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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Sex, Deviance, and Drama from the Golden Age of American Cinema

  1. 4 out of 5

    Heidi The Reader

    Scandals of Classic Hollywood is about movie star scandals, obviously, but also shows the development of Hollywood and how public and private forces place tremendous pressure on the stars of film. I think it's extraordinary than anyone in the business can be normal at all considering what they go through. The scandals discussed in this book are more than just smut. They're history lessons..." introduction The most fascinating piece of this book is the role of fixers and reputation creators. It mak Scandals of Classic Hollywood is about movie star scandals, obviously, but also shows the development of Hollywood and how public and private forces place tremendous pressure on the stars of film. I think it's extraordinary than anyone in the business can be normal at all considering what they go through. The scandals discussed in this book are more than just smut. They're history lessons..." introduction The most fascinating piece of this book is the role of fixers and reputation creators. It makes you wonder what's real and what's simply fairy tale in celebrity magazines now. In what other profession do we act like we know a person simply because they were doing their job? "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." introduction The other side of Hollywood that this book gives you an inside look at is the creation of film ratings and the history of censorship. "To save their monopolies, then, they had to figure out a way to appease the calls for censorship, but to do so without actually appointing a government censor. Thus the studios came together and created an organization — the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America — and elected to censor themselves." pgs 22-23 Each chapter focused on a different person or couple and it seemed like most of the chapters ended in tragedy. Judy Garland, Lombard and Gable, and Fatty Arbuckle are a few who come to mind, but there are a dozen others. "Whenever a Hollywood star dies young, it's a tragedy. Whenever a Hollywood star dies young while serving her country, leaving behind her much-beloved husband, with whom she had been very publicly and blissfully happy, the tragedy amplifies into something else entirely." pg 132 Before TMZ, fans got their gossip through magazines or newspaper columnists, perhaps not with the immediacy that exists now, but there was still tremendous pressure to behave or appear to behave a certain way. The pressure totally messed up some stars. Like Judy Garland: "Today she remains one of Hollywood's most enduring stars and the most compelling reminder of what our affection for the idols on the screen, and the machinery that feeds it, does to both body and mind. Her life suggested hope and despair in equal measures, begging you to love her and damning you for doing so." pg 178 I also loved learning about the eccentricities and bizarre behaviors a few of the stars were known to display. I mean, I always knew Marlon Brando was kind of weird, but this book took it to a whole new level for me... "He loved to play congas and marimbas, and specialized in playing the recorder with his nose; he owned a pet raccoon; and he was known to make an entire meal out of peanut butter. (When asked why he didn't fall for Desire costar Jessica Tandy, his answer: 'She doesn't like peanut butter.')" pg 223 Recommended for fans of classic film or those who want to learn more about Hollywood and its stars. Scandals of Classic Hollywood entertains while it educates.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    I hate to give this book such a poor review, but as an avid reader of Anne Helen Petersen's blog, and her columns on sites such as The Hairpin, this book was a HUGE letdown. For someone with little to no knowledge of the star system and old hollywood, "Scandals" is possibly a three star read. As a primer however, you are likely to learn more from reading wikipedia. For those of us classic hollywood junkies there is nothing here to interest you. There literally are dozens of books on these actors I hate to give this book such a poor review, but as an avid reader of Anne Helen Petersen's blog, and her columns on sites such as The Hairpin, this book was a HUGE letdown. For someone with little to no knowledge of the star system and old hollywood, "Scandals" is possibly a three star read. As a primer however, you are likely to learn more from reading wikipedia. For those of us classic hollywood junkies there is nothing here to interest you. There literally are dozens of books on these actors and the star system that created them/covered up scandals that go much deeper in depth than anything Petersen has written about here. For meticulously researched, and juicy hollywood history with legit historical analysis, check out anything written by Wesleyan University Film Historian Jeanine Basinger, she won't disappoint. Lastly, there are some painfully obvious errors that someone with a "PhD in Celebrity Gossip", should not have overlooked; such as her statements on Evelyn Nesbit and Montgomery Clift. Are we really still questioning whether Clift and Liz Taylor had a romantic relationship in 2014? Taylor herself has long cleared up that they were strictly platonic. After waiting with anticipation for this book to be released I was surprised how amateur it was.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jeri

