As noted in the Playbill Vault, Jeanne Eagels began her legendary Broadway run as Sadie Thompson, “a prostitute at odds with a jungle missionary in Rain, primarily based on a W. Somerset Maugham quick story,” on this day, November 7, in 1922. We’re now just three years away from its centenary. Continue reading
I’m proud to have a letter published in the British newspaper, The Morning Star, today. I have written to newspapers three times in my life, and all were about Marilyn Monroe (she is, perhaps, the subject about whom I feel most qualified to share my views in public.) Continue reading
Christine Keeler, Dennis F. Evans, Desmond Banks, Douglas Thompson, Eugene Ivanov, Gisela Winegard, Jeremy Hutchinson, John Profumo, Lucky Gordon, Mandy Rice-Davies, Profumo Affair, Secrets and Lies, Seymour Platt, Thomas Grant
“I never met Christine Keeler,” Seymour Platt writes in his foreword to the latest edition of her memoirs, Secrets and Lies: The Trials of Christine Keeler. (This is a paperback reissue of her 2012 book, itself an update to her 2001 autobiography, The Truth At Last.) His mother changed her name, he explains, “to get away from being Christine Keeler. In our house Christine Keeler was talked about in the third person – who would want to be associated with Christine Keeler? Christine Keeler would get the blame for a lot of things that happened. Friends, family, relationships that soured, all that would be Christine Keeler’s fault.” Continue reading
Nestled among the hills and mountain ranges just beyond Los Angeles, Crescenta Valley was home to the indigenous Tongva people for thousands of years. During the Spanish colonial period it became part of the San Gabriel Mission. By the late 1800s, its warm, dry climate was attracting both tourists and health seekers, and after his wife’s death from tuberculosis, Dr. Benjamin Briggs moved there to build a sanitarium for those suffering from lung ailments. His success encouraged others to follow suit, including Merritt Kimball who founded a sanitarium for psychiatric patients. Perhaps the most unique of these pioneering establishments was Rockhaven, a sanctuary for vulnerable women opened by Agnes Richards in the 1920s. Continue reading
Barney Ruditsky, Bobby kennedy, Celebrity, Clark Gable, Confidential, Dan Dailey, Dick Powell, Dorothy Dandridge, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Gossip, Hollywood Research Incorporated, Howard Rushmore, Jeanne Carmen, Jerry Giesler, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Schenck, Johnnie Ray, Marilyn Monroe, Milton Greene, Nicholas Ray, Robert F. Kennedy, Robert Harrison, Robert Mitchum, Robert Slatzer, Rory Calhoun, Samantha Barbas, Scandal, Sonny Tufts, Tabloid, Wrong Door Raid
Samantha Barbas is a professor of law at the University of Buffalo, specialising in the history of America’s mass media. Her previous publications include Movie Crazy: Fans, Stars, and the Cult of Celebrity (2001), and The First Lady of Hollywood: A Biography of Louella Parsons (2005.) In her latest book, Confidential Confidential: The Inside Story of Hollywood’s Notorious Scandal Magazine, she explores the lurid history and aftermath of a 1950s publishing phenomenon. Continue reading
I’m glad to tell you all that Jeanne Eagels: A Life Revealed (Revised and Updated) is now available in hardcover and paperback. A full 90 pages longer than the first edition, and with new photos, it will be our last word on Jeanne’s remarkable life and career. So if you’re looking for a meaty biography to read this Christmas, make sure to buy this new edition as the older version will soon be unavailable. I’ve updated all the links to order from Amazon and other stores here.
As autumn leaves began to fall in the New York of 1929, Jeanne Eagels was recovering at home after eye surgery and seeking treatment from her physician at his Park Avenue hospital for a ‘nervous disorder’. After seeing him on October 3, she decided that an evening out might lift her spirits. She slipped into an evening gown complemented by several strands of pearls, and finally put on a fur coat to warm herself in the chilly night air.
