It was published in 1975, and for years thereafter author Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon set the standard for juicy, tell-all star guides. The book covered the scandal waterfront from the silent movie era through the 1960’s, and it still makes for entertaining reading.
Hello, everybody. Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie guys, here today to note that by today’s standards, Hollywood Babylon is relatively mild stuff. Cocaine, orgies, sensational divorces, out-of-the-closet revelations, mobsters on the back lot, mental breakdowns, booze and drugs, rehab… the works. Old stuff to us now.
Thanks to the insatiable thirst for scandal on the internet, we now get a breathlessly assembled menu of Hollywood hijinks on a daily basis. It all goes to prove the old saying — the more Hollywood changes the more it remains the same.
In honor of Anger’s pioneering tome, we’ve assembled a short Hollywood Babylon quiz linking famous names covered in the book along with their offscreen indiscretions. Try and match the two.
1) Question: Charlie Chaplin may have been a silent screen genius but he was certainly a busy guy in the love and lust department, which sometime entailed court appearances. Which of these woman was NOT involved with Chaplin? a) Oona O’Neill; b) Lillita McMurray; c) Pola Negri; d) Mildred Harris; e) Joan Crawford; or e) Joan Barry?
2) Question: “Mexican spitfire” Lupe Velez committed suicide in 1944 at the age of 36 after making miserable the lives of which of the following: a) John Gilbert; b) Gary Cooper; c) Johnny Weissmuller; d) Clayton Moore; or e) Clifton Webb?
3) Question: In July of 1948, Rex Harrison walked into the Pacific Palisades home of his mistress (at the time, he was married to actress Lilli Palmer), and discovered her dead body. His lover had just overdosed on sleeping pills. Who was she? a) Bette Grable; b) Frances Farmer; c) Gail Russell; or d) Carole Landis?
4) Question: Part of the Robert Mitchum legend is that he was arrested and jailed after attending a summer 1948 party at the Hollywood cottage of starlet Lila Leeds. What was the charge? a) Drunken driving; b) petit larceny; c) cheating on his studio expense accounting sheets; or d) smoking marijuana.
5) Question: Distinguished character actor Albert Dekker revealed an intimate part of his private life when he hung himself in his bathroom 1968. What was his secret? a) He was a cross dresser; b) he left a note confessing to a series of burglaries; c) he enjoyed using handcuffs; or d) he had had a sex change operation.
That’s it. See if you can come up with the correct answers without referring to another source. After that, enjoy yourself as you consult a copy of Hollywood Babylon.