Sunday, February 4, 2018


Actress/Director Ida Lupino was born 100 years ago today.  I'm afraid there are plenty of people today who may have forgotten her or worse, never even heard of her; some might not realize how strong her resume was, thinking she only did 'Batman' and 'The Twilight Zone'....

Ida was born in London to a show business family. In 1933, her mother brought Ida with her to an audition and Ida got the part her mother wanted. The picture was "Her First Affaire" (1932). Ida, a bleached blonde, came to Hollywood in 1934 and played small and insignificant parts. "Peter Ibbetson" (1935) was one of her few noteworthy movies and it was not until "The Light That Failed" (1939) that she got a chance to get better parts. 

In most of her movies, she was cast as the hard, but sympathetic woman from the wrong side of the tracks. In "The Sea Wolf" (1941) and "High Sierra" (1941), she played the part magnificently. It has been said that no one could do hard-luck dames the way Lupino could do them. She played tough, knowing characters who held their own against some of the biggest leading men of the day - Humphrey Bogart, Ronald Colman, John Garfield and Edward G. Robinson. 

She made a handful of films during the forties playing different characters ranging from "Pillow to Post" (1945), where she played a traveling saleswoman to the tough nightclub singer in "The Man I Love" (1947). But good roles for women were hard to get and there were many young actresses and established stars competing for those roles. She left Warner Brothers in 1947 and became a freelance actress. 

When better roles did not materialize, Ida stepped behind the camera as a director, writer and producer. Her first directing job came when director Elmer Clifton fell ill on a script that she co-wrote "Not Wanted" (1949). Ida had joked that as an actress, she was the poor man's Bette Davis. Now, she said that as a director, she became the poor man's Don Siegel. The films that she wrote, or directed, or appeared in during the fifties were mostly inexpensive melodramas. 

She later turned to Television where she directed episodes in shows such as 'The Untouchables' (1959) and 'The Fugitive' (1963). In the seventies, she did guest appearances on various television show and small parts in a few movies.
IMDb Mini Biography By: Tony Fontana 

(O'Bservation: Not that I can use it for this Toobworld salute, but my favorite movie role of hers was in "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes", being a bit of a Sherlockian myself.)

Usually when marking someone's centennial, I like to honor them with a reason to induct them into the Television Crossover Hall of Fame; give them my own form of "immortality".  Unfortunately, I had no way to achieve that with Ms. Lupino, either for her characters or for herself.  

So instead, I've put together one of my Super Six Lists to honor her instead, looking at "six" of her characters - some who added a bit of oomph to the mythos of Toobworld.  I've chosen only from those TV characters of hers whom I've actually seen, and I figured I'd go from least to most important women she played when it comes to the overall Television Universe.



Mia Bronson, a con artist, has used her ill-gotten money to take over an entire town. Among her victims is newspaper publisher Goerge Austin: she stole all of his advertisers and forced him to sell her the paper for $10,000, half its value. Two of her other victims are Heyes and Curry, whom she cheats with marked decks of cards and has beaten up for complaining. Austin and his daughter find them and nurse them back to health. While recuperating, Heyes and Curry talk to Austin and find out he has been experimenting with the developing chemicals used in photography. He has developed a chemical printing process that will exactly duplicate an image, except that like a photographic negative it is in reverse. The boys come up with a plan. After cleaning up so Mia won't recognize them, they go into town and pass themselves off as counterfeiters who have hired Austin to do their printing for them. They show off two $1000 bills, one real and the other a duplicate. Mia demands more proof, and Austin obliges by duplicating one of Mia's bills. Now if she will just give him twenty more ...
—Peter Harris

It was refreshing to see a con woman on this show who couldn't count on her looks to get what she wanted in a scam (although I'm sure it worked fine for her back in the 1830s.)  Mia Bronson was a tough old broad in the wild, wild West who gave as good as she got.

I'm not making any theories of "relateeveety" to connect Ms. Bronson to any other characters on this list who were played by Ida Lupino.  Mia Bronson is to be found in the alternate dimension of Toobworld2, the Land o' Remakes, where Hannibal Heyes, AKA Joshua Smith, looked totally different.  (The divergence occurs when Mr. & Mrs. Heyes chose a baby from the orphanage.  In Earth Prime-Time, the chosen boy grew up to look like actor Pete Duel; he looked like Roger Davis in Toobworld2.)  It is unknown whether the lives of either Hannibal mirrored exactly that of his doppelganger.  So I don't know if Mia Bronson ever crossed the paths of Smith and Jones in the main Toobworld.


Pressured to give up his birthright, a chemical company heir enacts a clever plan to get rid of his blackmailing uncle and take over the family business. But Lt. Columbo suspects the man's death was not just a tragic accident.

Doris Stamford Buckner was the wife of the murder victim and the aunt of the murderer.


A gospel singer wants to be rid of his zealous wife. But a murder made to look like an airplane accident does not fool the wily Lt. Columbo.

Edna Brown was the murder victim, along with the girl whom she was using to keep her husband tied to her missionary crusade.

I wish I could have placed Mrs. Buckner and Mrs. Brown higher on my list of Ida Lupino characters.  'Columbo' is one of my top five favorite shows.  But there's not much to offer the greater good ("The greater good....") of Toobworld from them.  It's even hard to make a theory of relateeveety - Doris Buckner was born and raised in the Los Angeles area, while Edna Baskett was from Nashville before she met Tommy Brown.  At best they could be "identical cousins".

The only other Toobworld connection I can think of is that Edna Brown is buried in the same cemetery as Rayna Jaymes in 'Nashville'.

