Hollywood 1950's

Yvonne De Carlo (The Seduced, Episode 5) by Karina Longworth

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The future Lily Munster became a star when producer Walter Wanger cast her in Salome, Where She Danced (1945). A curvaceous brunette in her early 20s, De Carlo fit the mold of Howard Hughes’s mid-century girlfriends to a T. But that relationship would be brief, and De Carlo would go on to distinguish herself in movies, TV and as a star of the original production of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies.

Yvonne De Carlo in Salome, Where She Danced (1945)

Yvonne De Carlo in Salome, Where She Danced (1945)

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Music:

The music used in this episode, with the exception of the intro and outro, was sourced from royalty-free music libraries and licensed music collections. The intro includes a clip from the film Casablanca. The outro song this week is “Sing” by Blur.

Excerpts from the following songs were used throughout the episode:

Reflectif - Artist Unknown 

Green Lace - Artist Unknown

The Smoke Room - Gunnar Johnsen

Tomorrow I’ll Be Gone - Franz Gordon

Speakeasy 2 - Gunnar Johnsen

Club Noir-2 - John Ahlin

Rendezvous 3 - Martin Landh

The Charleston 3 - Hakan Ericsson

Mas Cerca De Ti 5 - Martin Carlberg

Campers Day - Magnus Ringbloom

Muensters Theme Song - Jack Marshall 

Yvonne De Carlo as Lily Munster, c. 1964

Yvonne De Carlo as Lily Munster, c. 1964

Credits:

This episode was written, narrated and produced by Karina Longworth.

Editor: Olivia Natt.

Research and production assistant: Lindsey D. Schoenholtz.

Social media assistant: Brendan Whalen.

Logo design: Teddy Blanks.

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Grace Kelly (Dead Blondes Episode 11) by Karina Longworth

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The quintessential “Hitchcock blonde,” Grace Kelly had an apparently charmed life. Her movies were mostly hits, her performances were largely well-reviewed, and she won an Oscar against stiff competition. Then she literally married a prince. Was it all as perfect as it seemed? Today we’ll explore Kelly’s public and private life (and the rumors that the two things were very different), her working relationship with Hitchcock, her Oscar-winning performance in The Country Girl, the royal marriage that took her away from Hollywood and Kelly’s very specific spin on blonde sexuality.

Show notes:

Sources:

High Society: The Life of Grace Kelly by Donald Spoto

Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies by Donald Spoto

Grace Kelly: The Secret Life of a Princess by James Spada

Credits:

This episode was edited by Sam Dingman, and produced by Karina Longworth with the assistance of Lindsey D. Schoenholtz. Our logo was designed by Teddy Blanks.

Barbara Payton (Dead Blondes Episode 10) by Karina Longworth

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In our Joan Crawford series, we talked about Barbara Payton as the young, troubled third wife of Crawford’s ex Franchot Tone, whose inability to choose between Tone and another actor brought all three of them down into tabloid Hell. Today, we revisit Payton’s story, and expand it, to explore her rise to quasi-fame, and the slippery slope that reduced her from “most likely to succeed” to informal prostitution, to formal prostitution, and finally to a way-too-early grave.

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Barbara Payton entering California Hospital to see Franchot Tone after his fight with Tom Neal, 1951, Photo Courtesy of Los Angeles Herald Examiner Collection/Los Angeles Public Library

Barbara Payton entering California Hospital to see Franchot Tone after his fight with Tom Neal, 1951, Photo Courtesy of Los Angeles Herald Examiner Collection/Los Angeles Public Library

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Show notes:

I wrote our first episode on Barbara Payton, during the Joan Crawford series, while I was living in London, and I couldn’t get my hands on an actual copy of I Am Not Ashamed, Payton’s ghostwritten autobiography. Shortly after I returned to Los Angeles, I found a copy at Larry Edmunds Bookshop on Hollywood Boulevard -- apparently it was re-released, in the US at least, in paperback shortly before I made the original episode. So though this was originally intended to be a re-run, this episode is now more new than old.

Sources:

I Am Not Ashamed by Barbara Payton

Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye by John O’Dowd

Notes From the Unashamed by Kim Morgan, Sunset Gun 

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Jayne Mansfield (Dead Blondes Episode 9) by Karina Longworth

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More famous today for her gruesome car crash death than for any of the movies she made while alive, Jayne Mansfield was in some sense the most successful busty blonde hired by a studio as a Marilyn Monroe copy-cat. Mansfield’s satirical copy of Monroe’s act was so spot-on that it helped to hasten the end of the blonde bombshell, paradoxically endangering both actress’ careers. But she did manage to star in Hollywood’s first rock n’ roll movie, Hollywood’s first postmodern comedy, meet The Beatles, experiment with LSD, cheerfully align herself with Satanism for the photo op, and much more.

Sophia Loren and Jayne Mansfield, 1957

Sophia Loren and Jayne Mansfield, 1957

Jayne Mansfield in  The Girl Can't Help It  (1956)

Jayne Mansfield in The Girl Can't Help It (1956)

Anton Lavey and Jayne Mansfield, 1966

Anton Lavey and Jayne Mansfield, 1966

Marilyn Monroe: The End (Dead Blondes Episode 8) by Karina Longworth

Marilyn Monroe by Bert Stern, 1962

Marilyn Monroe by Bert Stern, 1962

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How did a star whose persona seemed to be all about childlike joy and eternally vibrant sexuality die, single and childless, at the age of 36? In fact, the circumstances of Marilyn Monroe’s death are confusing and disputed. In this episode we will explore the last five years of her life, including the demise of her relationship with Arthur Miller, the troubled making of The Misfits, and Marilyn’s aborted final film, and try to sort out the various facts and conspiracy theories surrounding her death.

