Secrets From The Golden Age Of Hollywood
Ursula Andress' Bikini Scene Was Iconic, Though She Wore Even Less In The Novel
In colorized photos from Hollywood's Golden Age, we see the stars we know as we might have encountered them in in the flesh. History doesn't have to stay in black-and-white; thanks to modern technology we glimpse the vivid tones of silk, satin, and velvet; the ruby red lipstick and glint of blue eyes staring back at us. The medium of the day, whether photographs or celluloid, was limited to blacks, whites and greys, but the spirit of the age was one of vibrant color. Take a look at these eternal stars, and brush up on some facts you didn't know, while drinking in the luxury and fantasy of the bygone Golden Age of Hollywood. You might just learn something as you feast your eyes on sights seen anew.
For instance, you may have seen the famous picture of Sophia Loren giving Jayne Mansfield the side-eye -- the setting was a party thrown by Paramount Pictures in Beverly Hills in 1957. Mansfield is all but spilling out of her dress, and -- in the most famous picture from that moment -- Loren looks none too thrilled. Loren says she felt Mansfield was about to "explode" out of her clothes, and that, out of the many pictures snapped that evening, the famous "side-eye" photo is "the one that shows how it was."
The first Bond Girl, Ursula Andress played Honey Rider in 1962's Dr. No, and set a high bar. The shot of her emerging from the water in her white bikini with a white British army belt remains the most iconic Bond-girl moment of all time, according to regular polls of viewers and critics. Andress designed the bikini herself, with Tessa Prendergast, the movie's costume director.
She had little choice -- after arriving in Jamaica, she reportedly couldn't find anything in shops that fit her 5'6" 36-24-36 figure. Forgoing the bikini and just wearing the belt would have been more faithful to the source material; in Ian Fleming's novel, Honeychile Rider emerges from the surf wearing only the belt, and nothing else. It would have been a bit difficult to get a scene like that into a mainstream movie in 1962, though.
The Beautiful Joi Lansing Finally Found Love, With A Woman
In the era of the Blonde Bombshell, Joi Lansing was a Monroe for the small screen. She played the girl who ensnared Superman (George Reeves) in the bonds of marital bliss, and on The Beverly Hillbillies was Gladys Flatt, the curvy coquette we were supposed to see as Lester Flatt's wife. Lansing struggled to find love in real life. She had flings with boldface men including Frank Sinatra, George Raft, and Mickey Rooney, but her first three attempts at marriage were brief. Her fourth marriage lasted over a decade, but there's reason to question its nature.
On the set of Bigfoot (1970), a low-budget horror film that would turn out to be her last, she met a woman named Alexis Hunter. “Here I am in this monkey suit for such a low-budget stinker of a film," Hunter recalled. "They were gluing hair on my face, spray-painting me and applying these fake teeth. It was just awful. And in walks in this unbelievably beautiful human being." The pair quickly fell in love. But in the ‘60s, same-sex relationships were forbidden for celebrities, so the pair came up with a ruse, pretending that Hunter was Lansing’s “sister.” The couple enjoyed three years of blissful romance before Lansing’s tragic passing from breast cancer in 1972 at the young age of 44.
Gina Lollobrigida And Sophia Loren, Battle Of The Bellissimas
What is it about a bitter rivalry that keeps us young? Is it the venom for someone that makes us want to outlive our enemies even if it’s just for one day? Rather than bonding over the fact that they’re two Italian women who’ve managed to achieve fame in their home country and abroad, Gina Lollobrigida and Sophia Loren have found themselves embroiled in a nasty feud for their entire adult lives.
Initially they sniped at each other in the press over bust size, and Lollobrigida even accused Loren of making up the feud in order to get good press. They remained silent on the issue until Lollobrigida turned 90 when she once again opened the floodgates of tea saying, “I was not looking for any rivalry against anyone: I was the No. 1. I succeeded only thanks to myself, without any producer supporting me. I did everything alone.”
