The creator of Downton makes a movie about Louise Brooks, 's most ...

Back in the summer of 1922, a 15-year-old girl and her matronly middle-aged chaperone got off a train from Wichita, Kansas, at New York's Grand Central Station.

She had won the chance to study with a famous dance troupe and was blown away by the big city.

Her respectable companion, Alice Mills, whom she described as a 'stocky, bespectacled housewife of 36', impressed her considerably less — particularly when they had to share a lumpy bed each night in their modest rented apartment.

Louise Brooks (pictured starring in 1927 silent film Now We're In The Air) was an enigmatic sex siren of the silent screen era and arguably the most outrageous actress in Hollywood history

Louise Brooks (pictured starring in 1927 silent film Now We're In The Air) was an enigmatic sex siren of the silent screen era and arguably the most outrageous actress in history

The high-spirited teenager would very soon be sharing hundreds more beds, with rather more alluring partners such as Greta Garbo, Humphrey Bogart and Charlie Chaplin. 

For she was Louise Brooks — enigmatic sex siren of the silent screen era and arguably the most outrageous actress in history.

Her relationship with Ms Mills is the subject of The Chaperone, a new film written by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes. 

Elizabeth McGovern — aka Lady Cora in Downton — plays the chaperone while her headstrong and flirtatious charge is portrayed by young American actress Haley Lu Richardson.

In real life, Brooks had hardly anything to say about her 'provincial' chaperone so the film is based on a novel by U.S. writer Laura Moriarty that imagines their testy relationship. 

Haley Lu Richardson as Louise Brooks in the film, The Chaperone, written by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes

Haley Lu Richardson as Louise Brooks in the film, The Chaperone, written by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes

It cannot have been easy. Louise Brooks was a handful at any age and never did anything by halves.

She was a heavy drinker from the age of 14 and was wildly promiscuous, leaving that early dance troupe under a cloud amid rumours she was sleeping with all the back stage crew. They were only the start. She 'got in the hay', as she called it, with hundreds of men — and women, too.

Renowned theatre critic Kenneth Tynan, who was smitten by her, said: 'She was the most seductive, sexual image of woman ever committed to celluloid. 

She was the only unrepentant hedonist, the only pure pleasure-seeker, I think I've ever known.'

Brooks died in 1985 and her silent films are remembered only by film buffs.

But her rebel image, not to mention her signature bob hairstyle, inspired generations of artistes, from Maurice Chevalier to Liza Minnelli, to memorialise her in film and in music.

With her huge dark eyes, shiny black hair and perfect dancer's figure, which she clothed with impeccable style, Brooks also had a keen intelligence and razor-sharp wit.

She was both irresistible and terrifying to men. 'If I ever bore you, it will be with a knife,' she warned one.

The impetuous Brooks was crowned the archetypal Twenties 'flapper' — the pert and provocative 'It Girls' of that era. 

Elizabeth McGovern, aka Lady Cora in Downton (pictured), plays the chaperone in the film

Elizabeth McGovern, aka Lady Cora in Downton (pictured), plays the chaperone in the film

She always made an impression — such as when she visited England she was the first woman to dance the Charleston in London.

A 1926 newspaper photo of her in a swimsuit was captioned: 'Several of the reasons that have figured in her success.' 

But that wasn't entirely fair as she was far from the typical casting couch operator, sleeping her way to stardom.

Brooks was fiercely independent-minded and rarely exploited any of her famous friends or lovers to advance her career. She put her sex-life before fame or fortune, and paid the price when she spurned the advances of powerful studio bosses.

She would later claim she was 'kicked out' of because: 'I like to f*** and drink too much.' As a close friend liked to quip: 'Louise brooks no restraint.'

Unfortunately for her career, Brooks always spoke her mind and admitted she had a 'gift for enraging people'. Born in 1906 in 'Bible Belt' Wichita, Kansas, to a workaholic lawyer father and a pianist mother, she was left to run wild.

Aged nine, Brooks was molested by a house painter, an ordeal she blamed for her subsequent incapacity to ever feel real love and, instead, seek simple sexual pleasure.

'Nice, soft, easy men were never enough — there had to be an element of domination,' she said. 'The men who were the worst in bed were the men I liked the most.'

At 17, she became a chorus girl in a Broadway show notorious for nudity (publicity pictures of Brooks wearing only a carelessly flung scarf and a pair of sandals came back to haunt her when she was a film star).

Before Brooks she left for California, she had a passionate two-month affair with Charlie Chaplin (pictured)

Before Brooks she left for California, she had a passionate two-month affair with Charlie Chaplin (pictured)

Many showgirls — including her — were glorified prostitutes, as she later admitted: 'There was a hand-picked group of beautiful girls who were invited to entertain the great men in finance and government.' 

The girls — screened by two film producers, Walter Wanger and Englishman Eddie Goulding — had to be 'fairly well bred and of absolute integrity', she said.

'At these parties we were not required, like common whores, to go to bed with any man who asked us, but if we did the profits were great. Money, jewels, mink coats, a film job — name it.'

One of these powerful men with film industry connections was Daily Express newspaper tycoon Lord Beaverbrook, who Brooks described as an 'ugly little grey man who went directly to his object with no finesse'.

She would later say that her 'sexual education had been conducted by the elite of Paris, London and New York'. She got noticed by the right people.

Brooks had no acting training but, aged 18, accepted a five-year contract with Paramount Studios.

Before she left for California, she had a passionate two-month affair with Charlie Chaplin. The British star was twice her age, married and at the

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