Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood

Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood

by William J. Mann


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Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood by William J. Mann

New York Times Bestseller

Edgar Award winner for Best Fact Crime

The Day of the Locust meets The Devil in the White City and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil in this juicy, untold Hollywood story: an addictive true tale of ambition, scandal, intrigue, murder, and the creation of the modern film industry.

By 1920, the movies had suddenly become America’s new favorite pastime, and one of the nation’s largest industries. Never before had a medium possessed such power to influence. Yet Hollywood’s glittering ascendency was threatened by a string of headline-grabbing tragedies—including the murder of William Desmond Taylor, the popular president of the Motion Picture Directors Association, a legendary crime that has remained unsolved until now.

In a fiendishly involving narrative, bestselling Hollywood chronicler William J. Mann draws on a rich host of sources, including recently released FBI files, to unpack the story of the enigmatic Taylor and the diverse cast that surrounded him—including three beautiful, ambitious actresses; a grasping stage mother; a devoted valet; and a gang of two-bit thugs, any of whom might have fired the fatal bullet. And overseeing this entire landscape of intrigue was Adolph Zukor, the brilliant and ruthless founder of Paramount, locked in a struggle for control of the industry and desperate to conceal the truth about the crime. Along the way, Mann brings to life Los Angeles in the Roaring Twenties: a sparkling yet schizophrenic town filled with party girls, drug dealers, religious zealots, newly-minted legends and starlets already past their prime—a dangerous place where the powerful could still run afoul of the desperate.

A true story recreated with the suspense of a novel, Tinseltown is the work of a storyteller at the peak of his powers—and the solution to a crime that has stumped detectives and historians for nearly a century.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062242198
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/06/2015
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 528
Sales rank: 225,737
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

William J. Mann is the New York Times bestselling author of Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn; How to Be a Movie Star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood; Hello, Gorgeous: Becoming Barbra Streisand; and Wisecracker: The Life and Times of William Haines, winner of the Lambda Literary Award. He divides his time between Connecticut and Cape Cod.

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Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
tictac More than 1 year ago
Tinseltown by William Mann is a detailed investagative story of the murder of Hollywood Director William Desmond Taylor. This story is full of drama, suspense, and colorful scoundrels with information from FBI files. Is Mr. Mann's conclusion conclusive? I don't know. Is it probable? yes. As was Robert Giroux' "Deed of Death. I doubt if there will ever be justice for Taylor but this book was of great interest in describing the times of Hollywood, Studio owners, stars, and directors. Paramount had already been through the death of Wallace Reid due to drug addiction, at the time of Taylor's murder, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle was on trial for manslaughter, and their star Mary Miles Minter was known to have had a mad crush on Taylor. Now add Mabel Normand's supposed drug addiction and Taylor's loathing of the drug dealers, you have another piece to add to the puzzle. There is also sloppy police work, a studio employee stealing various items from Taylor's house, and a powerful studio head who refused cooperation and blocked the investigation at every turn. The murder was not solved because powerful and corrupt people didn't want it solved. Now add to the mix a pretty actress named Margaret Gibson who supposedly confessed to killing Taylor when on her death bed it really gets complicated. In 1917 Margaret Gibson was arrested for vagrancy under circumstances which included allegations off drug dealing. After a largely attended public trial the actress was acquitted but the publicity forced her to change her screen name to Patricia Palmer. She continued to work in films but had very few leading roles, many bit parts with no acclaim. On November 2, 1923 (91 years ago today) Gibson was arrested on federal felony charges involving an alleged nation-wide blackmail and extortion ring and was said to be connected to two convicted blackmailers who had pleaded guilty to extorting thousands of dollars from Ohio banker John L. Bushnell. The charges were later dropped by the district attorney's office. We do have many suspects and motives but you need to read the book and see if you agree with Mr, Mann's conclusion. I did enjoy this book and would recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was fascinating to read about how corrupt Hollywood was in the beginning. I never realized the movies back then were suggestive either. And it seems dope and alcohol were very prevalent. The back stories about those involved with William Desmond Taylor made the story that much more real and lent credence to the book. I agree with the author's conclusions on who murdered him. If you are a fan of the movies and want to learn more about Hollywood in the 1920's read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read about early days of Hollywood and fascinating story of murder of William Desmond Howard. The author's research brings a fitting resolution to the murder as he weaves together all the characters who played a part in the story. Most enjoyable read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just great!
sharonka322 More than 1 year ago
okay this is supposed to be a true story about the murder of William Desmond Taylor....he was the president of the Motion Picture Directors Association. The book is advertised as a "Legendary Crime that was unsolved until now." Well, i'm going to be honest, I still don't know who did what. The pages are poorly written, jumping from here to there without any sense...i think i got to the 3rd chapter before i got tired of going back to figure out what i missed to get where i was. The book has great reviews....but not by me.
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