Hettie Gray Baker
1880 – 1957
Hettie Gray Baker started by writing movie scenarios and earned twenty-four writing credits during a ten-year period before becoming a film editor.
From 1900-1903 she was employed at the Hartford Public Library, where she began writing movie scenarios during her spare moments. She sold her first story, Treasure Trove, to Vitagraph Studios in 1912. In 1913, she was employed by Hobart Bosworth’s film company as a story editor. She also scripted stories for a series of silent films based on the work of Jack London. Among these were The Valley of the Moon and The Chechako.
Baker was one of the co-founders of the Photoplay Authors League – a precursor of the Screen Writers Guild – and in its first year was elected vice-president.
In 1916, she went to work for Fox Film Corporation (i.e. Twentieth Century Fox) as a film editor. In her first year, she edited A Daughter of the Gods, Hollywood’s first film with a million-dollar budget. Listed as H.G. Baker, she may have been the first female editor to be acknowledged in a film’s credits.
Baker was a writer and editor for over twenty-eight films, including John Ford’s The Iron Horse, but was rarely credited. By 1938, she was a movie executive, serving as censor representative for Twentieth Century Fox. Baker later became known for her knowledge of Siamese cats and wrote several cat books, including Cat Tales, published by Farrar Strauss and Young.
“I sometimes think I was too dull to think of giving up. It just never did occur to me.”
—“Movie Pioneer” in the Sunday Morning Star. The full article can be found in the Appendix.