Remembering ‘The Shocking Miss Pilgrim’

Frederica Sagor Maas passed away on January 5, 2012.  Maas was one of the first female screenwriters in the early days of Hollywood and was one of the last people to have direct experience with the silent film era. In 1923, she moved from New York to Hollywood to pursue a career in screenwriting.  Her first work in Hollywood was on the script of Plastic Girl, a film that starred “It” girl, Clara Bow. Maas continued to work on a number of scripts, although the credit for her work is normally overlooked as the work of other writers. In 1927, she married producer and fellow writer Earnest Maas. Their careers were riddled with ups and downs of classic Hollywood. The Maas’ continued to work on scripts, in varying capacities, until they eventually left Hollywood for good. After their time in Hollywood, Maas worked in an insurance agency and was quite successful. Her husband continued to work as a ghost writer and freelancer until he died in 1986, at the age of 94.

At the age of 99, Maas published her autobiography, The Shocking Miss Pilgrim: A Writer in Early Hollywood (1999.) Maas’ memoir offers a unique perspective on the film industry and Hollywood culture in their early days and illuminates the plight of Hollywood writers working within the studio system. From salon.com:

“A bittersweet, extraordinarily detailed recollection of Maas’s 30-year career in the motion picture industry. . . . Chockablock with anecdotes, and a blinding amount of star-wattage to boot.”

Read her obituary in The New York Times.

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About University Press of Kentucky

The University Press of Kentucky has a dual mission—the publication of books of high scholarly merit in a variety of fields for a largely academic audience and the publication of books about the history and culture of Kentucky, the Ohio Valley region, the Upper South, and Appalachia. The Press is the statewide mandated nonprofit scholarly publisher for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, operated as an agency of the University of Kentucky and serving all state institutions of higher learning, plus five private colleges and Kentucky's two major historical societies.

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