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Scandals of Classic Hollywood

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Presents a collection of dramatic clashes and controversies from Hollywood's Golden Age, featuring such notorious personalities as... Lire la suite
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Presents a collection of dramatic clashes and controversies from Hollywood's Golden Age, featuring such notorious personalities as Judy Garland, Cary Grant, Jean Harlow, and James Dean.

ldquo;Engaging…Petersen is an author for our age.” The Boston Globe

“Insightful.” –TIME Magazine

“Clear and convincing…Although Petersen's book benefits from intelligent analysis of archival research, she writes with the verve of an enthusiast.” –LA Times

“Terrific and thoughtful and fascinating.” –NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour

“Smart, relevant, and fun…think TMZ with a PhD.”Bitch

“Compulsively readable.” The Rumpus

“Compulsively readable…[Petersen] sheds light on often-repeated myths with impeccable research and razor-sharp analysis.” –Yahoo

“[This] dishy book delivers the juicy anecdotes readers crave.” –NY Post

“Dishy as hell.” –Refinery29

“Not merely a rehash of salacious old Hollywood gossip, Petersen revivifies flattened images of Hollywood icons…Wide-ranging and surprisingly thoughtful.”Kirkus

“Brisk and lively.”Library Journal

Anne Helen Petersen received her Ph.D. in media studies from the University of Texas, where she studied the industrial history of the gossip industry. After teaching in the university setting for several years, she transitioned to full-time feature writing, most recently with BuzzFeed. Her work has appeared in The Believer, The Awl, The Hairpin, Laptham’s Quarterly, The Baffler, Pacific Standard, The Guardian, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Virginia Quarterly Review.

Texte du rabat

Hollywood gossip meets history in this compulsively readable collection from Buzzfeed reporter Anne Helen Peterson.

Believe it or not, America's fascination with celebrity culture was thriving well before the days of TMZ, Cardi B, Kanye's tweets, and the #metoo allegations that have gripped Hollywood. And the stars of yesteryear? They weren't always the saints that we make them out to be. BuzzFeed's Anne Helen Petersen, author of Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud, is here to set the record straight. Pulling little-known gems from the archives of film history, Petersen reveals eyebrow-raising information, including:

• The smear campaign against the original It Girl, Clara Bow, started by her best friend
• The heartbreaking story of Montgomery Clift's rapid rise to fame, the car accident that destroyed his face, and the "long suicide" that followed
• Fatty Arbuckle's descent from Hollywood royalty, fueled by allegations of a boozy orgy turned violent assault
• Why Mae West was arrested and jailed for "indecency charges"
• And much more

Part biography, part cultural history, these stories cover the stuff that films are made of: love, sex, drugs, illegitimate children, illicit affairs, and botched cover-ups. But it's not all just tawdry gossip in the pages of this book. The stories are all contextualized within the boundaries of film, cultural, political, and gender history, making for a read that will inform as it entertains. Based on Petersen's beloved column on the Hairpin, but featuring 100% new content, Scandals of Classic Hollywood is sensationalism made smart.

Hollywood gossip meets history in this compulsively readable collection from Buzzfeed reporter Anne Helen Peterson. 

Believe it or not, America's fascination with celebrity culture was thriving well before the days of TMZ, Cardi B, Kanye's tweets, and the #metoo allegations that have gripped Hollywood. And the stars of yesteryear? They weren’t always the saints that we make them out to be. BuzzFeed's Anne Helen Petersen, author of Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud, is here to set the record straight. Pulling little-known gems from the archives of film history, Petersen reveals eyebrow-raising information, including:

   •  The smear campaign against the original It Girl, Clara Bow, started by her best friend
   •  The heartbreaking story of Montgomery Clift’s rapid rise to fame, the car accident that destroyed his face, and the “long suicide” that followed
   •  Fatty Arbuckle's descent from Hollywood royalty, fueled by allegations of a boozy orgy turned violent assault
   •  Why Mae West was arrested and jailed for "indecency charges"
   •  And much more

Part biography, part cultural history, these stories cover the stuff that films are made of: love, sex, drugs, illegitimate children, illicit affairs, and botched cover-ups. But it's not all just tawdry gossip in the pages of this book. The stories are all contextualized within the boundaries of film, cultural, political, and gender history, making for a read that will inform as it entertains. Based on Petersen's beloved column on the Hairpin, but featuring 100% new content, Scandals of Classic Hollywood is sensationalism made smart.

