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            Frances Marion


            The most renowned female screenwriter of the 20th century, and one of the most respected scripters of any gender, Frances Marion was born in San Francisco. She modeled and acted and had some success as a commercial artist. She entered into journalism and served in Europe as a combat correspondent during World War I. She moved to Los Angeles and was employed by director Lois Weber as an assistant, in which position she was received a thorough apprenticeship in the film industry. She began writing scripts and attracted the attention of Mary Pickford. The pair began a long relationship as both friends and artists, with Marion serving as Pickford's official screenwriter. She wrote many of Pickford's most famous and memorable silent films as well as many other of the great successful pictures of the 1920s and 1930s. She won Oscars for her writing on The Big House (1930) and The Champ (1931/I). Her influence resurrected the career of Marie Dressler and resulted in her greatest glory, and her scripts for Marion Davies are among the most memorable of that actress' oeuvre. At MGM, where she was long under contract, she enjoyed enormous creative freedom for a writer. With the death of Irving Thalberg, MGM's creative head, in 1936, Marion's power and influence waned. In 1946 she left Hollywood and thereafter concentrated on plays and novels. She was at one time married to 1920s cowboy star Fred Thomson and subsequently to director George W. Hill. She died in 1973, one of the most respected names in Hollywood history.