Old Hollywood

Marlene Dietrich and Claudette Colbert (Fake News: Fact Checking Hollywood Babylon Episode 15) by Karina Longworth

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The bisexuality of Marlene Dietrich was not exactly a secret in 1930s Hollywood -- in fact, her ambiguous sexuality was part of her on-screen brand. But there is some debate as to who Dietrich counted among her lovers, and which of her fellow stars participated in what has been called the “sewing circle” of female intimacy. Anger alleges that Dietrich had a “passionate affair” with Claudette Colbert, an Oscar-winning actress with an extremely heteronormative persona. We’ll explore what was going on in Dietrich’s life and career around the time when this affair could have taken place, and then delve into Colbert’s image as a very different kind of on-screen sex symbol, and her complicated off-screen personal life.

Josef von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich in Berlin 1928

Josef von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich in Berlin 1928

Marlene Dietrich, Blonde Venus, 1932

Marlene Dietrich, Blonde Venus, 1932

Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable,  It Happened One Night,  1934

Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable, It Happened One Night, 1934

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 “Secret Garden” by Madonna.

Excerpts from the following songs were used throughout the episode:

Yellow Leaves 5 - Peter Sandberg
Club Noir 2  - John Allen
City Fashion 3 - Björn Skogsberg
Tomorrow I'll Be Gone - Franz Gordon
The Piano And Me 3 - Peter Sandberg
Some Autumn Waltz 1 - Jonatan Järpehag
In The Lounge 05 - Lars Olvmyr
In The Lounge 02 - Lars Olvmyr
A Playful Mood 2 - Peter Sandberg
Goofy Moments 3 - Magnus Ringblom
Eventually Maybe - Oakwood Station
Secret Garden - Madonna

Director Cecil B. DeMille with Claudette Colbert on the set of  The Sign of the Cross , 1932

Director Cecil B. DeMille with Claudette Colbert on the set of The Sign of the Cross, 1932

Credits:

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

Editor: Cameron Drews.

Research and production assistant: Lindsey D. Schoenholtz.

Social media assistant: Brendan Whalen.

Logo design: Teddy Blanks.

Marlene Dietrich and Claudette Colbert, c. 1935

Marlene Dietrich and Claudette Colbert, c. 1935

Lupe Velez (Fake News: Fact Checking Hollywood Babylon Episode 14) by Karina Longworth

Velez, Lupe_01.jpg

Listen, download this episode, or find on Apple Podcasts.

Mexican actress Lupe Velez was the victim of one of Anger’s cruelest invented stories. His fabrication of her manner of death lays bare a vicious racism in addition to Hollywood Babylon’s usual sexism. Today we will sort out the fact of Velez’s life from Anger’s fiction, and consider the star of the Mexican Spitfire series as comedienne ahead of her time.

Lupe Velez and Douglas Fairbanks in The Gaucho (1927) Gaucho

Lupe Velez and Douglas Fairbanks in The Gaucho (1927) Gaucho

Lupe Velez with Johnny Weissmuller, 1934

Lupe Velez with Johnny Weissmuller, 1934

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 “Spanish Eyes” by Madonna.

Excerpts from the following songs were used throughout the episode:

Southern Flavors 3 - Martin Gauffin
Club Noir 2  - John Allen
Come Over To Me - Tommy Ljungberg
One Two Three 5 - Peter Sandberg
Yellow Leaves 5 - Peter Sandberg
Latin Passion - Håkan Eriksson
Amor De Danca 3 - Martin Carlberg
El Que Quiera Bailar 2 - Martin Landh
Unsolved - Mythical Score Society
Neblina 4 - Anders Göransson
A Time To Remember 3 - Martin Landh
Eventually Maybe - Oakwood Station

Studio publicity portrait of Lupe Vélez for film Mexican Spitfire, 1940.

Studio publicity portrait of Lupe Vélez for film Mexican Spitfire, 1940.

Credits:

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

Editor: Cameron Drews.

