This week marks the 100th anniversary of Ida Lupino‘s birth (February 4, 1918) and – naturally – this means I’ve put together some radio shows to enjoy as I go about daily tasks. I suggest you stop to take a listen too. What you’ll hear is the voice of a compelling actor playing opposite some of the greatest legends of filmdom. And you’ll hear the voice of a pioneer, a woman who broke barriers and in the process became a legend herself. Plus, she was good, darling.
By the time the 1940’s and 1950’s arrived women directors were virtually unheard of in Hollywood. Those women who had influenced the film industry from its inception, and who were in fact responsible for much of film’s initial popularity, had names no one mentioned, remembered or recognized. Those included such pioneers and artists as Alice Guy-Blaché, Lois Weber, Dorothy Arzner, Tazuko Sakane and Fatma Begum. By that time, Ida Lupino’s name was known but as it appeared in front of the camera. Lupino had been a successful actor for years, having delivered strong performances in films like Michael Curtiz’s The Sea Wolf or Raoul Walsh’s They Drive by Night (1940) and High Sierra (1941). Ida usually played intelligent, strong, hard, but sympathetic women and was believable at every turn. She no doubt was strong in real life as well as she’d go on to pave a new career for herself playing a role held exclusively by men.
Ida continued to she wanted more creative control over her projects. The opportunity for this was never going to happen unless she started her own production company. She did so, The Filmakers, with her then husband, Collier Young. The Filmakers shot their films on location with small budgets and tackled subjects Hollywood did not want to address, subjects such as unwed motherhood and bigamy. After producing two films with her company, Lupino began production on a new script she had written called Not Wanted. Director Elmer Clifton had a heart attack on the 3rd day of shooting and Lupino took over and directed the entire picture. Ida declined directorial credit on the film but it was her first endeavor as director.
Lupino would go on to direct six movies for The Filmakers from 1949 through 1953. No other woman could boast a similar accomplishment during that era. Lupino’s films are all emotional, affecting, melodramas despite their measly budgets. The outcome of Ida Lupino’s films always seems neutral where even the person doing wrong is not blamed for it in the end – no judgment. Her protagonists are ordinary people so her films did not feature the glamour Hollywood wanted and expected at that time in most pictures. I’m not sure why Ida Lupino’s feature directing career was so short, but I can speculate several factors played a role with funding being one of them. In order to continue directing Ida moved to the small screen where she helmed many episodes of popular television shows. Ida Lupino continued to direct in television well into the 1970’s and I would say, became a pioneer in that medium as well.
Ida Lupino’s radio appearances range from 1937 to 1959. You’ll enjoy knowing that both her first and final scripted radio appearances are included below. I also have no doubt you’ll find her radio performances as compelling as is her work in movies with each performance bringing a determination that transcends the medium. Enjoy Ida Lupino on the radio.
Appearances on Lux Radio Theatre:
- “Wuthering Heights” starring Barbara Stanwyck, Brian Ahern and Ida Lupino from September 18, 1939:
- “Rebecca” starring Ronald Colman, Judith Anderson and Lupino from February 3, 1941:
- “A Woman’s Face” from November 2, 1942 starring Lupino, Brian Ahern and Conrad Veidt:
- “Now, Voyager” from May 10, 1943 starring Ida and Paul Henreid:
- “The Seventh Veil” from September 15, 1947 co-starring with Joseph Cotten:
- “Saratoga Trunk” from November 24, 1947 co-starring with Zachary Scott:
- “Daisy Kenyon” from April 5, 1948 co-starring David Andrews:
Appearances on Suspense:
- This is an absolute MUST listen. Ida stars opposite Agnes Moorehead in this Suspense episode of “The Sisters” from February 3, 1944:
- “The Bullet,” a Suspense play starring Ida Lupino from December 29, 1949:
- From July 15, 1948, Ida stars in Suspense episode, “Summer Night”
- The following episode of Suspense, “On a Country Road” is listed as Ida’s final radio appearance on a scripted show. I guess she was eager to dedicate more time to TV where she excelled both as an actor and director. Her co-star here is Howard Duff:
Appearances on Cavalcade of America:
- “Immortal Wife” with Walter Huston from January 15, 1945:
- From February 25, 1946, “Star in the West”:
- “Abigail Opens the White House” from February 24, 1947:
- “A Lady of Distinction” from June 9, 1947:
- “Kitchen Scientist” from September 8, 1947:
Comedy and Variety Appearances:
- From September 5, 1937 Ida joins host Don Ameche and several other notable names on The Chase and Sanborn Hour. Several lists have this episode noted as her first scripted radio appearance on radio:
- From July 23, 1939 with host Don Ameche once more plus Barbara Jo Allen on The Chase and Sanborn Hour:
- Ida visits Duffy’s Tavern on October 26, 1943:
- From December 7, 1943, “Ida Lupino Plays a Housewife” on Burns and Allen:
- To end this line-up here’s a 1945 entry of “Mail Call” from Armed Forces Radio noted as an awards program with Groucho Marx as Master of Ceremonies. Also on the program are Gloria De Haven, singer/musician Carlos Ramirez, Gene Krupa and Ida doing a take on Double Indemnity called “Double Indarnity” with Robert Benchley playing Mr. Dietrichson and Groucho as Walter Neff:
[To a method actor] “Darling, we have a three day schedule. There’s no time to do anything but to do it.”
She did it. Ida Lupino (February 4, 1918 – August 3, 1995)