However, her condition quickly worsened. A little before 7 pm, she left with her maid, and was driven some 60 blocks to Park Avenue, where her doctor was called from his downstairs residence, and she was escorted into a 5th floor examination room by a nurse. Jeanne removed her coat and was sitting on the bed when she suddenly went into convulsions. The nurse ran into the hall calling for the doctor’s assistant, but by the time they returned, it was too late.
Jeanne Eagels was dead at thirty-nine.
Exactly 89 years later, I am proud to announce that a revised and updated edition of Jeanne Eagels: A Life Revealed, the 2015 biography co-authored by myself and Eric M. Woodard, will shortly be published by Bearmanor Media. We retrace the life and career of the woman who rose from the streets of Kansas City to become a Broadway sensation, and lit up the silver screen: with new material on her loving, if troubled family background; her acting triumphs, including Rain and The Letter; her ill-starred marriage to athlete Ted Coy, and much more.
“Jeanne Eagels: A Life Revealed offers a startling look at the actress and her times … packed with detail and drama, and does bring Jeanne Eagels into 21st century focus as an ambitious, driven woman who often fought the system, but could not defeat her own demons.” – Liz Smith, New York Social Diary
“Their research, to this reader, sparkles and shines . . . the kind of meat one likes with this rich meal of a book.” – Stephen Michael Shearer, author of Gloria Swanson: The Ultimate Star
“What you are about to read is nothing short of remarkable.” – Michelle Morgan, author of The Ice Cream Blonde and Carole Lombard: Twentieth Century Star
This article can also be read at Immortal Marilyn.
Murder Orthodoxies: Sex, Lies and Marilyn
Among the thousand or more books about Marilyn Monroe, there are certain strands – from coffee-table monographs to cultural criticism. One theme is so persistent, however, that it has become a sub-genre in its own right. Armed with dubious confessions and conspiracy theories, their authors argue that Marilyn’s untimely death was the result of foul play in high (and low) places, and these allegations have been seized upon by readers, as well as journalists and documentarians. Continue reading
Beautiful Stranger, Catholicism, Confessions on a Dancefloor, Desperately Seeking Susan, Evita, Ghosttown, Into the Groove, Jump, Like A Prayer, Live Aid, Live to Tell, Living for Love, Lucky Star, Madonna, Marilyn Monroe, Marvin Gaye, Material Girl, Ray of Light, Secret, Smash Hits, Wembley, Who's That Girl, William Orbit
From the age of eleven, my Saturdays would often include a trip to the record department at Boots to buy a 7-inch single. One of these was ‘Lucky Star’ by Madonna. Along with ‘Holiday’, it was one of her earliest songs played on the radio. Each weekend I stopped to gaze at her gorgeous album cover, but my savings rarely stretched to LPs. When I finally bought it, it had a different cover and my best friend (who wasn’t a fan) borrowed and never returned it. Continue reading
#Bronte200, Andrea Arnold, Anne Brontë, Brontë Parsonage, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, Haworth, Kate Bush, Kathryn Hughes, Lily Cole, Making Thunder Roar, Muriel Spark, Poetry, Stella Vine, To Walk Invisible, Victorian Literature, Virginia Woolf, Wuthering Heights, Yorkshire
Last weekend, the historian and literary biographer Kathryn Hughes wrote for The Guardian about ‘The Strange Cult of Emily Brontë and the “Hot Mess” of Wuthering Heights,’ arguing that the middle Brontë sister was “no romantic child of nature but a pragmatic, self-interested Tory,” and that her only novel (which Hughes read as a teenager and struggled to finish) was a “screeching melodrama.” Published on the eve of Emily’s bicentenary, this clickbait sensation was only the latest in a long line of outraged and baffled responses to the writer and her work. Whereas her sisters Charlotte and Anne have been embraced by feminists, Emily – about whom little is known – remains something of an outcast. Continue reading