    I've been waiting for this book for six months-- and, like any Hollywood movie, it was bound to struggle to live up to the anticipation. Don't get me wrong; for any lover of classic hollywood, this is a good read, and I'd probably have loved it if I hadn't been devouring Anne Helen Peterson's online articles--whether through Hairpin, Buzzfeed, her blog, or other media--for a couple years now. But I have and therein, I think, lies the slight disappointment with the book. While the promos promise t I've been waiting for this book for six months-- and, like any Hollywood movie, it was bound to struggle to live up to the anticipation. Don't get me wrong; for any lover of classic hollywood, this is a good read, and I'd probably have loved it if I hadn't been devouring Anne Helen Peterson's online articles--whether through Hairpin, Buzzfeed, her blog, or other media--for a couple years now. But I have and therein, I think, lies the slight disappointment with the book. While the promos promise the chapters are not repeats of the Hairpin articles, that is a bit disingenuous. The articles aren't transplanted verbatim, but many of the stories (Fatty Arbuckle, Clara Bow Dorothy Dandridge, Montgomery Clift, and others) are repeats and cover familiar territory. Still, a good story is always worth rereading. What I miss most in the book is the lively, irreverent, voice Peterson uses in her online pieces, which often read like a personal email to you, the reader. SHE IS FUNNY. Her side remarks on Hollywood hypocrisy and comments on the plethora of images that populate her online text are vastly entertaining and sadly missing in this text Read this comment on a still of Lana Turner in a turban from the Postman Always Rings Twice: "I mean, THIS IS IT, right? Like there’s no need for another seduction scene ever? And the high-waisted white shorts and the knotted crop top ... does Urban Outfitters carry those in my size? Can someone teach me how to make my towel topknot look like that? Do I need to live in the South, seduce some guy who comes to the diner owned by my old boring husband, and get him to kill said husband? " Isn't that great? Doesn't it make you want to just hang with her, watching old movies and debating whether Joseph Cotton or Melvyn Douglas would be better movie star boyfriends? Unfortunately, there's too little of that in the book. While it's not academic, one can feel the influence and the self-restraint (believe me, I've written enough deadly literary analyses myself to know). There is an occasional glimmer of the old style, as in this sly comment on Marlon Brando's engagement: "And as she [his fiancee] told the press, she didn't love Brando because he was a star, but as a man like any other. Plus, she was a 'sloppy dresser' with 'odd manners,' and the two had first met at his analyst's office--clearly, they were meant for each other." I snorted latte out my nose at that one, and it made me long even more for the AHP of Hairpin. Now, it's doubtless a monetary/copyright thing, but there's also an odd dearth of photographs--especially in the Kindle version that I read, which delegates the few images to the back of the book, where I only found them after I'd finished reading. A good part of the power in her online writing lies in the plethora of accompanying imagery, whether movie stills, shots of gossip mags or whatever. They not only allow the reader to visualize the commentary, but also engage in the analysis with AHP. Plus, as I said, her comments on the images are darned funny. That interaction is lacking in the book. Nevertheless it says something that I started reading this Tuesday night, and finished by 11 am Wednesday morning. And that I'm actually bothering to write a Goodreads review, which I don't usually do. It's a good and enjoyable read. AHP has really carved a niche for herself in her analysis of Hollywood semiotics and what it means for the rest of us. She takes gossip and makes it respectable. I'd definitely encourage you to head over to the Hairpin though, and spend a day reading the articles. UPDATE: I just finished reading some of the other reviews. In AHP's defense, I think many of the readers missed the point of the book, when they complain the incidents she cover aren't "scandalous." As she states herself, the point of the book is Hollywood's manipulation of lives and media to its own interests, not just the relating of "gossip." Moreover, it's not about whether we see these events as scandalous now, but about views and values THEN.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Taylor Reid

    Anne Helen Petersen has a Ph.D. in Celebrity Gossip (really!), and she puts it to good use analyzing celebrity scandals of the classic film age. What makes this book impossible to put down is that Petersen not only shares the dirt on the scandals themselves, but also considers what the actions, coverage, and public perceptions tell us about the times." Anne Helen Petersen has a Ph.D. in Celebrity Gossip (really!), and she puts it to good use analyzing celebrity scandals of the classic film age. What makes this book impossible to put down is that Petersen not only shares the dirt on the scandals themselves, but also considers what the actions, coverage, and public perceptions tell us about the times."

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Ahlstedt

    I received an advanced uncorrected proof of this book from the publisher. The title intrigued me and I was expecting a juicy tell-all in the manner of "Hollywood Babylon." This book, however, was written by a woman who got a Ph.D. in "the history of the gossip industry" (?). So the book, while lavishly provided with footnotes, isn't really what I was expecting. Most of the scandals that are included are already well-known (Fatty Arbuckle, Clara Bow, James Dean, etc.) so this book didn't really c I received an advanced uncorrected proof of this book from the publisher. The title intrigued me and I was expecting a juicy tell-all in the manner of "Hollywood Babylon." This book, however, was written by a woman who got a Ph.D. in "the history of the gossip industry" (?). So the book, while lavishly provided with footnotes, isn't really what I was expecting. Most of the scandals that are included are already well-known (Fatty Arbuckle, Clara Bow, James Dean, etc.) so this book didn't really cover much new ground. The main focus of the book was how powerful gossip columnists covered potentially damaging information, but there really wasn't much debunking or exploration of some well-known scandals (Clara Bow and the football team escapade wasn't even mentioned, nor was there any speculation as to the reason for the suicide of Jean Harlow's husband). So if someone has never done any reading about old Hollywood scandals, this might be an interesting starting point. But for anyone who is already familiar with these stories and was hoping for new information, you'll be disappointed.

