Our new feature, Earbuds, brings you reading companion guides for your favorite podcasts.
We kick off this new feature with Karina Longworth’s critically-acclaimed podcast “You Must Remember This,” an in-depth, thoroughly researched, and endlessly fascinating look at the most salacious stories of classic Hollywood and the little-known fringes of entertainment in the 20th century.
Personally, my favorite episodes include the Manson series and the Mia Farrow episodes (did you know Mia and her sister went to the same ashram as the Beatles? And left because the maharishi was a mega-perv? This is some real ’60s-style tea, ladies and germs).
Anylumps, here is some literature, both fiction and non-, from the annals of classic Hollywood to supplement your listening of “You Must Remember This.” Immerse yourself in the glamor (and the grit) of that fascinating time in America’s entertainment history…
Most of us know the story of Charles Manson from the seminal book by lawyer Vincent Bugliosi, Helter Skelter, but do you know the inner Hollywood aspects? Charlie was obsessed with being famous, whether that meant becoming a huge folk star through a friendship with Beach Boy Dennis Wilson or, you know, becoming a cult leader that slaughtered innocent people. Tomato, to-mah-to. With ties to Roman Polanski, Sharon Tate, Terry Melcher (famed music producer and son of Doris Day), and more, it was clear that Manson was eager to weasel his way into the Hollywood/Laurel Canyon scene of the late 60s…and he almost succeeded.
Before she wrote this comprehensive book of essays on the most fascinating and titillating figures of Classic Hollywood, I followed Anne’s blog and writing on The Hairpin about star culture’s evolution from the last century to this, including tabloid culture, celebrity narrative, and more, breaking star power down into carefully calculated moves by publicists and the media. Petersen shines a light on the Golden Age of Hollywood with this book, with chapters from Clara Bow to Montgomery Clift.
Avid Reader: A Life by Robert Gottlieb
This highly-anticipated memoir isn’t out until mid-September, but I’m already psyched about the juicy tidbits that legendary agent Robert Gottlieb divulges, as teased in this Vanity Fair article. Gottlieb essentially gave birth to the salacious celebrity tell-all as we know it today, starting with Katharine Hepburn and Lauren Bacall, who actually took up an office in the Knopf HQ to write everyday, sometimes getting treats for the publishing peons. Can you imagine Bacall passing you a sprinkled donut before your Monday morning meeting? Bogie, take the wheel.
This is one of the first “grown-up” novels that my friends and I devoured, and which I’ve revisited several times since my pre-teen days. One of Sandra Dallas’s first books, this tells a story very similar to Marilyn Monroe’s. May Anna Kovacks grows up with her best friends in the rural town of Butte, Montana before being plucked out of obscurity and rising to stardom, but not before witnessing firsthand the seedy underbelly of Hollywood fame during the 1950s. Even if you’re not a hormonal pre-teen like I was, this one will make you feel all the feelings (I’m told this is something pre-teens say!!)
Here’s another novel that blurs the lines between the fact and the fiction of mid-century Hollywood. It was even turned into a movie in the 70s with Donald Sutherland and Karen Black, two Hollywood head honchos in their own right. The Day of the Locust tells the story of an art director who falls in love with an actress in the 1930s, amidst the Great Depression and the onset of the famed “studio system” that Tinsel Town would honor for decades.
Watch Me by Anjelica Huston
It’s not that Jack Nicholson ever really seemed like a stand up guy, but this compulsively readable memoir from Anjelica Huston makes it absolutely clear, in no uncertain terms, that he was a real dodo bird (she doesn’t put it this lightly, rest assured). This second memoir of hers follows up where A Story Lately Told, her first, left off, and packs even more of a punch this time around. Anj certainly holds no bars here, and that’s why we love her. Where my unapologetic ladies at, heyyyy.
The story of how this book came to be is spellbinding in and of itself: during her lifetime, the Hollywood bombshell Ava Gardner, shrouded in scandal and mystery, told the most discrete details of her life story to co-author Peter Evans. However, when all was said and done, she refused to let him publish it. When she passed away, the book was published, and it was filled with all the dirty dish on her husbands Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw, and of course, Frank Sinatra. Uncensored and unfiltered and at her very best, this tell-all is not to be missed.