Image of Anita Loos


Lifetime: 1888 - 1981 Passed: ≈ 42 years ago


Novelist, Screenwriter


United States

Anita Loos

Corinne Anita Loos was an American actress, novelist, playwright and screenwriter. In 1912, she became the first female staff screenwriter in Hollywood, when D. W. Griffith put her on the payroll at Triangle Film Corporation. She is best known for her 1925 comic novel, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and her 1951 Broadway adaptation of Colette's novella Gigi.

Loos was born in Sisson (now Mount Shasta), California, to Richard Beers Loos and Minerva "Minnie" Ellen Smith. Loos had one sister, Gladys, and one brother, Harry Clifford, a physician and a co-founder of the Ross-Loos Medical Group. On pronouncing her name, Loos said, "The family has always used the correct French pronunciation which is lohse. However, I myself pronounce my name as if it were spelled luce, since most people pronounce it that way and it was too much trouble to correct them." Her father founded a tabloid newspaper, for which her mother did most of the work of a publisher. In 1892, when Anita was three years old, the family moved to San Francisco, where her father bought the newspaper The Dramatic Event, a veiled version of the British Police Gazette, with money that Minerva borrowed from her father.

By age six, Anita Loos wanted to be a writer. While living in San Francisco, she accompanied her father, an alcoholic, on exciting fishing trips to the pier, exploring the city's underbelly and making friends with the locals. This fed her lifelong fascination with lowlifes and loose women. In 1897, at their father's urging, Loos and her sister performed in the San Francisco stock company production of Quo Vadis? Gladys died at eight, of appendicitis, while their father was away on business. Anita continued appearing on stage, being the family's breadwinner. Beers Loos's spendthrift ways caught up with them, and in 1903 he took an offer to manage a theater company in San Diego. Anita performed simultaneously in her father's company, and under another name with a more legitimate stock company.

After spending several weeks with a lung infection, Anita Loos suffered a heart attack and died in Manhattan's Doctors Hospital in New York City at the age of 93. At the memorial service, friends Helen Hayes, Ruth Gordon, and Lillian Gish, regaled the mourners with humorous anecdotes and Jule Styne played songs from Loos's musicals, including "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend".

Books by Anita Loos

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes  Cover image

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Comedy Novel
Marriage Young Adventure Comics Humorous Fiction Fun

The story follows the dalliances of a young blonde gold-digger named Lorelei Lee "in the bathtub-gin era of American history." Published the same year as F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Carl Van Vechten's Firecrackers, the work is one of s...

"Gentlemen Prefer Blondes": the illuminating diary of a professional lady Cover image

"Gentlemen Prefer Blondes": the illuminating diary of a professional lady

In this comic novel written by American author Anita Loos, we follow the adventures of the fictional character Lorelei Lee who is a young blonde flapper. This story takes place in the hedonistic Jazz Age and is written in the form of a diary from Lo...

"But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes" Cover image

"But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes"

In this sequel to “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”, Lorelei starts another diary to document her and Dorothy’s further adventures. While the story she shares is mostly Dorothy’s, there continue to be plenty of charming moments with the character that read...