Look at any film credits or on the set photos  – it’s a sea of men, from directing,writing, photography,even costumes and makeup.
A few women could be found in the writers’s unit,or in the costume dept,or in the editing room.Two even made it onto the set to direct – Dorothy Arzner,Ida Lupino.
( I’m not aware of any woman being a cinematographer.)

Then there were three women who became part of Hollywood history – as producers.

Virginia Van Upp

Virginia Van Upp

VIRGINIA VAN UPP (1902-1970)
Virginia’s mother was an editor/title writer for Thomas Ince. Virginia became a script girl then screenwriter at Paramount from 1930 to 1943.
Harry Cohn at Columbia hired her as a casting director and editor. Then she wrote the script for COVER GIRL,and she gained Rita HAYWORTH’s confidence and became Rita’s friend.
Cohn made Virginia a full producer. The New York Times in 1945 wrote about her:
“….this is the most important position for a woman at a major studio – overall supervision of 12 to 14 top budget pictures to be made at Columbia during the year.
Working under her will be several associate producers,all men.”

Rita Hayworth,Glenn Ford,Virginia Van Upp

Rita Hayworth,Glenn Ford,Virginia Van Upp

Virginia co-wrote and produced GILDA. (Apparently she sent the first draft of Gilda to Humphrey Bogart).
She left Columbia in 1947 after producing THE GUILT OF JANET AMES – to spend time with her family.
She returned to produce AFFAIR IN TRINIDAD.
I couldn’t find any further credits for her.


Harriet Parsons

Harriet Parsons

Daughter of Louella,Harriet worked as a writer at MGM after college before moving to New York and becoming a writer for film magazines, Photoplay,Movie Mirror,Silver Screen.
She moved back to Hollywood to a position at Columbia in 1934,directing and producing a series, Screen Snapshots until 1941.


JOAN HARRISON (1907-1994):

Born in England, Joan Harrison was Alfred Hitchcock’s secretary in 1933, and began reading books and scripts for her boss. She went with Hitchcock to Hollywood in 1939 as his assistant and writer.
She wrote screenplays for JAMAICA INN, REBECCA,FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT,SUSPICION and SABOTEUR. ( And received Oscar nominations for Rebecca (with Robert E.Sherwood) and Foreign Correspondent ( with Charles Bennett).

Joan produced NOCTURNE,PHANTOM LADY,THEY WONT BELIEVE ME,,RIDE THE PINK HORSE.(Robert Montgomery directed Ride The Pink Horse,and Joan also produced the next two films Montgomery directed – ONCE MORE,MY DARLING and EYE WITNESS.)
In the 1950s,Joan was producer on the ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS TV Series.

Robert Siodmak,Joan Harrison, Ella Raines, Franchot Tone

Robert Siodmak,Joan Harrison, Ella Raines, Franchot Tone

So,three women who made their mark in Hollywood,if only for a brief time.
It would have been wonderful if these three ladies had been interviewed at length after their Hollywood careers were over.How interesting that would have been!

5 responses »

  1. Very interesting, Vienna – I knew about Arzner and Lupino, though I need to see more of their work, but wasn’t aware of these three producers. As you say, it would have been great if they had been interviewed about their careers and all they had to overcome along the way.

  2. Enjoyed your post Vienna, you may be interested in a similar post I did on the subject on my site regarding women producers, directors, and screenwriters of the classic era published back in January. There may also be some other things of interest. Please give it a look and let me know what you think when you get a chance. Thanks!

  3. Carole Lombard served as de facto producer on “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”; had she lived a few decades longer, I could picture her gradually making the transition from actress to producer.

  4. Loved your posts about women in Hollywood,BJ and hope folk will take a look if they haven’t already. It’s good that you listed all the female writers. Maybe there’s a book there about all the women behind the scenes in Classic Hollywood.

    I didn’t know that,vp19, about Carole Lombard ‘s producing role in Mr And Mrs Smith. Thanks.

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