Échantillon de lecture


Chugach Peaks Photography


On July 26, 2006, Mel Gibson—’80s hunk, ’90s director, ’00s oddball—was arrested for driving under the influence. He was visibly drunk and combative, and hurled misogynistic, anti-Semitic slurs at the arresting officers. Within hours, Gibson’s disheveled mug shot had gone viral, as had the audiotape of his arrest, thanks to upstart website The story made TMZ, but more important, it destroyed Gibson, whose personal and professional lives immediately fell apart. His marriage collapsed; work dried up. The man so powerful that he could make a film graphically detailing the death of Christ—a millionaire many, many times over—couldn’t make a hit film in Hollywood. Today, Gibson is slowly reappearing in supporting roles, but save some remarkable, redemptive gesture, his career as a leading man is over.

Had this happened just seventy years ago, Gibson’s fate would have been dramatically different. He would’ve been signed to a studio contract, complete with a morality clause to govern his behavior, and he’d have had studio-employed “fixers”—the hidden yet essential cogs in the star-making machine—to clean up after him in case of scandal. The fixers would erase all traces of the incident: the police would be paid off; the report would disappear. To the public at large, he’d continue to be a gallant husband, doting father, and responsible citizen—the very paragon of contemporary masculinity. Any whispers of chronic drunkenness would be silenced by well-placed mentions in the gossip columns concerning his commitment to his adoring children and devoted wife. Gibson’s image would remain intact, his earning power for the studio secure. Because in the golden age of Hollywood, scandal was a roadblock, but rarely an endgame.

During this period, stars weren’t born; they were made. Scouts would bring in “raw” star material, culled from the vaudeville circuit, the theater, or the soda fountain counter. The potential star would be given a name, a sanitized (and sometimes dramatized) backstory, a makeover, and a contract. After assigning him or her a few bit parts and gauging audience reception (usually through the amount and tone of fan mail), the studio would figure the performer’s fate. An actor could be kept around to “pleasure” visiting execs, relegated to the stock character pool, or promoted to bona fide stardom, with first choice of roles and directors. Stardom was what happened when the raw star material and studio magic created an image that was not only beautiful but sublime; not only likable but charismatic. For an actor to become a star, he had to become more than the sum of his exquisite parts. His image had to demonstrate a particular way of life, a way of being in the world that resonated and inspired emulation—the boy next door all grown up, the rough cowboy with a heart of gold, the adventurer with a romantic streak.

This book tells the story of how these extraordinary stars were made, but also, as the title indicates, how they were unmade—or at least how the emergence of scandal compromised their carefully constructed public personas. The stars in this book were immaculate productions: the result of tremendous toil on the part of press agents, stylists, directors, and cooperative gossip columnists and fan magazine editors. But even the most perfect productions can crumble beneath the weight of their accumulated cultural meaning. Over the course of the next fourteen chapters, you’ll see how that pressure served as a catalyst for all manner of misbehavior: drug use, gambling, and illicit sexual encounters in various shapes and styles. In other words, the bigger the star, the more meaningful she becomes to the public, the higher the chance for scandal to emerge.

Yet a star’s actions, behavior, or lifestyle choices are never de facto scandalous; rather, they become scandalous when they violate the status quo in some way. A divorce in 1920 was potentially scandalous; today, it’s par for the course. In 1950, homosexuality was unspeakable; today, it’s doable, if difficult, with the help of a well-orchestrated coming-out narrative. Scandal is amplified when a star’s actions violate not only the status quo but the underlying understanding of that star’s image as well: when “Saint Ingrid” (Ingrid Bergman) ran off with an Italian director and gave birth to a child out of wedlock, the scandal was rooted not only in the infidelity but in how brazenly she violated her fans’ understanding of her image and what it seemed to represent.

