Public Media Arts Hub

The life of Frances Marion, a trailblazer for women in Hollywood


Notice: Transcripts are machine and human generated and lightly edited for accuracy. They may contain errors.

John Yang: On this Oscars Sunday, during Women's History Month, we highlight another story of achievement that has faded over time. Tonight, a pioneer in the film industry, whose storied career made her one of the most prolific and respected writers over time.

Frances Marion may not have been a household name, but the actors who starred in the movie she wrote were. Mary Pickford, Marie Dressler, Greta Garbo, Marion Davies, Wallace Berry, Lionel Barrymore, Mary and wrote the scenes that define their careers. She worked in every facet of film production training under director and producer Lois Weber, another early Hollywood female pioneer.

As a screenwriter, Marion built a reputation for highlighting actors strengths and creating original characters. From 1915 to 1946 spanning the silent and sound eras, Marion wrote more than 300 screenplays, she was among the highest paid screenwriters in the world male or female, and directed two films.

For The Big House in 1930, Marion became the first woman to win an Academy Award for writing. She won another in 1932 for the Champ.

During World War I, Marion took a hiatus from the film industry and was a war correspondent. After her Hollywood career ended, she taught script writing at the University of Southern California and wrote a number of books including a memoir "Off With Their Heads," which was published in 1972.

Support Canvas

Sustain our coverage of culture, arts and literature.

Send Us Your Ideas
Let us know what you'd like to see on ArtsCanvas. Your thoughts and opinions matter.