Vanity Fair's Hollywood

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Vanity Fair has, from the start, made Hollywood its stomping ground. For its readers, this star-studded book encapsulates a century of the movie mecca's glory, glamour, and scandal. Garbo and Grant, Tracy and Hepburn, Fairbanks and Pickford, Taylor and Burton, the Gishes and the Barrymores rub shoulders with today's cinematic giants in an incomparable collection of luminous images, classic essays, and delightful caricatures from the archives of...
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Vanity Fair has, from the start, made Hollywood its stomping ground. For its readers, this star-studded book encapsulates a century of the movie mecca's glory, glamour, and scandal. Garbo and Grant, Tracy and Hepburn, Fairbanks and Pickford, Taylor and Burton, the Gishes and the Barrymores rub shoulders with today's cinematic giants in an incomparable collection of luminous images, classic essays, and delightful caricatures from the archives of Vanity Fair from as far back as 1914.

Surrveying the brightest stars, moguls, directors, and writers, Vanity Fair's Hollywood is a stylish and definitive focus on timeless glamour, mythic beauty, and unquenchable celebrity.

Author Biography: Vanity Fair is the acknowledged authority on Hollywood, celebrity, and entertainment. Graydon Carter is a winner of the National Magazine Award.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Our Review
For as long as there have been moving pictures, there have been movie junkies: those of us sitting spellbound in theaters, basking in the glow of the big screen. An equally fascinating pastime for many has been watching the "real" lives of actors and actresses play out like scripts before our eyes, with all the drama and glamour of their latest box-office project. There is no better place to indulge these habits than between the pages of Vanity Fair's Hollywood, a lavish new collection of photographs, illustrations, and essays culled from legendary Vanity Fair magazine.

The list of celebrities, past and present, that grace the pages of Vanity Fair's Hollywood is extraordinary -- to even begin to name them would take up pages (but if you must know, Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, Joan Crawford, Charlie Chaplin, Robert De Niro, Cameron Diaz, Tom Cruise, and Madonna are just a few). However, even more stunning than this lineup of stars is the quality of the images presented in the book. Priceless moments are captured by renowned photographers such as Edward Steichen, Herb Ritts, and Annie Leibovitz. Gorgeous illustrations are rendered by art luminaries such as Miguel Covarrubias, Robert Risko, and David Cowles.

More than just a photographic jaunt through Tinseltown, Vanity Fair's Hollywood also chronicles Hollywood history through written pieces. Gems include a 1918 send-up of the "damsel in distress" cliché by Dorothy Parker, a luminous 1932 profile of Greta Garbo by Clare Boothe Brokaw Luce, an extensive piece on uüberagent Sue Mengers written by Peter Biskind, and a startlingly modern (for 1929) rumination on the power of sex appeal by D. H. Lawrence. Other contributors are gossipmonger Walter Winchell, Patricia Bosworth, Christopher Hitchens -- who also supplied the captions for each photo -- and Dominic Dunne.

Vanity Fair's Hollywood, according to Graydon Carter's introduction, was five years in the making. Clearly a labor of love, it pays magnificent homage to the movies, the people who make them, and the glorious world they inhabit. And above all, it achieves the same end as the best movies do, offering its audience a breathless, heady look inside a world that is as fleeting as a dream.

