Anita Loos set out to conquer Hollywood before women had the right to vote, so you can image she was familiar with shut doors and flat denials. But the California native kept at it, and the result, among other achievements, was her comic masterpiece Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
Before it became one of Marilyn Monroe’s shining movie moments, Gentlemen was a series of short stories about an ambitious flapper named Lorelei Lee. Loos wrote the pieces for Harper’s Bazaar, using each to highlight many of the conventions she and other young women found themselves up against in 20th-century America. Eyebrows — consider yourselves raised.
“Do you realize, young woman, that you’re the first American writer ever to poke fun at sex?” one patronizing editor is said to have told Loos in a rejection letter for Gentlemen. We assume that was meant as a critique though to our admittedly more modern ears, it almost sounds like a compliment.
Loos made the most of her literary reputation, writing for Harper’s, Vanity Fair, and other equally venerated publications as well as churning out hundreds of scripts, many of which she saw produced both on the silver screen and the stage.
Somehow Loos even found time for a sequel to Gentleman: 1927’s But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes. It too became a movie, starring famous brunettes Jeanne Crain and Jane Russell (who, fun fact, also starred in Gentleman). Despite this popularity, however, the question of what gentlemen do actually prefer remains a mystery.
Interested in Tinsel Town? Submit a script Loos would have been proud of for the show you always felt should be on TV. Early deadline for submission is now open with final deadline set for May 1. Entry fee: $50.