She had beauty and mental brawn. She was a talented and subtle actress during a period (not known for its subtlety) when your only acting arsenal was your face and your movements. During the silent era, your voice remained a mystery.
She was wild, lovely, smart – and the American public didn't know what to make of her. So she went to Germany to work with director G.W. Pabst. They made two movies together, and they both were scandalous, historic: "Pandora's Box" and "Diary of a Lost Girl".
But soon she tired of the industry, grew disgusted and left. She suffered through years of obscurity, finding solace in her writing. Her essays on the people she knew in Hollywood are illuminating - she was a sharp and witty observer.
In the 1970's a new generation of film-goers rediscovered her works and this time around recognized her dark brilliance.
She died in 1985. But on this day, in 1906, she was born. Happy birthday, Louise Brooks.