November 20th, 2011

carole lombard 07
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Ginger-flavored feminism

Many actresses in 1930s Hollywood were feminists before it was fashionable. Carole Lombard frequently spoke about women's role in society, and many similar thoughts were espoused by Jean Harlow ( As it turns out, another star whose centenary we celebrate expressed such feelings -- we're referring to Ginger Rogers, shown above with Lombard and her chihuahua.

As was the case with Harlow, William M. Drew has come across a newspaper story where a star speaks her mind. This comes from United Press International on Sept. 10, 1958, and was carried in the Morgantown (W.Va.) Post:

One thing that's striking is apparently how little things had changed in the film industry in the 21 1/2 years between Jean's comments and Ginger's:

Harlow: "In the motion picture field, there is room for more women directors. And why aren't women ideally suited to be cameramen..."

Rogers: "Oh sure, they let us women act. But how many women directors or producers can you name? They'll let a woman drive a cab, but not operate a camera."

Rogers was then a proponent of an equal rights amendment, which passed both houses of Congress in 1972 but fell a few states short of ratification before its period expired in 1979. By the time of her death in 1995, women had made significant progress, but more was (and is) yet to come.

You can read Drew's entry on Ginger at For more on the remarkable Ms. Rogers, read the wonderful Gingerology blog at (it's currently in the midst of examining all her films chronologically, including several relatively obscure ones).
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