Research and production assistant: Lindsey D. Schoenholtz.

Social media assistant: Brendan Whalen.

Logo design: Teddy Blanks.

Stills from Andy Warhol’s 1966 film LUPE starring Edie Sedgwick

Stills from Andy Warhol’s 1966 film LUPE starring Edie Sedgwick

Mae West (Fake News: Fact Checking Hollywood Babylon Episode 12) by Karina Longworth

Mae_West_-_1936.jpg

Listen, download this episode, or find on iTunes.

Today we begin part two of our season, Fake News: Fact Checking Hollywood Babylon. Mae West was the biggest new star in Hollywood in 1933, thanks to two hit films she co-wrote and starred in as a sexually implicit, wisecracking broad who romanced a young Cary Grant. In Hollywood Babylon, Anger credits West’s abrupt decline in movies to a coordinated conspiracy organized by William Randolph Hearst and carried out by the Hays Office. Today we’ll explore West’s background, her history of pushing the censors past the limits of legality, and the truth of her lightning-fast rise in Hollywood and somewhat slower descent back to earth. Featuring special guest Natasha Lyonne!

SHOW NOTES:  

Sources:

Hollywood Babylon by Kenneth Anger

Goodness Had Nothing To Do With It by Mae West

Becoming Mae West by Emily Wortis Leider

She Always Knew How: Mae West, a Personal Biography by Charlotte Chandler

Hollywood's Censor: Joseph I. Breen and the Production Code Administration by Thomas Doherty

The Dame in the Kimono: Hollywood, Censorship, and the Production Code by Leonard J. Leff


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 “I’m No Angel” by Mae West.

Excerpts from the following songs were used throughout the episode:

One Two Three 4 - Peter Sandberg

One Two Three 5 - Peter Sandberg

My Simple Thing 2 - Peter Sandberg

Up We Go 4 - Peter Sandberg

Yellow Leaves 5 - Peter Sandberg

Eventually Maybe - Oakwood Station

Say It Is So - Magnus Ringblom Quartet

In The Lounge 02 - Lars Olvmyr

In The Lounge 05 - Lars Olvmyr

City Fashion 3 - Björn Skogsberg

Tomorrow I'll Be Gone - Franz Gordon

Corny Local Restaurants 2 - Magnus Ringblom

Goofy Moments 3 - Magnus Ringblom

Sophisticated Gentlemen 2 - Magnus Ringblom

Bachelor On The Move 4 - Martin Landh

Thieves Adventures 21 - Magnus Ringblom

Club Noir 2 - John Åhlin

Mae West and Grant in  I'm No Angel  (1933)

Mae West and Grant in I'm No Angel (1933)

Credits:

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

Editor: Cameron Drews.

Research and production assistant: Lindsey D. Schoenholtz.

Social media assistant: Brendan Whalen.

Logo design: Teddy Blanks.

Mae West, shot by Diane Arbus, c. 1965

Mae West, shot by Diane Arbus, c. 1965

Linda Darnell (The Seduced, Episode 4) by Karina Longworth

Listen, download this episode, or find on iTunes.

A stunning brunette sex symbol married to cinematographer Pev Marley, Darnell thought her affair with Hughes would result in marriage to the aviator. But after Hughes’s near-fatal 1946 plane crash, Marley tried to make a deal to sell his wife to the tycoon--which was not what Darnell wanted. This was not the low point of a life that ended in incredible tragedy, amidst a career that, to this day, has not been given the acclaim it deserves.

Linda Darnell, Jeanne Crain, Ann Sothern, and John Venn in  A Letter to Three Wives , 1949

Linda Darnell, Jeanne Crain, Ann Sothern, and John Venn in A Letter to Three Wives, 1949

Linda Darnell & Joseph L. Mankiewicz, c. 1948

Linda Darnell & Joseph L. Mankiewicz, c. 1948

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 “She’s So High” by Blur.

