Sunday, June 29, 2014

Hollywood scandals

Hollywood has been the mecca for scandals ever since its founding. I have always been a lover of movies and thus, interested in the people who make them. While there are plenty of scandals that TMZ covers daily, I want to concentrate on the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle has always fascinated me, but not for his talent. The only thing that I previously heard about Arbuckle was the accusation that he had brutally killed Virginia Rappe. In Room 1219: the Life of Fatty Arbuckle, the Mysterious Death of Virginia Rappe, and the Scandal That Changed Hollywood, by Greg Merritt, I learnt more. Room 1219 tells the tale of Arbuckle’s rise to fame and his stunning fall from grace – from Hollywood superstar to its first pariah. Merritt gives an account of the sensational accusations and trials of Roscoe Arbuckle, following a party held Labor Day weekend, 1921. The events of that weekend became a major newspaper story, and one of the first “trials of the century.” Merritt not only covers the three trials and what happened in room 1219, but also the climate of Hollywood at this time. He takes a look at all the evidence, including autopsy reports, trial transcripts, police and coroner testimony. Merritt clears up misunderstandings about both Arbuckle’s life and Rappe. The lives of two people were ruined that weekend in 1921, Rappe lost her life and Arbuckle lost everything. This book proves that truth be damned, people will say and believe anything they want. To learn the truth read Room 1219.

Charlie Chaplin may have been everyone’s lovable” Little Tramp” but Peter Ackroyd’s book, Charlie Chaplin presents his difficult personal life. This biography shows the brilliance of the star, but also his blemishes as he struggled his way from poverty to worldwide fame. In his personal life he was morose, private and obsessive, with an unrelenting perfectionism that annoyed his fellow actors and directors. What was scandalous about Chaplin was his politics and his sex life. It was reported that Chaplin had sex with more than 2,000 women!  When asked to describe his ideal women, he replied “I am not exactly in love with her, but she is entirely in love with me”. Chaplin was well known for his preference for young women, as he married and discarded a number of them. In the mid-40s a scandal erupted involving Joan Barry, who filed a paternity suit against him. Because of his political leanings, the FBI was also interested in Chaplin. They named him in four indictments, the worst being breaking the Mann Act (transporting women across state line for the purpose of sex). If convicted he would have been sentenced to 23 years in jail. He was acquitted of the charges and proven not to be the father of Barry’s child. Yet, he was forced to pay child support until she turned 21. Newsweek stated that this was “the biggest scandal since Fatty Arbuckle’s murder trial in 1921”

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