The Hollywood Tell-All

After the credits roll, everybody loves to gossip.

Full Service

By Scotty Bowers

Silver screen stars of the late ’40s and ’50s may have seemed like innocents to adoring fans, but Bowers, who arrived in Hollywood after serving in World War II, testifies to the double lives of many of the era’s biggest names, including Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, and Vivien Leigh. Beyond the gossip, Bowers’ anecdotes  expose the hypocrisy of a studio system that sold America a carefully controlled portait of  American gender roles and sexuality — while knowing full well that their bankable stars were busy blurring the boundaries.

Hollywood Babylon

By Kenneth Anger

Originally banned upon publication in the US in 1965, this explosive tell-all set the standard for the genre, leaving no stone — or pillow — unturned. Anger, an avant-garde filmmaker, sought to tear down popular perceptions of matinee idols, incurring lawsuits and popularizing innumerable urban myths along the way. Though many of the book’s revelations have since been debunked, it still brims with salacious and scurrilous details, including a “first-hand” accout of what really happened in silent film star Fatty Arbuckle’s hotel suite where Virginia Rappe died. In the days before tabloid gossip rags made peddling scandal big business, Anger set the bar impossibly high — that is to say, low.

My Wicked, Wicked Ways

By Errol Flynn

In iconic film roles such as Robin Hood and Captain Blood, Errol Flynn thwarted the bad guys and made female fans’ pulses race with debonair good looks and charm. With the same flair that his filmic counterparts displayed in mock duels, Flynn takes up the pen confronting the popular perception of him as a womanizer head on. He shares details of his days as a soldier of fortune in the South Seas, his three marriages, his countless sexual conquests, and even his trial for statutory rape. More recent editions include passages that were removed when the book was originally published for fear of lawsuits.

Wishful Drinking

By Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher dispensed with the semi-autobiographical fiction of Postcards from the Edge and embraced the personal memoir whole-heartedly in this candid account of a booze-soaked, drug-addled career. What was it like to grow up the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, Hollywood royalty and terrible parents? How did it feel to hold a PEZ dispenser that resembled her head? And what did she do when she woke up next to a friend in bed one morning, only to realize he was dead? Fisher answers to the best of recollection in this book, based on her one-woman show of the same name .

Memo from David O. Selznick

By David O. Selznick

Selznick died in 1965, having entered film legend as the producer of some of Hollywood’s all-time classic creations: A Star is Born, A Farewell to Arms, and, most notably, Gone with the Wind. This collection of his private letters, telegrams, memos, and other forms of correspondence bring back to life Selznick’s incisive voice and passionate commitment to the films he made. Making plain the levers of Tinseltown power and who pulled them, this collection is a primary source bonanza for any would-be historian of  flimmaking — or for anyone who’d just like a peek behind the curtain.