Anita Loos: “Could her power have something to do with her hair?”

From The Writer’s Almanac:

Today is the birthday of novelist and screenwriter Anita Loos. She published her novella, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, in 1926. The story was based on Loos’s observations of her good friend, the journalist H.L. Mencken.

She began writing a series of sketches to pass the time on a train from New York to L.A. after she noticed that Mencken and the other men in her party were falling all over themselves to pay attention to a young and attractive blonde passenger. “There was some mystifying difference between us,” she later wrote. “Why did she so far outdistance me in feminine allure? Could her power, like that of Samson, have something to do with her hair?”

According to Loos she never really intended to publish the story; she claimed, “My only purpose was to make Henry Mencken laugh, which it did.” But she ended up publishing the sketches of her blonde protagonist, Lorelei Lee, in Harper’s Bazaar, and they were so popular that she made them into a book. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes inspired two movies, a play, and a musical, and it was translated into 14 languages. The philosopher George Santayana called it “the best philosophical work by an American.”

Speak Your Mind