British-born Ida Lupino gave up a lucrative film contract to become one of Hollywood's first major female producers and directors.
A popular film star in the 1930s and 1940s, Lupino downplayed her own acting accomplishments, once declaring herself "a poor man's Bette Davis."
Always spunky and independent, the diminutive actress boldly walked out on a $1,700-a-week contract in 1937 because she was fed up with lightweight ingenue parts. The move put her out of work for a while, but eventually landed her significant and successful roles as the cockney harridan model in "The Light That Failed" in 1939; the domineering sister in "The Hard Way" in 1943, for which she won a best actress award from the New York Film Critics; and as Emily Bronte in "Devotion" in 1946.
Hollywood columnist Hedda Hopper credited Lupino with combining "three little words — talent, nerve and courage — to spell success."
Lupino abandoned another lucrative acting contract in the early 1950s to produce, write and direct, and within a few years became a much-sought-after director in television and films.
She directed episodes of such famed television series as "Have Gun, Will Travel," "77 Sunset Strip" and "G.E. Theater."
She also directed several low-budget, high-voltage films that were box office successes. Her favorite directing project was the 1966 film "The Trouble With Angels," starring Rosalind Russell.
Lupino returned to acting, including a 1957-58 television series with her third husband, the late actor Howard Duff, called "Mr. Adams and Eve," loosely patterned on their own experiences as married actors.
Her last acting appearance was in a 1976 episode of "Charlie's Angels," titled prophetically "I Will Be Remembered."
Lupino made it clear she preferred her work behind the cameras to that in front, telling a Times columnist in 1960 when he lamented the absence of her acting: "Darling, I loathe acting. Darling, I have been acting all my life. Let me direct. It's so much more fun. Creating it yourself, not just parading in front of a camera."
She made her film debut at 15 in "Her First Affaire" after she accompanied her mother to an audition but attracted the director's eye and won the role herself.
After appearing in a number of other British films, Lupino was summoned to Hollywood by Paramount in 1934 as a candidate for "Alice in Wonderland." With her own ideas of Hollywood glamor, the teenager bleached her hair and applied a lot of makeup — and lost the Alice role.
She was cast as a brainless blond glamor girl in a series of forgettable pictures, with a couple of notable exceptions such as "Anything Goes" opposite Bing Crosby in 1936 and "Artists and Models" with Jack Benny in 1937.
Lupino married and divorced three times — actor Louis Hayward, Columbia executive Collier Young and Duff, from whom she separated in 1972 and divorced in 1983.