When Women Wrote Hollywood – Zoë Akins – 40 in a series

To highlight the wonderful yet largely forgotten work of a collection of female screenwriters from the early years of Hollywood (and as a companion to the book, When Women Wrote Hollywood) we will be posting quick bits about the many films they wrote along with links to further information and clips from their works which are still accessible online. Take a few moments once or twice a week to become familiar with their names and their stories. I think you’ll be surprised at how much bold material these writers tackled at the birth of this new medium. — Rosanne Welch

When Women Wrote Hollywood – Zoë Akins – 40 in a series

When Women Wrote Hollywood - Zoë Akins – 40 in a series

Her first major dramatic work was Papa, written in 1914. The comedy failed even though it greatly impressed both H.L. Menckenand George Jean Nathan,[3] and she continued to write.[4] She followed up with two other plays, The Magical City and Déclassée. The latter play, which starred Ethel Barrymore, was not only a great success but “something of a sensation, and her days of waiting were over.” [5] During this time several of her early plays were adapted for the screen. These adaptations were mostly failures, released as silent films in a time when the industry was transitioning to sound. While some “talkie” stars had notable roles in the films (Walter Pidgeon and a young Clark Gable), most of the films are now believed to be lost. In 1930, Akins had another great success with her play, The Greeks Had a Word For It, a comedy about three models in search of rich husbands [6]

In the early 1930s, Akins became more active in film, writing several screenplays as well as continuing to sell the rights to plays such as The Greeks Had a Word for It(1930), which was adapted for the movies three times, in 1932 (as The Greeks Had a Word for Them), 1938 (as Three Blind Mice), and 1953 (How to Marry a Millionaire). Two highlights of this period were the films Sarah and Son (1930) and Morning Glory (1933), the latter remade as Stage Struck. Both films earned their respective female leads (Ruth Chatterton and Katharine Hepburn) Academy Award nominations for Best Actress (Hepburn won).

In 1935, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her dramatization of Edith Wharton’s The Old Maid, a melodrama set in New York City and written in five episodes stretching across time from 1839 to 1854. The play was adapted for a 1939 film starring Bette Davis.

In 1936, Akins co-wrote the screenplay for Camille, adapted from Alexandre Dumas’s play and novel, La dame aux camélias The film starred Greta Garbo, Robert Taylor, and Lionel Barrymore, and earned Garbo her third Oscar nomination. — Wikipedia

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More about Sarah Y. Mason and Victor Heerman


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