Ida Lupino was an English-American film actress, writer, director and film-maker, and a pioneer among women filmmakers, appearing in fifty-nine films over forty-eight years and directing seven others, mostly in the United States. She was born in Camberwell, England on February 4, 1918 to entertainer Stanley Lupino and his wife, actress Connie O'Shea (aka Connie Emerald).
During World War II, Ida served as a Lieutenant in the Women's Ambulance and Defense Corps and went on to compose music and work on radio. Encouraged to become an actress by her parents and uncle, Lupino Lane, an acrobatic film and stage comic and director, she trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art for two terms and made her first film appearance in "The Love Race" in 1931, the next year making Her First Affaire, a film her mother originally tested for. She played leading roles in five British films in 1933 at Warner Brothers Teddington Studios and for Julius Hagen at Twickenham, including in "The Ghost Camera" with John Mills and "I Lived with You" with Ivor Novello. She moved to Hollywood at the end of that year for the opportunity to play the lead role in "Alice in Wonderland" in 1933. She also recieved a two-film deal at Columbia Pictures, one of which became "The Light That Failed," a role that gave her a lot of notice as a serious actress.
Ida became a dual citizen in 1948 of the United States and England in order to keep making movies in Hollywood. Mark Hellinger, an associate producer at Warner Brothers hired her for a role in They Drive by Night in 1940), which led to Ida getting a contract with the studio. In 1941, she starred in "High Sierra" with Humphrey Bogart, but she was mostly at odds with the studio because of the limitations of her contract. which she negotiated to include some free-lance rights. She starred opposite Humphrey Bogart in this film and High Sierra (1941). Warner Bros. received a great amount of defiance from Lupino, who refused roles that she felt were "beneath her dignity as an actress." As a result, she spent a great deal of her time at Warner Brothers suspended and developing ideas to become a director.
In 1943, she won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress for her role in "The Hard Way." Mostly a dramatic actress, her only comedic role to date was "Pillow to Post" in 1945. Although she worked steadily through the Forties, she refused to renew her contract with Warner Brothers and moved to Columbia Pictures, where she appeared in films such as "Road House" and "On Dangerous Ground." Her ire with studio boss Jack Warner pushed her into getting a director credit to her resume and she began to co-write and co-produce some of her own films as well. She and her husband, Collier Young, formed an independent company known as The Filmakers, and Lupino became a producer, director and screenwriter of low-budget, issue-oriented films as well as twelve feature films, six of which she directed or co-directed, five of which she wrote or co-wrote, three of which she acted in, and one of which she co-produced. In 1949, when Elmer Clifton suffered a mild heart attack and could not finish "Not Wanted," she stepped in to finish the film but did not take directorial credit out of respect for Clifton.
The first actress to produce, direct and write her own films, Lupino made four "woman's" films about social issues, including "Outrage," "The Bigamist" and "The Hitch-Hiker." In 1952, Lupino was invited to become the "fourth star" in Four Star Productions by Dick Powell, David Niven and Charles Boyer, after Joel McCrea and Rosalind Russell had dropped out of the company. Writing, producing and directing also gave her the ability to choose parts and subjects that had dignity.
From the Late Fifties through the Seventies, Lupino was acting and directing almost exclusively for televison. She appeared in nineteen episodes of Four Star Playhouse from 1952 to 1956 and from January 1957 to September 1958, she starred with her third husband, Howard Duff, in the CBS sitcom "Mr. Adams and Eve," in which they played husband and wife. They also co-starred as themselves in 1959 in one of the thirteen one-hour instalments of The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour. Lupino guest-starred on numerous television programmes, including "Bonanza," "Burke's Law," "The Virginian," "Batman" with her husband, "Family Affair," "The Wild Wild West," "Ellery Queen" "Police Woman" and "Charlie's Angels." She also directed episodes of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," "Thriller," "Have Gun Will Travel," "Honey West," "The Donna Reed Show," "Gilligan's Island," "The Rifleman," "The Virginian," "The Untouchables," "The Fugitive" and "Bewitched." She is also noted as having two distinctions with The Twilight Zone as the only woman to have directed an episode, "The Masks," and acted in an episode, ""The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine." In 1975, she won the inaugural Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress for "The Devil's Rain" with William Shatner.
A staunch Democrat, Lupino supported the presidency of John F. Kennedy in 1962. Her last screen role was in "My Boys Are Good Boys" in 1978. In 1983, she petitioned the California courts to appoint her business manager, Mary Ann Anderson, as her conservator due to poor business dealings from her prior business management company and her long separation from Howard Duff, who she had divorced. She passed away from complications of a stroke at 77 while undergoing treatment for colon cancer in Los Angeles on August 3 1995; she was survived by her daughter, Bridget Duff. Her memoirs, "Ida Lupino: Beyond the Camera," were edited after her death and published by Mary Ann Anderson. She has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contributions to the fields of television and film at 1724 Vine Street and 6821 Hollywood Boulevard.