos vosotros :)
      Si buscas en google más imagenes, te cautivarán y si te animas echa un vistazo a alguna de sus películas.La del tutú negro y la de las plumas también son de mis favoritas :)
      La última, llevas razón, a pesar de que ya no lucía su peinado, su mirada seguía siendo tan seductora como cuando era una jovencita.

      Un beso!

  8. Wow...what a turbulent life she must have had! She started so young and must have been so brave too. In some ways she reminds me of Betty Page, who also had a turbulent life but retired to follow religion during her later years. Great 20s post sweety...this had inspired me to start some 20s post too as I love that era!
    May xx
    PS: Found you on facebook too! :)

    1. Hello sweetie! yes, that's true. Both of them had a difficult life, no children and became parishioners in their later years.
      Looking forward to reading them! I am following you on facebook too. I'm sure, they will be great:)

      Lorena xx

  9. Qué buen post le has dedicado a la reina del cine mundo. Louise Brooks fue una mujer de personalidad interesante por lo que leo. Nunca entenderé a esos hombres que les molesta que una mujer sepa más que ellos.
    La verdad es que no conocía nada sobre su vida y me ha gustado mucho descubrirla contigo. Pero me ha dado un poco de pena el final, que la noticia de su muerte fuera ignorada en EE.UU.


    1. Hola Keña! sí, hoy en día se molestan algunos, imagínate en esos años...Era un mujer adelantada a su época, y eso que sus años de esplendor los tuvo en los años 20. Imagínate si le hubiese tocado vivir en la España de la posguerra...mucho peor sin duda jeje
      Fue más querida en Europa, en EEUU, por todos los escándalos, le hicieron un vacío muy grande al final, en su muerte. Una pena

      Me alegro que te gustase guapa!
      Un beso!

  10. ay adoro a louise brooks tambien! este corte de pelo siempre me ha gustado mucho aunke no lo llevaría nunca porke no me favorece el pelo tan corto. ay y este maquillaje, me encanta el drama de esa epoca;)
    que tengas muy buen finde guapa!
    besos mary