Marilyn Monroe in Some Like it Hot, 1959

Marilyn Monroe in Some Like it Hot, 1959

Credits:

This episode was edited by Sam Dingman, and produced by Karina Longworth with the assistance of Lindsey D. Schoenholtz. Special guest appearance by Rian Johnson as John Huston. Our logo was designed by Teddy Blanks.

Marilyn Monroe: The Persona (Dead Blondes Episode 7) by Karina Longworth

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How did Marilyn Monroe become the most iconic blonde of the 1950s, if not the century? Today we will trace how her image was created and developed, through her leading roles in movies and her featured coverage in the press, looking specifically at the ways in which Monroe’s on-screen persona took shape during the height of her career.  We’ll pay special attention to the films Niagara, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, and Bus Stop, and the struggles behind the scenes of Seven Year Itch and The Prince and the Showgirl.

Marilyn Monroe in  How to Marry a Millionaire

Marilyn Monroe in How to Marry a Millionaire

Marilyn Monroe,  The Seven Year Itch

Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch

Lena Horne + Paul Robeson (Blacklist Episode #12) by Karina Longworth

Horne and Paul Robeson look over plans for a June 1946 rally at Madison Square Garden, hosted by the Council on African Affairs.

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Horne's last years at MGM overlapped with the first HUAC hearings. Horne, an outspoken proponent of equal rights, who from the beginning of her career had associated with leftists and “agitators,” got caught up in the anti-communist insanity. One of those agitators was Paul Robeson, a singer, actor and political firebrand who was a mentor and friend to Horne. But once the red panic began to heat up, that friendship became problematic for Lena, and like so many others, she was forced to choose between her career and her friendships.  

Lena Horne and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at a party Ms. Horne gave in Dr. King's honor in 1963.

Show notes:

Here is a list of published sources that the entire season draws from:

The Red and the Blacklist: An Intimate Memoir of a Hollywood Expatriate by Norma Barzman

Dalton Trumbo: Blacklisted Hollywood Radical by Larry Ceplair and Christopher Trumbo

Trumbo: A biography of the Oscar-winning screenwriter who broke the Hollywood blacklist by Bruce Cook

When Hollywood Was Right: How Movie Stars, Studio Moguls, and Big Business Remade American Politics by Donald T. Critchlow

Odd Man Out: A Memoir of the Hollywood Ten by Edward Dmytryk

City of Nets by Otto Friedrich

Hollywood Radical, Or How I Learned to Love the Blacklist by Bernard Gordon

I Said Yes to Everything by Lee Grant

Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War by J. Hoberman

Naming Names by Victor S. Navasky

West of Eden: An American Place by Jean Stein

The Inquisition in Hollywood: Politics in the Film Community, 1930-60 by Larry Ceplair
 

Sources specific to this episode:

The Hornes: An American Family, by Gail Lumet Buckley

The Undiscovered Paul Robeson: An Artist’s Journey, 1898 – 1939 by Paul Robeson Jr.

Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne by James Gavin

Lena by Lena Horne and Richard Schickel

“The Politics of Cafe Society” by David W. Stowe The Journal of American History Vol. 84, No. 4 (Mar., 1998)    

Lena Horne, interviewed by Gene De Alessi, April 12, 1966, Pacifica Radio Archives

Ed Sullivan, “Ed Sullivan’s Little Old New York,” The Pittsburgh Press, Oct. 11, 1951.

“Negroes Won’t Fight Russia, Robeson Says,” Los Angeles Times, Apr. 21, 1949.

Paul Pushkin, “Robeson Pleased With the Soviet Social Scheme,” Baltimore Afro-American, Jan. 19, 1935.

John Meroney, “The Red-Baiting of Lena Horne,” The Atlantic, Aug. 27, 2015,

“Negro Leader Takes Issue With Robeson,” Los Angeles Times, Apr. 21, 1949.
 

This episode includes excerpts from the following:

Clip from Show Boat of Robeson singing "Ol' Man River."

Robeson's post-1938 version of the lyrics:

Lena Horne interviewed on KPFA radio, 1966:

Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music:

Lena Horne talking to Shirley Eder in 1969:

Credits:

This episode was written by Karina Longworth and Matthew Dessem, and edited by Sam Dingman. Our production and research assistant is Lindsey D. Schoenholtz. Our logo was designed by Teddy Blanks.

Born Yesterday: Judy Holliday (The Blacklist Episode #11) by Karina Longworth

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Judy Holliday won an Oscar for her first starring film role (in Born Yesterday) and of her eight major film roles between 1950 and 1960, four were in films now considered classics. She was one star who was subpoenaed to testify about her ties to Communism who was fully supported by her studio and subsequently wasn’t blacklisted from movies. Holliday’s career was short-lived nonetheless, in part because she represented a highly idiosyncratic, working-class, urban, Jewish authenticity in a time when conformity was being peddled as an equivalent to safety.

Storm Warning: Ronald Reagan, the FBI and HUAC (The Blacklist Episode #8) by Karina Longworth

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The post-war Communist witch hunt had a big impact on Ronald Reagan’s evolution from movie actor to politician, and from Democrat to Republican. And, Ronald Reagan had a major personal impact on the witch hunt’s manifestation in Hollywood, the Blacklist. This episode will trace the years in which Reagan was primarily known as a movie and TV star, and explore his two marriages to actresses, his testimony to HUAC, his behind-the-scenes work as an informer to the FBI, his late-career incarnation as bridge between Hollywood and corporate America, and more.

Kings Row:

And General Electric Theater. 

This episode was edited by Henry Molofsky, and produced by Karina Longworth with the assistance of Lindsey D. Schoenholtz. Our logo was designed by Teddy Blanks.