  6. 5 out of 5

    kris

    Hollywood's ability to shape the image of their stars is boggling: from the early silent film stars of the 10s-20s to the 'angry men' who challenged the status quo in the 50s, illuminating the cages created for them by their agents, studies, directors, and tabloids is...interesting. And I think that's really all I can say about this book: it's...interesting. While the 'types' of things kept out of public reach are by no means scandalous to our jaded eyes, seeing the apparatus laid out is enthral Hollywood's ability to shape the image of their stars is boggling: from the early silent film stars of the 10s-20s to the 'angry men' who challenged the status quo in the 50s, illuminating the cages created for them by their agents, studies, directors, and tabloids is...interesting. And I think that's really all I can say about this book: it's...interesting. While the 'types' of things kept out of public reach are by no means scandalous to our jaded eyes, seeing the apparatus laid out is enthralling. But the book itself is dry and almost disappointingly shallow: there's no wit, no life, no depth to the stories of these 'idols' who were built and performed and carved to serve a very specific purpose. And that lack of dimension makes it rather slog-like. Entertaining, but I finished it feeling unsatisfied.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Scandals of Classic Hollywood by Ann Helen Peterson is a 2014 Plume publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. As I began reading this book it struck me that one of the worst scandals portrayed here was the Fatty Arbuckle scandal which occurred in the silent film era. This the story the author started out with. The more I read the more I had to remind myself that back in the 20's , 30's, 40's and 50's these Hollywood icons were Scandals of Classic Hollywood by Ann Helen Peterson is a 2014 Plume publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. As I began reading this book it struck me that one of the worst scandals portrayed here was the Fatty Arbuckle scandal which occurred in the silent film era. This the story the author started out with. The more I read the more I had to remind myself that back in the 20's , 30's, 40's and 50's these Hollywood icons were indeed committing huge scandals by having extramarital affairs, abortions, multiple marriages and divorces and drug use. Before the 1960's Hollywood played up the glamor and insisted on morality clauses. What was not common knowledge was how very powerful the studios were . MGM was quite successful at covering up some really big scandals and were also instrumental in the complete meltdowns of some of it's biggest and most loved stars. These stories are all very familiar but the author did an admirable job of telling these stories in such a way that they seemed fresh. Many of these stories are just plain sad. Dorothy Dandridge and Judy Garland both died in the their forties of drug overdoses. Both were victims of the system , of the powerful studios and the men in their lives. The gossip columnist were also willing to play along with the studios in a tit for tat way. They would go along with whatever story the studios came up with or would look the other way if they were tossed juicy information in return. The studios had their own physicians who covered up things or helped to enable addictions or arranged abortions. In one instance they even convinced an employee to take the blame for an actor's crime, including jail time! I think the main problem with a book like this being published now is that most of us are so jaded by the antics of today's celebrities, these scandals are not even scandals. They seem rather tame in most instances and so I am not sure how fascinating these stories will be for some. I did find myself looking up YouTube videos of Mae West, and Jean Harlow and was interested in some of the historical information on these ladies who were way ahead of their time. Hollywood was no different really in those days, it was just handled better and differently so that the image was kept in tact. These days scandal sells and celebrities seem to almost embrace it. I have on occasion mourned the old Hollywood glamor and the false face celebrities put forward leading the naïve public to believe the actors and actresses were living upstanding and moral lives and were genuine and humble. The illusion created was amazing when you think about it. Even when stars behaved badly the way it was spun for the public kept the star's image in tact and although one's neighbor was divorced and now shunned because of it, it was OK for Clark Gable to marry and divorce or Humphrey Bogart to divorce and then marry a much younger woman. One thing though remained a huge secret and that was homosexuality. Many stars during these years were open within the Hollywood circle while others never admitted to anything. If the truth had ever come out that really would have been a scandal in those days, since many were sex symbols. Again, the studios were on top of it even though there were a few close calls. Again, by today's standards most of the stories here are not shocking or a scandal or controversial. If I had not heard most of these stories so many times before the history alone would have been interesting reading. For me personally I found the book to be more or less a rehash of common and well known facts about the celebrities featured. The book did have me thinking about some of these stars for the first time in a long while and I think I will spend a little time looking up their old movies and enjoying their performances on screen, so although I didn't really learn anything new from reading this book, it did spark a renewed interest in the movies and stars of the years prior to the drastic changes that took place in the 1960's For those who are not familiar with this era, this would be a great book to start with. You might find it interesting to compare those days to the times we live in now. Actresses were still required to “reduce” and race is still an issue for those looking for mainstream roles. While major strides have been taken in the right direction over the years, there are still old Hollywood standards that remain alive and well. Over all this one is 3 stars.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Alvin

    Scandal is incidental to this book. It's really a sociological examination - albeit a lively one - of how the Hollywood press and publicity departments of the early-to-mid 20th century operated within the larger culture. The book avoids grand pronouncements, but this reader couldn't help but draw one rather consequential inference: Hollywood slowly and slyly undermined conservative sexual morality and traditional gender roles by pretending it's movie stars were exemplars thereof when they were v Scandal is incidental to this book. It's really a sociological examination - albeit a lively one - of how the Hollywood press and publicity departments of the early-to-mid 20th century operated within the larger culture. The book avoids grand pronouncements, but this reader couldn't help but draw one rather consequential inference: Hollywood slowly and slyly undermined conservative sexual morality and traditional gender roles by pretending it's movie stars were exemplars thereof when they were very clearly not.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Liviania