Excerpts from the following songs were used throughout the episode:

Reflective - Artist Unknown 

Song for Johanna - Franz Gordon

Tomorrow I’ll Be Gone - Franz Gordon

Mas Cerca De Ti 5 - Martin Carlberg

Whiskey Rondo - Hakan Eriksson

Time for Miles - Artist Unknown 

Club Noir 2 - John Ahlin

Speakeasy 2 - Gunnar Johnsen

Victoria’s Vintage Pearls 3 - Peter Sandberg

Sunset - Kai Engel

Sweet Flower Girl - Artist Unknown 

Dust Bowl 1 - Hakan Eriksson

Jazz And Blue Piano 1 - Jonatan Jarpehag 

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.

Linda Darnell out (5).jpg

Clara Bow (Fake News: Fact Checking Hollywood Babylon Episode 11) by Karina Longworth

Listen, download this episode, or find on iTunes.

We’ll close this half of our Hollywood Babylon season with one of that book’s most famously distorted stories: the tale of “It” Girl Clara Bow’s supposed nymphomania and alleged “tackling” of the entire USC football team. The real story of Clara Bow’s life and career is a much richer tale, involving changing sexual mores, and the change in the audience’s tastes that overlapped with the end of the silent era. Featuring special guest Natasha Lyonne!

Clara Bow and the WAMPAS Baby Stars of 1924

Clara Bow and the WAMPAS Baby Stars of 1924

Portrait of Clara Bow, 1920's

Portrait of Clara Bow, 1920's

SHOW NOTES:  

Sources:

This episode is a response to, and includes a brief excerpt from, Hollywood Babylon by Kenneth Anger.

Clara Bow: Runnin’ Wild by David Stenn

Directed by Dorothy Arzner by Judith Mayne

Silent Stars by Jeanine Basinger

Moving Pictures: Memories of a Hollywood Prince by Budd Schulberg

The New York Graphic: The World’s Zaniest Newspaper by Lester Cohen

Final Thoughts on The “It” Girl and the Secretary, derangedlacrimes.com

The Evening Graphic's Tabloid Reality By Bob Stepno, stepno.com

Clara Bow and Charles "Buddy" Rogers in Wings, 1927

Clara Bow and Charles "Buddy" Rogers in Wings, 1927

Music:

Original music was composed for this episode by Evan Viola. Most of the rest of 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 “Daughter of a Child” by The Auteurs.

Excerpts from the following songs were used throughout the episode:

The Smoke Room - Gunnar Johnsen  
After the Freakshow - Jenny Roos
Cinema Romanza 14 - Jonatan Jarpehag
Bad News Piano 02 - Oscar Collin
Angry Cats - Hakan Ericsson
Loser - Anders Ekengren
My Simple Thing 2 - Peter Sandberg
Mississippi Ramble 1 - Martin Gauffin
I Don’t Smoke - Mythical Score Society
“Fight On” - Milo Sweet, 1922 (USC Fight Song) 
The Hepcat Swagger - Martin Landh
My Simple Thing - Peter Sandberg
Music from “The Wild Party” 1929 - John Leipold
French Girls - Hakan Eriksson
Dust Bowl 1 - Hakan Eriksson
Cluedo - Hakan Eriksson
People Falling Down 3 - Gavin Luke
Black and White Memories 3 - Martin Hall
Whiskey Rondo - Hakan Eriksson
Mas Cerca De Ti 5 - Martin Carlberg
Music from “Call Her Savage” 1932 - Peter Brunelli, Arthur Lange
Sad Piano Walk 1 - Oscar Collin  

clara-rex-kids.jpg

Credits:

Our special guest this week is Matt Bomer.

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

Editors: Sam Dingman and Jacob Smith.

Research and production assistant: Lindsey D. Schoenholtz.

Social media assistant: Brendan Whalen.

Logo design: Teddy Blanks.

