Louise from A to Z: G for Goethe, Glennon, Garbo, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, God's Gift to Women, Tom Graves and Gin
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was one of Louise's favorite authors, seemingly since childhood. Her dictionary was discovered to have several of his quotes pasted into the columns.
James A. Glennon, owner of Glennon's bar on 55th and Third Avenue in NYC, was a bartender who served some of the most important people in the film and theatre industries. Above his bar he had a picture of Louise who was a frequent, if not daily, patron. Glennon protected Louise and took care of her, creating a bond that formed into an on and off relationship. Louise had Glennon listed in her address book as her emergency contact and even made him a gift of a portrait she painted of him. Years later she said to Kevin Brownlow, "Jimmy came to my aid when all the world had decided I should jump off the 59th Street Bridge. And now he announces that he is coming up to go to bed with me...and he will, too, unless I head him off. Which I will...Drunk, he is worse than Dylan Thomas and Brendan Behan combined." (Paris, 425)
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was a film based on the 1925 bestseller by Anita Loos. Brooks was considered strongly for the role and nearly had it, too, until her screen test lacked the necessary comedic obviousness that director Mal St. Clair was looking for. When Louise asked Loos about how her screen test went, she later said Loos replied, "Louise, if I ever write a part for a cigar-store Indian, you will get it." "I wasn't even talking then," exclaimed Louise, recounting the story in an interview.
God's Gift to Women was one of the only talkies that Louise starred in. It was released in 1931 and also featured Joan Blondell. Brooks takes part in a fight sequence that is, truly, hysterical. Also, if you listen closely, you can hear her "real Kansas" accent in some spots. (listen for my favorite parts when you hear her scream "don't you dare!" and "Not my haaaiiir!")
Tom Graves is a very talented author and historian who operates out of beautiful Memphis, Tennessee. He met Louise and took on the immense task of visiting all of the places where she lived to speak with the people that she knew- similar to what we are doing. The huge difference is that Mr. Graves did this in the 1980s when many of the people that Louise knew were still alive, and collected many interview tapes and negatives throughout his travels. Shawn and I went to visit him last Spring and had a lovely time going through his own personal Pandora's Box of research materials, as well as interviewing him about his times with Louise. He has written a wonderful book called Louise Brooks, Frank Zappa, and Other Charmers and Dreamers that we highly recommend reading, both for the chance to hear his full story about his time with Louise and to read his other marvelous works.
Gin was Louise's drink of choice. She would either have it with very little tonic water or have it straight and chase it with milk (God knows how she managed that). An early photo of her on the beach with friends shows her drinking Gordon's Gin. While living in Rochester she drank primarily Gilbey's Gin which, if one chooses to imbibe it now, certainly guarantees that the nights activities will be interesting and maybe, if you're lucky, memorable!
Greta Garbo was someone whom Brooks idolized and researched heavily in her later years, filling notebook after notebook with observations from several biographies she read on her. Brooks also supposedly told a friend of a one night stand that she had with Garbo early in her career in which she described her as being a "charming" lover.
Lastly, G is for Shawn Gray, our loyal cinematographer!