--Karen Burns

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This lavish, photo-laden tour of Tinsel Town's history is coffee-table condensation of 87 years of Vanity Fair coverage of the Hollywood scene. Visually, it's a thrilling compendium of images that have defined not only the film industry and its workers but how the American public has understood them. Ranging from Edward Steichen's iconographic black-and-white portraits of Louise Brooks, Norma Shearer and Irving Thalberg, and Gloria Swanson (which defined the "look" of Hollywood in its first half-century) to the contemporary and often shocking color photographs of Annie Leibovitz (of nearly everyone from Sylvester Stallone and John Travolta to Cate Blanchette and Johnny Depp)--and peppered with shots by Bruce Weber, Irving Penn, Helmut Newton, Griege Hurrell and others--the book traces how these stars have come to embody pop mythologies of everyday life. The photos are interspersed among 13 (mostly short) essays by writers as diverse as Carl Sandberg, Patricia Bosworth, P.G. Wodehouse, Dorothy Parker, Peter Biskind and D.H. Lawrence, which range from the humorous to the illuminating. While serious film buffs will find nothing terribly new here, Vanity Fair's trademark mix of wit and style, chic and intelligence is guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser. (Oct. 23) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
Vanity Fair's Hollywood draws from the magazine's photo archive to reveal a century's worth of Hollywood images, choosing over 290 of its photos and pairing them with notable writers for added impact. A beautiful visual and verbal history of Hollywood results, suitable for art libraries and coffee tables alike. Well detailed in its essays, Vanity Fair's Hollywood is weightier and packed with information.
Richard Corliss
This is the ultimate Hollywood picture history, convincing us that stars had faces then and, glory be, sill do.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670891412
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 9/28/2003
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 10.52 (w) x 12.28 (h) x 1.28 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


A Poem by Carl Sandburg

Charlie Chaplin Playing
for His Friends After Dinner:

    The woman had done him wrong.
Either that ... or the woman was clean as a white rose in the morning
    gauze of dew.

It was either one or the other or it was the two things, right and wrong,
    woven together like two braids of a woman's head of hair hanging
    down woven together.

The room is dark. The door opens. It is Charlie playing for his friends
    after dinner, "the marvelous urchin, the little genius of the screen"
    (chatter it like a monkey's running laughter cry).

No ... it is not Charlie ... it is somebody else. It is a man, gray shirt,
    bandanna, dark face. A candle in his left hand throws a slant of light
    on the dark face. The door closes slow. The right hand leaves the doorknob slow.

He looks at something. What is it? A white sheet on a table. He takes
    two long soft steps. He runs the candlelight around a hump in the
    sheet. He lifts the sheet slow, sad-like.

A woman's head of hair shows, a woman's white face. He takes the head
    between his hands and looks long at it. His fingers trickle under the
    sheet, snap loose something, bring out fingers full of a pearl necklace.

He covers the face and the head of hair with the white sheet. He takesa
    step toward the door The necklace slips into his pocket off the fingers
    of his right hand. His left hand lifts the candle for a good-bye look.

Knock, knock, knock. A knocking the same as the time of the human

Knock, knock, knock, first louder, then lower. Knock, knock, knock,
    the same as the time of the human heartbeat.

He sets the candle on the floor ... leaps to the white sheet ... rips it
    back ... has his fingers at the neck, his thumbs at the throat, and
    does three slow fierce motions of strangling.

The knocking stops. All is quiet. He covers the face and the head of hair
    with the white sheet, steps back, picks up the candle and listens.

Knock, knock, knock, a knocking the same as the time of the human

Knock, knock, knock, first louder, then lower. Knock, knock, knock,
    the same as the time of the human heartbeat.

Again the candle to the floor, the leap, the slow fierce motions of
    strangling, the cover-up of the face and the head of hair, the step
    back, the listening.

And again the knock, knock, knock ... louder ... lower ... to the time
    of the human heartbeat.

Once more the motions of strangling ... then ... nothing at all ...
    nothing at all ... no more knocking ... no knocking at all ... no
    knocking at all ... in the time of the human heartbeat.

He stands at the door ... peace, peace, peace everywhere only in the
    man's face so dark and his eyes so lighted up with many lights, no
    peace at all, no peace at all.

So he stands at the door, his right hand on the doorknob, the candle
    slants of light fall and flicker from his face to the straight white sheet
    changing gray against shadows.

So there is peace everywhere ... no more knocking ... no knocking at
    all to the time of the human heartbeat ... so he stands at the door
    and his right hand on the doorknob.

And there is peace everywhere ... only the man's face is a red gray
    plaster of storm in the center of peace ... so he stands with a candle
    at the door ... so he stands with a red gray face.

