Frederica Sagor Maas (1900–2012)

Author of The Shocking Miss Pilgrim: A Writer in Early Hollywood

Includes the names: Frederica Sagor Maas

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Frederica Sagor Maas was born in New York City to Russian immigrant parents who anglicized their surname to Sagor. She went to Columbia University to study journalism and worked in the summer as a copy-girl or errand-girl at The New York Globe. In 1918, she dropped out of college before graduation and took a job as an assistant story editor at the New York office of Universal Pictures, becoming part of the budding silent film industry. Five years later, she was Universal's story editor and head of her department. A year later, she left Universal and moved to Hollywood, where she signed a three-year contract with MGM. During 1925–1926, she wrote screenplays for Tiffany Productions, including the well-received flapper comedies That Model from Paris and The First Night. She met and worked with Ernest Maas, another script writer and a producer at Fox Studios, and married him in 1927. The couple lost money in the 1929 Stock Market crash and moved back to New York, where they reviewed plays for the Hollywood Reporter. They returned to Hollywood when her husband became an agent representing writers, and they worked for Paramount and wrote for political campaigns. They struggled through the arrival of "talkies," the Great Depression, dry scripting spells, and the constant theft of their ideas and credits. In 1941, they wrote Miss Pilgrim's Progress, later re-titled The Shocking Miss Pilgrim, which was not produced until 1947. In 1950, Frederica quit the film business, took a job with an insurance agency, and worked her way up to insurance broker. At age 99, and at the urging of film historian Kevin Brownlow, she published her autobiography, The Shocking Miss Pilgrim: A Writer in Early Hollywood (1999).
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