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Gone Silent.
January 8, 2012 11:15 AM   Subscribe

Frederica Sagor Maas dies at 111; silent film screenwriter. Her 1925 script for "The Plastic Age" launched the career Clara Bow. She wrote numerous scripts during the silent era, including movies starring Greta Garbo and Norma Shearer with whom she became friends. But she felt badly treated by Hollywood, her scripts stolen, plagiarized or bowdlerized. She was also blacklisted, wrongly accused of being a communist. Broke and dispirited, she and her husband contemplated suicide. But she survived, and went on to write a highly critical book about early Hollywood, where she dished on many famous figures.

'At 20, she was hired as assistant story editor at Universal Pictures in New York. When the bosses she later called "chauvinistic honchos" refused to help her become a screenwriter, she left for Hollywood. She was 23.

Film school was the movie theater, where she watched current releases over and over to understand the "rhythm of the scenes," she told National Public Radio in 1999.'

'Many of the screenplays she and her husband wrote between 1938 and 1950 were never produced. Hopeless, humiliated and having little money, the couple drove to a hilltop overlooking Hollywood with the intention of committing suicide in their Plymouth. Clutching each other, they started sobbing and realized that "none of these things mattered. We had each other," wrote Maas, who had no children. Her husband died in 1986.

She eventually became an insurance adjuster and said if she had it to do over again, she would "be a wash lady."'

'For Maas, living an exceedingly long life was the best revenge.

"It's my only consolation to think, 'All you lousy so-and-sos are all 20 feet under, and I'm still here.' It's a satisfaction, but not a great satisfaction," she told the San Francisco Chronicle in 1999.'
posted by VikingSword (13 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
I believe Gore Vidal said that outliving one's enemies was one of the few benefits of a great lifespan.

Fascinating story. Thanks for the post.
posted by Trurl at 11:59 AM on January 8, 2012


The drawback being that she spent 26 years without her husband, whom she loved.

"She was frank, and she was funny," he said, "and she kept that kind of wit and cynicism past 100."

At least this is pretty inspiring.
posted by ersatz at 12:09 PM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


'All you lousy so-and-sos are all 20 feet under, and I'm still here.'

That's true, you know...all Hollywood executives are buried twenty feet below the ground instead of six. You know, just in case.
posted by Ian A.T. at 12:15 PM on January 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


At the time of her death, she was the 44th oldest verified person in the world. She had a loving husband for 60 some years. She was somewhat famous in her chosen career and wrote a popular book and movies. Whatever her problems, she was unusually fortunate. I think most people would be happy with any one of these.
posted by stbalbach at 12:21 PM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Shocking Miss Pilgrim: A Writer in Early Hollywood; review from silentera.com

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posted by adamvasco at 12:43 PM on January 8, 2012


She was living history when she passed away. From the silent movies to Youtube et al, she had seen what I would be envious to see in my lifetime. She saw man walk upon the moon and a had a longer marriage than many lives. She existed in an era where society and culture would have made life difficult for a smart mouthed woman, and she not only existed in defiance of them but continued to exist for decades thereafter. Unknown people, like ourselves, now know her name if we didn't before and we mourn, if but for a moment, her passing.


I would be honoured to have such a complete full life lived on earth.
posted by infini at 1:05 PM on January 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


.

Thanks for posting this.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:43 PM on January 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by JHarris at 1:47 PM on January 8, 2012


What a life!
posted by chaff at 2:09 PM on January 8, 2012


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posted by mumimor at 2:41 PM on January 8, 2012


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Great post.
posted by nonmerci at 2:54 PM on January 8, 2012


I believe Gore Vidal said that outliving one's enemies was one of the few benefits of a great lifespan.

Tragically, I imagine she outlived everyone she ever loved, as well...

And:
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posted by Theta States at 8:31 AM on January 9, 2012


(*ahem* OK, outlived many people she ever loved. I'm guessing she loved some people younger than her....)
posted by Theta States at 8:32 AM on January 9, 2012


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