Scandal thus functions as a rupture—not only in a star’s image, but in whatever cultural value that star represents. With carefully planned publicity, that rupture can be repaired. A star can repent; her actions can be reframed. See, for example, the dramatic reconfiguration of Brad Pitt’s divorce from Jennifer Aniston, or Robert Downey Jr.’s phoenix-like rise from the ashes of addiction. The status quo is seemingly restored.

The scandals discussed in this book are more than just smut. They’re history lessons, teaching us about what it meant to be a man, a woman, a child, a straight person, a fat person, a person of color, or a sex object during specific time periods in our past. But they’re also love stories, tragedies, and comedies—lessons in the way stars come to embody a culture’s hopes and aspirations and the harshness with which they are treated when they fail to meet expectations. Above all, these stories are page-turners: the very stuff of the very best of Hollywood films, complete with crackling narrative tension, breathless ascents, and dramatic downfalls. Many of these scandals end in tragedy, but others are raucous, screwball comedies, filled with wit, double entendres, and generalized rascalry. These stars lived big—and the narratives of their lives, their loves and losses, the way they rose and fell from fame, are just as impressive as their conspicuous spending habits.

This book will introduce you to new stories, broaden stories you know, and revise those you thought you knew. Chances are, you’re familiar with many of the stars and scandals to come—Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, Judy Garland, James Dean. These stars endure for specific cultural reasons, co-opted by new generations, plastered on dorm room walls, and evoked in magazine photo shoots as signifiers of authenticity, rebellion, or class. But this book also includes the stories of much less familiar names: Jean Harlow, Wallace Reid, Clara Bow, Dorothy Dandridge, to name a few—stars who once enjoyed tremendous popularity but have, for various reasons, faded with time.

By familiarizing ourselves with the contours of stardom and scandal that shaped the past, we can see how they shape the present. Today, as before, there are certain types of stars for whom we will forgive all manner of trespass, and other types of stars who, once they step over the line, can never return. If our stars are reflections of our values and ourselves, then the way we elevate, denigrate, and dispose of them also functions as a sort of cultural mirror, however distorted, clumsy, and unbecoming. The aim of the book, then, is not simply to titillate, nor is it to propagate old, worn-out rumors. Rather, it will help rescue gossip, the study of stars, and scandal from the cultural wastebasket. With every chapter, you’ll see how these stories are crucial to understanding our present and our past—history dressed in an evening gown and pearls, holding a flute of expensive champagne. But beware: Once you read one, it’s difficult not to read them all. Your list of must-watch classic films will grow exponentially. You might develop a hankering for well-tailored double-breasted suits. Rest assured, it’s all natural—once you become familiar with these stars, their complex narratives and their bewitching charisma prove impossible to resist. And you’ll never think about stars, Hollywood, or the machinations that create them in the same way again.


When the moving image first began to circulate in the late nineteenth century, it wasn’t as if stars suddenly popped up along with it. Audiences were mostly just fascinated with the technological marvel they saw before them—the moving image itself was the star. Even as cinema developed in the early 1900s, huge, unwieldy cameras made it difficult to film anything other than a full-length shot. Because viewers couldn’t see the actor’s face up close, it was difficult to develop the feelings of admiration or affection that we associate with film stars. Gradually, close-ups became more prevalent, various actors became more recognizable, fans began to know the stars’ names, and slowly but surely, audiences pieced together “types” associated with each star—the hero, the villain, the damsel in distress, the virtuous heroine.

It wasn’t until the early 1910s, however, that stars as we understand them today came to be: an actor with a recognizable type on-screen—a “picture personality”—accompanied by information about her off-screen, made available through the proliferating fan magazines. A star was the combination of her on-screen and off-screen selves—selves that complemented and amplified each other. An actor who played a cowboy on-screen would stable a horse just outside of Hollywood; a sporting heroine would fit in a game of golf between taking care of her children and cooking dinner. Crucially, these off-screen images were always squeaky clean. Women were married or seeking marriage; men were eligible bachelors or devoted husbands. Throughout the 1910s, these narratives served a distinct purpose: to make Hollywood seem less scandalous.

