- Paperback: 528 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins - US; Reprint edition (21 September 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062242199
- ISBN-13: 978-0062242198
- Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 13.2 x 19.6 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 358 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 118,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, And Madness At The Dawn Of Hollywood Paperback – 21 Sep 2015
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"Tinseltown is an immensely enjoyable read as a recreation of a murder, and a fascinating time [and] place."--McClatchy News Service
"Author William J. Mann paints a striking portrait of Los Angeles in the Roaring Twenties--a sparkling yet schizophrenic town filled with party girls, drug dealers, religious zealots, newly-minted legends and starlets already past their prime; a dangerous place where the powerful could still run afoul of the desperate."--TCM.com
"Mann's call sheet of colorful characters is so richly painted, they not only make the Roaring '20s come to life, they're so bizarre they seem like they could only exist in a movie."--Entertainment Weekly
"Sex! Drama! Scandal! If you have the slightest curiosity about the dark purple scars of Hollywood history, this is the go-to book you cannot miss. . . Epic and fabulous--every page is haunting, every chapter a film noir. I was up all night."--Rex Reed
"William Mann fires on all cylinders in this fascinating real-life crime story that has stumped film fans since 1922. A page-turner with incredible research and prose double-boiled, Tinseltown is a whodunit tour de force, revealing the dark heart of Hollywood."--Patrick McGilligan, author of Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light
"The book's power derives not just from piecing together the clues and analyzing motives; Los Angeles is very present as well."--Publishers Weekly
"A gripping true-crime story that encompasses a colorful period in film history . . . Mann seamlessly weaves the details of the murder investigation, witnesses and newspaper accounts into the rich history of early film . . . Mann masterfully captures the zeitgeist of Hollywood in its early days."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"[A] gripping true-crime narrative. . . . Mann expertly juggles the various threads of the narrative to a satisfying conclusion that is sure to please both true-crime and film-history enthusiasts."--Booklist
"Tinseltown does a fine job of parceling out its complex plot, and its author brings early Hollywood to life with the flair of a popular historian."--Wall Street Journal
From the Back Cover
In the early 1920s, Hollywood was threatened by a string of scandalsincluding the murder of the handsome, secretly haunted actor and director William Desmond Taylor, a crime that went unsolved for nearly a century. Now, in this fiendishly involvingNew York Times bestsellerhailed as "a must-read" by Liz SmithWilliam Mann draws on a rich host of sources, many untapped for decades, to revisit the case of the enigmatic Taylor and the diverse cast that surrounded himincluding three loyal ingenues, a devoted valet, a gang of two-bit thugs, and moguls Adolph Zukor and Marcus Loew, locked in a struggle for control of the exploding industry. Along the way, Mann brings to life Los Angeles in the Roaring Twenties: a town filled with celebrities, party girls, and drug dealersa dangerous place where the powerful could still run afoul of the desperate.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Though I had known that attitudes about some drugs were very different then, I was startled to learn how readily-available and prevalent drugs were in early Hollywood. This book also suggests something I had read elsewhere-- that organized crime really got its first important foothold in this country during Prohibition. It's depressing to learn that actors have been dying because of drugs since long before the 1970's. Only the names of the people and the chemicals change.
This isn't to say that the book itself is depressing. Some of it is sad, but there is also humor. The story is fascinating, and I would recommend the book to anyone who is interested in the history of film or celebrities.
I was surprised to like Will B. Hayes, who had seemed too stern for Hollywood but in reality was a man with empathy for actors and tried to lessen their plight. Mary Miles Minter and Mabel Normand are more interesting than fiction. The studio chiefs come across as paranoid control freaks they are. Everyone has everything to lose.
If you're a fan of the silent film era, murder mystery and the human condition, I recommend Tinseltown highly.
"Tinseltown" is no exception to this rule, but William J. Mann offers the fullest, richest account of the Taylor killing to date, introducing several new details, a novel, intriguing "solution," and--perhaps most valuable of all--offering a fascinating look at Old Hollywood.
The Taylor murder is, in fact, only a plot element in the complex, often sordid, but always exciting history of the film industry's early days. The anti-hero of our story is Adolph "Creepy" Zukor, the ruthless film mogul who likely engineered the Taylor cover-up. Other stars of the show include Mabel Normand (one of the few sympathetic characters in this story,) the sad, tormented ingenue Mary Miles Minter, Taylor's eccentric valet Henry Peavey (depicted much more sensitively and positively than most other accounts of the case,) and a host of grifters, blackmailers, killers, drug addicts, and desperate wanna-be stars.
Mann's scenario of how Taylor died is interesting, but, of course, he necessarily cannot present much hard evidence to back it up. His theory cannot be accepted as the "final word," but it's certainly one of the most plausible "solutions" to date.
As thorough as Mann's book is in most respects, he does make a few odd omissions. He barely mentions the curious fact that Taylor's brother, Dennis Deane-Tanner, also abandoned his family and disappeared. It has been proposed, as a matter of fact, that Dennis was really Taylor's sinister former valet, "Edward Sands." Not long before the murder, Sands robbed Taylor and vanished--yet another puzzling element to this endlessly mysterious case. (Mann states that Sands was never seen again, although other accounts claim that the ex-valet was found dead under suspicious circumstances.) I believe Mann may have made a mistake in dismissing all possibility that brother Dennis and Sands the valet somehow figured in the murder.
Still, this book is wonderfully absorbing reading. Even if you have little interest in true crime, the soap-opera like saga found in these pages is almost certain to draw you in.
The author fills the book with fascinating real life characters--the producer, Adolph Zukor; Will Hays, whose name incorrectly has become associated with censorship in the arts; child star, Mary Miles Minter and the victim himself, William Desmond Taylor.
The murder was never officially solved and Mann gives the reader plenty of suspects, not tipping his hand until the end of the book. It's a satisfying read that richly deserves all of the awards it has garnered. I would highly recommend it to any one interested in the history of the movies or anyone who enjoys a good true crime story.
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