Scandals of Classic Hollywood

Scandals of Classic Hollywood

Sex, Deviance, and Drama from the Golden Age of American Cinema

Additional Formats
  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780142180679
  • 304 Pages
  • Plume
  • Adult


Gossip meets history—a compulsively readable collection of Hollywood’s most notorious clashes and controversies in the spirit of Hollywood Babylon
Believe it or not, America’s fascination with celebrity culture was thriving well before the days of TMZ, Perez Hilton, Charlie Sheen’s breakdown and allegations against Woody Allen. And the stars of yesteryear? They weren’t always the saints that we make them out to be. BuzzFeed columnist Anne Helen Petersen is here to set the record straight with Scandals of Classic Hollywood. 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 popular column on the Hairpin, but featuring 100% new content, Scandals of Classic Hollywood is sensationalism made smart.


Praise for Scandals of Classic Hollywood

“Engaging…Petersen is an author for our age.” –The Boston Globe

“Insightful.” –TIME Magazine

“Clear and convincing…Although Petersen’s book benefits from intelligent analysis of archival research, she writes with the verve of an enthusiast.” –LA Times

“Terrific and thoughtful and fascinating.” –NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour

“Smart, relevant, and fun…think TMZ with a PhD.” –Bitch

“Compulsively readable.” –The Rumpus

“Compulsively readable…[Petersen] sheds light on often-repeated myths with impeccable research and razor-sharp analysis.” –Yahoo

“[This] dishy book delivers the juicy anecdotes readers crave.” –NY Post

“Dishy as hell.” –Refinery29

“Not merely a rehash of salacious old Hollywood gossip, Petersen revivifies flattened images of Hollywood icons…Wide-ranging and surprisingly thoughtful.” –Kirkus

“Brisk and lively.” –Library Journal
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