Marilyn Monroe as Clara Bow, photographed by Richard Avedon

Marilyn Monroe as Clara Bow, photographed by Richard Avedon

Rudolph Valentino (Fake News: Fact-Checking Hollywood Babylon Episode 10) by Karina Longworth

Screen Shot 2018-08-14 at 4.09.17 PM.png

Listen, download this episode, or find on iTunes.

Rudolph Valentino was Hollywood’s first “latin lover.” His shocking death at the age of 31 was attributed to side effects from an appendectomy, but Hollywood Babylon forwards theories that Valentino may have actually been poisoned, or killed by the husband of a lover, and/or secretly gay and recently divorced from his second secretly lesbian wife. What was the real story of Valentino’s marriages, and what really led to his untimely demise?

Rudolph Valentino, 1920's

Rudolph Valentino, 1920's

Rudolph Valentino and Agnes Ayres in  The Sheik  1921

Rudolph Valentino and Agnes Ayres in The Sheik 1921

Music:

Original music was composed for this episode by Evan Viola. Most of the rest of 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 “Lenny Valentino” by The Auteurs.

Excerpts from the following songs were used throughout the episode:

The Smoke Room - Gunnar Johnsen  
Angry Cats - Hakan Ericsson
Pesado Manouche 3 - John Ahlin
Cluedo - Hakan Eriksson
I Don’t Smoke - Mythical Score Society
Loser - Anders Ekengren
Mas Cerca De Ti 1 - Martin Carlberg
Black and White - Magnus Ringblom Quartet
The Sheik (My Rose of Araby) (1921) - Ted Snyder
Mas Cerca De Ti 5 - Martin Carlberg
After the Freakshow - Jenny Roos
Whiskey Rondo - Hakan Eriksson
People Falling - Gavin Luke
Tartango 1 - Josef Falkenskold
Bad News Piano 02 - Oscar Collin 

Portrait of Rudolph Valentino and Natacha Rambova, 1925

Portrait of Rudolph Valentino and Natacha Rambova, 1925

Excerpts from the following songs were used throughout the episode:

Credits:

Our special guest this week is John Hodgman.

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

Editors: Sam Dingman and Jacob Smith.

Research and production assistant: Lindsey D. Schoenholtz.

Social media assistant: Brendan Whalen.

Logo design: Teddy Blanks.

Portrait of Rudolph Valentino by Henry Waxman, 1920's.png

Bela and Boris Episode 5: Bela Lugosi and Ed Wood by Karina Longworth

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Listen, download this episode, or find on iTunes.

Forgotten by Hollywood, struggling with morphine addiction and a dependency on alcohol, at the end of his life Bela Lugosi was welcomed into a rag tag bunch of micro-budget movie-making freaks led by Edward D. Wood Jr,, who would later become known as the worst filmmaker of all time. Through their collaborations on movies like Glen or Glenda? and Bride of the Monster, did Ed Wood help Bela, exploit him, or a little of both? Featuring Taran Killam as Bela Lugosi and Noah Segan as Ed Wood. 

Bela Lugosi during a 1950's stage show. 

Bela Lugosi during a 1950's stage show. 

Edward D. Wood Jr. (Ed Wood) c. 1950's 

Edward D. Wood Jr. (Ed Wood) c. 1950's 

Bela Lugosi,  Glen or Glenda? , 1953

Bela Lugosi, Glen or Glenda?, 1953

brideOfTheMonsterWeddingDress.jpg

SHOW NOTES:  

Sources: 

The Moguls: Hollywood's Merchants of Myth by Norman J. Zierold

The Immortal Count: The Life and Films of Bela Lugosi by Arthur Lennig

Silent Stars by Jeanine Basinger

A History of Horror by Wheeler Winston Dixon

Universal Horrors: The Studio’s Classic Films, 1931–1946, 2nd Ed. By Tom Weaver, Michael Brunas and Tom Brunas

Tome of Terror: Horror Films of the 1930s by Christopher Workman and Troy Howarth

