On the Rumored Relationship Between Louise Brooks and Kenneth Tynan

The Relationship of Louise Brooks and Kenneth Tynan and Parallels with the Fitzgeralds

Born in 1927, Kenneth Tynan was a renowned and respected yet sometimes controversial theatrical critic of the 20th century. Louise Brooks was one of the most iconic silent film actresses of the 1920s. Tynan knew of Brooks from her films, and had become infatuated with her work in Pabst’s film from 1929, ‘Pandora’s Box.’ Starting in the late 1970s, he grew a romance with Brooks.

Dying of emphysema in his fifties, he set out to find her to make all of his own dreams come true. He called Brooks his, “dark lady”, wanting to pursue his fantasies with her.

He found Brooks, well into her seventies in Rochester, NY. Tynan met the woman who had inspired such works as ‘The Girl in the Black Helmet’, a veritable masterpiece that he wrote for the New Yorker. They smoked, drank, talked, and in the end, she declared her love for him. He left his declaration of love for her up in the air. No one knew how much he truly felt for her until after his death.

Most of the stories that are told today about their love were brought forward by Tynan’s wife, Kathleen Tynan, who died in 1995, and through her screenplay, she wrote.

The Life of Kenneth Tynan

Kenneth Tynan was a huge advocate for the theatre but was also known for his elaborate parties, flooded with celebrities. He made himself a huge part of the up and coming generation of the 1960s, even though he was shaped through the 1940s.

Years before he met Brooks, he had impersonated her at a party, with a black wig and stockings.

Kenneth married Kathleen in 1967, she had given up journalism to support him and make a life with him in London. She had been loyal to him, even giving birth to their son, Matthew. Her writing had gone to the wayside for a while. It did pick up again just as her husband’s life began to fall apart, and he began to react with paranoia.

A few months after an article was released about Louise by Kenneth, he had written to Brooks, who was still in love with him. He asked her if she would be okay with him doing a biopic about her, and wanted to meet up with her. She had angrily written back, that she was not interested in the idea, and said he had betrayed her.

Kenneth was torn in two if he wanted to keep his fame or keep his love. He had been disloyal to not only his wife but his own fantasy too.

Kenneth died in 1980, but his legacy outlived him in Britain. He was very well known on British TV.

The Life of Louise Brooks

Born in Kansas, she left to go to New York to study dance, focusing on ballet. She was featured in many different dance groups in New York. While dancing in New York, she had an affair with Charlie Chaplin. They spent many days and nights together in a penthouse, she would dance, and he would act out scenes from plays.

Louise Brooks had lived in isolation in Rochester, NY since 1956, after making 24 films in her career since 1925. She had been in the film industry since then, and it had come to a screeching halt in 1938. Some of her masterpieces were “Pandora’s Box,” and “The Diary of a Lost Girl.”

She left Hollywood because she felt like she wasn’t respected, and had been told she was difficult to work with, too independent, and uppity. When back in Kansas, she worked as a salesgirl at Saks, did a few radio soaps, was a publicity agent, and was kept by three rich men from 1943-1955. Moving to Rochester in 1956, being invited there by the film curator at the Eastman House. Her largest collection of films is there, now the International Museum of Photography.

In his essay, ‘The Girl in the Black Helmet,’ Kenneth Tynan, he had mentioned that she was bedridden, and had osteoarthritis of the hip, but seemed happy about life. It was also said that she had written 20 articles on some of her fellow colleagues. Lastly, the article wrote that she loved to talk about her colleagues, her life, others, and that she has the essence of her late character Lulu. She called these memoirs, “Lulu in Hollywood.” She wrote these in the early 80s.

It was said in an interview, that when she was in Hollywood, she ended up walking out on them, and did the same thing to men. She was one of Hollywood’s most beautiful women. She talks about how her family home was weighted down with so many books of her father’s. When she and her brother would get into fights, he would retire to his library and read his law books.

After a career that dazzled the world, Louise Brooks passed August 8, 1985, in Rochester New York, of a heart attack, she was 78 years old. She was known for her dark bobbed hair, her acting, her dancing, her writing, and her personality.

Parallels Between Tynan, Brooks, and the Fitzgeralds

Louise Brooks had met F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda on two different occasions, according to Barry Paris. Similarities between the Fitzgeralds include their relationship between Louise and Kenneth were the adultery that characterized their relationships. Zelda was cheating on Scott since their relationship began, seeing as that she was a flapper of the late 1910s. Louise had been in many different affairs throughout her dancing and acting careers, before meeting Kenneth.

After their wedding in 1920, Zelda and Scott continued to have difficulties in their marriage, both becoming unfaithful to each other. Once Kenneth had finally met Louise, he had begun to cheat on his wife, Kathleen. Louise was the only woman he had any relations with, besides his wife. In this way, the couples share some commonality.

The Significance of Tynan’s, ‘The Girl in the Black Helmet,’ an Analysis

Penned in 1979, Kenneth Tynan’s insightful essay covered Brooks’ brief yet illustrious film career from its conception in 1925 to the twilight of 1938 when her last film was made. His essay lauded her films by Pabst in particular, citing such works as ‘Diary of a Lost Girl,’ and ‘Pandora’s Box.’

From her film career, he moves on to her later years in Rochester N.Y. where she was ailing yet still quite spirited. All in all, ‘The Girl in the Black Helmet’ is a touching account of one of cinema’s most beloved actresses.

He included a vast plethora of details into Brooks’ life, even touching on such details as her dance background in Denishawn and her love of Proust.

Kathleen Tynan’s Screenplay of Kenneth and Louise’s Relationship

Kathleen Tynan, Kenneth Tynan’s widowed wife, along with their son Matthew had written a screenplay about her late husband and Louise Brooks’s relationship. The fictional film shows a dying critic’s love affair with one of the cinema’s largest icons, while still married to his wife. The film tells the entire story of Kenneth Tynan and Louise Brooks’s relationship and love story. Keeping her faith in her husband, Kathleen used the same spirit to keep the love alive, and as she wrote her screenplay.


Louise Brooks and Kenneth Tynan

“Most of the stories that are told today about their love were brought forward by Tynan’s wife, Kathleen Tynan, who died in 1995, and through her screenplay, she wrote.”


One Comment

  • John L Sauve

    thank you Michael, but could not find any concrete evidence of a sexual affair between Tynan and Brooks, do you have any info on that? have read Tynan’s ‘The Girl in the Black Helmet’ and fascinated by it. Louise is buried in Rochester not far from my father’s grave, i visit it when back in my hometown where Louise moved the year I was born, 1956. can recall my sister saying a silent film star lived in our town but had no interest at the time. of course now I wish I had gone to visit Louise and tried to befriend her, but it’s still good knowing we lived less than a mile apart and shared the same weather and heard the same church bells ring and sirens sounding, but it would have been nice to have been able to make eye contact with her soul. salute!

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