    I have been a huge fan of Anne Helen Petersen's column "Scandals of Classic Hollywood" for The Hairpin. It was funny, juicy, and beautifully illustrated by images of the stars. When I heard about her book deal, I was extremely excited. Unlike many blog-to-books, SCANDALS OF CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD is 100% new content (although it covers some of the same stars). I have mixed feelings about the result. I really miss seeing the pictures, which say so much about the star's image and presentation. I felt th I have been a huge fan of Anne Helen Petersen's column "Scandals of Classic Hollywood" for The Hairpin. It was funny, juicy, and beautifully illustrated by images of the stars. When I heard about her book deal, I was extremely excited. Unlike many blog-to-books, SCANDALS OF CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD is 100% new content (although it covers some of the same stars). I have mixed feelings about the result. I really miss seeing the pictures, which say so much about the star's image and presentation. I felt that the humor was intact, but there was a bit too much reaching for contemporary connections. The conclusions of each chapter are going to age pretty quickly. The information, however, is still fascinating. SCANDALS OF CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD covers the rise and fall of the studio-managed star, the Hays Code, the MPAA, and more through the lens of several major stars. The stars in question include Dorothy Dandridge, Judy Garland, James Dean, Montgomery Clift, Fatty Arbuckle, and more. All are interesting people with eventful lives and careers, sometimes triumphant, sometimes tragic. Now, not all of this is novel stuff. There's certainly been plenty written about James Dean. But it is a wonderful introduction, and a great reminder that so much of Hollywood is a carefully controlled image. Even better, it is an introduction to how Hollywood got that way. I miss the columns. It was fun to wait for each of them, and to read the comments. But I certainly enjoyed SCANDALS OF CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD (the book) quite a bit, and recommend it to any fan of Petersen's writing or of old-time movie stars. The truth is pretty wild and strange indeed, except for where it was exaggerated for entertainment.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Autumn

    Is it weird that I fantasize about BEING Anne Helen Petersen? All working at Buzzfeed, all getting paid to read Photoplays from 1929, all having a vast network of academic colleagues who care deeply about Fatty Arbuckle? Anyway, this book is the greatest. Her writing makes these juicy profiles accessible to anybody who loves celebrity gossip, even people who are brand new to the gossip of the past. But the real meat is in her analysis and her ability to draw clear parallels between, say, Wallace Is it weird that I fantasize about BEING Anne Helen Petersen? All working at Buzzfeed, all getting paid to read Photoplays from 1929, all having a vast network of academic colleagues who care deeply about Fatty Arbuckle? Anyway, this book is the greatest. Her writing makes these juicy profiles accessible to anybody who loves celebrity gossip, even people who are brand new to the gossip of the past. But the real meat is in her analysis and her ability to draw clear parallels between, say, Wallace Reid and Johnny Knoxville. Also, she provides lots of entry points for further research and pays homage to all her critical predecessors. It would have been nice to have more photos, but I love that this book is at a budget-friendly, young-person friendly price point and format.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rubal

    i'm a novice to the golden age of hollywood. so, 99% of the book was news to me. and think that's a factor in why i loved it a lot even though there are a lot of negative GR reviews about it from people who were already aware of everything that was analysed in the book. the romance chapters were the easiest to get through ( reminded me a lot about how PR handles this type of stuff now, the rumours, blind items etc). but the ones about judy garland, dorothy dandridge, montgomery clift etc were hea i'm a novice to the golden age of hollywood. so, 99% of the book was news to me. and think that's a factor in why i loved it a lot even though there are a lot of negative GR reviews about it from people who were already aware of everything that was analysed in the book. the romance chapters were the easiest to get through ( reminded me a lot about how PR handles this type of stuff now, the rumours, blind items etc). but the ones about judy garland, dorothy dandridge, montgomery clift etc were heartbreaking. the studio system was such a cesspit. i loved the writing, especially because of its feminist gaze. actresses' struggles from the era were the focal point of a lot discussion and i really liked finding about some of the trailblazers like mae west. her life seems so inspiring and i'm going to read everything i can find about her. i do hope the recent revelations about clark gable will be added to the book ( the author's piece for buzzfeed was excellent https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/... ) in a future edition. finally, this book made me want to watch these classic movies so i made a public letterboxd list of all the ones mentioned in it. here, if you'd like to use it- https://letterboxd.com/mockingbird13/...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Belinda

