Hollywood: Window to the Stars is a collection of articles I have written over the past few years about 50 movie stars whose stories I felt might be interesting and/or titillating to readers who share my fascination for the silver screen. Through each of my books I have tried to stick to proven information. If I find something unusual about an actor or actress I immediately seek confirmation from other sources before including it in my articles. Of course, I dare not even hope to please everyone, but these days there are more and more publications from all kinds of people involved in the movie business that provide a far more balanced (and dare I say truthful) interpretation of what happened, especially during the days of the studio system from 1905 to about 1960.
Occasionally, die-hard fans of the old studio days still loyally support the images honed through those halcyon years, but the general tendency today is to accept that the ‘golden years’ were nowhere near as golden as the publicity departments would have us believe.
The studios were all about making a profit, the stars all about doing whatever was required of them to bring that about and to cling to their iconic status in the business. Other factors also impacted on studios and players, none more than the sexuality of individuals. Today, we often forget that homosexuality or bisexuality were actually against the law for most of Hollywood’s early history. ‘Outed’ gay actors or actresses could not only find their careers suddenly terminated, but they also ran the real risk of spending time in prison. Consequently, studios went to considerable lengths to deflect rumors of gayness, including the arrangement of ‘lavender marriages’, unions designed to disguise the sexuality of stars whose sexual persuasion had come under suspicion. Of course, there are just as many gay actors and actresses today as there were in the studio days but, happily, the modern movie-goer considers a star’s sexuality of minimal importance, so careers are safe. The danger of incarceration no longer exists either.
If I mention a star’s sexual preference, therefore, it is more to do with the studios’ machinations, the lengths to which they would go to convince the public that even the gayest of stars was a veritable heterosexual love machine. Probably, Hollywood’s most well-known secret (well-known in the industry but not to the general public) would have been the decades-long love affair between Cary Grant and Randolph Scott. That it remained a secret so long is testament to the ability of the studios to manipulate the media to their way of thinking.
I make no apologies for voicing my opinion on several issues in this publication. I am a historian, not a reporter or newsreader, and that means I have opinions. Reciting facts without comment is, in my view, dull, so if you prefer your history books devoid of the writer’s views, then I suggest this book is not for you. Indeed, none of my books would be suitable for that very reason. Besides, I enjoy reading other writers’ personal views on all kinds of issues. Half the fun of reading (and conversation for that matter) is agreeing or disagreeing with the stances taken by others. Hopefully, you will feel the same way when you read Hollywood: Window to the Stars.