|Born||Nellie Louise Alberti
28 February 1895
Paddington, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
|Died||18 March 1980
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
|Other names||Louise Carbasse
Louise Lovely (born Nellie Louise Alberti, 28 February 1895 – 18 March 1980) was the first Australian motion picture actress to find success in America. As such, she can be considered a forerunner to successful contemporary Australian actresses such as Nicole Kidman, Toni Collette, Naomi Watts, and Cate Blanchett.
Louise Lovely was born in Paddington, Sydney to an Italian musician father, Ferruccio Carlo Alberti, and a Swiss mother, Elise Louise Jeanne de Gruningen Lehmann. She made her professional debut at age nine as Eva in the classic Uncle Tom's Cabin, using the stage name of Louise Carbasse. She soon became a successful child actress, appearing in many roles made popular by the woman with whom she would later become a competitor in Hollywood - Mary Pickford.
Louise was married to fellow actor Wilton Welch in February 1912, when she was only sixteen years old. After Australian Life Biograph wound up, the two of them acted together in vaudeville.
In 1914, she moved to America with her husband, hoping to replicate her Australian success. As legend has it, it was Universal Studios head Carl Laemmle who both gave her a contract with his studio and re-christened her Louise Lovely, much to her horror. She made her American debut alongside the legendary Lon Chaney in Father and the Boys in 1915, receiving strong reviews.2 She starred with Chaney again in several other films including her next release US film Stronger Than Death (1915) and The Gilded Spider and Tangled Hearts (both 1916).
Lovely became one of Universal's major early stars and a challenger to Mary Pickford's status as the golden girl of early silent cinema, but was dropped by the studio in 1918 following a contract dispute. Though she was subsequently picked up by Fox, where she starred in a series of Westerns with William Farnum, her career never reached its earlier heights.
In 1924, Louise and her husband returned to Australia in pursuit of a new interest - film production. Lovely had maintained a long-time interest in the behind-the-scenes aspects of film, and had collaborated with Welch on a successful short documentary feature, A Day At The Studio, but her plans for her return to Australia were far more ambitious. Lovely and Welch undertook a nationwide talent search to encourage budding new movie actresses. Over 23,000 actors and actresses attended Lovely's auditions, which included demonstrations of movie equipment and acting technique, and which took place at prestigious locations such as Melbourne's Princess Theatre. Twenty were selected to appear in Lovely's next film venture Jewelled Nights (1925), which was written and directed by herself and her husband.
Based on the novel by Marie Bjelke Petersen, Jewelled Nights told the story of a young woman who escaped from an unhappy marriage, instead posing as a young man and finding refuge in a tough mining community, where she finds love with a fellow miner (played by Gordon Collingridge). Though it was an outstanding success, it did not recoup its high costs. The Australian film industry, once one of the most productive in the world, was about to fall into a slump that was to last for fifty years. Lovely was offered no more roles and could not afford any further independent productions, and thus, Jewelled Nights was her last film. Today, very little of the film survives other than out-takes and stills.
Lovely testified at the Royal Commission on the Moving Picture Industry in Australia, suggesting a number of measures that might stimulate the struggling local film industry. Soon afterwards, she made a return to the stage. It was at around this time that Lovely's marriage to Wilton Welch disintegrated. He was bisexual and their marriage remained unconsummated for the first four years.3 She was re-married in 1930 to theatre manager Bert Cowan, a marriage that lasted for the rest of her life.
- One Hundred Years Ago (1911)
- The Colleen Bawn (1911)
- A Tale of the Australian Bush (1911)
- Hands Across the Sea (1912)
- A Daughter of Australia (1912)
- Conn, the Shaughraun (1912)
- The Wreck of the Dunbar or The Yeoman's Wedding (1912)
- The Ticket of Leave Man (1912)
- Father and the Boys (1915)
- Stronger Than Death (1915)
- The Gilded Spider(1916)
- Tangled Hearts (1916)
- Nobody's Wife (1918)
- The Skywayman (1920)
- Jewelled Nights (1925)
- "SUNBURN FRECKLES AND TAN.". Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 - 1954) (Perth, WA: National Library of Australia). 10 March 1912. p. 26. Retrieved 26 January 2012.
- "LOUISE LOVELY.". The Prahran Telegraph (Vic. : 1914 - 1918) (Vic.: National Library of Australia). 6 January 1917. p. 8. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
- Lee makes the right choice as Louise, Phillip O'Brien, Panorama, p. 20, Canberra Times, 17 April 1999
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Louise Lovely.|
- Louise Lovely at the Internet Movie Database
- Louise Lovely at the National Film and Sound Archive
- Louise Lovely, Significant Women Project (Tasmanian Government)
- Australian Dictionary of Biography