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Hollywood's Dark History

Matt MacNabb
In Print
Pen & Sword History (2019)

7th Va Cavalry writes:

Reminds me of "Hollywood Babylon" by Ken Anger. Being an avid movie watcher I had a hard time putting that book down. May consider this one…

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This entry created 24 March 2020. Last revised on 24 March 2020.

2,155 hits since 23 Mar 2020
©1994-2024 Bill Armintrout
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Hollywood's Dark History

Silver Screen Scandals

Rating: gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star no star no star no star no star no star (5.00)

160 pages. 14 pages of black-and-white photos. Acknowledgements, introduction, bibliography.

This book provides capsule biographies of 13 motion-picture artists from the early 20th Century, all of whom became involved with scandal:

Evelyn Nesbitt (1884-1967)
Model on whom the 'Gibson Girl' was based, raped by a prominent architect, whipped by her wealthy husband, it ended in murder. 24 pages.
Thelma Todd (1906-1935)
Movie comedienne found dead in her car – accident or murder? 7 pages.
Jean Harlow (1911-1937)
The original platinum blonde, married to a bigamist, did religious beliefs cause her premature death? 9 pages.
Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977)
Beloved comedian, banned from the U.S. over supposed Communism sympathies, reputation clouded by his pursuit of underage females. 15 pages.
Mae West (1893-1980)
Arrested for 'corrupting morals' on Broadway, movie sex symbol at age 39, she had a secret marriage – and a second husband! 9 pages.
Errol Flynn (1909-1959)
Movie star, womanizer, drunkard, voyeur, Nazi associate, predator on underage females, possibly a murderer – and the most beautiful man who ever lived? 13 pages.
Lana Turner (1921-1995)
Discovered at a soda fountain, movie star and blonde bombshell, but did she stab her gangster boyfriend to death? 8 pages.
William Desmond Taylor (1872-1922)
When the 'gentleman director' is murdered, his true identity is revealed. But who killed him? 7 pages.
Joan Crawford (1907-1977)
After her death, Joan's adopted daughter claims she was a monster – with clothes hangers. 12 pages.
Barbara LaMarr (1896-1926)
Kidnapped innocent or teenage burlesque dancer? Four times divorced, she kept her movie career out of scandal by adopting her own child, only to die tragically young. 10 pages.
Mabel Normand (1892-1930)
Witness to Hollywood scandals, her drug use made her an unreliable source. Died young of tuberculosis. 6 pages.
Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle (1887-1933)
Popular comic's reputation is ruined when he is accused of murder at an illegal booze party – but the jury acquits! 15 pages.
Clara Bow (1905-1965)
Her assistant embezzles her money, then ruins her reputation, her career, and her mental health. 12 pages.

The author has some interesting material here, but he's not a naturally gifted writer or maybe I just don't like his writing style. The editing is also poor, with obvious proofreading errors (i.e., 'sight' versus 'site'). The author's comments on modern society seem out of place. Surprisingly in a book on scandals, the author minimizes or avoids comment on rumored homosexual affairs.

How to wargame this? If you're doing Pulp, some of these real-life characters could play a role in your adventures, or these scandals could inspire plots and subplots in your campaigns.

It's a quick read, I learned something, not bad for your reading table.

Reviewed by Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian.