38 Elaine May from “When Women Wrote Hollywood” with Dr. Rosanne Welch [Video] (53 seconds)

Part of the California State University, Fullerton Faculty Noon Time Talks at the Pollak Library.

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38 Elaine May from

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Elaine May is another name that’s fallen out of history and shouldn’t. Now we’re in the 70s. Elaine I think is a brilliant writer. Heaven Can Wait wouldn’t be what it was. Warren Beatty got tons of focus for that but she wrote it. She came out of doing nightclub things with Mike Nichols. They were Nichols in May and they wrote all their routines. It was like a traveling SNL sketch. You probably still know who Mike Nichols is, but Elaine May has fallen out of history because at a certain point she started directing. Which is cool, but she directed a movie called Ishtar which lost a ton of money and she was never given a directing job again. I can name you many a man who has directed a film that lost a ton of money and somehow they still got a second and a third and a fourth job. Elaine Mae was never given the right to direct a film again. Her writing is brilliant and as you know she still continued writing she did Primary Colors.

Dr. Rosanne Welch discusses the women in her new book “When Women Wrote Hollywood” which covers female screenwriters from the Silents through the early 1940s when women wrote over 50% of films and Frances Marion was the highest paid screenwriter (male or female) and the first to win 2 Oscars.  Yet, she fails to appear in film history books, which continue to regurgitate the myth that male directors did it all – even though it’s been proven that the only profitable movies Cecil B. de Mille ever directed were all written by Jeannie Macpherson film ever won for Best Picture was written by Robert E. Sherwood (who people have heard of, mostly due to his connection to Dorothy Parker) and Joan Harrison.

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