If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times, women are badass! To quote the famous remark – “Sure he (Fred Astaire) was great, but don’t forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did, …going backward and in heels.”
Author Mollie Gregory’s book, Stuntwomen: The Untold Hollywood Story sheds light on the history of stuntwomen and their journey for equality in an unequal industry.
“They put their lives on the line, breaking through windows, jumping off buildings, running through fires, hanging from planes, crashing cars. And they do it in bikinis, tight pants, shorts, and gowns! They’re stuntwomen in the movies and on TV, and no one’s written a book about them. Until now.” Mollie Gregory
Paying respect in previous posts, Pioneering Women Filmmakers, Pioneering Women Filmmakers – Lois Weber, and Part 3 of the series, which deals with contemporary filmmakers, I featured the role of women in the entertainment industry and how even today the battle continues for equality and opportunity in Hollywood.
I continue to promote the habit of staying for the credits at the end of movies to find out who was involved in the production as a way to not only inform you of the players but as a means of supporting films that are produced by your favorites.
Back in the day, the role of stuntpeople was downplayed and their contributions to a movie were not listed as part of the credits. Stuntmen have always been unsung heroes in Hollywood and the notion of stuntwomen is an issue often left out of the conversation.
In the early days of filmmaking, women were highly involved in all aspects of film production, from writing to editing to directing to stunt work. But as the movies matured and sound was introduced, women found their roles curtailed. Capable stuntwomen found themselves on the sidelines as stuntmen donned wigs and women’s clothes to double as actresses. As a result, very few stuntwomen found work between the 1930s and the 1960s.
Not until the political movements of the late 1960s and the 1970s raised the issue of flagrant sexism and discrimination did the number of working stuntwomen begin to increase. But even as late as the 1990s, stuntmen were still doubling for actresses and some were “painted down” for more convincing performances.
For decades, stuntwomen have faced institutional discrimination, unequal pay, and sexual harassment even as they jumped from speeding trains and raced horse-drawn carriages away from burning buildings. They’ve traded punches in knockdown brawls, crashed biplanes through barns and raced to the rescue in fast cars.
Featuring sixty-five interviews, “Stuntwomen” showcases the absorbing stories and uncommon courage of women who make their living planning and performing action-packed sequences that keep viewers’ hearts racing. (Turner Classic Movies Book Review)
Mollie Gregory is also the author of Women Who Run the Show: How a Brilliant and Creative New Generation of Women Stormed Hollywood, 1973-2000 .