    In my other life, I am a film scholar in the making. I am (slowly!) writing a postgraduate thesis on stardom and classical Hollywood. I was familiar with Anne Helen Petersen from her column Scandals of Classic Hollywood on the Hairpin and her blog Celebrity Gossip Academic Style (which now appears to be defunct), so when I saw this book on Netgalley I could not request it fast enough. Gossip! Scandal! Stardom! Hollywood! All of my favourite things. I was super chuffed to receive an ARC and start In my other life, I am a film scholar in the making. I am (slowly!) writing a postgraduate thesis on stardom and classical Hollywood. I was familiar with Anne Helen Petersen from her column Scandals of Classic Hollywood on the Hairpin and her blog Celebrity Gossip Academic Style (which now appears to be defunct), so when I saw this book on Netgalley I could not request it fast enough. Gossip! Scandal! Stardom! Hollywood! All of my favourite things. I was super chuffed to receive an ARC and started it straight away. And, then... Well, let's just say there's a reason it's taken me six months to write this review. Scandals of Classic Hollywood is about the scandals that occurred during Hollywood's classical era (about 1910-1960). Petersen argues that scandals occur when actions of a star violate the status quo. Using an understanding of the star as an embodiment a particular way of life that resonates with the public, scandals occur when this embodiment is in some way disrupted - for example, when "Saint Ingrid" Bergman had an affair with a married director and got pregnant out of wedlock, the scandal was not so much her actions but how her actions violated her star image. All good so far. I agree with that completely and there are some good things about this book. The scandals that Petersen discusses are well selected and very interesting. All of them are entertaining to read about and were very scandalous at the time. She also brings light to some really important events in film history that shaped the film industry and how movies were made but are very little known about outside film studies, like the Fatty Arbuckle scandal. This is a good thing. But (there's always a but!) this book has some really big negatives as well. Basically, Petersen is a really sloppy writer. Focusing on the Arbuckle scandal, Petersen describes his off-screen life as "a page straight out of a Dickens novel" before using examples that demonstrate that she has in fact never read a Dickens novel and doesn't understand what she is referring to. She says "Arbuckle was the star-director-producer powerhouse long before the age of Clooney and Affleck, which is part of the reason the studios were so threatened by him." What studios? How were they threatened, since you've just told us that studio Paramount gave him an awesome deal and "championed him as a master director, with an artistic touch." What about Charlie Chaplin, Arbuckle's contemporary who was also a star-director-producer powerhouse long before the age of Clooney and Affleck? Also, "age of Clooney and Affleck"? What does that even mean? What about Clint Eastwood, Warren Beatty, all of the other ones before Clooney and Affleck? Petersen is implying that Arbuckle was the kind of star that wouldn't be seen again for eighty years but, although this makes the story sound better and more scandalous, it's just not correct. Statements like that abound throughout the whole book and are very frustrating for a knowledgeable reader who knows that the truth is being manipulated for to make the story sound better (which, in all fairness, it does). The thing is, Anne Helen Petersen has a PhD in film studies. One of her supervisors was the famous film scholar Janet Staiger. This kind of academic sloppiness is either plain laziness or demonstrates a complete lack of respect for her readers. Petersen has said that her book was not "legit" in academia because she got paid to write it. I suspect it was more that it demonstrates really poor scholarship. It's absolutely entertaining and a ripping read but so was Kenneth Anger's Hollywood Babylon. It would be perfect to read by the beach on a holiday but read with a grain of salt. Two and a half stars.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ari

    "In the end, Hollywood forced Dandridge to embody one of the stereotypes she loathed so fiercely: the tragic mulatto, a woman accepted in some ways by both the black and white communities but rejected in other crucial, heartbreaking ways. [...] Yet Dandridge's life, and its parallels to the present, illuminates how far our society has come-and how far it isn't" pg. 196 I agree with many of the reviewers so far in that this book was lacking the classic Anne Helen Petersen humor that her Hairpin a "In the end, Hollywood forced Dandridge to embody one of the stereotypes she loathed so fiercely: the tragic mulatto, a woman accepted in some ways by both the black and white communities but rejected in other crucial, heartbreaking ways. [...] Yet Dandridge's life, and its parallels to the present, illuminates how far our society has come-and how far it isn't" pg. 196 I agree with many of the reviewers so far in that this book was lacking the classic Anne Helen Petersen humor that her Hairpin and even Buzzfeed columns (love that she's over there now!) are rife with. There are some sly digs in the text but I preferred her obvious comments especially when captioning/describing photos. I'm convinced I constantly say this but I reiterate: more photos would have been fantastic. There wasn't even a photo of James Dean! The chapter on Judy Garland was the one I found the most intriguing simply because I only know her from the WIZARD AND OZ. I had no idea about her body struggles, addiction, etc. I didn't mind that some of the chapters were redundant, I could read about Montgomery Clift, Marlon Brando and Dorothy Dandridge all day. Their stories are heartbreaking but the modern day parallels and comparisons AHP drew worked and kept the material refreshing. It is a good introduction for those looking to understand the Golden Age of Hollywood, a period I'm still learning about. Though I do wish it had had more chapters/stars and photos but it is well-written and the author is clearly passionate about the topic.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    This book is pretty much a rehash of rumors & stories about old Hollywood that have been told a million times. I recommend this book if you haven't read alot of books about old Hollywood stars but if you have skip it. Its not worth your time. This book is pretty much a rehash of rumors & stories about old Hollywood that have been told a million times. I recommend this book if you haven't read alot of books about old Hollywood stars but if you have skip it. Its not worth your time.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Melani