Because the “film colony,” as it was then called, was populated with young people, mostly poor immigrants, it was assumed that these actors, now flush with cash and lacking in so-called moral hygiene, would run wild. The logic of the time went something like this: if Hollywood was filled with immoral behavior, that selfsame behavior would seep onto the screen, thereby corrupting the impressionable youth so irresistibly drawn to the picture show. To sustain their business, then, and calm the anxiety propagated by reactionary moralists, the studios collaborated with the gossip press to make the stars’ lives seem squeaky clean.

Working together, the studios, fan magazines, and gossip columnists painted a becoming, believable portrait of the players on the screen. By providing details from actors’ domestic, ostensibly private existences, studios enabled fans to feel as if they had access to the true, authentic star. Knowledge about the star’s living room, dress purchases, or other patterns of conspicuous consumption became de facto knowledge about how he or she “really was.” In this way, Hollywood was able to convincingly suggest that the stars were without scandal. Until, that is, the stars started making decisions that no matter of fawning publicity could cover up. These cracks in the image of both the star and Hollywood as a whole provided a dim, shadowy peephole unto a new layer of the star: the scandalous, unspeakable, immoral core.

But as will become clear, this period of salacious scandal in the early twenties did not sink the industry; rather, it served as a catalyst for Hollywood to better manage its stars and their actions. The stars did not suddenly become less prone to scandalous behavior; the cover-up and management strategies simply got better. This pattern—the emergence of scandal; the subsequent emergence of techniques to manage it—has structured the dynamics of Hollywood for the past century. Sometimes scandal emerges due to a savvy new publication; other times, it’s a rebellious star with a lack of oversight. The means of release and the methods of containment may change, but the pattern endures. As we trace that pattern, and how it adjusts with the cultural temperature, a vivid picture of the past American century begins to come to light.


With her immaculate curls, plaintive eyes, and porcelain skin, Mary Pickford bore a keen resemblance to a child’s doll. And like a doll, she acted out the fantasies of others: her whimsical spirit and wholesomeness represented an American ideal under threat, proof positive that Victorian notions of girlhood and virtue could endure the onset of modernity. In this way, Mary Pickford became “a girl of all girls,” an exemplar of femininity and desexualized youth. She began her film career in 1909 at the age of seventeen, but played roles much younger, usually as adolescent and prepubescent daughters. In 1909 alone, Pickford appeared in fifty films; by 1915, her salary equaled that of the president. In the years to come, she’d continue to play young girls—most notably in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1917), The Poor Little Rich Girl (1917), and Pollyanna (1920)—but she also worked, with mixed success, to sophisticate and texture her image. By the end of the 1910s, she was, without question, the biggest star in the world.

Audiences just adored her. A review in The Bioscope nails her appeal: only Pickford could be “ineffably sweet, joyously young, and sometimes, if one may put it so, almost unbearably heartbreaking in its tender pathos.” She may have been “ineffably sweet,” but she was also a savvy businesswoman, entrusted, from a very early age, with providing for her entire family. Her father, a drunk, had left the family when Pickford was three years old, and her mother concentrated on promoting young Mary’s career. Throughout the 1910s, Pickford made a series of business decisions that afforded her more and more control over her image and salary; by 1916, her contract with Zukor Inc. gave her full authority over every production—along with five hundred dollars a week, an unheard-of salary. She was still playing little girl roles, but she had morphed into the first of many female actors bestowed with the title of “America’s Sweetheart,” neatly eliding her Canadian birth. Pickford may have been powerful, but any anxiety over that power was muted by how convincingly and consistently she radiated demureness and amiability.

