| Marion Benson Owens|
November 18, 1888 (1888-11-18) San Francisco, U.S.
Author, journalist, screenwriter
May 12, 1973, Los Angeles, California, United States
George W. Hill (m. 1930–1933)
Richard Thomson, Frederick Thomson
How to Write and Sell Film Stories, Valley People
The Big House, The Champ, The Love Light, Camille, Anna Christie
Mary Pickford, Fred Thomson, Marie Dressler, Lois Weber, Wallace Beery
Frances Marion Wikipedia
Frances Marion (November 18, 1888 – May 12, 1973) was an American journalist, author, film director and screenwriter often cited as the most renowned female screenwriter of the 20th century alongside June Mathis and Anita Loos. She was the first writer to win two Academy Awards.
Marion was born Marion Benson Owens in San Francisco, California to Len Owens and Minnie Benson. She had an older sister, Maude, and a younger brother, Len. Her parents divorced when she was ten, and she lived with her mother. She dropped out of school at age twelve, after having been caught drawing a cartoon strip of her teacher. She then transferred to a school in San Mateo and then to art school in San Francisco when she was sixteen years old. This school was destroyed by an earthquake in 1906.
While still in San Francisco Marion worked as a photographer’s assistant to Arnold Genthe where she experimented with photographic layouts and color film. Later she worked for Western Pacific Railroads as a commercial artist, then as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. After moving to Los Angeles Marion worked as a poster artist for the Morosco Theater as well as an advertising firm doing commercial layouts.
In the summer of 1914 she was hired as a writing assistant, an actress and general assistant by "Lois Weber Productions", a film company owned and operated by pioneer female film director Lois Weber. She could have been an actor, but preferred work behind the camera. She learned screenwriting from Weber, and wrote one screenplay for her, but then burned it.
Marion worked as a journalist and served overseas as a combat correspondent during World War I. She documented women's contribution to the war effort on the front lines, and became the first woman to cross the Rhine after the armistice. As "Frances Marion," she wrote many scripts for actress/filmmaker Mary Pickford, including Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and The Poor Little Rich Girl, as well as scripts for numerous other successful films of the 1920s and 1930s. During this time, she earned a salary of $50,000 per year which was unheard of at the time. Marion went to New York for her job, and her husband declined to live with her and they divorced. She won the Academy Award for Writing in 1931 for the film The Big House, she received the Academy Award for Best Story for The Champ in 1932, both featuring Wallace Beery, and co-wrote Min and Bill starring her friend Marie Dressler and Beery in 1930. She was credited with writing 300 scripts and over 130 produced films. She directed and occasionally appeared in some of Mary Pickford's early movies.
Marion's father Len D. Owens built the Aetna Springs resort in Aetna Springs, California in the 1870s. After her success in Hollywood, she often visited the resort using it as a retreat and drew several actors to the resort with her.
Marion was married four times, first to Wesley de Lappe, and later to Robert Pike, both prior to changing her name. In 1919, she wed Fred Thomson, who co-starred with Mary Pickford in The Love Light in 1921. She was such close friends with Mary Pickford, that they honeymooned together when Mary married Douglas Fairbanks and Frances married Fred. After Thomson's unexpected death from a leg wound in 1928, she married director George W. Hill in 1930, but that marriage ended in divorce in 1933. She had two sons—Frederick C. Thomson and Richard Thomson (adopted). Fred earned a PhD in English at Yale, taught there and later joined the faculty of the University of North Carolina. He became an editor of the writings of George Eliot, publishing editions of Felix Holt, the Radical in 1980 and later.
For many years she was under contract to MGM Studios, but, independently wealthy, she left Hollywood in 1946 to devote more time to writing stage plays and novels.
Frances Marion published a memoir Off With Their Heads: A Serio-Comic Tale of Hollywood in 1972. Marion died the following year of a ruptured aneurysm in Los Angeles.Minnie Flynn. NY: Boni and Liveright, 1925
The Secret Six. NY: Grosset & Dunlap, 1931 [novelization of her own screenplay]
Valley People. NY: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1935
How to Write and Sell Film Stories. NY: Covici-Friede, 1937
Molly, Bless Her. NY: Harper & Brothers, 1937
Westward The Dream. Garden City NY: Doubleday and Company, 1948
The Passions of Linda Lane. NY: Diversey Publications, 1949 [paperback; revised edition of Minnie Flynn]
The Powder Keg. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1953
Off With Their Heads!: A Serio-Comic Tale of Hollywood. NY: The Macmillan Company, 1972 [memoir]