Originally published in Paris, this is a collection of Hollywood's darkest and best kept secrets from the pen of Kenneth Anger, a former child movie actor who grew up to become one of America's leading underground film-makers.
Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle: (March 24, 1887 – June 29, 1933) was an American illustrated song slide "model," silent film actor, comedian, director, and screenwriter. Became one of the highest paid actors, signing a contract to make $1 million a year in 1918. In 1921, Arbuckle was accused of raping and accidentally killing Virginia Rappe, enduring three widely publicized manslaughter trials. His films were banned, his career was ruined, and he was publicly ostracized. Though he was acquitted by a jury and received a written apology, the trial's scandal has mostly overshadowed his legacy as a pioneering comedian. Though the ban on his films was eventually lifted, Arbuckle only worked sparingly through the 1920s.
Lillian Gish: (October 14, 1893 – February 27, 1993) was an American stage, screen and television actress whose film acting career spanned 75 years, from 1912 to 1987. She was a prominent film star of the 1910s and 1920s. The American Film Institute (AFI) named Gish 17th among the greatest female stars of all time. She was awarded an Honorary Academy Award in 1971, and in 1984 she received an AFI Life Achievement Award. She died in her sleep of natural causes on February 27, 1993, aged 99.
Dorothy Gish: (March 11, 1898 – June 4, 1968) was an American actress, and the younger sister of actress Lillian Gish. Dorothy would go on to star in over 100 short films and features, many of them with Lillian. She was married to James Rennie (1890-1965), a Canadian-born actor who was her co-star in Remodeling Her Husband (filmed in 1920, it was directed by Dorothy's older sister, Lillian, in her only directorial outing). They were married in 1920 in a double ceremony with actress Constance Talmadge and businessman John Piagoglou. They divorced in 1935; Dorothy never remarried. She died in 1968 from bronchial pneumonia at the age of 70.
Clara Bow: (July 29, 1905 – September 27, 1965) was an American actress who rose to stardom in the silent film era of the 1920s. Her acting artistry and high spirits made her the premier flapper and the film It (1927) made her world famous. Bow came to personify the "roaring twenties"<2> and is described as its leading sex symbol. In 1927, Bow reached the heights of her popularity with the film It; the film was based on a story written by Elinor Glyn, and upon the film's release, Bow became known as "The It Girl". She died on September 27, 1965, aged 60, of a heart attack while watching a Gary Cooper movie.
William Randolph Hearst: (April 29, 1863 – August 14, 1951) was an American newspaper magnate and leading newspaper publisher. Hearst entered the publishing business in 1887 after taking control of The San Francisco Examiner from his father. He died in Beverly Hills on August 14, 1951, at the age of 88.
Olive Thomas: (October 20, 1894 – September 10, 1920) was an American silent film actress and socialite. She was a Ziegfeld girl and the original flapper. She is best remembered for her marriage to Jack Pickford and her death. Thomas was born Oliva R. Duffy<2> though sometimes she claimed her birth name was Oliveretta Elaine Duffy. Thomas eloped with Pickford on October 25, 1916 in New Jersey. On the night of September 9, 1920, the Pickfords went out for a night of entertainment and partying at the famous bistros in the Montparnasse Quarter of Paris. Returning to their room in the Hotel Ritz around 3:00 a.m., Pickford either fell asleep or was outside the room for a final round of drugs. It was rumored that Thomas may have taken cocaine that night though it was never proven. An intoxicated and tired Thomas accidentally ingested a large dose of a mercury bichloride liquid solution, which had been prescribed for her husband's chronic syphilis. Being liquid it was supposed to be applied topically, not ingested. She had either thought the flask contained drinking water or sleeping pills; accounts vary. She succumbed to the poison a few days later.
Marion Davies: (January 3, 1897 – September 22, 1961) was an American film actress. Davies is best remembered for her relationship with newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, as her high-profile social life often obscured her professional career. Ten weeks after Hearst's death, Davies married Horace Brown on October 31, 1951 in Las Vegas. Davies died of cancer on September 22, 1961 in Hollywood, California.
Theda Bara: Theda Bara (July 29, 1885 – April 13, 1955), born Theodosia Burr Goodman, was an American silent film actress. Bara was one of the most popular screen actresses of her era, and was one of cinema's earliest sex symbols. Her femme fatale roles earned her the nickname "The Vamp" (short for vampire). Theda Bara made more than 40 films between 1914 and 1926. Bara is often cited as the first sex symbol<8> of that era, and in a number of her films appeared in risqué transparent costumes that left little to the imagination. Bara married British-born American film director Charles Brabin (1883–1957) in 1921. The couple produced no children. Bara died of stomach cancer in 1955 in Los Angeles, California.