Errol Flynn Was A Train Wreck. Sorry, Jamaica
Errol Flynn rose to fame as a swashbuckling hero in films like Captain Blood and Robin Hood, but his later-in-life off-screen exploits may ultimately overshadow his movies. He moved to Jamaica full-time, upping the glamour quotient of the town of Port Antonio, but also behaving a bit like a bull in a China shop. He was, at best, an irrepressible party animal and self-destructive alcoholic. He may also have been a sex offender and aspiring human trafficker.
Flynn had his own 65-acre island off the coast of Jamaica, Navy Island, which he allegedly won in a card game (and later, allegedly, lost in a card game). He also allegedly drove his Cadillac into a swimming pool and allegedly released a live alligator into the streets of Port Antonio. He also allegedly wanted to turn the town's fancy Victorian hotel into a classic New Orleans-style brothel. Surely some of the stories surrounding Flynn in Jamaica are myth -- but with all those "allegedly"s ... you have to think something is true.
Richard Burton's 'Drinking Man's Diet' Worked For At Least One Day
Richard Burton was known to have a couple drinks. He didn't shy away from wine or spirits. He was, eh -- ok, he was a big drunk. Burton's massive intake of alcohol was legendary, and it hurt his career and relationships in various ways. It's really no laughing matter. Except...
Burton, who also struggled with his weight, saw a way to turn his drinking habit into a weight-loss regimen. There's really nothing more to say about this plan, other than to tell you how he thought this might work. From a 1969 entry in his journal:
I’ve decided to go on a mild diet, called 'The Drinking Man’s Diet,' to see if I can lose a few pounds gently. This morning in pyjamas I was 13 stone 2 pounds [184 lbs.]. I’d like to be 12 stone 7 pounds [175 lbs.].
He then describes his lunch at a Parisian restaurant with his wife, Elizabeth Taylor:
I stuck to my diet and had a whisky and soda before lunch, followed by a half dozen belons [oysters], a steak au poivre, a salad with French dressing, and a hefty lump of cheese. I drank Lafite ‘60, about two glasses, and two or three brandies after the cheese with sugarless and creamless coffee. Later that night I had a couple more whiskies and soda. Apart from water that is all I took in that day. This morning the scale showed a loss of between four and five pounds. I was very surprised.
Prince Rainier Banned Grace Kelly's Movies In Monaco
Grace Kelly was a Hollywood beauty, famed for her performances in High Noon, The Country Girl, and High Society; she was also perhaps Alfred Hitchcock's favorite muse, having acted in Dial M For Murder, Rear Window and To Catch A Thief. She crammed a lot into her six-year movie career, which ended when she married Prince Rainier of Monaco and she became Princess Grace.
Kelly gave up acting, but evidence suggests she didn't intend to. Before getting married in what was called the "wedding of the century," she indicated she would continue to act, telling a reporter that she was "reading a dozen different scripts, trying to choose among them." She explicitly said "I'm never going to stop acting." Days later, Rainier stated "I don't want my wife to work," and declared that he and his fiancee were happy with the decision. To further sever her from her previous life, Rainier had Grace Kelly's banned in Monaco.
Six years later, Alfred Hitchcock came calling, trying to lure Kelly out of retirement for the lead role in Marnie. The citizenry of Monaco was said to be outraged at the thought of their Princess playing a kleptomaniac, so she turned down the role, which went to Tippi Hedren.
Rock Hudson Was Hollywood's Most Famous 'Lavender' Groom
Rock Hudson’s sexuality was one of Hollywood’s worst-kept secrets. The box office star was a heartthrob leading man who had women swooning over him. In 1955, reporters at Confidential magazine threatened to publish an article exposing Hudson’s closeted behavior. His agent, in an attempt to squash the story, hastily arranged for Hudson to marry his pretty young secretary, Phyllis Gates.
Gates always insisted that it was a legitimate marriage, not a "lavender marriage," as unions arranged for gay stars were known. But most people maintained that Rock Hudson was legitimately gay, and it is unfortunate that he had to exist in a time when that wasn't okay, but that's an ugly part of history that is thankfully almost behind us.
