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Leading Ladies: The 50 Most Unforgettable Actresses of the Studio Era Paperback – March 13, 2006
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About the Author
Robert Osborne is the prime-time host and anchor of Turner Classic Movies and a columnist-critic for the Hollywood Reporter .
Molly Haskell is co-host of TCM's "The Essentials" series and the author of several books on women and film.
Turner Classic Movies is widely considered the definitive resource for classic films, featuring movies from all the major studios, unedited and commercial free.
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The brief biography discusses the career of each lady. The movies she made and the influence she had on others, and the role played by many directors and studio bosses in making them successful. There is also section called "Style Notes," and "Behind the Scenes," for each star which provides some tidbits and juicy stories. For example, it is well known that Greta Garbo and Jean Arthur were very reclusive and never opened up to the public. Clara Bow on the other hand alienated Hollywood by telling the press every sordid details of her life. Her career was tarnished by a string of love affairs and out of control life style with addiction, and a law-suit against her secretary who was stealing money and selling Clara's personal secrets. After her mother tried to kill her during sleep, she became a life-long insomniac. Louise Brooks was a beautiful, headstrong and erotically charged with sleek and bobbed hairstyle had a meteoric rise in the silent era but made serious error with her defiant behavior which annoyed Paramount Studios. She ended up in gutter and poverty until her former lover Bill Paley, the founder of CBS financially supported her for the rest of her life. Rumor has it that she turned to the "oldest profession" to stay afloat until Bill Paley came to her assistance. Marion Davis had a jealous boyfriend in the wealthy William Randolph Hearst who is known to have shot Marion's boyfriend Tom Ince in his yacht. Bette Davis was patriotic in that she organized Hollywood Canteen for soldiers passing through Los Angeles and Carole Lombard organized war bond rallies in her home state of Indiana to help in the war efforts. Bette was honored with distinguished civilian award. President Roosevelt honored Carole posthumously by awarding the Medal of Freedom as the first woman to die in the line of duty during the WWII.
Marlene Dietrich was bisexual and did not believe in monogamous relationship. She was also a strong opponent of the third Reich and refused to work for the film industry under Hitler. She devoted to her new homeland and participated in USO tours and became the first woman to earn the Medal of Freedom. Screwball comedienne Irene Dunne was nominated as the alternate delegate to the United Nations by President Eisenhower in 1959.
Greer Garson holds the record with Bette Davis for the most consecutive Academy Award nominations, five in a row from 1941-1945. During filming of Mrs. Miniver, actor Richard Ney played the role of her son and she eventually fell in love with him. MGM studio was worried that it will have negative impact on the movie and asked them to postpone wedding until the film was released.
According to Hollywood legend Susan Hayward's cancer was that the result of radioactive fallout that allegedly landed on the sets of "The Conqueror" in 1956 in Utah. Many of her costars including John Wayne, Dick Powell, Agnes Moorehead and John Hoyt developed cancer.
Myrna Loy was not afraid to speak to authority figures. In 1940s she argued with studio heads about stereotyping African Americans as servants. "What about a black person walking up the steps of a courthouse carrying a briefcase."
Once Debbie Reynolds told her friends that doing the movie "Singing in the Rain" and childbirth are the hardest things she did in her life. MGM assigned Co-star Gene Kelly to coach her numbers for the movie and he made her practice non-stop for hours until her feet started to bleed.
Ginger Rogers and her mother were strong anti-communists and supported government's efforts to rid communist sympathizers in Hollywood. Ginger's mother testified in congress about the infiltration of the movie industry. In the movie, Tender Comrade (1943), Ginger refused to read one line which said, "Share and share alike, that is the American Way." During the filming of "Forty Guns," a stuntman refused to be dragged by the horse, but Barbara Stanwyck, even at 50, did that stunt herself.
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But one thing just drove me up the walls!!!! The font is absolutely illegible: so small and light in color, it is very hard to decifer the words!!!
But overall, and excellent and interesting read.
This book is great for those who are just learning about this era and the women who made it fascinating. I would also recommend this for those who are big fans, like me, and think they know it all about old Hollywood. This book will surprise and delight you.
Quality of the book is superb, it is in a trade paperback format so it is easy to browse. Great for the short attention span crowd as well as true Hollywood scholars.
The book is full of amazing photos of the most beautiful actresses of Hollywood's Golden Age. Plus, each actress has a short life bio listed. I like how they tell the dates of birth, reason for and dates of death, along with spouse and children information too. They also write about the notable movies of each star, list their oscar wins and nomination, and tell us interesting quotes said by the star herself! They packed a lot of information in about each star!
Most people who watch the classic movies have favorite actresses that they love to see in films and read about. I did that when I first got this book, I looked them up right away and read their pages first. But, what also ends up happening is you see all the glamorous pictures of the other actresses, and you want to read about them too. I learned so much about so many actresses I knew nothing about!!
I ended up reading this book from cover to cover. Then, I also go back a lot to reference things in it like certain movies I am now interested in seeing.
This book is highly recomended for both beautiful photos and plenty of information!