After he steps out the door closes: the door, the doorknob,
    the table, the white sheet; there is nothing at all; the owners
    are shadows; the owners are gone; not even a knocking;
    not even a knock, knock, knock ... louder, lower, in the time
    of the human heartbeat.

The lights are snapped on. Charlie, "the marvelous urchin, the little
    genius of the screen" (chatter it with a running monkey's laughter
    cry). Charlie is laughing a laugh the whole world knows.

The room is full of cream yellow lights. Charlie is laughing ... louder ...
    lower ...

And again the heartbeats laugh ... the human heartbeats laugh ...


Chapter Two


By Clare Boothe Brokaw Luce

Every age has had its Helen, and every Helen has had the people for her willing historians. The Circes of history—Helen of Troy, Cleopatra, Salome, the Queen of Sheba, Mary Queen of Scots, Madame de Pompadour, Ninon de Lenclos, Nell Gwynn, Mrs. Hamilton, Lola Montez—march (if any such martial word may be used for the thrilling rhythms of their sensuous bodies) in exquisite pageantry through the annals of art and literature. They are not forgotten, their remembered stories still have the power to touch men's hearts, and often the taste of their ghostly lips seems more real than the warm embrace of living flesh.

    Alone of all the centuries, the 20th seems so far to have produced no beauty who might deserve the word historical, no charmer whose sweet legend will live in the minds of future generations of men, no feminine form which will gloriously survive in the works of poets and artists.

There is one possible exception. There is Greta Garbo—Greta Garbo, the strange and angular siren of the "movies," the legend of the studios, the sole survivor of the tawdry publicity, the spotlight madness, the vulgar exhibitionism of Hollywood. Better known to the average man than either the Queen of Sheba or Helen of Troy, her cinematic image has encircled the entire globe, and domestic as well as alien audiences, who understood no word of what she was saying, have thrilled, again and again, to the vibrant mystery of her voice and her form.

    Surely the worldwide fame of this fair Scandinavian, whose every movement is instinct with beauty, whose name evokes mystery, and whose image evokes desire ... surely she will outlast our generation and will join the deathless throng of lovely ladies—one is almost tempted to say—in ... Hell?

    She is a likely candidate. The only one, indeed, that our decade has had to offer. There are more beautiful women in Hollywood, where the most beautiful women in the world are to be found. But perfection of face or figure is often a chilling thing, and defeats the very emotion which it is ordinarily supposed to arouse in the beholder. Garbo fortuitously escapes this cold perfection. Her often sullen and too large mouth is beautiful only because it is mobile as music; her hollow cheeks beneath high, Nordic cheekbones have not the poet's smooth, rounded flow from temple to chin; her coiffure, which has been aped by the fashionable women of two continents, falls in a limp, untidy, dun-colored mop upon her thin shoulders; only her eyes, "like jewels in a shroud," heavy-lidded and slumberous beneath the gloom of her lashes (which quite literally sweep her cheeks), approach perfection, and even they are marred by shaved eyebrows, which have been replaced by inane penciled hieroglyphics, springing upward like the antennae of a butterfly.

    She is broad-shouldered, flat-chested, long-legged, rawboned, and she moves with the awkward grace of an adolescent.

    That is the physical image of Garbo. It shows forth, but does not explain her magnetism and her allure. These far transcend her beauty, as they also transcend her ability as an actress. (Not that she is a poor actress, but that Garbo herself is so much more real and vivid in her audience's mind than the character which she is playing. Her role is like the dress she wears—a sometimes attractive garment which permits her to expose herself decently to the public gaze.)

    Perhaps the inability to define Garbo's magic in the usual physical or artistic terms is partially responsible for the inordinate interest in her "private life." It is precisely here that the average person is more than ever baffled, although he should find in that "private life," and the Garbo legend which has grown out of its very impenetrability (or is it vacuity?), his most valuable clue to her personality, and his answer to the question: Is Garbo a woman of history?

    Garbo, of all Hollywood's glittering legion, has a private life. She entertains, she receives, she interviews—no one. Her contacts with the studios are reduced to the minimum required by her actual cinema work; nothing more is tolerated. She forms few, if any, friendships, and does not seem to cherish them for long. Even those in Hollywood who have come to know her well— that is to say, who have shared her physical society—have left her more baffled than when they first met, for the theories which they brought to the encounter have been shattered by the almost vicious quality of her reticence. Her indifference to all the recognized Hollywood values, her long silences, her brutal independence, her famous "I tank I go home," with which she frustrates every wish counter to her own, her sphinxlike air of ageless wisdom, of always being on the verge of saying something of vast import, have never deserted her for a single second. There is no chink in her magnificent armor of aloofness. Yes, there was one ... one small, vulnerable spot—Garbo's Achilles tendon (I had almost said heel): John Gilbert. For him and with him, during a brief while Greta Garbo emerged from the cocoon of personal anonymity which she had been spinning about herself ever since she came to Hollywood. A gay butterfly, she wafted about the Hollywood scene, and, according to numerous eyewitnesses, she was—under the Gilbertian influence—"just like anybody else."

    Here, perhaps, is the answer to the question about Garbo's place in history.

    Beautiful and gifted women always have been, and always will be, judged and evaluated by their weakness—since the strength of a woman is at best a negative quality of virtue. Are not "the beautiful" and "the damned" synonymous terms? Their weaknesses give them what historical glamour they possess. Therefore it is inevitable that Garbo should be judged in the light of her only, if brief, attachment—John Gilbert. In this light she fails not the picture fans, not her studio, not her generation, but—history. History has never reserved a place for a beautiful woman who did not love, or who was not loved by, at least one interesting, powerful, or brilliant man. Love, magnificently, a little recklessly, and certainly publicly—the loves of the great can no more be hidden than the burning of the topless towers of Ilium. When we speak of Helen, we speak in the next breath of Menelaus, of Paris. Pompadour reminds us of Louis XV, Salome would have mattered little but for John the Baptist, and although it is sacrilege, the Baptist would have mattered little but for Salome. Cleopatra had her Caesar, and Mark Antony had Cleopatra. Is the most magnetic woman of her generation, the greatest beauty of her era, to be remembered because her name was "associated with" (to use a genteel euphemism worthy of Will Hays, but hardly of Garbo) John Gilbert's? The answer is yes, or, rather, the answer is no. Neither name will be remembered.

A woman who becomes "just like anybody else" when she is in love is just like anybody else. A great love maddens with joy, or crushes with sorrow, it debases or exalts, deifies or brutalizes, but it does not standardize. The Garbo-Gilbert romance was a standard product of the Hollywood fleshpots and, as such, must be used as an index to the inner Garbo. (The fact that the attachment was not a success does not excuse its inception, although it is customary to demand forgiveness for bad taste in love affairs on the quaint grounds that they so often turn out badly.)

    The only way a woman can gloriously succeed in impressing herself upon her age—the way of love—Garbo has, until now, failed in. If she does not remedy this oversight one day, then those shadowy, gigantic six-foot close-up embraces, the microphoned passions spent in the arms of celluloid Gilberts, Novarros, Montgomerys, and Gables, will be her only epitaph—faintly humorous celluloid strips, of interest only to antiquarians or other-day humorists of, say, 50 years hence, who may conceivably show them to their friends to provide a curious or mirthful evening.

There was left to Garbo another way in which she might have, had she wished, survived the oblivion awaiting her: the way of the intelligence—of art and literature. Here, too, she has failed. With enviable consistency, with admirable independence, but with lamentable stupidity and egotism, she has refused to pose for good artists, to interview, or even to meet socially men and women of acknowledged intelligence and ability. To be sure, the veil of mystery which has piqued the fans has not intrigued the artists, who instinctively feel the paucity of interest that it cloaks. Garbo has never inspired a single piece of fine criticism or writing (not excepting this) nor any artistic appreciation of worth. To know that this can be done by a cinema star one has only to witness the career of Charles Chaplin, who has received the serious consideration of the finest writers of his day, and whose intellectual contacts with great men of the world have been profitable and pleasant to both himself and to them. Chaplin will take his place beside Dan Leno, Grimaldi, Debureau, and Coquelin. Garbo will be forgotten as a woman in 10 years, and her legacy as an actress will be dead when Helen Hayes's, Lynn Fontanne's, and Katharine Cornell's are beginning to grow greenest.

    The world must take her at her own valuation: a woman with a chip (although it flew there from some Hollywooden head) on her shoulder, a woman with a grudge against life, a woman who cares nothing for literature, little for love, and for art only what she brings to that ofttimes puerile, hardly endurable, and limited medium, the silver screen.

    The only first-rate artist with whom, willingly, she ever permitted herself to come in contact—Edward Steichen, the photographer—instantly discovered the truth about her while he was making those photographs which may, curiously enough, prove to be her only lasting claim to fame. He said, "She is like a lovely wild- wood animal ... or a child."

    Child or animal, whichever you please. I prefer to think of her as a deer, in the body of a woman, living resentfully in the Hollywood Zoo, suffering in the bonds of a complex civilization, startled by human contacts, disinterested in human things, graceful and beautiful and mysterious with the untutored grace and native mystery of the wild thing of the forest. This would explain the famous "walks in the rain," the sunbaths, the intense need of physical exercise, the long silences (for, since nothing is ever the result of her thoughts, common sense dictates that she must be thinking about nothing), the nostalgia for her native heath, the intense discomfiture among people, and the inability or the lack of desire to make and hold friends.

    You may prefer to think of her as a child who has never grown up. Sulky and spoiled, indifferent to all desires but her own, suspicious of bribes, bewildered by adult psychology, impervious to threats, since being a spoiled and talented child she knows that They will not, They dare not, hurt her. Selfish, shrewd, ignorant, self-absorbed and whimsical, perverse, and innocent—the perfect realization of the child left to itself, unhampered and uncontrolled by mature authority.

    "Every man has the love affairs he deserves." This is true collectively as well as individually. Our generation's loveliest woman is but a phantom upon a silver screen—a shadow with the face of an angel of Perdition, as substantial as a mist before the moon, the inarticulate, the bad-tempered, and the "great" Garbo.


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Table of Contents

If you buy just one book for Christmas, don't hesitate to make it the massive Vanity Fair's Hollywood.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2001

    A Gorgeous, Glamorous Glance at Glitter

    Hollywood has always stood for dreams. Vanity Fair's take has always been to turn the tinsel used to depict those dreams into glamor. This book is very much in keeping with the magazine's slant and Hollywood's most inflated view of itself. The book faithfully reproduces a cross-section of Vanity Fair's 86 year history. Before you read further, let me caution you that this book teems with suggestiveness. If that sort of thing isn't your cup of tea, skip this book. The photographs are the best part of thebook. There are large numbers of outstanding examples of work by Edward Steichen and Annie Leibovitz. The pages are oversized, and many images are done as double spreads. This makes for seeing very large features of the stars portrayed, and this has high impact effects on the viewer -- evoking a sense of the wide screen. The editing was wisely done to select many images that can be reasonably faithfully reproduced that way. Unfortunately, many fine photographs were reproduced with the middle fold through an important part of the image. Some of the images that were not so spoiled also were overinked in a way that make the details hard to discern. Inexplicably, there were no credits listed for many photographs. I graded the book down one star for being insufficiently well designed, credited and printed to portray all of the photographs to their best advantage. Except for this very regrettable and significant set of flaws on the photography side, the book is very well done. The selection of photographs was brilliantly done to not only highlight great ones, but to create interplay among them . . . and among themes . . . and among generations of Hollywood performers. I found it all quite exciting and entertaining. Some of my favorite photographs in the book are: Jack Nicholson; Annie Leibovitz, 1992 Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, and Jim Carrey; Annie Leibovitz, 1997 Doris Day; John Florea, 1953 Spencer Tracy and Katherine Kapburn; n.c., 1949 Nancy and Ronald Reagan; Harry Benson, 1985 Pee-Wee Herman; Annie Leibovitz, 1984 Walt Disney; Edward Steichen, 1933 Dustin Hoffman; Herb Ritts, 1996 Rita Hayworth; n.c., 1946 Robert Redford; George Gorman, 1984 Meryl Streep; Annie Leibovitz, 1982 Gloria Swanson; Edward Steichen, 1928 I also liked the caricature of Greta Garbo by Miguel Covarrubias from 1932. The essays were more of a mixed lot. My favoite was D.H. Lawrence on sex appeal. 'Sex appeal is only a dirty name for a bit of life flame.' Other essays looked at Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo (by Walter Winchell), the queens of gossip columnists, and agent Sue Mengers. After you have finished enjoying this close-up look at Hollywood, ask yourself where your dreams come from. Then consider where they should come from. Should Hollywood be the source of your dreams, the reinforcement of your dreams, or simply be a source of entertainment? You'll have to decide. But do so explicitly. Your dreams are too important to turn over to others to create and manipulate.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2001