That Was Really Elsa Lanchester's Hair In 'The Bride Of Frankenstein'
Elsa Lanchester was a successful British stage actress, but all it takes is that one iconic role to achieve immortality. She will always be remembered as the titular character from The Bride Of Frankenstein, even though she only appears on screen in her classic costume for four minutes in the film. (The actress actually had more screen time than that, because she also played the part of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.)
The makeup and particularly the hair took the horror-movie franchise in a new direction, imparting a kind of chic macabre style -- as opposed to Frankenstein's Monster, who is square-headed and boring. Though you might assume the dramatic 'do, which was inspired by a famous sculpture of the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, was a wig, but you'd be wrong. The actress was given a Marcel wave -- a type of perm -- and the hair was then stretched over a wire frame to achieve the famous cone shape.
Pier Angeli Was The Love Of James Dean's Life
James Dean was an emotional, impulsive cat -- something that helped him excel at acting in his short life. He fell in love with Italian actress Pier Angeli, but it didn't last. Angeli's mother forced her daughter to break it off because Dean wasn't Catholic. Dean also knew that this one was different from the other starlets he'd romanced. "I wouldn’t marry her unless I could take care of her properly," he told a close friend. "And I don’t think I’m emotionally stable enough to do so right now."
Though their relationship was brief, it left a mark. Angeli married Vic Damone not long after she and Dean broke up, and Dean seemed to realize he'd blown his shot at the love of his life. On November 24, 1954, the day of Pier and Vic's wedding, Dean was spotted sitting on his motorcycle outside the church. When the couple emerged, he peeled away loudly -- not the classiest move, but he was James Dean after all.
Angeli's marriage to Damone lasted four years. Her career continued, but with diminishing returns, and she returned home to make movies in Europe. She died in 1971 at the age of 39 from an overdose.
Mamie Van Doren Was So Hot, Even Rock Hudson Wanted A Piece
We all know now that Rock Hudson had a big secret for most of his career -- he was gay, yet by concealing his orientation from the public he managed to stay a heartthrob and box-office draw for years. Part of the ruse involved putting Hudson into heterosexual scenes for the press, whether they were arranged dates with female stars or even a so-called "lavender" marriage. Early in her career, Mamie Van Doren was set up to go with Rock Hudson to the Golden Globes. A friend told her that Hudson wouldn't try anything: “You’ll have nothing to worry about. He’s gay.”
As Van Doren tells the story, her sex appeal was such that even a gay man couldn't resist. After the date, Rock took her home and then invited himself in for "coffee." Van Doren recalls that "We had coffee and all of a sudden I felt his arms around me." She claims that Hudson tried to go all the way with her, but he was foiled by her "very full crinoline skirt."
Eartha Kitt's Origin Story Is Incomplete
Born Eartha Mae Keith, the girl would be a Catwoman came to be on January 17, 1927, on a cotton plantation outside of North, South Carolina. Her mother, Annie Mae Keith, was a mix of Cherokee and African descent, but the identity of her father was a mystery. One thought is that her father was the son of the owner of the farm, but no one knows for sure.
Kitt's mother moved in with a black man who rejected Eartha because of her complexion. She left her mother to live with her aunt, who was abusive; when Annie Mae died, the young Eartha took off for to Harlem, New York, to live with a relative and attend Metropolitan Vocational High School.
Here's the kicker: This relative, Mamie Kitt, may have been Eartha's biological mother after all.
Howard Hughes Designed A Special Bra For Jane Russell
Despite great effort, Howard Hughes' contribution to film is mostly forgettable -- the man made better airplanes than movies. But he did discover Jane Russell, and that's something to be proud of. Russell was 19 years old, and working in a doctor's office when Hughes walked in -- she was just the kind of curvy siren he'd been seeking for his next movie, The Outlaw. He told her he could make her a star, and she signed a seven-year contract.
