Profiles of LGBT people, from the past and today – and celebrating their birthdays! All Birthdays →

Dorothy Arzner

Born in San Francisco, Arzner was raised in Hollywood amid the filmmakers who frequented her father’s local restaurant. At first interested in medicine, she dropped out of college to work for Paramount Pictures as a typist before moving up to editing and screenwriting. In 1927, Arzner negotiated to direct her first picture, the drama Fashions for Women, a critical and box-office hit. In a career that spanned 25 commercially successful years, Arzner earned the distinction of being the only working female director in the great age of Hollywood studio filmmaking, directing top talents including Katherine Hepburn and long-time friend Joan Crawford. Titles like Christopher Strong (1930) and Dance, Girl, Dance (1940) have been noted by feminists for their early portrayals of complex, strong-willed female protagonists. Arzner’s lesbianism was well known in Hollywood circles. She lived openly with dancer Marion Morgan until Morgan’s death in 1971. Arzner herself died October 1, 1979, aged 78.