This book is a collection of anecdotes and tidbits about the people and issues that Hollywood usually tried to keep from the general movie going public in the days when the major studios ruled the roost and decided what the average movie patron should and should not know about their matinee idols. For around sixty years the likes of MGM, Warners, Fox, Universal, Columbia, RKO, Paramount and Republic all pursued a policy of subterfuge and misinformation aimed at creating personas and images for their stars that, in most cases, were far, far from the truth. This book is aimed at correcting and exposing some of those misconceptions.
Not everything in this volume relates to studio misinformation and ballyhoo, however. Here you will find details of tragedies; accidental deaths, suicides, early deaths, even the occasional murder. Affairs, homosexuality and bisexuality are included as part of the studio cover-ups and general hoodwinking of the paying public. Personally, I have no interest in a person’s sexual preferences, but I include some examples here simply because they exemplify the lengths to which studios (and some individuals) went to project lifestyles and images that were just not so.
Similarly, there are a few sections devoted to group issues. For instance, ‘Reds under the beds’ focuses on the actors and others who testified to the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in the early fifties. The alleged Joseph Cotten – Deanna Durbin affair is also covered, the probable murder of Marilyn Monroe, the deaths of Thelma Todd, Thomas Ince, William Desmond Taylor, Natalie Wood, Ted Healy, Paul Bern and others are looked at in some depth.
I toyed with the idea of separating data into sections – accidental deaths, cover-ups, suicides, drug takers, alcoholics, over-ambitious parents, casting couches etc., but in the end I opted to stick with the alphabetical format, the one that has proven so popular in my other Hollywood publications – Hollywood Warts ‘N’ All Volumes 1 & 2, Movies Based on True Stories, and Hollywood Window to the Stars. Most readers of those books have told me they enjoy being able to pick one up, read a little; and then return to it later without losing continuity. I have endeavored not to ‘double-up’ with information already included in my previous books, and there is no standard length for each entry. Many are just minor anecdotes, others more in depth. I hope they interest you.