Hughes was famously obsessed with Russell's bust, and as the film's director he tried to feature it as often as possible. When he didn't think the camera was capturing Jane's chest vividly enough, he put on his engineer's thinking cap and designed a special bra for the actress that used curved steel rods to cantilever her breasts upward -- it was an underwire bra as designed by a captain of industry. It was also extremely uncomfortable.
“Howard decided it wouldn’t be as hard to design a bra than it would be to design an airplane,” Russell recalled. “[But] when I went into the dressing room with my wardrobe girl and tried it on, I found it uncomfortable and ridiculous. Believe me, he could design planes, but a Mr. Playtex, he wasn’t.”
Russell secretly ditched Hughes' contraption for the actual filming. She wore her own bra, stuffed with tissue for a little extra oomph.
John Wayne, Hollywood's Anti-Liberal And Commie Hunter
Amid a sea of far-left liberals, John Wayne’s conservatism was scandalous in Hollywood. When Wayne was on the board of Screen Actors Guild in the 1940s, his views were opposite of almost all the other members. Consequently, Wayne took political matters into his own hands by co-founding the Motion Picture Alliance For The Preservation Of American Ideals (MPAPAI, or MPA).
The goal of this MPAPAI, of which Clark Gable was also a member, was to fight the leftist movement in Hollywood. This was during the time of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s contributions to The Second Red Scare with his intense communist accusations. Wayne, an extreme anti-Communist as well, was a huge supporter of McCarthy and was partly responsible for the black list of suspected communists in Hollywood.
Gene Tierney Was A Beautiful But Doomed Star
Darryl Zanuck, head of 20th Century Fox, once called Gene Tierney "the most beautiful woman in film history." She had been a debutante in New York, and although both Fox and Warner Bros. sought her for their movies when she was just 17, her well-to-do family was suspicious of the movie industry. They worried that acting in movies might be undistinguished and low-paying.
Tierney proved to be a successful actress; she is best known for Laura; other big films include Leave Her To Heaven (which earned her a Best Actress Oscar nomination), The Ghost And Mrs. Muir and Heaven Can Wait. But she was haunted by mental health issues, which first manifested as a puzzling insecurity. The lauded beauty worried that her teeth protruded, and she sometimes talked out of the side of her mouth to avoid showing them. She dieted obsessively, due to a belief that she was overweight (and she so wasn't). When she saw herself on the big screen for the first time, she was horrified by her "squeaky" voice, so she took up smoking -- a lot -- to try to lower its tone.
As her mental state deteriorated over the years, it affected her work. She had to drop out of the 1953 adventure romance Mogambo (and her replacement, Grace Kelly, won a Golden Globe for her performance). She endured 27 shock treatments, which were thought to mitigate her severe depression, but found no comfort. In 1958, she tried to start a new life, taking a job as a saleswoman in a dress shop, but was noticed by a customer.
Claudia Cardinale Continued Acting To Cover Up An Unwanted Pregnancy
Tunisian-born Claudia Cardinale won a "Most Beautiful Italian Girl In Tunisia" contest, and the prize of a trip to the Venice Film Festival. There she was noticed by numerous producers, and her acting career seemed about to take off. Cardinale herself wasn't actually sure he wanted to be an actress, though. Then she was raped by a French airman at the age of 17, and became pregnant.
Young and soon to be a mother, Cardinale signed a contract with movie producer Franco Cristaldi as a way of managing her potentially scandalous situation. She began acting in films and worked up to the seventh month of her pregnancy, at which point Cristaldi sent Cardinale to London to have the baby, under the pretense that she was going there to learn to speak English. For the first seven years of his life, Cardinale's son was told that Claudia was his sister, and that his grandparents were his parents. When a journalist got wise to the facts, Cardinale went public, telling her story in two popular Italian weekly news magazines.
A Woman Charles Bronson Had Never Met Left Him Her Entire Fortune
It’s not out of the question for celebrities to receive strange gifts from their fans, but a lump sum of cash is rare. When Audrey Knauer passed away in 1997 she left Bronson her entire $300,000 estate in her handwritten will. She reportedly wrote: "Under no circumstances is my mother, Helen, to inherit anything from me – blood, body parts, financial assets, etc."
