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Writer and Wife

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.”

Strictly Feminine
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.

Ouida and Lutz

*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:

A Closer Look at the 2nd Mrs. Rathbone

A Closer Look at the 2nd Mrs. Rathbone, Part II

A Closer Look at the 2nd Mrs. Rathbone, Part III

A Closer Look at the 2nd Mrs. Rathbone, Part IV

Also visit this page on Basil Rathbone: Master of Stage and Screen:


  1. Stephen C. Lowe says

    Anyone interested in 5 original set design watercolors by Ouida, circa 1920’s?


    • marciajessen says

      Sure! Are you wanting to sell them or what? Can you post pics so we can see what they are?


  2. ticotico2 says

    Wooow, this guy writes with tongue firmly in cheek. Great to get more info on that Long Island home–I’da married the guy for a spread like that so close to NYC. Fitzmaurice divorces (for her?), they marry, have this perfect collusion of great and artistic minds, and….how long did that mood last. Great to see new pix of the Weed. Getting a pattern here: Bazz likes the boyish look in his wimmin (LeGalleon). Thanks so much for this article, which I shall read a few more times. There are some names in it that might lead to more info if Google et al. are willing. WHAT GREAT FUN AND RELIABLE EDUCATION THIS SITE IS, and for such a worthy man.


    • Remember the Madame X transcript? Madame X said that Ouida’s first husband had been abusive. “The story was she’d been married before and the husband had basically raped her serially and she’d lost a child because of it. And he’d knocked her about too. So, she had trust problems.” George Fitzmaurice wasn’t Ouida’s first husband, of course, but perhaps Madame X got it wrong. I just wonder if George is the one who abused Ouida. It would explain why their perfect marriage didn’t last.


      • ticotico2 says

        Well, she had at least one, maybe two prior marriages. She worked with this guy for 6-7 years, according to this article, which brings their blessed bonding back to about 1916, wherher in matrimonial bliss or as coworkers. She looks very young in some of these photos, or did they use gauze for portraits too in those days, or are they old photos supplied for the interview (thought she was older than Bazzz). And what where they do in Florida. Hard to travel much in those days. Or did they interview in CA or NY and it was published in FL. There seems so little about Fitzmaurice online, though if he worked in England with Hitchcock you’d think there’d be something in a good Hitchcock book. He was divorced at some point, so it would be interesting to know whether our little Weedie was the cause. And this article written in 1922–by the time she meets BR a year later she’s separated from Fitzmaurice? Which makes this article something of a joke, like most Hollywood info. All very intriguing. Follow the crumbs to Pathe, check out her screen credits on IMDP, check out the other names….all great fun for us all to play with. We need a new challenge. Abuse her: why would he flog the horse if it was producing good work for him, but who knows what kind of guy he was. How about the woman he married after Weeds, how long did that last. And Bazz–maybe he married her for that Long Island house and the Hollywood connexions!


  3. She is very much a riddle wrapped up in an enigma. And an ongoing one…

    Marcia, thank you so much – for one of my favourite online blogs. A joy to find it whenever it arrives in my inbox.

    Liked by 1 person

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