Today I want to share an article written about Ouida Bergere about a year before she met Basil Rathbone, in 1922. She was married to George Fitzmaurice at that time. Barrett C. Kiesling wrote the article below, which was printed in the St. Petersburg Times, October 22, 1922.
Writer and Wife
A few years ago a clever woman writer and a rising motion picture director were finding their professional cooperation so complete and perfect–that they decided to make it permanent. Since their marriage the joining of two talents has proven extraordinarily successful, carrying them both to a point among the real leaders of their professions. Such couple then, are Mr. and Mrs. George Fitzmaurice (Ouida Bergere) responsible, respectively for the direction and scenario of George Fitzmaurce productions for Paramount.
But here, this is a story primarily about Mrs. Fitzmaurice, a woman who has given the lie to the old tradition that artists should never mate.
“For seven years Mr. Fitzmaurice and I have been working together,” says Miss Bergere, as she is professionally known. “And it has been our experience that two constructive artists with congenial ideas can do much more closely coordinated work as man and wife. but they must be congenial. I can imagine that such a combination under other circumstances might be very terrible.”
Two Minds Better
We wandered in the gardens of the hotel, Miss Bergere and myself. a petite person is this writer, “chic” I believe is the word, young and with sparkling, vivacious features that betray the warm emotionalism of French and Spanish forbears.
“Mr. Fitzmaurice and I,” she told me, “believe that for any problem two minds are better than one. So from the start of a production we talk over every detail, incidents of the story, costuming, sets, lighting. My main business is the writing, his the directing—but we overlap in many ways.
“For instance when we were making ‘The Man From Home’ in London I went shopping for days with Anna Q. Nilsson and Dorothy Cummings, gathering clothes that should be at the same time feminine, smart and indicative of the individual characters.
“In Italy we found ourselves blocked by rain. Finally a clear day did come. We must take advantage of it–so Mr. Fitzmaurice took one company and worked at Capri while with another cameraman, I directed scenes at Sorrento. Such close cooperation would have been impossible to people who did not know thoroughly the plans and ideas of each other.
Their Marriage Justified
“For intimate love scenes and scenes with children we work in closest cooperation in order that the ‘woman’s angle’ might be faithfully presented. There are a hundred and one contacts daily where the close cooperation of a man and woman may add immeasurably to the artistic finish of the thing they are doing.
“With us also are Mr. and Mrs. John S. Robertson (Josephine Lovett) who carry forward further an affirmative answer to the question as to the success of marriages between two artists. Certainly if there was ever a marriage of artists that was justified, it would be that between a director and his scenario writer. The two professions are so closely interwoven, so dependent upon each other, that undoubtedly a more finished product can be secured by the cooperation congenial married life makes possible.”
Ouida Bergere is one of the best-known and most successful scenarists in filmdom. born of a French-Spanish father and an English mother, she came to America when 8 years old. Mastering the language, she went on the stage quite young, playing leads with Robert Edeson and Wilton Lackaye. Going into pictures, she played for a while and then the acceptance of a story by Pathe changed her from an actress to a writer. Mr. Fitzmaurice was working in the Pathe scenario department oat the time and the romance ending in their marriage had its beginning there. For six years now they have been working as director and scenario writer, a combination which has been so successful that their pictures are now termed “George Fitzmaurice productions for Paramount.” Among her successful photoplays are “On with the Dance,” “Idols of Clay,” and “The Society Exile,” originals, and “Forever,” “Three Live Ghosts,” “Avalanche” and “The Man from Home.”
Miss Bergere is strictly feminine in every respect, a fact you might judge from her aversion to “offices” as a place to work. No studio door ever bears the name “Ouida Bergere.” Her workshop is her boudoir, where, attired in comfortable negligee, she can be reasonably free of interruptions, free of the constraining of thought that comes when one has to be dressed according to convention, to force oneself to accept the civilized irritants of office boys, telephones and “business callers” who just won’t leave.
“Good writing can only come when the mind is normal and natural,” says Miss Bergere. “Some day I may have to use an office — but my work will probably show it!”
There is only fly in the Fitzmaurice so far as their present life in California is concerned. On the Pacific coast they must live in a hotel, on the Atlantic coast they have a gorgeous country place at Great Neck, Long Island, with dogs, sea view, trees ‘n everything.
“We like California,” says Miss Bergere, “But we do miss Great Neck.”
“Me, too,” barked Lux.* Lux being the Fitzmaurice German police dog which cost them 25,000 marks in Germany. Hotel rooms cramp Lux’s style terribly.
*Note: According to Basil Rathbone, Ouida’s dog was named Lutz.
Much has been written about Ouida Rathbone on this blog. See these pages for much more on Basil Rathbone’s second wife:
Also visit this page on Basil Rathbone: Master of Stage and Screen: