The Golden Girls of MGM: Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Lana Turner, Judy Garland....

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Garbo and Crawford. Ava, Hedy, Judy, Liz. They epitomized Hollywood’s golden era. With a trembling lip or sultry eye, with a tear or song or husky whisper, they held moviegoers across America in their sway from the hard times of the 1930s through the booming postwar years. They were royalty, they were box office. They led pampered public lives—furs, jewels, limos, designer gowns, handsome escorts—that captured the national imagination. They also signed seven-year contracts with a morals clause, and the more they ...
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Overview

Garbo and Crawford. Ava, Hedy, Judy, Liz. They epitomized Hollywood’s golden era. With a trembling lip or sultry eye, with a tear or song or husky whisper, they held moviegoers across America in their sway from the hard times of the 1930s through the booming postwar years. They were royalty, they were box office. They led pampered public lives—furs, jewels, limos, designer gowns, handsome escorts—that captured the national imagination. They also signed seven-year contracts with a morals clause, and the more they slipped, the more the secret abortions, efficient cover-ups, legal legerdemain, and dropped charges bound them to the wizard in their Oz, Louis B. Mayer. The slips are here, and the successes, the personal triumphs as well as the private tragedies. Here are the Blonde Bombshell Jean Harlow, who made movie history (at nineteen) with the line “Do you mind if I slip into something more comfortable?”; Sweater Girl Lana Turner, whose career spanned four decades even if “she couldn’t act her way out of a paper bag”; and bad girl Ava Gardner, whose screen test prompted Mayer to say, “She can’t act. She can’t talk. She’s terrific.” From Jeanette MacDonald and Norma Shearer to Princess Grace, Dame Elizabeth Taylor, and Million Dollar Mermaid Esther Williams, the sixteen portraits in this lively volume, each accompanied by the star’s filmography, tell the tales that lay hidden behind the gossip and the glories of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s glamorous golden girls. 16 pages of photographs enhance these intimate insider biographies of the most radiant stars in movie mogul Louis B. Mayer’s galaxy.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Wayne, a seasoned biographer of studio-era stars (Eva's Men; Gable's Women; etc.), serves up fun dish on the gals from the studio that once billed itself as having more stars than there are in the heavens. She presents them all-Jeanette, Joan, Judy, Ava, Liz and more-in breathless style, paying equal attention to the undergarments they didn't wear and to the men they loved most. With the adeptness of someone familiar with her subjects and not afraid to read minds, Wayne eases in and out of the stars' thinking as they love, drink, act, divorce and attempt suicide. Throughout all these goings-on, there is the overwhelming presence of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. In Sunset Boulevard, Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) complained it was the pictures that got small, but this book makes the case that it was the studios that died and ruined movies. All Wayne's subjects appear to be controlled by studio head Louis B. Mayer, through both his direct actions and the influence of his thinking. As Wayne tells it, he kept lovers from marrying and dictated roles his stars resented. Yet generally, the stars remembered him fondly, e.g., Jeanette MacDonald, who said after his death, "One of the greatest sadnesses of life is to realise [sic] how much you owe someone when it's too late...." For diehard fans, there's not much new here, but what is, is choice. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Wayne, the author of eight other celebrity biographies, reveals some advice that she received from Joan Crawford: "The bigger they are, the less they tell. Talk to the writers, security guards, chauffeurs, cameramen; the `little people.' They knew more about me than I did." Wayne must have taken her advice, because this Hollywood Babylon-style tell-all does reveal some little-known facts about the "Golden Girls" of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, including Crawford, Greta Garbo, Lana Turner, Judy Garland, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly, and Jeanette McDonald. McDonald and Nelson Eddy, for example, really were in love. Turner was married seven times but never to the love of her life, Tyrone Power, who was in love with Garland. It goes on and on. Sadly, many of these stars are unknown to younger theatergoers, but this fun, gossipy book makes a good (if sensational) entr e to their careers and milieus. Recommended for public libraries.-Rosellen Brewer, Monterey Cty. Free Libs., Salinas, CA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Still another recycling of Wayne’s earlier recycled material about Sex Lives of the Stars (Gable’s Women, 1987, Marilyn’s Men, 1992, etc.). Here perhaps she reaches a dead end, having crunched all her re-recyclings into one tome. To be sure, Jeanette MacDonald is a new subject for her--thank heavens Sharon Rich’s lengthy Sweethearts (1994) was available for easy strip-mining into Wayne’s bodiless, fact-strung sentences about MacDonald’s romance with costar Nelson Eddy. After he raped her, they fell deeply in love and had endless trysts. When Jeanette suffered a miscarriage that wildly alienated Eddy (he thought she’d had an abortion), her only way out was to marry bisexual Gene Raymond, six years her junior. Jeanette could not love him, not after Eddy (whom she bedded during her engagement), but she did maintain "purity of soul." Did Raymond abandon her for a gay tryst on their wedding night? Soon he was up on a morals charge, she was pregnant again with Nelson’s child, there were the many suicide attempts, the shock treatments. . . . Then Wayne moves blithely on to Greta and Gilbert and Greta’s other bedmate Mercedes, and Ava and Artie and Mickey and Frank, and Grace and the male half of Hollywood.

What next: Warren’s Women crushed into one volume?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786711178
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 11/25/2002
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.44 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.40 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 23, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    So sad what they went through

    I always used to think that I missed the golden age of Hollywood. Reading this book made me realize that the so called "Golden Age" was like that for a reason. Every aspect of ones life in hollywood was controlled to make it seem that way. To make you want to be like your favorite movie star. Some of what these ladies had to go through and how they were treated was a little hard to read. Now I'm not so sad that I missed this era.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2003

    We've Hit a New Low in Publishing

    While the information given here may be interesting, the writing style and editing leave a lot to be desired. There are errors and differentiation in spelling from page to page and run-on sentences. The writing style is choppy, like first grade. She repeats the same lines and certain information from section to section. It makes me wonder if anyone edited this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2002

    Golden Girls of MGM: Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Lana Turner, Judy Garland....

    I was delighted with The Golden Girls of MGM. We're familiar with Judy Garland, Lana Turner and Greta Garbo, but Jane Ellen Wayne gives us over ten biographies and these legendary actresses, and their films. Wayne's style is great. I've read all her books because she has a style of writing that is most enjoyable, humorous and occasionally sad. The Golden Girls of MGM is worth reading and keeping in your library.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2002

    Golden Girls of MGM: Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Lana Turner, Judy Garland....

    The great MGM knew how to manufacture stars and The Golden Girls of MGM proves it. I enjoyed every minute of the ten or more bios included. This book reveals the true stories of Hollywood's Golden era.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2002

    Golden Girls of MGM: Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Lana Turner, Judy Garland....

    I bought The Golden Girls of MGM after reading the sensational review in Publishers Weekly. Hollywood glamour faded in the sixties but it all comes back reading this book. If you're a movie buff,enjoy! Five stars for this

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2002

    Golden Girls of MGM: Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Lana Turner, Judy Garland....

    I lovedThe Golden Girls of MGM. The author writes about the great actresses of MGM and lists their films. These divas had it all and some trid to end it all. Wonderful reading. I recommend it strongly

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