A Rolling Crone

A blog about travel, art, photography and crone power


North Grafton, Massachusetts, USA
February 04
After 40 years as a journalist, I turned 60 and decided to return to my first love--painting, especially portraits of people encountered in my travels to Greece, Mexico, India & Nicaragua. I’ve exhibited my watercolors and photographs in Massachusetts and have some of them on my web site: www.joanpgage.com. My photo book “The Secret Life of Greek Cats” can be purchased on the web site, or on Amazon. I collect antique photographs, including daguerreotypes, and write about how they have introduced me to some fascinating historic figures, such as Elizabeth Keckley, a slave who became Mary Lincoln's dressmaker and confidante. Last year I attended my 50th high school reunion in Edina, Minnesota and I've just turned 70. My husband and I recently reached our 40th anniversary. We have 3 children, now amazing adults, who keep me up to date on technology--although I still haven't mastered texting. It's been a marvelous journey since I was born in 1941, and I can't wait for the next chapter.


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Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 16, 2012 3:54PM

Crone of the Week: Hollywood Pioneer Dies at 111

Rate: 4 Flag

University Press of Kentucky
It’s been a long time since I’ve picked a Crone of the Week, but now that it’s awards season,  the honor had to be revived and the statuette dusted off for  silent-era script writer Frederica Sago Maas, who died on Jan 5 at the incredible age of 111. (She was the 44tholdest verified person in the world.)
                                                                                       San Diego Union Tribune
The New York Times’ obituary for her begins: “She told of Hollywood moguls chasing naked would-be starlets, the women shrieking with laughter.  She recounted how Joan Crawford, new to the movies, relied on her to pick clothes.  Almost obsessively, she complained about how many of her story ideas and scripts were stolen and credited to others.“

In the 1920’s, in Hollywood, Frederica fumed as her writing and ideas were attributed to others. That’s what happened to women writers in those days.  In New York in the 1960’s I often had the same experience.  In fact, when I went to Time-Life headquarters to apply for a job with one of their magazines, armed with my Master’s in Journalism and my Phi Beta Kappa key, the (female) interviewer told me—“if you really want to write, don’t apply here, because women can never become writers at Time-Life, only researchers.” 

But Frederica Sagor Maas found a good way to get back at those people who stole her writing—she outlived them all and recorded her Hollywood stories in a scathing memoir in 1999 when she was 99 years old!  “I can get my payback now,” she told an interviewer. “I’m alive and thriving and, well, you S.O.B.s are all below.”

Frederica Sagor Maas  was born on July 6, 1900 in Manhattan to Jewish immigrants from Russia.  (Her mother supported the family as a midwife.)  She studied journalism at Columbia (as did I), worked as a copy girl for the New York Globe, then became a story editor at Universal Pictures’ New York office.  In 1924, she moved to Hollywood and was signed to a three-year contract with MGM, where she wrote screenplays, including a hit film for Clara Bow.

Frederica married a fellow screenwriter, Ernest Maas, in 1927.  The couple lost $10,000 in the 1929 stock market crash and then found all their screenplays rejected. They were also investigated by the FBI for subscribing to Communist publications.  They struggled to find work as writers’ representatives and then writing for political campaigns. In despair, in 1950, the couple decided to commit suicide and drove to a hilltop where they planned to asphyxiate themselves with carbon dioxide from their car.  But they suddenly changed their minds, clutching each other in tears and turning off the ignition before it was too late.

In her autobiography, “The Shocking Miss Pilgrim: A Writer in Early Hollywood”, Frederica tells stories about early Hollywood stars like Clara Bow, Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo and Louise Brooks.  She is particularly hard on her old studio bosses, whom she portrayed as “amoral debauchers”

Her husband died of Parkinson’s disease in 1986 at 94 years old.  Frederica got a job as a typist in an insurance agency by lying about her age.  Then, in 1999, she wrote her autobiography, which is now a standard reference for early Hollywood history. The couple never had children and Frederica died with no immediate survivors. 

The New York Times obituary ends: “As for movies, Mrs. Maas stopped going.  “I think the product they’re making today,” she said in 1999, “Is even worse than the product we made in the early days.”

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One can say that Frederica Sagor Maas showed to all those SOBs the best revenge is living long. Now may she rest in peace.

Wow, what a life! The best part is the suicide pact the couple abandoned at the last minute - how crazy that they'd both go on to live such long lives! Thank you for bringing this woman to my attention. I really want to read her autobiography! May she rest in peace.
How important is a story like this...a great female pioneer. Just think what she endured...and what a body of work she produced. Thanks - this is fascinating.
Frederica Sagor Maas is a good person with lot of talents and thanks for the post.

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