Katherine Fusco: Anita Loos - A life in work

Katherine Fusco


Anita Loos - A life in work


Katherine Fusco




Katherine Fusco, Ph.D., researches about and teaches courses on film, theory and 19th and 20th century American literature. She is particularly interested in silent film, genre film, theories of celebrity, the history of the American novel and literary realism, naturalism and modernism. At present, she is doing research on ideas of black and white childhoods during modernism and theories of personality and celebrity during the Great Depression.

Project overview

This project will be the first biographical study to contextualize Loos’s long screenwriting career against changing conceptions of women’s professionalism and will be the only biography of this important author currently in print. Over her life, Loos authored over one hundred and fifty screenplays, three novels, and numerous plays and memoirs. She began at an auspicious moment: between 1911 and 1925 women wrote half the screenplays in Hollywood (Beauchamp 11). In subsequent decades this number declined precipitously, making the fate of a woman screenwriter a prime topic for exploring the changing fortunes of American working women. Despite Loos’s long and important career, she has received limited scholarly treatment, with scholarship focusing predominantly on Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. This focus on a Jazz Age novella misrepresents Loos’s career, which was lengthy and far more prolific in the arenas of screenwriting, playwriting, and memoir. Through the scholarship’s narrowing of Loos’s time period and genre, a real opportunity has been missed: an opportunity to consider the way Loos represents a working woman with a long career, and the role aging plays in a working woman’s life, public image, and relationships. This project builds a narrative of Loos’s long working career by juxtaposing her public writing and interviews with archival materials, including day planners, correspondence, scrapbooks, unproduced scripts, and preparatory notes for her memoirs.