A girl named Ida was born February 4, 1918 to a comedian father and actress mother in England.
Though her parents encouraged her to become an entertainer, none of them knew that she would become the Ida Lupino: a Hollywood star, writer and pioneering female filmmaker in a male-dominated industry.
Ida’s career began on the stage, where she first appeared in school productions as a child.
She landed her first big screen role in 1931’s The Love Race, a British comedy directed by her uncle, Lupino Lane. In 1933 she came to America, and by the end of the decade, she had over 25 film credits to her name.
Her acting career, which eventually branched out into television as well, amounts to a total of over 100 titles, the final being the 1978 crime drama My Boys are Good Boys with Ralph Meeker.
Ida was an extremely talented actress, giving her strongest performances in dramatic roles.
But she didn’t stop with an on-screen career. In the mid-1940s she took up an interest in directing and began observing the entire film making process. Her first directorial effort was an uncredited contribution to Not Wanted, a 1949 drama of which she took over production when director Elmer Clifton suffered a heart attack.
Ida was one of very, very few female directors of her time and was only the second woman ever to be admitted to the Director’s Guild. She became the first actress ever to produce, direct and write one of her projects.
Other directorial efforts including 1951’s Hard, Fast and Beautiful – a sports drama about a tennis prodigy – and 1953’s The Bigamist, a drama in which Ida co-stars with Joan Fontaine.
Ida, ever the multi-talented filmmaker, worked as a contributing writer on a number of scripts. Never Fear (1949), The Hitch-Hiker (1953), Outrage (1950) and Private Hell 36 (1954) were co-written by Ida and second husband Collier Young. She also contributed to Paul Jarrico’s screenplay of Not Wanted .
Like her acting career, Ida’s directorial and writing careers eventually expanded to include television gigs.
Lending her writing talents to Screen Directors Playhouse, Four Star Playhouse and Thriller, she also directed episodes of The Joseph Cotten Show: On Trial, 77 Sunset Strip, Dr. Kildare, The Twilight Zone, Bewitched, Gilligan’s Island and even a few episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (“Sybilla,” 1960, season 6; “A Crime for Mothers”, 1961, season 6)!
So, she was an actress, a writer and a director. But even that wasn’t enough. Ida could sing, too! Check out this performance from 1948’s Road House:
Ida Lupino is, without a doubt, one of the greatest Hollywood stars that ever lived. Her immense talent showed in all of her artistic pursuits. She wasn’t afraid to break with convention by doing “men’s work” on set, covering controversial subject matter and pursuing every single project with determination and passion.
Ida may not exactly be a household name with the modern audience, but with two stars on the Walk of Fame and a world of fantastic films and television episodes for fans to explore, it’s certain that her talent will never be forgotten.
Share your favorite Ida films/projects in the comments!