The Surprising Family History of Ida Lupino


Today is the birthday of Ida Lupino (1918-1995). Most people know her strictly as a beautiful English-American noir dame, and as one of America’s first female film directors.  What is less commonly known about her is that she came from a long line of English music hall acrobat-comedians, stretching all the way back to the 18th century. Her father, Stanley was also in the music hall, as were her uncles Lupino Lane and Wallace Lupino (who also became silent movie comedy stars). Following their advice, she too went into into the family line, but taking a slightly different route, studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and becoming a “legit” star of stage and screen starting in the early 30s. Her last film was My Boys are Good Boys (1978) with Lloyd Nolan and Ralph Meeker.

There’s more about the Lupinos in my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube. 

Now here’s Ida making a cameo on I Love Lucy (as so many stars did when Lucy jumped the shark and “went to Hollywood”):

To find out more about the variety arts past and presentconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. 


And don’t  miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from etc etc etc



  1. Nice pedegree of a very accomplished woman: Not just an actor/director, but a skilled script writer for film and television, too… The fellow with her in the clip is her third and final husband, Howard Duff, with whom she co-starred in the television series “Mr. Adams and Eve…” a clever show, as I recall from the reruns of my youth… (Duff was named as a “pinko” by Red Channels in the late 40s and would have been professionally dead, had not Ida Lupino stuck up for him and insisted that he be cast in projects over which she had an influence…. So cool of her…)


  2. Absolutely love her!

    Our next Fabulous Film Song piece is going to be on Ida Lupino, “singer!” And Trav, you know I love you but I must correct you on this: Ida was a guest on “The Lucy Desi Comedy Hour” – not “I Love Lucy.” Lucy and Desi were smart enough to end I.L.L. while the ending was good but then strapped on the water skis and jumped shark, as you say, with the comedy hour. That show was all about special guest stars because by that time Lucy and Desi had had it.

    Looking forward to your book!


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