Dorothy Arzner on the set of Get Your Man, 1927
After a brief stint in college and serving as an ambulance driver during World War I, Dorothy Arzner visited a movie set and decided then and there that she wanted to work in the movie business. Starting at the bottom of the corporate ladder, she got a job as a stenographer at $20 a week and apparently was a bad typist. However, she soon distinguished herself as an excellent editor, particularly with her work on the 1922 Rudolph Valentino picture Blood and Sand. The quality of her editing during this period was so impressive that she received an official screen credit as an editor on several films—a first for either a man or a woman. Her drive and ambition eventually led her to the director’s chair at Paramount, where she enjoyed a successful spell of directing Hollywood actresses such as Clara Bow, Katharine Hepburn and Joan Crawford. She became the first (and for a while the only) female member of the Directors Guild of America. She is also credited with inventing the first boom mike, when she had technicians attach a microphone to a fishing rod.