Yet for all of her successes on-screen, her off-screen life was far from perfect. Pickford was entrapped in an abusive marriage to fellow silent actor Owen Moore, whom she had quietly wed in 1911 after meeting him on the studio lot. The marriage was kept secret due to Pickford’s mother’s disapproval of Moore, but IMP, their studio at the time, exploited the pairing, placing ads of the two together in a heart-shaped frame, paired with the catchphrases “She’s an Imp!” and “He’s an Imp!” Outwardly, Moore was “America’s first juvenile,” known for his boyish appearance on-screen. Off-screen, he was jealous of Pickford’s success and embittered by his reliance on her connections for his new contract at IMP. Alcoholism, exacerbated by professional jealousy, led to bouts of physical and emotional abuse, but Pickford had to keep all traces of their unrest a secret lest it compromise her pristine image. By 1916, it was a deeply unhappy marriage, with Pickford and Moore living apart for long periods of time.

Enter Douglas Fairbanks: ascendant king of Hollywood, swashbuckler, athlete, and all-American boy. Fairbanks was born in Denver, where his father was, at least between periods of drunkenness, a miner—a point that would be routinely exploited in the formation of Fairbanks’s Old West image, with its undertones of wild, raucous adventure. He had been surrounded by stage aspirations from an early age, and profiles loved to emphasize how his father had read him Shakespeare before abandoning the family. Young Fairbanks also regularly performed onstage during high school, though he left before earning his diploma. Depending on the publication and authorial intent, Fairbanks would claim that he then spent time at Colorado School of Mines, Princeton, or Harvard Law before finding success on Broadway and marrying Anna Beth Sully, the daughter of a wealthy captain of industry.

Fairbanks’s transition to film was part of a larger Hollywood migration of successful theater actors in the 1910s. He played the boy next door and the cowboy—the very embodiment of the American West, with its conflicting suggestions of wildness and honor. His hero was Teddy Roosevelt, and Fairbanks, at least publicly, aspired to all the connotations of rugged individualism that Roosevelt’s name implied. His energy was seemingly endless, a frenetic liveliness that jumped off the screen. Much like Pickford, Fairbanks was universally beloved: as historian Scott Curtis describes, “This energetic, even indefatigable star became so popular because he projected an image of Americans as they wanted to see themselves, as they still want to see themselves: as youthful and athletic, optimistic and adventurous, decisive and democratic.” He was the boy everyone loved to love, both on-screen and off.

Fairbanks’s image was rooted in authenticity, but that sense of realness, the seeming lack of manipulation, was, of course, manipulation itself. The conflation of the “real” and “reel” Fairbanks was due to some exquisite, if slightly over-the-top, press management. On the set of the western The Half-Breed (1916), for example, Fairbanks supposedly spent most of his time away from the set, off romping in the woods, returning with bleeding hands and torn clothing. When the director asked, “What in the name of mischief have you been doing now?” Fairbanks replied, “Trappin’. . . . Bobcats, of course.” The message: Fairbanks was a strapping explorer and would much rather spend time in the great outdoors than hobnobbing in the high society of Hollywood. Over the next decade, this apparent lack of pretense would serve Fairbanks well, as his statements and actions—especially those concerning his romantic life and the beloved Mary Pickford—were taken at face value and rarely questioned.

It’s unclear when, or how, Fairbanks and Pickford first met or became intimate. The Movie Colony, as it was then called, was a small, cliquey place, and their paths would’ve certainly crossed. One overwrought tale has Fairbanks carrying her over a dangerous stream at a Hollywood party; others have them falling deeply in love at first sight. But such romantic meet-cutes were all mapped onto their relationship after the fact, long after they’d gone public with their love. The exact time line remains murky, but they had certainly become friends by 1916, and by 1917, Fairbanks was taking Pickford’s business lead, leaving Triangle Film Corporation to set up his own production company, which would work exclusively with Pickford’s distribution arm. Later that year, both joined mutual friend Charlie Chaplin in a nationwide tour to engender support for World War I war bonds, with an exhausting schedule that included dozens of stops and uncounted hours in intimate company. It must’ve turned hot and heavy in short order, but according to official reports, it was nothing if not a chaste friendship.

