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alix1929

Your $64,000 Question

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Wouldn't it be interesting to go back in time and talk to people from the Golden Era of Hollywood? If we could, somehow "time warp" our way back there, who would you have questions for, and what would those questions be?

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Here are two that I'd want to ask:

 

To the cast of CONVENTION CITY: Was this movie really as nasty as it sounds?

 

To L.B. Mayer: Did you, or didn't you, wreck John Gilbert's career?

 

 

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I'd love to ask Joan Crawford if she really did make a "stag" film in the early 20's before her career took off - but even if she did, I'm sure she'd deny it.

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Moviejoe, you need to check out the "Hollywood Babylon" books by Kenneth Anger. In one of the two books available, Anger published some nude stills of Crawford from the very film you are talking about!

 

Mommie Dearest indeed!

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To Chaplin, Davies, Hearst & Parsons: What really happened on that yacht where William Ince was fatally shot?

 

To Loretta Young: Fess up! Was Clark Gable the father of your "adopted" daughter?

 

To Clark Gable: Isn't it true you had George Cukor removed as director of "Gone With The Wind" because he knew a deep, dark secret about your early career?

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Captain I believe that Loretta Young did fess up to her daughter that Gable was her dad.

 

I would ask Thelma Todd "Who did it"?

 

I would ask Lana Turner "who really did it"?

 

Mongo

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To Mae Murray: what were you thinking when you walked out of your MGM contract in l928 during the middle of the million-dollar production of "Valencia"? Why were you surprised when Louis B. Mayer banned you forever from his studio and most of the other majors? And to Rudolph Valentino: why did you marry two anti-male women, Jean Acker and Natacha Rambova, whose hearts belonged to the exotic Nazimova?

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captainot - What is this deep, dark secret about Clark Gable that Cukor knew? And thanks for suggesting the Hollywood Babylon books - I've heard of them, but never bothered to find any copies. However, they sound like an enlightening read!

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WARNING: The Hollywood Babylon books contain many, MANY candid and lurid details of Hollywood. Among the things you will see there are naked photos of Joan Crawford and death scene pictures of Carole Landis, etc..

 

What's more shocking is everything you read or see in the books have been VERIFIED by Kenneth Anger, the author.

 

George Cukor's secret on Clark Gable: Cukor was close friends with William Haines, Hollywood's first openly gay movie star. According to Cukor, Haines knew that "Clark Gable received [slang term deleted] from men to further his career."

 

Haines later became a interior decorator to the stars while Gable became a superstar. Slang term deleted, indeed!

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captainot, I was fortunate in having interviewed Kenneth Anger back in the 80s for an magazine article to publicize publication of his HOllywood Babylon sequel. He had thousands of candid shots of Hollywood legends kicking up their heels in ways that would never make their way into print. I've already written about this one in another folder, "Scandals," but he had one of Marlon Brando, at the peak of his use, doing something unusually bizarre. I wanted to use this polaroid to accompany my article but even my jaded editors were shocked out of their shoes and it never ran. The pictures we saw in both Hollywood Babylon are mild indeed compared to the ones locked up in Kenneth Anger's photo albums.

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Caveat emptor: I always reach for the salt shaker when approaching anything by Kenneth Anger. He has butted heads with a lot of Hollywood folk, so naturally he has a lot of axes to grind. In addition, many reputable film scholars have found he lacks the documentation to back up his claims. Every time he has been challenged, he comes up short. (David Stenn dealt with Anger's unreliability at length in his book on Clara Bow.)

 

Back in my newspaper days, I found that the general consensus about Anger among the pillars of the Hollywood community was that of a cheap pornographer and would-be blackmailer. At one time, some people felt threatened by him, but the years and challenges have taken the edge off his allegations to the point that hardly anybody takes him seriously any more.

 

There are probably some authentic items in Anger's books, but they are few and far between. Remember the old wisdom: "Don't believe everything you hear, and only half of what you see." That certainly applies to Anger's work.

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I had my suspicions about some of the crap written in Anger's books although I like the presentation of the pictures many of which I have not seen before.

Thanks for the info coffeedan.

 

Mongo

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Although it has been denied by his daughter in the recent John Garfield biography on TCM the question I would die to ask the man himself is... "Mr. Garfield was that really you in Footlight Parade"? If that isn't Garfield there certainly was someone around that was his identical twin.

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I'd like to find out what really happened to Paul Bern, Jean Harlow's husband. I know a lot has been speculated, but I've wondered about the truth. Did he commit suicide or was he murdered? And what about the note found at the scene - I wonder if it was left there by someone else.

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I guess I would have to ask Bette Davis if she really did have anything to do with the death of her second husband, Arthur Farnsworth, as alleged in one of the many books about her, I forget which one. Of course, asking any of these questions may be a moot point, as that is no guarantee we will get a truthful answer. Its all in the eyes, though, so I guess a face-to-face would be best.

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Coffee Dan, I wish I could buy you a cup of joe for the sense and sensibility you express regarding "Hollywood Babylon". Having read Anger's books years ago, I came away wanting my brain washed, until I realized that just 'cause it's in print, it ain't all necessarily so...and it sure doesn't make any of it my business.

 

 

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I doubt if I'd get a civil reply from either actor, but I'd like to ask two of my favorite actors a similar question.

 

To Spencer Tracy: Why did you drink? Was it just genetics, or your religion, your father's disappointment with you, your child's handicap, fear about how much you revealed as an actor, or just plain loneliness? Your acting had such a profound compassion for the human condition, too bad you never extended much of it to yourself.

