Thursday, May 19, 2011

Maria and Arnold Re-Deux: I'm Shocked, Shocked, This is Going on in Hollywood!

There's enough Hollywood sleaze in Kenneth Anger's two books to satisfy the worst schadenfreude in the best of us.  BTW, that's Liz, not looking her best ... 

The newspapers and television stations are going nuts for this Arnold-with-the-love-child thing.  Perhaps, for the aging actor, it will be just the kind of virile publicity he will need to get his macho acting mojo back.

Really.  You think I'm kidding?  In Hollywood, practically anything that is sleazy is possible, and practically all publicity is good publicity. If you don't believe me, take a gander at two of my favorite, truly tacky books about Hollywood, by the weird and wonderful Kenneth Anger: Hollywood Babylon, and Hollywood Babylon II. They are both just awful.  And lots of fun.  

Anger's penchant for a good ghoulish tale takes him way back into the police files of Los Angeles to murder and mayhem and overdoses of all kinds and lots of stuff that never hit the police blotters at all.  

W.C. Fields nose appears in the book in a photo sans Hollywood makeup, and that's a scary sight to see right there.  Broderick Crawford in drag.  Lawrence Tierney after a drunken brawl.  You want more?

Shelly Winters shown smashing Tony Franciosa in the kisser.  In a police station! Rumors of Marlene Dietrich and Claudette Colbert's cozy relationship.

There is an entire chapter dedicated to Maria Shriver's grandfather, Joseph P. Kennedy, who seems to have preceded Mr. Schwarzenegger in his talent for wife humiliation--in this case the saintly Rose Kennedy, Shriver's grandmother, was the victim.  Joe K's longtime mistress in Hollywood was Gloria Swanson. At one point, Kennedy took his wife on a trip to Europe on the Isle de France (or some such liner) and had Swanson ensconced in a suite not far aft.  Gives a whole new meaning to the nautical term "companionway."

Judy Lewis from Kenneth Anger's Hollywood Babylon II. Does she remind you of anyone?

Another story related to the recent revelations about the governator:  the story of Loretta Young and the cold, snowy winter she spent in 1935 with Clark Gable and crew filming Call of the Wild.  They were trapped up there by extremely cold weather, and, well, you can guess the rest. After which Loretta Young took a year off from the movies claiming "exhaustion."  After which she "adopted" a child and took the poor thing into her home.  

The child, Judy Lewis, was a dead ringer for Clark Gable: and Lewis now says that before Loretta Young died, she told her the truth, Gable was her father.  But, by then Gable was himself gone to his reward.

Okay this is the mildest stuff.  Lots of it in these two books is much, much tackier and you really have to be in the mood to dish, if you want to enjoy it.  Don't ever tell anyone I've read this junque. Moi?

But the stories in these books are evidence that "scandal" and "Hollywood" have been joined from the very beginnings of film history. And why do we pay so much attention? Why is the Maria and Arnold story such a big deal?

"We all have the strength to endure the misfortunes of others." La Rochefoucauld

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1 comment:

Don Meuler said...

Nothing new under the sun. And the sun always shines in Hollywood.

(Michael Jackson's nose would be just as scary...)