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Michigan State University

Writing Women’s Film History: Ursula Parrott in Hollywood

Wells Hall B122

November 9, 2023

Film, Talks, Panels, and Presentations

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Professor Marsha Gordon, North Carolina State University

Once the best-known ex-wife in America, Ursula Parrott (1899-1957) was a best-selling author, Hollywood screenwriter, and headline-grabber from the 1920s through the 1940s, during which time she published twenty books and over one-hundred stories, serials, and nonfiction articles. She was Radcliffe-educated; had four optimistic walks down the aisle (and back); piloted for the Civilian Air Corps during World War II; co-founded a weekly rural Connecticut newspaper; and travelled the world. Although she has been written out of literary and film history, Parrott worked as a high profile screenwriter in New York and Hollywood and her words gave Norma Shearer her only Academy Award and launched Jimmy Stewart’s career as a lead actor. Professor Gordon Gordon will discuss how she discovered Parrott and the challenges she faced conducting research about her while writing Becoming the Ex-Wife: The Unconventional Life & Forgotten Writings of Ursula Parrott (University of California Press, 2023), including the decision to write the book for a general readership and a detour into a Women Film Pioneer’s Project article about her older half sister, Madge Tyrone, that Professor Gordon published along the way.

Talk is followed by screening of The Divorcee