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Of course, most people know her. Mae West. Again, she made herself a brand, long before Madonna and long before Lady Gaga this lady knew that sex sells and I’m going to make myself as sexy as I can and I’m going to tell innuendos and I am going to do all of that so that she actually got arrested a few times. People remember Mae West as an actress and forget that she wrote almost everything she performed in. Broadway plays. Movies. Stage shows. She was her own writer. She would talk about how easy it was to write but people who did her autobiography discovered that she had journals and journals and journals of every joke she could ever write — that she could ever find. She wrote all day long waiting to get that one or two really good pieces to use in her next production. She was consummately a writer before she was a performer. All she had to do to perform was throw on the fancy clothes and smile, right, but the writing was the hard work that she engaged in. She was pretty cool. These are all her movies. She did sex before Madonna released a book called “Sex.” This is way back in the day when it was actually against the law. So she’s pretty amazing.
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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