Sunday, March 31, 2013

Miss Louise Fazenda

I could have sworn I did an entry on Louise Fazenda before, but apparently I was wrong. Sometimes I think if I mention an actor or actress in an entry once, my brain thinks I already wrote about them. I even had a list of people I have covered and I am not sure where exactly I put that! I am just falling apart at the seams here!

Anyway, on with the show!

Louise Fazenda was born on June 17, 1895 in Lafayette, Indiana. She was the only child born to Joseph, a grocer, and his wife, Nellie. When she was still a child her family packed up and moved out to California where Louise attended school at a convent. 

Before breaking into films, Louise cut her teeth first on stage, as well as taking on various jobs to help pay her way in the world. 

Finally, in 1913, Louise made her screen debut in a comedy short called The Romance of the Utah Pioneers. For the next 1-2 years she appeared in a gazillion films, mostly comedy shorts, before she was signed by Mack Sennett and his famous Keystone Studio. 

Her most popular films with Keystone were the ones where she dressed as a country bumpkin with a multiple pigtails sticking out of her head. A lot of these films were going to be given to another Keystone comedienne, Mabel Normand, but she turned them down, wanting "classier roles." In fact, Mack Sennett used to threaten her saying, "I'll send for Fazenda!" when Mabel began complaining about the films given to her. 

Eventually, Louise had to cut ties with Keystone and Mack Sennett because he would not meet her asking price. She began to appear in feature comedic films and was still just as popular as ever. One of the films she made was in 1928, Tillie's Punctured Romance, with W.C. Fields and Chester Conklin. Even though the title is the same, it is not a remake of the earlier version with Charlie Chaplin and Mabel Normand. And unlike the previous version, Louise's version is considered lost. 

Some of her other notable film appearances include: No, No, Nanette (1930), Alice in Wonderland (1930), and The Old Maid (1939). She made a smooth transition into talkies and was a popular character actress during the 1930s, but she didn't appear in anymore films after 1939. 

Louise Fazenda passed away on April 27, 1962 in Beverly Hills.

She was buried at the Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California. 

Louise was married twice. Her first husband was director Noel Smith, whom she married in 1917. The couple divorced in 1926. Her second marriage was to producer Hal B. Wallis in 1927. The couple had a son, Brent in 1933 and remained married until Louise's death. Apparently Wallis was nicknamed "The Prisoner of Fazenda" around the Warner Bros. Studio. I don't think it was meant to be derogatory, but who knows. 

In December of 1930, Louise along with a number of other stars, lost her home in Malibu Beach to a fire. The exact cause of the fire is unknown, other than that there was an explosion at one home that spread.

After she retired from films, Louise and Wallis built up quite an impressive art collection. In 1989, after both of their deaths, the collection was auctioned off and earned around $20 million. Hello!

Louise was one hell of a caring person. In 1954, she read about a woman who died in a car accident and she stepped in to help pay for the medical bills of the woman's daughter who was injured in the accident. She helped a college student with his student loans after his wife became pregnant, and she helped feed and care for children at the UCLA Medical Center. What an amazing lady.

Aside from art collecting and help others, she also enjoyed playing the piano, swimming, hiking, and reading books on psychology and also foreign language texts. 

Even though Louise and Mabel Normand were rivals for film roles, it isn't known for sure if the two really didn't like each other or if they were in fact friends. Louise attended the dedication of a studio in Mabel's name after her death from tuberculosis, but she didn't make any comments about her former screen rival.


  1. I never heard of her before. Thanks for the terrific article :-)

  2. I always liked this gal and now even more knowing how she helped people and loved art so much! I wonder why it was said Hallis was the prisoner of Fazenda...interesting

  3. She was a pretty cool gal! And I want to know about the nickname too!!