Charlie Chaplin: Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, KBE (16 April 1889 – 25 December 1977) was an English comic actor and film director of the silent film era who became one of the best-known film stars in the world before the end of the First World War. Chaplin used mime, slapstick and other visual comedy routines, and continued well into the era of the talkies, though his films decreased in frequency from the end of the 1920s. His most famous role was that of The Tramp, which he first played in the Keystone comedy Kid Auto Races at Venice in 1914. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Chaplin the 10th greatest male screen legend of all time. Chaplin's robust health began to slowly fail in the late 1960s, after the completion of his final film A Countess from Hong Kong, and more rapidly after he received his Academy Award in 1972. By 1977, he had difficulty communicating, and was using a wheelchair. Chaplin died in his sleep in Vevey, Switzerland on Christmas Day 1977.
Mary Pickford: Mary Pickford (April 8, 1892 – May 29, 1979) was a Canadian-born American motion picture actress, co-founder of the film studio United Artists and one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Known as "America's Sweetheart," "Little Mary" and "The girl with the curls," she was one of the Canadian pioneers in early Hollywood and a significant figure in the development of film acting. Mary Pickford was born Gladys Louise Smith in Toronto, Ontario. Pickford was married three times, once to Owen Moore (1886–1939), then to Douglas Fairbanks and then to last husband, actor and band leader Charles 'Buddy' Rogers. They adopted two children: Roxanne (born 1944, adopted 1944) and Ronald Charles (born 1937, adopted 1943, a.k.a. Ron Pickford Rogers). She died of cerebral hemorrhage on May 29, 1979.
Gary Cooper: Frank James “Gary” Cooper (May 7, 1901 – May 13, 1961) was an American film actor. His career spanned from 1925 until shortly before his death, and comprised more than one hundred films. In 1944, Cooper joined the anti-communist Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals. While filming Good Sam, he testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee on October 23 1947, characterized as a "friendly" witness. On December 15, 1933, Cooper wed Veronica Balfe, (May 27 1913 - February 16 2000), known as "Rocky." Balfe was a New York Roman Catholic socialite who had briefly acted under the name of Sandra Shaw. They had one child, Maria, now Maria Cooper Janis, married to classical pianist Byron Janis. Cooper had affairs with several famous co-stars, including Marlene Dietrich, Grace Kelly, and Patricia Neal. He pressured Neal to have an abortion in 1950, because fathering a child out of wedlock could have destroyed his career. Cooper separated from his wife between 1951 and 1954. In April 1960, Cooper underwent surgery for prostate cancer after it had spread to his colon. It spread to his lungs and bones shortly thereafter.Cooper was too ill to attend the Academy Awards ceremony in April 1961, so his close friend James Stewart accepted the honorary Oscar on his behalf. Stewart's emotional speech hinted that something was seriously wrong, and the next day newspapers ran the headline, "Gary Cooper has cancer." One month later, on May 13, 1961 Cooper succumbed to cancer.
Mary Astor: Mary Astor (May 3, 1906 – September 25, 1987) was an American actress. She was born Lucile de Vasconcellos Langhanke in Quincy, Illinois. Most remembered for her role as Brigid O'Shaughnessy in The Maltese Falcon (1941) with Humphrey Bogart, Astor began her long motion picture career as a teenager in the silent movies of the early 1920s. In 1928, she married director Kenneth Hawks at her family home, Moorcrest. On January 2, 1930, while Astor was filming sequences for the Fox movie Such Men Are Dangerous, Kenneth Hawks was killed in a mid-air plane crash over the Pacific. After working on several more movies, she suffered delayed shock over her husband's death and had a nervous breakdown. During the months of her illness, she was attended to by Dr. Franklyn Thorpe, whom she married on June 29, 1931. May 1932, the Thorpes purchased a yacht and sailed to Hawaii. Astor was expecting a baby in August, but gave birth in June in Honolulu. The child, a daughter, was named Marylyn Hauoli Thorpe: her first name combined her parents' names and her middle name is Hawaiian. Dr. Franklyn Thorpe divorced Astor in 1935 and a custody battle resulted over their four year old daughter, Marylyn. Astor died on September 25, 1987, at age 81, of respiratory failure due to pulmonary emphysema while a patient in the hospital in the Motion Picture House complex. Mary Astor has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Marie Prevost: Marie Prevost (November 8, 1898 – January 21, 1937) was a Canadian-born actress of the early days of cinema. During her twenty year career, she made 121 silent and talking pictures. Born Mary Bickford Dunn in Sarnia, Ontario. In 1919, Prevost secretly married socialite Sonny Gerke who left her after six months of marriage. Prevost, fearful of the bad publicity a divorce would cause, would stay secretly married to Gerke until 1923. On January 21, 1937, at the age of 38, Prevost died from heart failure brought on by acute alcoholism and malnutrition. Her body was not discovered until January 23, after neighbors complained about her dog's incessant barking. A bellboy, who ignored the note Prevost posted on the door asking that no one knock on the door more than once, finally forced the door open. Prevost was found lying face down on her bed, her legs marked with tiny bites. Prevost's pet dachshund, Maxie, had nipped at her legs in an attempt to wake her up.
WHITE ELEPHANTS-the God of Hollywood wanted white elephants, and white elephants he got-eight of 'em, plaster mammoths perched on mega-mushroom pedestals, lording it over the colossal court of Belshazzar, the pasteboard Babylon built beside the dusty tin-lizzie trail called Sunset Boulevard.
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