    It’s an interesting read, though I suspect people who know more about classic (1900-1950’s) Hollywood are going to find it a fairly dull re-tread. For the most part Petersen simply retells some of the scandals of Hollywood and she attempts to tie those scandals to the studio system: its development, heyday, and eventual downfall. Even more than that, she’s looking at the image of each individual and showing how that image could either bind them into rigidity, creating the scandals when they step It’s an interesting read, though I suspect people who know more about classic (1900-1950’s) Hollywood are going to find it a fairly dull re-tread. For the most part Petersen simply retells some of the scandals of Hollywood and she attempts to tie those scandals to the studio system: its development, heyday, and eventual downfall. Even more than that, she’s looking at the image of each individual and showing how that image could either bind them into rigidity, creating the scandals when they stepped too far out of the accepted allowance for that image, or allow them to survive a scandal because the incident was within allowable parameters for that iconic image. Petersen takes two stars from each decade of movie making, starting in the 1900s and describes their lives and the press and image that shaped their fortune. She selected one star who survived their ‘scandal’ and one who was destroyed by it. While I was reading it I was very much aware of what the public expectations for a particular image were and how that contributed to their stardom and perhaps downfall. For example, Mae West completely revolutionized sexuality in the early 30s, and she played on that. However, she was also in her early 40s when her stardom was at its peak. The revelation of this, plus her wild (for the time) behavior, sunk her star and people stopped going to see her movies. In addition, Fatty Arbunkle, who played the genial, sexless fat man and when it was revealed he had sexual desire, it completely sunk him. This isn’t exactly the argument that Petersen is making in the book, but it’s what was constantly on my mind as I read the book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Niamh

    Once again, Anne Helen Petersen has written a book that I wish I'd written myself, and one I can only hope to emulate. Having devoured and adored her exploration on unruly women in modern popular culture, this book takes us way back to Classic Hollywood, starting with the original stars of the silent movies to the thriving young men that changed the outlook of the film industry with one well-placed stare. Covering everyone from Pickford to Brando, Petersen examines some of Hollywood's most explo Once again, Anne Helen Petersen has written a book that I wish I'd written myself, and one I can only hope to emulate. Having devoured and adored her exploration on unruly women in modern popular culture, this book takes us way back to Classic Hollywood, starting with the original stars of the silent movies to the thriving young men that changed the outlook of the film industry with one well-placed stare. Covering everyone from Pickford to Brando, Petersen examines some of Hollywood's most explosive scandals- some that we would consider tame compared to the work of today. Even as a film student- and an aspiring academic writer in the star study area- I didn't know of a number of the stars involved, but I feel as though this book has given me a frank education in the tumultuous world of Hollywood. There are tabs all over the book, but the most are in the chapter about Judy Garland, a fascinating figure who deserves whole books dedicated to her star persona, it is just that complex. Petersen writes frankly and with a careful bridge between scholarly and popular-culture-esque to create a book that both educates and makes you feel as though you're reading Photoplay in the 1950s. A brilliant book about some of the most prolific Hollywood stars. I can't wait to see what else Petersen writes.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sabrina

    An interesting read, perfect for those, like myself, who feel that they don’t know enough about old Hollywood (and love some light analysis with their gossip). It gives some insight into how the old studios worked, with some hints at how things haven’t largely changed only on the surface. It was a good starting place, but if you already know the basics, it might not be anything new. Also, fun to know where Anne Helen Petersen got her start in celebrity analysis. Definitely check her out if that An interesting read, perfect for those, like myself, who feel that they don’t know enough about old Hollywood (and love some light analysis with their gossip). It gives some insight into how the old studios worked, with some hints at how things haven’t largely changed only on the surface. It was a good starting place, but if you already know the basics, it might not be anything new. Also, fun to know where Anne Helen Petersen got her start in celebrity analysis. Definitely check her out if that sounds like your kind of thing.

  18. 4 out of 5

    4cats

    The title says it all, if you love classic hollywood then this is for you. Petersen devotes chapters to Pickford and Fairbanks, Arbuckle, Gable and Lombard, Judy Garland, and other legendary stars and how the studio worked to protect them from scandal and the impact the studios had on them.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    A nice read on some of the most notable scandals involving classic Hollywood. There were a couple of incorrect dates in it: Carole Lombard died in a 1942 plane crash, not in 1941, and Clark Gable died in 1960, not 1961. Still, a nice easy read for movie buffs.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Osborn - Book Of Salem

