Hollywood Babylon – Kenneth Anger

Hollywood Babylon is a book by avant-garde filmmaker Kenneth Anger which details the purported scandals of famous Hollywood denizens from the 1900s to the 1950s. The book was banned shortly after it was first published in the U.S. in 1965, and remained unavailable until reprinted ten years later. Upon its second release in 1975, The New York Times said of it, ‘If a book such as this can be said to have charm, it lies in the fact that here is a book without one single redeeming merit.’ The Daily Beast described Anger’s book as ‘essentially a work of fiction. There is no doubt that many—if not all—of the stories Anger shares in his slim bible have no merit.’ Film historian Kevin Brownlow repeatedly criticized the book, citing Anger as saying his research method was ‘mental telepathy, mostly’. … The book details alleged scandals of Hollywood stars from the silent era through to the 1960s, including: Charles Chaplin, Lupe Vélez, Mary Nolan, Rudolph Valentino, Marie Prevost, Mary Astor, Wallace Reid, Olive Thomas, Jeanne Eagels, Thelma Todd, Errol Flynn, Frances Farmer, Juanita Hansen, Mae Murray, Alma Rubens, John Gilbert, Barbara La Marr, Ramon Novarro, Jean Harlow, Carole Landis, Lana Turner, Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe. … The book’s 1975 edition featured graphic images such as the scene of the traffic accident that killed Jayne Mansfield, a photograph of Carole Landis after her suicide, images of director and screenwriter Paul Bern following his suicide, a photograph of Lewis Stone as he lay dying on a sidewalk, and uncensored images of the Black Dahlia‘s corpse. Although many of Anger’s claims have been denounced as untrue since the book’s initial publication, it is nonetheless responsible for many oft-quoted urban legends. For example, it claimed that Clara Bow engaged in sex with the entire USC football team, including a young John Wayne, a fallacy which has been debunked several times. …”
The story of Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon

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