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Hollywood Babylon: The Legendary Underground Classic of Hollywood's Darkest and Best Kept Secrets Mass Market Paperback – November 15, 1981


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Hollywood Babylon: The Legendary Underground Classic of Hollywood's Darkest and Best Kept Secrets + The Hollywood Book of Death: The Bizarre, Often Sordid, Passings of More than 125 American Movie and TV Idols + The Hollywood Book of Scandals : The Shocking, Often Disgraceful Deeds and Affairs of Over 100 American Movie and TV Idols
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Straight Arrow Books; Reprint edition (November 15, 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440153255
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440153252
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #111,745 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Hollywood Babylon is a definate must read for anyone interested in Hollywood history.
Donna Grayson
This book is full of very interesting truths, and if you can't handle it, then you'd better keep reading the tabloids or just good old Jane Austin.
Jane Tarzana
Most of the book is filler, with lots of photos that have nothing to do with the book.
B. Wolinsky

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 62 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 27, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Kenneth Anger's trash classic is still worth a look after all these years. No, this is not the book for those tender and naive dears among us who still think "they wouldn't print it if it wasn't true." This is more along the lines of "they couldn't print it if they weren't dead!" Don't look here for an accurate history of Hollywood's Golden Age. What Anger serves up, in his own wasp-tongued way, is the true gossip of the day. True in the sense that it was actually circulated, not that it was accurate. That in itself gives the book its own kind of historical value: the tabloid trash a bygone era. If you've ever lingered over a particularly lurid headline in the supermarket check out line, this book may be for you. Go for it, nobody's looking!
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Susan Nunes on July 5, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Anybody who is considering buying this book (and its sequel, if one can find it) should know that it has absolutely no pretensions of being fair or accurate. Despite the wild inaccuracies of now-deceased stars' exploits, the book is still like seeing a car wreck: you know it's awful, but you can't resist looking at it. It's a fun book in spite of itself.
The photos are often tasteless, the prose is often tacky and sleazy, the research is put together with two nails and a hammer, and overall the book reminds one of the old "Confidential" magazines (the magazine is actually profiled in one of the book's chapters). Yet sleaze and tackiness are what Hollywood was all about, so the book seems fitting.
If you want accuracy in a book, go elsewhere. If you like gossip in the most vicious and slimy way possible, then this is your book.
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55 of 63 people found the following review helpful By rareoopdvds VINE VOICE on December 5, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Like any newspaper article, events are turned into "stories." These "stories", like any silver screen biography, tells the dramatic tale of a life in turmoil. Kenneth Anger's book, "Hollywood Babylon" takes the angle of a tabloid and digs up some old dirt of famous celebrity lives and puts it into a full collection of grime, grease and oil. This collection takes a chronological look at Hollywood's finest at the time beginning in the early twenties with such big names as Fatty Arbuckle whose drinking problem got out of hand at one of his big parties after signing a lucrative deal. Moving through time to the 30's, 40's, right up to the Sharon Tate murder, which Anger recognized it was no longer "Old Hollywood."
The book reads like a gossip column mixed with sleazy tabloid journalism, yet with the wit and humor of a prankster. It's an exploitation of exploited lives. To mimic tabloids further, the pages appear with large and sometimes disturbing photos of stars at their most inopportune moments.
While much of the material has already had its heyday in newspapers of the times, it has a new life today where many of these actors and actresses are virtually unheard of by the general public and rekindled new interest in their films. Just as watching and old O. J. Simpson football game may have the same appeal as watching Lana Turner in her debut "They Won't Forget."
The title to me is entirely fitting, as Hollywood is the "Babylon" of our society, one in which everyone has all their wants at their disposal. A place where hedonism is the religion and tragedy is only the end of a scene, for we know by the end of the movie everything will be all right.
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59 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Daniel J. Hamlow HALL OF FAME on September 22, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Reading this book probably wasn't the best way to learn of Hollywood's sordid trash, when I bought this ages ago, but I didn't have a movie encyclopedia at the time, which would have been useful, and I would've learned of the many tragedies that befell certain Hollywood stars in a more scholarly way. However, I didn't know that Peg Enwistle was the one who started a trend by diving off the LAND of the HOLLYWOODLAND sign, which now reads HOLLYWOOD.
The key scandals of the 1920's through 1950's are played out. The Fatty Arbuckle scandal of 1921, involving his alleged part in the death of starlet Virginia Rappe, was the O.J. Simpson of the 1920's is given a separate chapter. It took three trials to acquit him, but his career was finished. As Anger snidily writes, "The Prince of Whales had been harpooned." The others include Errol Flynn being accused of having sex with two underage girls, Mary Astor's diary, and the stabbing death of Lana Turner's lover John Stompanato by Cheryl Crane. Frances Farmer's nervous breakdown and collapse has some of snidiness in there, although he makes it clear that he does sympathize with her plight years before Nirvana did a song on her on their In Utero album.
Two mysterious and to this day still unsolved are probed, that of Thelma Todd, the Ice Cream Blonde, who may have been murdered by the mob instead of committing suicide, and the murder of director William Desmond Taylor, and those aren't as treated sensationally as other material.
Suicides are written with some embellishment in this book, i.e. Paul Bern, Jean Harlow's second husband, Marie Prevost, whose starving dog ate parts of her body, Lupe Velez, a.k.a. the Mexican Spitfire, and Carole Landis. Separate sections are written for Velez and Landis.
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