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Frances Marion (November 18, 1888 - May 12, 1973) was an Americanmarker journalist, author, and screenwriter often cited as the most renowned female screenwriter of the twentieth century alongside June Mathis and Anita Loos


Born Marion Benson Owens in San Franciscomarker, Californiamarker, she worked as a journalist and served overseas as a combat correspondent during World War I. On her return home, she moved to Los Angeles and was hired as a writing assistant by "Lois Weber Productions", a film company owned and operated by pioneer female film director Lois Weber.

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. She became the first female to win an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 1930 for the film The Big House, she received the Academy Award for Best Story for The Champ in 1932. 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.

Personal life

She 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. After Thomson's unexpected death in 1928, she married director George W. Hill in 1930, but that marriage ended in divorce in 1933. She had two sons -- Fred C. and Richard (adopted). Fred earned a Ph. D. 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.

Later years and death

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 Angelesmarker.

Selected filmography

Year Title Notes
1912 The New York Hat Contributing writer
1915 Camille Scenario
1917 The Little Princess Writer
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm Writer
The Poor Little Rich Girl Writer
1918 Stella Maris Photoplay
How Could You, Jean? Scenario
M'Liss Writer
Amarilly of Clothes-Line Alley Writer
1919 The Cinema Murder Scenario
Anne of Green Gables Writer
1920 Pollyanna Adaptation
The Flapper Screenplay, story
The Restless Sex Writer
1921 The Love Light Director, story (uncredited)
1922 The Toll of the Sea Scenario (uncredited), story
1923 The Famous Mrs. Fair Adaptation, screenplay
1924 Secrets Adaptation
1925 Stella Dallas Adaptation
A Thief in Paradise Adaptation
Thank You Writer
Lightnin' Writer
1926 The Scarlet Letter Adaptation, scenario, titles
The Winning of Barbara Worth Adaptation
Son of the Sheik Adaptation
1927 The Red Mill Adaptation, screenplay
Love Continuity
Madame Pompadour Writer
1928 The Wind Scenario
The Awakening Story
Bringing Up Father Writer
1929 Their Own Desire Screenplay
1930 Min and Bill Dialogue, scenario
The Big House Dialogue, story
Won the Academy Award for Best Writing
Good News Scenario
The Rouge Song Writer
Anna Christie Writer
1931 Anna Christie Adaptation
The Secret Six Dialogue, screenplay
The Champ Story
Won the Academy Award for Best Story
1932 Blondie of the Follies Screenplay, story
Emma Story
1933 Peg o' My Heart Adaptation
Dinner at Eight Screenplay
The Prizefighter and the Lady Story
Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Story
Going Hollywood Story (uncredited)
Secrets Writer
1936 Camille Screenplay
Riffraff Screenplay, story
Poor Little Rich Girl Writer
1937 Knight Without Armour Adaptation
1940 Green Hell Original story, screenplay

Published Works

  • 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]


  • Beauchamp, C. Marion, Frances. American National Biography Online, February 2000.


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