So Audrey Knauer didn't want her mother to get any money -- it's a bummer, but family rifts happen. But the next sentence of her will was just bizarre:
I bequeath to Charles Bronson, the talented character actor, and what he doesn’t want, he can pass thru (sic) to the Louisville Free Public Library.
Knauer’s family argued that she wasn’t in her right mind when she wrote the will, and that Bronson shouldn’t receive any of the superfan’s money. The Louisville Free Public Library hoped that they would receive the windfall from Knauer so they turned down the star’s offer of $10,000 in hopes that they’d just get the whole thing. Bad move by the library -- when Bronson and Knauer’s family settled out of court, the library got bupkes.
Yvonne De Carlo Was A Movie Star Before 'The Munsters'
When Vancouver-born Yvonne De Carlo turned 18, she and her mother made a pilgrimage to Hollywood where she took home the second place trophy in the Miss Venice beauty contest and fifth in that year's Miss California competition. Those wins were enough to inspire her to stick around and follow her dream of becoming a screen actress. She was picked up by Paramount, but she just couldn't quite get the right role -- she tested well for everything, and was known as "the test queen at Paramount." She had better luck at Universal, nabbing the title role as in Salome, Where She Danced.
Between 1945 and 1958 De Carlo worked nonstop. She's in westerns, she's in straight comedies, she's in noir films - during this era her range was fully on display and it's that prowess in front of the camera that Cecile B. Demille saw when he hired her to play Moses' wife in The Ten Commandments. If there's any role that firmly plants her as a star in the golden age of Hollywood it's Sephora. Hundreds of women read for the part, but it was De Carlo's "saintly" energy that earned her the role in this classic film.
Marlon Brando Directed One Movie, And Ruined His Career
If you're challenged to name a Marlon Brando movie from the '60s, you can blame the 1961 western One-Eyed Jacks. The film was originally to be directed by Stanley Kubrick, but Paramount fired him and Brando took over directorial duties. What followed was an exercise in indulgence, as the project ate up triple its original budget and the three month production schedule stretched to eight.
Also notable was Brando's overindulgence at the craft services table; due to his fluctuating waistline, his costume had to altered day-to-day. As a method actor, Brando was known for doing take after take to get a scene right; he was the same as a director, only moreso. When Paramount finally pried the picture away from him, the studio then had to chop his seven hours of footage down to something watchable (the movie's final running time was two hours, 20 minutes). After One-Eyed Jacks, Brando made Mutiny On The Bounty, an epic flop that he intentionally ruined, and spent the rest of the decade making unremarkable pictures for Universal. It took him basically a decade to recover, with his comeback performance in 1972's The Godfather.
Anita Ekberg Didn't Win Miss Universe, But She Won Anyway
When Anita Ekberg was 20, she won the title of Miss Sweden, and she journeyed to New York as a special guest of the Miss America pageant. The American media immediately fell in love with her; a fawning report in Life magazine remarked that Ekberg was stealing the show from the actual Miss America hopefuls. "The blue-eyed blonde boasts a sunny face and stunning figure," the text enthused, "[and] a five-word English vocabulary -- yah, no, hamboorger, El Morocco, ice cream."
Ekberg met with Eileen Ford of the Ford Model Agency, and bought several hats, then returned to Sweden "with plans to learn more English words, slim her bottom four inches to meet U.S. model agency specifications, and return for a modeling career." Universal signed her to a contract, but she didn't take it seriously and was dropped -- so she returned to modeling and built up a fan following as a leading pinup. She got another chance at screen acting, and won a Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer, Female in 1956, but became more famous for her figure and her personal life. Ekberg was clearly a star, even if she wasn't a great actress, and magazines thrived on tales of her love life (boyfriends included Frank Sinatra, Tyrone Power, Yul Brynner, Rod Taylor, and Errol Flynn) and accidental-on-purpose wardrobe malfunctions.
