Friday, January 23, 2009

The Lupino Family

Henry William George Lupino, better known to audiences as Lupino Lane, was born in London in 1892. He entered showbiz practically right out of the gate: at the age of four he appeared in a benefit variety show with Vesta Tilley, and soon thereafter performed as "Nipper" at the London Pavilion.

By 1924 he was in the Ziegfeld Follies, and in 1925 played in The Mikado on Broadway. His biggest claim to fame, however, was playing the character of Bill Snibson in the musical Twenty to One and its sequel Me and my Girl, the latter of which spawned the massive hit song "Lambeth Walk". Lupino Lane directed Me and my Girl as well as starring in it, for 1550 performances until 1940.

Lane invested his fortune he'd made from Me and my Girl and put it into restoring London's abandoned Gaiety Theatre, which had become a crumbling shell because of World War II bombings and years of neglect. Unfortunately, the task of renovating the enormous building exhausted his funds, and he failed to secure sufficient financial backing to finish it. He was forced to sell the unfinished building in 1950, and it was subsequently demolished in 1956.

Defeated and depressed, Lupino Lane died at the age of 67 in 1959.

Prior to Lane, there were centuries of showbiz performers in his family tree, most of them named George: Georgius Lupino was born in the 1500s and was an Italian puppeteer. George William Luppino, born 1632, was a singer, poet and puppeteer. George Charles Luppino, born 1661, was also a puppeteer. George Charles Luppino II, born 1683, was a dancer billed as "The Motion Master of Long Acre". George Richard Eastcourt Luppino was a dancer and apprentice to John Rich, founder of English Pantomime. Samuel George Lupino, born 1766, was a dancer and acrobat. George Hook Lupino was adopted into the Lupino family and became a dancer. He had 16 children, at least 10 of whom went on to careers in theatre, dance and vaudeville. George Lupino, born in 1853, performed in Drury Lane pantomimes of the 1890s.

This last George Lupino had a son named Stanley Lupino (1893–1942) who had quite a successful career in showbiz. His stage career included Phi-Phi (1922) and From Dover Street to Dixie (1923) at the London Pavilion, and at the Gaiety Theatre he did Love Lies (1929), Hold my Hand (1932), and Sporting Love (1934). His film career included a remake of Love Lies for the screen (1933), Happy (1933), You Made Me Love You (1933), Honeymoon for Three (1935) and Lucky to Me (1939).

Stanley's daughter, Ida Lupino, born in 1918, went on to a career of her own in film. She worked on film noir, quasi-noir, and proto-noir films such as The Light That Failed (1938), They Drive by Night (1940), Road House (1948), Not Wanted (1949), Outrage (1950), On Dangerous Ground (1952), The Hitch-Hiker (1953), The Big Knife (1955) and While the City Sleeps (1956). Some of these she also directed, making history as an early female film director and certainly the first female director of noir film.

For the next twenty years, Ida descended into mainstream television, working on shows such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone, Have Gun Will Travel, The Donna Reed Show, Columbo, Gilligan's Island, 77 Sunset Strip, The Streets of San Francisco, The Investigators, Switch, Ellery Queen, The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, Barnaby Jones, Medical Center, Family Affair, Mod Squad, Wild Wild West, The Rifleman, Bracken's World, Batman, Sam Benedict, Police Woman, Bonanza, The Untouchables, The Fugitive, Charlie's Angels, and Bewitched.

In 1975 she had a small part as Mrs. Emma Preston in the gloriously horrendous cult film The Devil's Rain with William Shatner, Ernest Borgnine, Eddie Albert, John Travolta and Anton LaVey.

She retired in 1978 and died in 1995.

1 comment:

  1. I also enjoyed a very-young Ida Lupino in The Gay Desperado (1936).