Over the course of their three war bond tours, the public became accustomed to seeing the pair together. Not romantically, but depicted in the same frame, smiling, joking, charismatically together—together for the good of the country, using their fame for a cause much greater than themselves. Even the April 1918 announcement of Fairbanks’s imminent divorce, and subsequent rumors swirling around the “unnamed correspondent” (early twentieth-century speak for “person responsible for the breakup of the marriage”), widely believed to be Pickford, couldn’t blunt the goodwill. With their winning, affable smiles, charismatic on-screen personas, and patriotic, selfless service to the country, it would’ve been nearly impossible to frame them as villains.

It didn’t help that Moore came across rather poorly. “My wife,” he told one reporter, “has always seemed to me to be little more than a child, with a child’s winsomeness, appealingness, and trust in others.” That childishness, according to Moore, accounted for her susceptibility to the likes of Fairbanks. Moore also claimed that Fairbanks had an odd personality that fascinated women—he was dangerous, with an “instinct for possession that has doubtless come to him from his Anglo-Saxon ancestors.” Having effectively insulted an entire swath of the reading public, Moore eventually admitted that he, too, had succumbed to Fairbanks’s charms—which was why he hadn’t seen him stealing away his wife’s affections. Once he did figure it out, he kept quiet (out of deference, so he claimed, to the Liberty Loan campaign), but when Fairbanks’s divorce became public, he knew he had to speak. Still, Moore emphasized that it was Fairbanks who played the role of villain: “There is only one aggressor in the whole situation. The ‘other woman’ [Pickford] has been as much victimized as the rest, not wholly blameless, perhaps, but imposed upon.”

Here, Moore—or Moore’s press agent—performed a tremendous rhetorical feat. He underlined Pickford’s “girl” image, an image that Americans adored, and then used the natural vulnerabilities of that image to explain any potential infidelity. Moore situated the blame firmly on Fairbanks—“there is only one aggressor”—while emphasizing his own propriety and patriotism. No matter what happened with Moore, Pickford could emerge with her integrity relatively unscathed.

Regardless of her seeming inculpability in the affair, the swirling rumors had become too much for Pickford. In April 1918, she announced her plans to go into total retirement. According to her sister, Pickford was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, “not only on account of the notoriety she has received in the papers in relation to a certain other star, but also because of her tireless work on the loan campaign.” The message was clear: gossip was hurting Little Mary—the same Little Mary who had not invited the advances of Fairbanks, who had simply toiled, to the point of exhaustion, for the sake of her country.

Pickford did not, in fact, go into total retirement. After some time away from the spotlight, she resumed work. The rumors quieted, which isn’t to say that the romance stopped, but Pickford and Fairbanks likely understood that their careers depended on the integrity of their images. The solution, then, was a marvel of carefully calculated publicity: they changed the conversation from one of gossip to one of business. Chaplin, Fairbanks, Pickford, and director D. W. Griffith founded United Artists (UA) in January 1919, with the goal of taking their careers into their own hands. Each would produce around five pictures a year with UA functioning as distributor. It was a loose artistic partnership designed to undercut the efforts of the studios, eager to tamp down the rising star salaries and demands. The move was ridiculed within the industry—according to one exec, “the inmates are taking over the asylum”—but it made headlines and further yoked Fairbanks and Pickford in the public eye.

By the time Pickford filed for divorce in March 1920, her union with Fairbanks was a foregone conclusion. Still, she denied that she would remarry—Fairbanks or anyone else—claiming that she simply wanted freedom. Moore agreed not to contest the case, prompting rumors of a payoff, which Pickford was quick to counter. As for reports of attempts to avoid the press, her defense was irrefutable: “I regarded [the divorce] as a sacred matter, of no interest to anyone but myself. . . . I felt that, though my career and my work in films are the interest of the public, my personal affairs were not.” Yet she demurred, “I now realize my mistake. I have learned now that I do not belong to myself. If I have done anything to offend the public I am so sorry. My life work is to make people happy, to fill their hearts with gladness through my appearance in picture stories.” Here, Pickford simultaneously shamed readers for their curiosity and invited them to extend that curiosity—so long as it meant they still loved her, still wanted to let her make them happy. She was, in other words, preparing them to support her no matter what the future would bring.

