Frances Marion (Marion Benson Owens)

Frances Marion

Frances Marion worked as a journalist and served overseas as a combat correspondent during World War I. She documented women’s contribution to the war effort on the front lines, and became the first woman to cross the Rhine after the armistice. On her return home, she moved to Los Angeles and was hired as a writing assistant, an actress and general assistant by “Lois Weber Productions”, a film company owned and operated by pioneer female film director Lois Weber. She could have been an actor, but preferred work behind the camera. She learned screenwriting from Weber, and wrote one screenplay for her, but then burned it. As “Frances Marion,” she wrote many scripts for actress/filmmaker Mary Pickford, including Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and The Poor Little Rich Girl, as well as scripts for numerous other successful films of the 1920s and 1930s. During this time, she earned a salary of $50,000 per year which was unheard of at the time. Frances Marion went to New York for her job, and her husband declined to live with her and they divorced. She became the first female to win an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 1930 for the film The Big House, she received the Academy Award for Best Story for The Champ in 1932, both featuring Wallace Beery, and co-wrote Min and Bill starring her friend Marie Dressler and Beery in 1930. She was credited with writing 300 scripts and over 130 produced films. She directed and occasionally appeared in some of Mary Pickford’s early movies. For many years she was under contract to MGM Studios, but, independently wealthy, she left Hollywood in 1946 to devote more time to writing stage plays and novels. Frances Marion published a memoir Off With Their Heads: A Serio-Comic Tale of Hollywood in 1972. Marion died the following year of a ruptured aneurysm in Los Angeles.

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Born

  • November, 18, 1888
  • USA
  • San Francisco, California

Died

  • May, 12, 1973
  • USA
  • Los Angeles, California

Cause of Death

  • ruptured aneurysm

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