Ida Lupino: From Streatham Garden To Hollywood Stardom

With the Streatham Film Festival taking place this month, we celebrate a Streatham resident who rode to Hollywood stardom. 

Ida Lupino was blessed with great beauty and considerable talent. She was born on 4 February 1918 at 33 Ardbeg Road in Herne Hill into the Lupino family, whose theatrical traditions dated back to the 17th century. King Edward VII had once dubbed them "the royal family of greasepaint Her father, Stanley, appeared in pantomime and had a successful stage partnership with Laddie Cliffe, and in the 1930s he appeared in 14 films, many of which he wrote himself. At the height of his success he and his family moved to Streatham and lived at Holmdene, 152 Leigham Court Road. The house was one of the largest in the area and provided a luxurious and comfortable home for Stanley, his wife Connie and two daughters Rita and Ida. It was destroyed by the V1 bomb that fell on 150 Leigham Court road in August 1944.

At the rear of the house there was an enormous garden where the family relaxed, played croquet, and built a small theatre to give performances to friends and relatives. Here Ida learnt to sing and dance.  Ida was a pupil at St Helena's School in Streatham and aged 13, she entered RADA where she was cast in Heartbreak House. In 1933, Ida was cast in her first film role in Her First Affair.  Five other films followed, and she was contracted by Paramount and sailed to the US.  There, her hair was cropped and dyed blonde and she became a Hollywood beauty. Her first US film was in 1934, Search for Beauty.

Following a bout of polio which almost ended her career, Ida made 11 more films with Paramount before joining Warner. There she became established, starring in major films; Light That Failed with Ronald Colman, They Drive by Night with George Raft and Humphrey Bogart, The Sea Wolf with Edward G Robinson and John Garfield and Ladies in Retirement. In 1941 she starred with Humphrey Bogart in High Sierra, and in 1942 she won the New York Film Critics Award for her role in The Hard Way.  

In 1949 Ida Lupino co-founded a production company, co-producing and directing Not Wanted. She became a highly regarded and successful TV director, directing episodes of programmes including The Fugitive, The Untouchables, The Virginian and Colombo.

Ida Lupino died in Los Angeles on 3 August 1995. 

Extracts reproduced by kind permission of John Brown and Tony Fletcher from The Streatham Society Newsletter- Autumn 2018.

Image of movie poster of Streatham's Ida Lupino starring opposite Humphrey Bogart in High Sierra