    This is a fantastic book filled with gorgeous photographs of celebrities old and new! It's a great piece of Hollywood in your own living room and is a great guest pleaser!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2000

    All Reprints from Magazines

    If you are a Vanity Fair subscriber, you have probably seen and/or still have many of these same photos. So, you may be dissapointed with the duplication and lack of original material. Also, there are some glaring omissions (e.g. the awesome VF shots Barbra Streisand). Oh well. For the Hollywood buff who has everything....

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2000


    You won't need popcorn to enjoy this trip to the movies. And, what a trip it is - the classiest, glossiest, most glamorous photographic history of Hollywood to be found in print. 'Vanity Fair,' the magazine that has kept an unerring eye on Tinsel Town for the past 87 years, has assembled a gallery of memorable images by such renowned photographers as Edward Steichen, Helmut Newton, Annie Leibovitz, Irving Penn, and others. Luminaries of the silver screen are found at work and at play, in incredible photos that capture not only a visage but an essence: a clown costumed Al Jolson is poignant in song, an in your face bathrobe clad Jack Nicholson wields a golf club, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Joan Crawford laze on a sun kissed beach, a sensuous Johnny Depp challenges with his eyes, a bereft Steve Martin is the quintessential loser, and Mae West gives a boxer her heavy lidded once over. Artfully and thoughtfully positioned, the photos themselves are a visual record of movie town's history: a black and white studio shot of Walter Huston faces a color portrait of jodphur clad Anjelica Huston, the Fonda family (Jane, Henry and Peter)offer congenial smiles, A piquant very young Drew Barrymore is partnered with a revealing backstage glimpse of John Barrymore, Harold Lloyd faces a bemused Tom Hanks. Group photos also tell a story from Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall joining pals for a Sunday afternoon gin rummy tournament at Clifton Webb's house to the directors who made and are making cinematic history to the MGM musical starlets from the 1940s and 1950s. All here - a visual paean to the past and present. Among the 292 iconographic photographs are found brief essays, the words of P. G. Wodehouse, D. H. Lawrence, Dorothy Parker, Walter Winchell, and Patricia Bosworth. Carl Sandburg devotes a poem to Charlie Chaplin, Clair Booth Brokaw Luce focuses on Greta Garbo, a woman of whom she writes, 'Our generation's loveliest woman is but a phantom upon a silver screen.' We go behind the scenes with the top gossip columnists of their day - Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper. One round and chunky, the other extravagantly hatted - the two amazingly powerful. We also discover that there is more footage to the dark, mysterious murder of Lana Turner's lover than we had ever imagined. Scandal, greed, cupidity aren't overlooked in this chronicle of the land of broken dreams. Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter offers a succinct explanatory foreword in which he confesses to being 'a simple unabashed fan. Of movies, of the people who make them, and of Hollywood.' Confidante to the famous Dominic Dunne pens a telling afterword. in which he admits to being mesmerized by Hollywood. Aren't we all? Remember the catchy 'Hooray for Hollywood'? Now, it's hooray for 'Vanity Fair's Hollywood', which is a great deal more than catchy - it's a wonder!

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