    Maybe this book is more suited for beginner classic Hollywood fans...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    Probably the best written book on the subject - reads more like analytical research than clickbait bs.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    With the captivating title "Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Sex, Deviance, and Drama from the Golden Age of American Cinema" and bold eye catching cover art it was hard to resist reading this fascinating dishy book about historical Hollywood! Movie buffs in particular will be able to add titles of rare classic movies noted in the book to their viewing lists. The book opens at the turn of the 20th Century, and examines how public opinion influenced by scandal and hysteria could make or break a care With the captivating title "Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Sex, Deviance, and Drama from the Golden Age of American Cinema" and bold eye catching cover art it was hard to resist reading this fascinating dishy book about historical Hollywood! Movie buffs in particular will be able to add titles of rare classic movies noted in the book to their viewing lists. The book opens at the turn of the 20th Century, and examines how public opinion influenced by scandal and hysteria could make or break a career of a young star/starlet. The publicity of celebrities were carefully monitored and controlled by big film industry (Paramount Pictures, MGM etc.) also gossip fan magazines for at least half of the century. The Pickford/Fairbanks marriage was eventually accepted though it resulted from carefully concealed yet forgiven infidelity/adultery. Wallace Reid was a notorious drug addict, yet among the first portrayed as a "recovery victim" seeking to overcome the "perils of addiction" earning an outpouring of public sympathy. The most famous case of Fatty (Roscoe) Arbuckle (1887-1933) who was acquitted of the rape/murder charges of Virginia Rappe (1921) who died 4 days after attending a party hosted by Arbuckle. The trial, public hysteria, and misconception destroyed his reputation, and his career never fully recovered. The "Flapper" of the 1920's known as the "It Girl": Clara Bow. Bow was among the first to reject the expectations for a woman to focus on snagging a husband to complete her life in respectable marriage. Bow enjoyed stringing several men along at one time, without commitment. (Jean Harlow would do the same) Bow also drank and gambled heavily, and was involved in a lawsuit where her former friend/employee attempted to extort money. In the 1930's the curvy, sexy, vivacious vamp/vixen image of "The Blonde Menace": Jean Harlow gained public sympathy concerning the suicide death of her husband Paul Bern. Rising to fame in the depression era, avoided Hollywood nightlife, led a mysterious yet life without scandal.. beautiful, witty, funny with one line innuendos: Mae West. West was the first to fully accept her gay fans, she became an American icon and cult figure. True love, romance, public fascination and intrigue surrounded the powerful marriages of Spencer Tracy/Katharine Hepburn, Clark Gable/Carole Lombard, and Humphrey Bogart/Lauren Bacall. These fascinating power couples showed that in spite of demanding film careers, ex spouses, noticeable age differences, the Hollywood marriage could work. It was interesting to note that Bogart was among the first actor's to endorse the notion of "open marriage" (1937). Bogart and his third wife were dubbed "The Battling Bogart's" their public fights became filler for fan magazines. The "femme fatale" sultry, glamorous film co-star: Lauren Bacall would become Bogart's next wife. They complimented one another, joking with the press, became a favorite celebrity couple. Judy Garland (1922-1969) was the first celebrity to be followed and psychologically analyzed in a manner similar found in celebrity culture today. Garland was victimized by the industry that created her fame and success: closely followed by the media from her rise in fame from the "Wizard of Oz", her multiple marriages/divorces, mental breakdowns relating to substance and alcohol addiction, she was never far from public fascination, speculation, compassion, and loved by millions of fans. The angry, rebel, bad-boy, image was portrayed by Montgomery Clift, Marlon Brando, and James Dean. All these actors defied and rejected the stereotypical image of the "father knows best" paternal protector with a beautiful girlfriend or wife at his side. These men didn't marry at all, (except Brando) and questions regarding sexual orientation will always remain. Curiously, all these actors have been affiliated with Elizabeth Taylor who was known (like Mae West) to fully accept and embrace her gay friends/fans. The underlying causes/reasons, and mystery, for these actors avoiding societal norms wasn't addressed. This was an enjoyable read, perfect for those who don't have time to read the history or biographies of individual celebrities. There are pages of good photos included. Anne Petersen holds a PhD in celebrity (social) science from Whitman College, she is an educator and notable blogger at "Hairpin", and lives in Walla Walla, WA. This is her first book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cameo

    I had hoped for more sex, deviance and drama. Instead I got a break-down of how the studios controlled and killed their stars. It's kind of like reading a car crash - it's horrible and should never have happened, but you can't seem to look away either. I'm guessing it's so hard to understand how and why Hollywood functioned the way that it did back then, because of how different the world is today - and in some cases really isn't. Overall it was intriguing to read about old Hollywood and imagini I had hoped for more sex, deviance and drama. Instead I got a break-down of how the studios controlled and killed their stars. It's kind of like reading a car crash - it's horrible and should never have happened, but you can't seem to look away either. I'm guessing it's so hard to understand how and why Hollywood functioned the way that it did back then, because of how different the world is today - and in some cases really isn't. Overall it was intriguing to read about old Hollywood and imagining the old style glamour and sharpdressed men, but intertaintment and writing- wise, it was a letdown. It would have worked better as a documentary with images and movie clips.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Coy

    This was a fun read! Most "classic Hollywood" books ignore the silent era, but the stories of the early stars set the standards for fame, artistic control, sex appeal, and how Hollywood would respond to its stars' tumultuous personal lives. While Petersen places these stories in their historic context, but I would have liked seeing a more historical analysis and a final chapter wrapping everything up. Where do we see change over time? And most especially - so what? Why do these scandals matter - This was a fun read! Most "classic Hollywood" books ignore the silent era, but the stories of the early stars set the standards for fame, artistic control, sex appeal, and how Hollywood would respond to its stars' tumultuous personal lives. While Petersen places these stories in their historic context, but I would have liked seeing a more historical analysis and a final chapter wrapping everything up. Where do we see change over time? And most especially - so what? Why do these scandals matter - or do they?

