Louise Lovely — Is (1921) 🇺🇸

Louise Lovely — Is (1921) | www.vintoz.com

December 31, 2023

In spite of the fact that Louise Lovely was having a frightful row with her husband when I went out to the Fox studio to interview her, I liked her immensely. In the first place she had grounds for complaint, he having left her flat on a desert island, and in the second place the quarrel was only a scene from her latest starring vehicle, Partners of Fate.

by Emma-Lindsay Squier

I may as well admit right here as later that I hadn’t been particularly anxious about interviewing Miss Lovely. I didn’t like her name for one thing. Somehow the sirupy appelations such as “Pretty,” “Darling,” “Love,” and “Joy” give me a perverse desire to say acrid and biting things, the desire being in direct proportion to the ration of the name’s sweetness.

But this time I’m wrong. I admit it. Louise Lovely — is. I don’t blame Carl Laemmle for applying the adjective to her as a name to be worn throughout her screen career.

“‘Carbasse’ was my real name,” she said to me during a lull in the quarrel scene, in which we ensconced ourselves on a sofa behind the battery of mercury lights and exchanged a series of rapid-fire and constantly interrupted questions and answers.

Louise isn’t quarrelsome by nature, of that I’m sure. But her director, Bernard Durning, would call her back to the set ever and anon to give her screen husband the deuce for leaving her on that desert island — and he had gone off with Rosemary Theby to boot.

“But Carbasse seemed to be an absolutely impossible professional name,” she continued. “They called it ‘Garbage,’ ‘Carbarn,’ and even ‘Carbuncle,’ so finally Mr. Laemmle — I was working at Universal then — said I’d have to change it.”

“Oh, yes, I know,” I interrupted eagerly. “He saw your work on the screen in the projection room and said: ‘Isn’t she lovely!’ And the name clung.”

Lovely Louise made a little grimace. “That’s just publicity,” she said. “He simply thought it would be euphonious, and I agreed, although I didn’t like it very well at first.”

That was one of the things I liked about her, her lack of affectation. She could have let me go on believing that publicity story, you know, but she wouldn’t, and she didn’t.

Her real name, “Carbasse,” is documentary evidence of the much-mixed lineage which is hers. Her father was French and her mother Italian — or maybe it’s the other way around — and she was born in Sydney, Australia. Even now she speaks French like a native of Paree, and her English has, it seemed to me, a slight, almost intangible, continental flavor. It is not an accent any more than the scent of a violet is a fragrance, but you feel that if it went just a bit farther, it would be. Although not exactly born on the stage, she was at least born for it. She commenced playing in stock companies when she was nine years old, and they called her “Dolly Nicholson,” which is the pet name of the Australians for Mary Pickford.

No doubt you yourself have noticed the resemblance. I did. Her profile is like Mary’s, her eyes are the same color, and the expression of the mouth is the same. At times the resemblance is uncanny.

“It was much worse when I was a child,” she said, in response to my comment. “I had yellow curly hair, and I used to get lots of letters from people who had seen me on the stage and thought that Mary and I must be one and the same person. In those years I played all the standard child roles, Li’l’ Eva, Lord Fauntleroy, and the child in Ten Nights in a Barroom, who pleads for her papa to ‘come home with me now.’ I grew up in Australia and came over to the States in a vaudeville act with which I toured the country. When I reached California I went out to Universal with some friends to see them make pictures. I remember I was watching Frank Mayo in a scene, and though I didn’t realize it Carl Laemmle was watching me. He asked me point-blank if I wouldn’t like to work in a picture for Universal, and I said, ‘Well, I might, providing the salary was enough.’ That’s how I started; and following my first picture with Universal I was William Farnum’s leading woman for seven pictures. Now Fox is starring me, and I feel that my career as well as plenty of trouble is just ahead of me.”

“Why trouble?” I asked. I had never heard a screen star speak of her career by that name.

“Well, it’s such a responsibility. It’s just next door to having your own company. Your fans expect you to make good, the company expects you to make money for them, and way down deep inside your heart you say to yourself, ‘But can I make good? Am I really big enough to do all that they expect of me?’”

There is a wistfulness about her when she talks like that which is more than ever reminiscent of Mary Pickford. The resemblance is the bane of Louise Lovely’s life.

“Of course, I’m glad that I look like Miss Pickford,” she said, “because I can’t think of any one who is quite as charming, but honestly, I don’t want to look like any one. I’ve tried to overcome it in every way imaginable. I’ve drawn my hair straight back from my face, I’ve changed my make-up, I’ve tried to choose a different style of dress, and still I look like her.”

The indefatigable Mr. Durning wanted Louise to quarrel all by herself for a close-up, and while she was monologuing before the camera, one of the carpenters touched me on the arm.

“Interviewing Miss Lovely, ain’t you?” he asked me, and I said I was.

“Well, here’s something you can say for all the people who have ever worked around her: She’s got the nicest disposition of any girl I ever saw. Never loses her temper or swears at the director, and she always has a smile and a nice word for every one. She is kind even when she is tired out. Believe me she’s —”

“Lovely?” I suggested.

“You said it!” he replied promptly, and I think he’s right.

Louise Lovely — Is (1921) | www.vintoz.com

They say she looks like Mary Pickford; what do you think?

Louise Lovely — Is (1921) | www.vintoz.com

Collection: Picture Play Magazine, April 1921