 

To Richard Burton: Did you drink because you disappointed yourself? Did you have much fun during that long all night party that your life became after "Cleopatra"? Or did you think that you were only a voice? Your gifts never came to full flower, but there are real flashes of what might have been, seen in such films as "Night of the Iguana" and "Equus". Too bad you wore yourself out too soon.

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I'd like to ask anyone who worked with Clara Bow in her talkies about her severe anxiety about the microphone.

 

I'd like to ask anyone who'd been in the cast of KICK IN, the movie in which she reportedly beat at the microphone with her fists, what actually happened.

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I would want to find out...

 

Were Tyrone Power and Tom Drake, respectively, really gay?

Did Harlow and Gable ever get it on?

Did William Powell regret never marrying Harlow?

What really happened to Barbara LaMarr in the San Francisco hotel room?

Did Sinatra always hold the torch for Ava?

What did Kay Francis do after she left movies?

Did Joan Crawford ever really appear in that infamous stag film?

Was Robert Taylor's marriage to Barbara Stanwyck real or not?

 

There's always more but these are good for now. Guess we'll never really know the truth...

 

Mary

 

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I really like all these questions, and we'll never know the truth about most of them, if any of them.

 

The problem is that once you write something it becomes the Bible even though once the person is dead, you can say anything with no fear of a lawsuit. The dead have no rights under the law, and the family can't sue on their behalf. It's been tried. It's failed.

 

I think a lot of Anger's book is hooey, I think most of Hector Arce's book is junk. I mean, who has the nerve to write what someone - let alone Tyrone Power - is thinking when they're alone? HOW WOULD HECTOR ARCE OR ANYBODY ELSE KNOW THIS? Who has the nerve to use anonymous sources? The book to me is fiction.

 

Was Tyrone Power gay? No. Bi? Maybe. Probably. But the answer won't be in that book.

 

Two examples of what I'm talking about, from the point of view of someone who is a writer and a researcher and who knows maybe SOMETHING.

 

1. There's a quote that goes around apparently said by Marilyn Monroe, that she had the same masseur as Tyrone Power, and the masseur told her "what Ty and Errol have going." Well, what year was this? In the book, "All Those Tomorrows," Mai Zetterling talks about her affair with Tyrone Power, and she was on the sets of The Sun Also Rises and Witness for the Prosecution with him. Power was shocked to see what Errol Flynn looked like in Sun - in fact, he was jealous, because Errol could do the character roles so easily now. He said something like, "He's gotten some sort of a face." He then tells Mai that Errol's a nice guy when he's not drunk, adding, "You'll see." Well, of course, Mai never got to see because Errol Flynn by then was drunk all the time. So how recently do we think Power, who had been basicaly living in Europe, saw him? Power's own stand-in told me that Power knew Flynn briefly in the '30s through sailing and the friendship did not continue.

 

2. Later books by top biographers have debunked the Errol Flynn as a Nazi spy story so eggregiously made up to sell books.

 

I think many of the other questions suffer from the same sort of wild stories that get started and take on a life of their own. And frankly, with the Internet, it's even worse. You read a quote one day and two days later, the quote is completely different and all sorts of back story has been added. I know, because I'm a columnist. I posted some news from a TV show luncheon. It ended up on another message board elaborated on with untrue statements about one of the actors. So take everything with a LARGE grain of salt.

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Oh, I think I can answer a couple of these questions - sorry, I just read the post again, and I know no one will read this stuff but you never know.

 

Okay - Barbara Stanwyck-Robert Taylor - more lies, this time from the pen of whomever wrote the book allegedly outing all these couples. This is what I know - a very prominent lesbian in New York City was interested in writing a book about Stanwyck for the very reason that she believed Stanwyck was gay. When she started writing the book and she and her assistant started to do interviews, she suddenly lost interest in the book. Why? Because she found out very early on that Stanwyck wasn't gay. And she was very much in love with Taylor and devastated when her marriage ended.

 

This item was posted as a blind item on the infamous Page Six of the New York Post.

 

Sinatra and Ava - I know something of this because I appeared on a TV show about Ava. They definitely always carried the torch for one another. They also definitely could never, ever live together, they were both too volatile. Barbara Sinatra apparently knew about Frank's feelings for Ava and didn't care. Ava always referred to Frank as "my man Frank" and he paid all her medical bills and helped her out financially. It was a relationship, really, that went beyond passion, but passion ruined it.

 

Kay Francis - I don't know what she did, but I do know she left a lot of money to the Seeing Eye Dogs.

 

I can't believe I'm writing all this stuff. This is such an old thread and no one will see it.

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I like the "ask the imperious Mr. Mayer" questions from earlier in the thread.

 

I have a Louie and Lee question--"L.B...I know you fired Lee Tracy, but did you go out of your way to ruin his career? If so, how? If so, why?"

 

I would ask Lee--"As the most promising comic actor of your time (1930's), was there more to you leaving MGM than just...THE INCIDENT?"

 

By the way: I know Mr. Tracy made a come back of sorts in the 1960's stage play and film "The Best Man". Referring to the film--he WAS the best man.

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One more thing.

 

Regarding the "Hollywood Babylon" conversation earlier in this topic. My wife bought the book at a flea market a couple of years ago--we ate it up.

 

The book MAY be bull****--but the "Lupe-loo" story is too bizarre NOT to be true...right?

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