As a best-selling biographer of numerous Hollywood greats—Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, Howard Hughes, and Cary Grant among them—Charles Higham has been privy to the public and private joys, tragedies, scandals, and desires of many of the darlings of Hollywood’s red carpet. In and Out of Hollywood is Higham’s own life story, replete with a vibrant cast that includes stars from Marlene Dietrich to Clint Eastwood to Leonardo DiCaprio.
Born into a life of privilege in 1930s England, Higham endured a difficult childhood. To escape a tortured family situation, Higham married early despite his awakening homosexuality and fled to Australia with his wife to begin a new life as a poet, journalist, and editor. By the 1960s he had settled in Hollywood. It was here that he struck gold by finding and writing about the reels of Orson Welles’s legendary unfinished Latin American epic film It’s All True, long thought lost in a Paramount vault. This momentous find rocketed Higham to the A-list. He soon became a New York Times feature writer and sought-after biographer lauded for his pioneering style.
In and Out of Hollywood contains Higham’s personal reflections on the stars he has known over the past forty years. From his insider perch he reveals Hollywood’s inner life: how Bette Davis influenced the death of her second husband; how Walt Disney’s dark vision devolved into bright animated features he astonishingly despised; how leading actors clandestinely participated in gay activities. Higham’s memoir also charts his work as a political commentator, historian, poet, and playwright; describes the dangers and excitements of gay life before AIDS; and recounts his eventual discovery of a lasting relationship. In and Out of Hollywood is a lively tour through several decades of changing times and personalities behind the scenes of the American film world.