Marlene Dietrich Was An LGBTQ Icon Back When It Was Just LG And B
Her debut role in Paramount’s Morocco allowed Marlene Dietrich the opportunity to showcase who she really was – a gender fluid performer whose androgynous image appealed to men and women. Morocco gave audiences a rare example of cross-dressing, and showed one of the first lesbian on-screen kisses in cinematic history -- which likely brought on Hollywood's censorship policies. (Although it is widely believed that Marlene Dietrich was bisexual, she could not publicly confirm this without violating the morality clause in her film contract.)
In 1931, the Motion Picture Association of America, under pressure from various ethical and moral groups, adopted the Motion Picture Production Code, which was nicknamed the Hays Code after MPAA president, Will H. Hays. Under the Hays Code, lesbian women were to be portrayed as wicked, evil people suffering from moral decay. They were to be shown as doomed, with no redemption for their immoral behavior. Marlene Dietrich’s role in Morocco did not check any of these boxes.
Mamie Van Doren Had Plenty Of Lovers, But Wilted For Clark Gable
Van Doren got her first taste of Hollywood heavyweights when Howard Hughes came prowling her way. The notorious deviant reportedly asked Mamie three quintessentially Howard-esque questions to the then 15-year-old. First was, “How old are you?” then “Do you live with your parents?” before ending with “Are you a virgin?” The precocious Van Doren responded, “You’ll never know, Mr. Hughes.”
Van Doren made numerous classic films in the trashy, sensationalist drive-in genre -- her most famous being High School Confidential. But her love life kept her in the papers. On the other hand, she passed on Prince Axel of Denmark but simpered for Clark Gable on the set of Teacher’s Pet -- in the movie, she played a nightclub singer who loses Gable to the more socially acceptable Doris Day. Van Doren confessed to nearly fainting during her kissing scene with the legendary King of Hollywood. Reportedly, Gable ranked as a better kisser than Burt Reynolds who called himself, “The Male Mamie Van Doren.”
Eva Marie Saint Was Doomed To Grubby Movies Where She Washed The Dishes
Eva Marie Saint won an Oscar for her first movie role, in On The Waterfront. She really played the female lead, and so should have been competing in the Best Actress category, but she would have gone up against obvious frontrunners Grace Kelly and Judy Garland (Kelly won). Producer Sam Spiegel listed her as a supporting actress in hopes of getting a nomination in that category, and the tactic worked, reaping not only a nomination, but a win.
Though she is among the great screen beauties of her era, Saint was typecast after On The Waterfront as a put-upon working-class girl. Alfred Hitchcock saw her for the glamorous creature she was, and cast her as the femme fatale in North By Northwest. Both the director and her co-star Cary Grant felt they were rescuing her from a career of dingy dramas. She recalled Grant saying "See, Eva Marie, you don't have to cry in a movie to have a good time -- just kick up your heels and have fun." Hitchcock, who often tried to control his lead actresses, said "I don't want you to do a sink-to-sink movie again, ever. You've done these black-and-white movies like On the Waterfront. It's drab in that tenement house. Women go to the movies, and they've just left the sink at home. They don't want to see you at the sink."
Clark Gable, The 'King Of Hollywood,' Had Bad Breath And Was Scrawny
Gable dropped out of school at 16 and worked at a tire factory in Akron, Ohio. He saw a play and decided to be an actor, eventually ending up in Oregon, where he met theater manager Josephine Dillon. Dillon, who was 17 years older than him, became his first wife; they married in 1924 and moved to Hollywood. She trained him in posture and lowering his speaking voice. She also paid for his hair styling, and put him on a fitness regimen to bulk up his scrawny physique.
Perhaps the most notable thing Josephine Dillon did for Gable was to pay for his new teeth -- which gave him the smile we're all familiar with, but resulted in halitosis. An infection in 1933, pyorrhea, had caused him to lose nearly all of them, and he wore dentures for the rest of his life. The fake teeth gave him horrible breath. He was also quite concerned with cleanliness. He took several showers a day, refused to take baths, and his sheets were changed daily.
