Born in Kansas, he was known in her youth for her dancing ability prior to landing several roles in Follies and other theater acts under Flo Ziegfeld. She signed a contract with Paramount Studios in 1925 (over MGM) against the wishes of friend William Wanger, whom feared that the perception would be he curried favor with her signing. By 1928, she was disenchanted with Paramount and quit when the studio wouldn't give her a raise.
She subsequently moved to Germany, joined up with director GW Pabst, and starrred in her career making role as Lulu in Pandora's Box. She'd follow it up with Diary of a Lost Girl the next year but both films would be flops at the box office thanks to the transition and immediate rise of the talkies in theaters. Brooks made some poor career decisions around this time, such as refusing to dub lines when Paramount flick The Canary Murder Case (1929) was converted into a talkie, and, worse, turning down the female lead in The Public Enemy (1931). That proved the death knell to her movie career, although she struggled on in a few cheap BMovies. Her last film, the Poverty Row western Overland Stage Raiders, had her looking unrecognizeable◊ in long hair, appearing opposite an obscure, unknown cowboy actor named John Wayne.
Brooks spent the rest of her life mostly reading, painting, and authoring several autobiographies including Lulu In Hollywood, still considered one of the best movie memoirs ever written.
The biography Brooks by Barry Paris is a must-read for anybody wanting to learn more about her.
- The American Venus (1926)
- Its The Old Army Game (1926)
- Just Another Blonde (1926)
- Rolled Stockings (1927)
- Beggars Of Life (1928)
- Pandora's Box (1929)
- The Canary Murder Case (1929)
- Diary of a Lost Girl (1929)
- Miss Europe (1930)
- It Pays To Advertise (1931)
- Empty Saddles (1936)
- Overland Stage Raiders (1938)
- Ambiguously Bi: She preferred men but admitted to flings with best friend Pepi Lederer (in an unrequited crush with Pepi towards Louise) and Greta Garbo. Louise also used the phrases queer or pansy to describe herself instead of the more common lesbian or bisexual.
- Brutal Honesty: And how! Her biographies are laced with this and it's clear she didn't much care how the truth affected other people.
- Caustic Critic: Could be this way towards her own acting, others' acting, her own films, other films, and Hollywood in general.
- Cute Bookworm: Was known for her love of books and would constantly be seen reading on set in between takes (when she wasn't napping).
- Deadpan Snarker: Could be this at times. Also served as a Silent Snarker at times in her films.
- The Flapper: One of the quintessential models of the concept in the 1920s.
- Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Was known for this and would sometimes show up on set hungover from partying.
- Man of Wealth and Taste: A female example; Brooks was known to spend money she didn't have on high fashion to help stand out, especially during her time in New York.
- Raven Hair, Ivory Skin
- Really Gets Around: Combined with her hard partying ways, she developed this reputation due to the friendships and romances she cultivated during the 1920s and early 1930s. She even befriended high profile names such as Greta Garbo and Humphrey Bogart.
- '20s Bob Haircut: Is currently the page image for good reason.
- The Vamp: Utilized this role most famously in Pandora's Box but seemed to be this in real life as well.