Each week, we select the most interesting Jewish obituary. This week, it’s that of Frederica Sagor Maas, who wrote screenplays all the way back during the silent era—there were still words!—and who died earlier this month at the age of 111 (as, apparently, the 44th-oldest person in the world: one of those really old Ashkenazim, perhaps). Born in Manhattan in 1900 to parents whose name in Russia had been Zagorsky, she studied journalism at Columbia, worked at the New York Globe copy desk, and by 24 was in Hollywood, where she wrote a Clara Bow film and married another screenwriter.
The obituary alludes to a Salon article, published in 1999 on the occasion of her memoirs, and it’s really a delight. “I’m something of a Bolshevik. I’m always for the underdog,” she told Jenn Shreve (old-time Jewish Hollywood!). And how was she able to write her memoir so late in life? “When you use your brains,” she explained, “they just get sharper. Everything is recorded up there; you don’t have to make it up.”