Occult Vamp Theda Bara Was A Fake. A Big, Sexy Fake
In the early Hollywood era, fiction wasn't limited to the screen -- actors and actresses were free to write their own back stories, aided (if not guided) by studios that wanted a roster of intriguing celebrities that would sell more tickets. Theda Bara, the dominant sex symbol of the silent-film era (she never made a talkie), was the epitome of a vamp. She was also one of the great fakes in a town that thrived on fakery.
Bara's story was a swirl of exoticism; she was said to have been born in Egypt (or simply "the Sahara"), the daughter of a French woman and either an Arab sheikh or an Italian painter. Her seeming magical powers of seduction were enhanced by a supposed interest in the occult, a hot topic of the day. She was effective at portraying supernatural seductresses and vampires because people kinda sorta thought she was one.
Theda Bara was born Theodosia Burr Goodman in Cincinnati, Ohio, to a Jewish tailor born in Poland and a Swiss-born mother. She graduated from Walnut Hills High School and attended the University of Cincinnati for a couple years before leaving her hometown to pursue acting in New York.
Veronica Lake Became An Actress To Deal With Schizophrenia
Veronica Lake was among the most glamorous stars of her day, even having a signature hairstyle. When she was filming I Wanted Wings, the movie that would make her a star, she was playing a drunk character and her arm slipped, her hair fell out of place, covering her right eye. The look not only worked for the scene, it worked for Lake's career, and she intentionally wore her hair in this "peek-a-boo" style for years.
Lake was around 30 when she left Hollywood. She had never really liked it -- acting had been her mother's idea, as a kind of therapy. Lake had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at a young age. As time went on and Lake blossomed into a beautiful woman, her mother pressured her to be a star. “She lived through me vicariously,” Lake once said of her mother. “She was Veronica Lake. I wasn’t.” As she was living out her mother's dream, Lake herself turned to alcohol to deal with her despair. She departed Tinseltown in 1952, and was discovered working as a cocktail waitress in New York City a decade later. Lake was 50 years old when she died in 1973.
Lana Turner's Daughter Stabbed Her Mom's Mobster Boyfriend To Death
The term "sweater girl" refers to actresses and models who wore tight sweaters and the latest uplifting bra technology -- Jayne Mansfield and Mamie Van Doren would be prime examples of '50s-style sweater girls. But they weren't the first, not by a long shot; the very first sweater girl was Lana Turner, who earned the designation for her first film, They Won't Forget, in which she wore a tight (by 1937 standards) sweater.
Turner had seven husbands, some of them celebrities, but her most infamous relationship was with Johnny Stompanato, an ex-Marine turned enforcer for Los Angeles gangster Mickey Cohen. Stompanato and Turner frequently argued, and the arguments sometimes turned violent. In 1958, during a particularly bad fight, Stompanato threatened to kill Turner and her 14-year-old daughter Cheryl Crane, who heard the whole thing from an adjacent room. Cheryl grabbed a knife and ran in to defend her mother, and ended up fatally stabbing Stompanato in the stomach.
Marilyn Monroe Greatly Boosted Ella Fitzgerald's Career
Marilyn Monroe and Ella Fitzgerald were incredibly good friends throughout their life. The two met when Monroe when to see Fitzgerald perform in Los Angeles, the two were toon fast friends, with Monroe even helping Fitzgerald get a gig at the Mocambo.
While some accounts claim that the venue "didn't book" black artists, others maintain that Eartha Kittt and Herb Jeffries had played the Mocambo, and the reason the bookers were against Fitzgerald was her weight. Whatever the case, the gigs went over so well that Fitzgerald never had to play another small club again. When Monroe was asked about who her favorite singers were she said:
Well, my very favorite person, and I love her as a person as well as a singer, I think she's the greatest, and that's Ella Fitzgerald.