When an heiress is found dead from an apparent suicide, Ellery Queen suspects she was murdered, but the investigation is hindered by interference from radio detective Simon Brimmer.

Stephanie Kendrick, a wealthy fountain pen heiress, is found dead on the front lawn of her mansion. Prior to her death she was reading Ellery's book "The Adventure of the Lover's Leap" and it seems that she acted out a passage in the book which leads to her to jump from her bedroom balcony. Inspector Queen thinks her death is suicide, but Ellery seems to have other thoughts when a technical print man finds a small shard of glass on the balcony. Later, during the questioning of suspects, Simon Brimmer arrives at the Kendrick mansion and, in his typical pompous fashion, offers his help to Inspector Queen solve what he concludes to be a murder. Ultimately, Brimmer brings the cast together at the conclusion to disclose the guilty party, but Ellery finds the exact time to speak up and reveal the killer's identity. 
Written by H Pylypiw

I see no reason why a theory of "relateeveety" about Mrs. Kendrick being related to other characters on this list played by Ms. Lupino couldn't be valid.  As you'll see later on, I claimed one of the other characters was part of the most (in)famous dynasty in horror literature, movies, comics, theater, and of course, television.  So a suggestion that Mrs. Kittrick might have a werewolf included along that same family branch would be hard to resist.  I would suggest that her father, a Talbott, might be distantly related to Lawrence Talbot, if not "The Wolfman" himself.  (That lycanthropic curse was not transmitted to her however.)


Ida Lupino and Howard Duff cameo at the end of the episode to set up their appearance as Dr. Casandra and Cabala in the next episode. 

Dr. Cassandra has a grand scheme against Gotham City with her invisibility pills merely the beginning of her tricks.

In this penultimate Bat-adventure, Dr. Cassandra releases six Arch-Criminals from Gotham State prison: The Riddler, The Penguin, The Joker, Catwoman, King Tut and Egghead. However none of them are played by the usual guest actors. For one thing it would be too expensive to feature them all at the same time. Note that their faces are never clearly seen, they have no lines (other than the Riddler's giggle and Penguin's squawk reused from earlier appearances) and Catwoman resembles the Julie Newmar version instead of season three's Eartha Kitt.

From the "Batman" Wiki:
Dr. Cassandra was a villainess and enemy of Batman in the 'Batman' 1960s TV Series. She was portrayed by Ida Lupino. Cassandra Spellcraft came from a long line of failed female alchemists, right back to her great-grandmother. She was determined to do what her fore-mothers couldn't, and become a success in alchemy. But she ended up following in their footsteps quite neatly, outsmarted by Batman.

So the campy phenom was on life-support by this point, although this episode is not as bad as when my teenage crush Barbara Rush appeared as Nora Clavicle.  Still, it provided trivia which enhances Toobworld: her invisibility pills, the Alvino Ray Gun, the Mope Diamond, and one last look at the greatest villains from this show... even though they weren't played by the original actors.  And it was fun to see Ms. Lupino with her husband of 33 years, Howard Duff.

Based on the information from the 'Batman' wiki, I'm making this theory of relateeveety: Dr. Cassandra Spellcraft was the grand-daughter of our next entry.....


Dr. Faustina and her mute servant, Miklos, have transformed a corpse into a duplicate image of Jim West. When they bring the corpse back to life, Faustina's plot is to have West look-alike gain entry to a meeting of the President's cabinet to kill four of the members. 

I don't think Dr. Faustina was that grandmother mentioned in the 'Batman' wiki who met a grisly end.  I think she was Cassandra's paternal grandmother.  How Dr. Faustina was able to bring the dead back to life wasn't revealed in the episode.  In Toobworld, however, we have an answer - Dr. Faustina was of the Frankenstein bloodline and she was carrying on her family's tradition.  This is just conjecture, but I believe she brought a gigantic corpse back to life as a gift to a lover, Dr. Miguelito Loveless who named it "Voltaire" as a joke based on the role electricity played in its resuscitation. 


Barbara Jean Trenton is a faded film star who lives in the past by constantly re-watching her old movies instead of moving on with her life, so her associates try to lure her out of her self-imposed isolation. 

Barbara Jean Trenton is probably Ms. Lupino's greatest character contribution to Toobworld, and that's without taking into account what she offers to the world of the Toob.  It is certainly the role that will be seen the most, as long as there are 'Twilight Zone' marathons for New Year's Eve and the Fourth of July.

A faded actress lost in the memories of her glory days, Barbara Jean Trenton eventually - literally - gets lost in that world of the movies.  For Toobworld, she crossed the dimensional vortex into the "Cineverse".  Like Toobworld, it is one of many meta-fictional universes created from the gestalt of Mankind's imagination and made real.

"The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine" is one T-Zone episode which I think deserved a sequel.  In her new world, Barbara would be just one of many women who looked exactly like her.  She would look like all the living movie characters whom she portrayed in her "real" world (Toobworld to us.)  And it wouldn't be Jerry Hearnden whom she would find over there, but instead the characters he had played.  It might have proven far too much for the actress to handle.

All of those movie characters she played, just as it is for Toobworld characters for us, would have lives that extended beyond the display of "The End" after the credits rolled.  So many of Barbara's roles in period films might have died off already, or withered and aged even more than she had done.  And what of those roles where she played bad girls? One of them might not have appreciated an interloper who looked exactly like her.  Maybe she wanted to escape to the "real" world in Barbara's stead.

I think there's a story there.

Here's to the memory of Ida Lupino, and the many stories she directed, and characters she portrayed, all serving to expand Toobworld. 

I hope her memory shines brightly on the screen - and behind the camera - for 100 years more.....


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