As it turned out, the very near future brought a very romantic wedding, with Fairbanks and Pickford marrying in a “secret” wedding in Los Angeles. It was a gossip dream come true, and instead of being scandalous, the reports were jubilant: “Famous Film Romance is Crowned by Nuptials,” exclaimed the Los Angeles Times, explaining that when Fairbanks was asked, “Are you happy?” he replied, “Oh gosh!” The pair were criticized for their choice of minister (a Baptist!), and Pickford’s divorce from Moore was contested on a technicality, but the overarching public sentiment was one of companionate romance. The Washington Post framed the culmination as a “real life drama,” telling the tale of how their love had been readily apparent for months, and “any one at all familiar with the strenuous methods of Doug was reasonably sure he would not accept ‘no’ as the final answer. Thus endeth the second reel in the life scenario of the most universally loved heroine the silent drama has ever produced.” By framing their marriage as a love story—complete with film reels—the press encouraged the public to embrace the narrative as they would a new Pickford film, only this time starring the King of Hollywood himself, finally united with his queen.

In an issue released two months after the marriage, Photoplay announced the tone for all descriptions of the coupling to follow. An article titled “The Pickford-Fairbanks Wooing”—a beautiful tale of “when friendship turned to love”—worked arduously to eradicate any hint of scandal, framing it as an inevitable coupling. It was a romance for the ages, with a well-deserved ending; at long last, “the film of their narrative is tinted with the sentimental blue of eventide that so long has been lacking.” The multipage spread goes on to emphasize how difficult Pickford’s life had been, describing the unhappiness of her marriage to Moore, and that in the midst of her friendship with Fairbanks, “the hope of a ray of moonlight” had finally reentered her life. According to Photoplay, Pickford’s divorce was tragic, as are all divorces—but like a tragedy in a movie, it was overcome with the happiness that comes from fate fulfilled, from finding her soul mate.

This narrative was reaffirmed on the couple’s grand honeymoon tour, where they were mobbed wherever they appeared. In Paris, in London, in New York—the world flocked to see them, not because of the scandal, but because they were a fairy tale in the flesh—one with an inconvenient backstory, but a fairy tale nonetheless. Upon their much-vaunted return to Hollywood, Fairbanks was so excited to see his beloved home that he leaped out of the car to visit his horses and dogs, then headed straight to the pool, into which he jumped fully clothed. The message was clear: Doug and Mary, at home and happy, were reigning over Hollywood at last.

So the story went for the next decade. Their home, quickly christened Pickfair, became the center of proper Hollywood society. Together, they marshaled the who’s who of stars, deciding who was appropriate for dinner with visiting dignitaries and heads of state and who was too déclassé, improper, or otherwise unrepresentative of the Hollywood they wanted the world to see. Charlie Chaplin pontificated; Albert Einstein discoursed; they watched new movies in their private screening room; everyone went to bed early; and, of course, liquor was never served. It was an upright, West Coast version of the salon, only with more jumping in the pool and wrestling with Fairbanks, who purportedly insisted that all guests rise at dawn to accompany him on rides through nearby Coyote Canyon. Photoplay showed off their home whenever they remodeled, complete with customary tasteful menus, while Fairbanks framed the couple as ardent homebodies: “I’ve never been to any of the places in Hollywood and Los Angeles that the newspapers write about,” he told The Literary Digest. “Why, Mary and I have only been to the Ambassador Hotel once since it was built. We spend practically all our evenings at home.”

Judging from dozens of accounts, Fairba...

Informations sur le produit

Titre: Scandals of Classic Hollywood
Sous-titre: Sex, Deviance, and Drama from the Golden Age of American Cinema
Code EAN: 9780142180679
ISBN: 978-0-14-218067-9
Format: Couverture cartonnée
Editeur: Random House N.Y.
Genre: Art
nombre de pages: 304
Poids: 272g
Taille: H213mm x B140mm x T23mm
Année: 2014