Dorothy Arzner

Dorothy Arzner


Dorothy Arzner
Film: East side of the 1500 block of Vine Street
Born Jan. 3, 1897 in San Francisco, CA
Died Oct. 1, 1979 in La Quinta, CA

In 1931, Dorothy Arzner wrote: "Try as man may, he will never be able to get the woman's viewpoint in telling certain stories."

She was 34 years old when she wrote those words for a Paramount Pictures biography. At the time, she was only the third woman to ever direct and the first to oversee a major motion picture.

She gave Katharine Hepburn the lead in "Christopher Strong," Hepburn's second movie, a 1933 film based on the life of aviatrix Amy Lowell.

Arzner took another up-and-comer by the name of Rosalind Russell and transformed her into a Hollywood player as a cold, manipulative Harriet Craig, who married not for love but freedom in the 1936 drama "Craig's Wife."

While Arzner was to eventually direct more than 20 feature films, her initial experience was as a stenographer at $12 a week, a job she held only three months when she was named film editor.

Her initial experience involved the bullfighting segments for "Blood and Sand" with Rudolph Valentino in 1922.

She then made "Fashions for Women" with Esther Ralston in 1927 and one of Paramount's first all-talking pictures, "The Wild Party," with Clara Bow in 1929.

Tiring of the tension and pressures she encountered in making films, she walked away from Hollywood in 1943.

She spent World War II directing Women's Army Corps training films and Joan Crawford Pepsi commercials in the 1950s.

Arzner also taught film production at UCLA from 1959-63, where she mentored a young Francis Ford Coppola.

Arzner had a 40-year relationship with choreographer Marian Morgan, who died in 1971.

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