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mollie

    4 ⭐️’s (Great).

  26. 4 out of 5

    Hesper

    Felt a lot like a less snappy rehash of Petersen's Hairpin column. Entertaining, and only informative if you know nothing about the era. Otherwise, it feels breezy and maybe a little loose with the details. Where Scandals shines is in its dissection of the studio publicity spin machine, though each chapter's conclusion tends to read like an afterthought. A bit frothy overall. Felt a lot like a less snappy rehash of Petersen's Hairpin column. Entertaining, and only informative if you know nothing about the era. Otherwise, it feels breezy and maybe a little loose with the details. Where Scandals shines is in its dissection of the studio publicity spin machine, though each chapter's conclusion tends to read like an afterthought. A bit frothy overall.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sirena

    I liked this book but it wasn't really about scandals. It was more about how these celebrities from Old Hollywood were different and how they made their mark. For instance, Clark Gable & Carole Lombard's marriage may have been considered "scandalous" as he was still married when their affair began, but it's one of the greatest love stories of Old Hollywood. Everyone knows Judy Garland struggled with drugs but I wouldn't really call that scandalous. Perhaps at the time it was, but it was also kep I liked this book but it wasn't really about scandals. It was more about how these celebrities from Old Hollywood were different and how they made their mark. For instance, Clark Gable & Carole Lombard's marriage may have been considered "scandalous" as he was still married when their affair began, but it's one of the greatest love stories of Old Hollywood. Everyone knows Judy Garland struggled with drugs but I wouldn't really call that scandalous. Perhaps at the time it was, but it was also kept under wraps. And who's really to blame for that? The book asks the questions was it the studio or was it her mother? This book is really well-written but if you're looking for juicy and "scandalous" this is not it. It left me feeling a little flat and although I lost interest by the middle, I soldiered on to the end.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    I first came across Anne Helen Petersen's excellent blogs on stardom - past and present - a few years ago. This collection brings together her thoughts on the golden era of Hollywood, how stars were created and sometimes destroyed, from an academic perspective. It's a fun, sparky read that avoids both academic jargon and bloggers' slang. However, the main problem with this book is that print media, unlike the internet, already has a wealth of in-depth material on this very subject. It might be a I first came across Anne Helen Petersen's excellent blogs on stardom - past and present - a few years ago. This collection brings together her thoughts on the golden era of Hollywood, how stars were created and sometimes destroyed, from an academic perspective. It's a fun, sparky read that avoids both academic jargon and bloggers' slang. However, the main problem with this book is that print media, unlike the internet, already has a wealth of in-depth material on this very subject. It might be a revelation to young media studies enthusiasts, but those of us who love classic film will already know most of these stories. Nonetheless, it's worth reading for Petersen's pithy opinions and her analysis of how fan magazines depicted the lives of the stars.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Racysteed

    First, I am a huge fan of Anne Helen Petersen's work. Her column for The Hairpin was something to look forward to each time. This book, however, is not her strongest work. Most of the material was recycled from her column. Well-known rumors and scandals involving the subjects in this book weren't even mentioned. Worst of all, it ends rather abruptly instead of tying the work together as a whole. It felt especially unfinished, since there are lengthy introductions for each section. I would not re First, I am a huge fan of Anne Helen Petersen's work. Her column for The Hairpin was something to look forward to each time. This book, however, is not her strongest work. Most of the material was recycled from her column. Well-known rumors and scandals involving the subjects in this book weren't even mentioned. Worst of all, it ends rather abruptly instead of tying the work together as a whole. It felt especially unfinished, since there are lengthy introductions for each section. I would not recommend buying this book. Read thehairpin.com columns and enjoy yourself much more.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea

    What do our scandals du jour say about our society? I enjoyed this one - salacious gossip once the salaciousness has worn off and in a scholar's tone. While it is gossip, certainly, the book is more about WHY this particular celebrities and those particular scandals grabbed the attention of the world - and why they still interest us today. Individual chapters stand alone, making this almost a short story collection, easy to read in bits and pieces. No narrative thread to keep track of, just a bit What do our scandals du jour say about our society? I enjoyed this one - salacious gossip once the salaciousness has worn off and in a scholar's tone. While it is gossip, certainly, the book is more about WHY this particular celebrities and those particular scandals grabbed the attention of the world - and why they still interest us today. Individual chapters stand alone, making this almost a short story collection, easy to read in bits and pieces. No narrative thread to keep track of, just a bit of pop culture history.

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