Louise Brooks from A to Z: Y and Z for Yolo, Ziegfeld, Zelda, and Zuleika Dobson

Although the vernacular is silly, but the idea of You Only Live Once is a theory that I think sums up Louise's existence pretty perfectly. In one of my favorite quotes from her, in this case regarding her sexuality and relationships with women, she says "Life is too short not to experiment with half the race!" This "making the most of the time we have" mentality was what guided many of her decisions in life, and what a fabulous life it was. So, by all means, if you take any lesson from Louise's life or our film, let it be to embrace YOLO-ing.

 Florenz Ziegfeld, 1915

Florenz Ziegfeld, 1915

 Louise Brooks in the Follies

Louise Brooks in the Follies

Florenz Ziegfeld was the producer of the Ziegfeld Follies. When Louise was bawled out by George White, it was Ziegfeld who saw her potential and transferred her to the Follies instead of turning her out.  

 Zelda Fitzgerald 

Zelda Fitzgerald 

"Here I must confess to a lifelong curse.  In December, 1940, Scott Fitzgerald touched it when he wrote to his daughter, Scotty, 'Zelda is tragically brilliant in all matters except that of central importance- she has failed as a social creature.' On first meeting Ernest Hemingway, in 1925, Zelda called him 'bogus.' Hemingway retaliated by publicizing her as 'crazy' and Scott as a destructive drunk, with the result that they were banished by their friends the Gerald Murphys and consequently by the rest of the social colony on the French Riviera...As for my own failure as a social creature, my mother did attempt to make me less openly critical of people's false faces. 'Now, dear, try to be more popular,' she told me. 'Try not to make people so mad!' I would watch my mother, pretty and charming, as she laughed and made people feel clever and pleased with themselves, but I could not act that way. And so I have remained, in cruel pursuit of truth and excellence, an inhumane executioner of the bogus, an abomination to all but those few who have overcome their aversion to truth in order to free whatever is good in them." Louise Brooks, Lulu in Berlin, page 6

Zuleika Dobson was listed under "Brooks Books" in Louise's journals, and it certainly makes sense. The plot of the book revolves around a woman who is so entrancing that men kill themselves for her. She represents a femme fatale, which is the image that plagued Louise throughout her entire life. Maybe that's why she loved the book so much. I'm halfway through it and it's touchingly witty, and Zuleika is spoiled, insatiably curious and unflaggingly petulant; sounds familiar.

 An image of a cover for Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm, curiously enough sporting the image of Colleen Moore.

An image of a cover for Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm, curiously enough sporting the image of Colleen Moore.

Charlotte Siller