Masterpiece: The Chaperone explores the fictional relationship between a not-yet-famous Louise Brooks (Haley Lu Richardson, The Edge of Seventeen, Split) and Norma Carlisle (Elizabeth McGovern, Downton Abbey), a woman who is given the difficult task of looking after the free-spirited teen. Taking place in New York City in the 1920’s, the film focuses on the famed silent film actress’s early days in the city, as well as the events that led to her meteoric rise to fame. And along the way, Norma and Louise learn from each other on how to live life to the fullest.

Born in Cherryvale, Kansas in 1906, Brooks led a life that was as wide-ranging as the characters she portrayed on screen. Well-known for her iconic bobbed haircut and her roles in The Show-Off, Pandora’s Box, and Diary of a Lost Girl, her impact on film can still be felt to this day. Watch Masterpiece: The Chaperone on WGBH Passport starting August 10. Want a little history before the film? Here are 10 little known facts about Louise Brooks – the strong-willed actress that refused to be silenced:

1) She was the youngest member of the Denishawn Dancers, joining the troupe and traveling to New York City to pursue a career in dance at just 15 years old.

Ruth St. Denis and Denishawn Dancers in Ishtar of the Seven Gates
Ruth St. Denis and Denishawn Dancers in Ishtar of the Seven Gates. With Doris Humphrey, Louise Brooks, Jeordie Graham, Pauline Lawrence, Anne Douglas, Lenore Scheffer, Lenore Hardy, Lenore Sadowska.. White Studio (New York, N.Y.)
From the New York Public Library Digital Gallery, Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The Denishawn Collection.

2) She did a dance tour of Europe in 1925 with friend and fellow actress Barbara Bennett. While touring England she performed "the Charleston," — a dance move that was popular in the United States but had not yet made its way over to England — making her the first woman to perform the dance move in London.

3) She was “discovered” by Walter Wagner of Paramount Pictures while dancing with the Ziegfeld Follies. At just 19, Brooks signed a five-year contract with the studio and began her silent film career.

4) Her roles in silent and flapper films influenced thousands of women to get her famous bobbed haircut, a style that would become emblematic of the 1920’s.

5) Brooks parted with Paramount Pictures in 1928 after being denied a raise she was promised, and she set out for Europe to star in the German films Pandora’s Box and Diary of a Lost Girl, a move that would secure her fame in film history.

6) Brooks is lauded as being one of the first actors to employ a naturalistic style of acting, opting for a more realistic portrayal of emotions than the melodramatic style that was popular at the time. According to legend, people left some of her films exclaiming “she doesn’t act! She does nothing!”

7) Upon returning to America, she was blacklisted by Hollywood for refusing to record dialogue for her last film with Paramount Pictures, The Canary Murder Case, which the studio was trying to convert from a silent film into one with sound. At age 32, her film career had ended.

8) She turned down the role of Gwen Allen in The Public Enemy in order to visit her then boyfriend in NYC. The role eventually went to Jean Harlow, whose performance skyrocketed her into fame.

9) After her films were rediscovered by French film historians in the 1950’s, she was contacted by James Card, the film curator for the George Eastman House, who convinced her to move to Rochester, NY and attempt a career as a film journalist.

10) These writings were published in Lulu in Hollywood (1982), a reflection of her experience in the film industry. The New York Times has called Brooks’ portrayal of Hollywood “fearlessly smart,” “poison-filled” and that many of her statements about the industry are still “startlingly true today.

Blunt Memories of Celluloid Life: ‘Lulu in Hollywood,’ Tales from Louise Brooks
Diary of a Lost Girl
Louise Brooks
Louise Brooks: A Biography
Louise Brook: American Actress
Louise Brooks – Newspaper articles
Louise Brooks on IMDB
Lulu in Hollywood