City of Dreams: The Making and Remaking of Universal Pictures by Bernard F. Dick

Universal Studios Monsters: A Legacy of Horror by Michael Mallory

Lois Weber in Early Hollywood by Shelley Stamp

Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff: The Expanded Story of a Haunting Collaboration, with a Complete Filmography of Their Films Together by Gregory William Mank

Ed Wood: Nightmare of Ecstasy by Rudolph Grey

Music:

All of the music used in this episode, with the exception of the intro and outro, is from royalty-free music libraries and licensed music collections. The intro includes a clip from the film Casablanca. Outro song: “Bela Lugosi's Dead” by Bauhaus. Excerpts from the following songs were used throughout the episode: "Waltz For Cello 1" by Jonatan Järpehag, "Mystery Minute 1" by Anders Ekengren, "Mercy Of The Wind 1" by Peter Sandberg, "Mercy Of The Wind 5" by Peter Sandberg, "Optical Delusion 3" by Håkan Eriksson, "Some Autumn Waltz 1" by Jonatan Järpehag, 
"Eccentric Vibes 4" by Håkan Eriksson, "Reflectif" (artist unknown), "At The Riviera 1" by Peter Sandberg, "Gagool" by Kevin MacLeod, "Etude No 3 For String Quartet" by Peter Sandberg, 

Sponsors:

This episode is sponsored by Squarespace and Blue Apron.

Credits:

This episode was edited by Sam Dingman and Jacob Smith, and produced by Karina Longworth with the assistance of Lindsey D. Schoenholtz. Featuring Taran Killam as Bela Lugosi and Noah Segan as Ed Wood. Our logo was designed by Teddy Blanks.

Bela Lugosi, 1955

Bela Lugosi, 1955

Bela and Boris Episode 4: Bela vs. Boris by Karina Longworth

boris-karloff-and-bela-lugosi.jpg

Listen, download this episode, or find on iTunes.

Lugosi and Karloff, the two stars made by Universal’s monster movies, made eight films together. Today we’ll dive deep into some of these movies (including The Black Cat, The Raven, Son of Frankenstein and Val Lewton’s The Body Snatcher), and continue to explore how even when their careers brought them together, Karloff and Lugosi remained worlds apart. Featuring Patton Oswalt as Boris Karloff and Taran Killam as Bela Lugosi.

Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff,  The Black Cat,  1934

Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, The Black Cat, 1934

Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi,  The Raven , 1935

Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, The Raven, 1935

Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi,  Son of Frankenstein , 1939

Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, Son of Frankenstein, 1939

SHOW NOTES:  

Sources: 

The Moguls: Hollywood's Merchants of Myth by Norman J. Zierold

The Immortal Count: The Life and Films of Bela Lugosi by Arthur Lennig

Silent Stars by Jeanine Basinger

A History of Horror by Wheeler Winston Dixon

Universal Horrors: The Studio’s Classic Films, 1931–1946, 2nd Ed. By Tom Weaver, Michael Brunas and Tom Brunas

Tome of Terror: Horror Films of the 1930s by Christopher Workman and Troy Howarth

City of Dreams: The Making and Remaking of Universal Pictures by Bernard F. Dick

Universal Studios Monsters: A Legacy of Horror by Michael Mallory

Lois Weber in Early Hollywood by Shelley Stamp

Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff: The Expanded Story of a Haunting Collaboration, with a Complete Filmography of Their Films Together by Gregory William Mank

Fearing the Dark: The Val Lewton Career by Edmund G. Bansak

Icons of Grief: Val Lewton's Home Front Pictures by Alexander Nemerov

Val Lewton: The Reality of Terror by Joel E. Siegel

"'The Screen's Number One and Number Two Bogeymen': The Critical Reception of Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi in the 1930s and 1940s." by Mark Jancovich and Shane Brown. From Cult Film Stardom: Offbeat Attractions and Processes of Cultification

“Scare ‘Em To Death -- and Cash In” by Richard G. Hubler. Saturday Evening Post, May 23, 1942

Music:

All of the music used in this episode, with the exception of the intro and outro, is from royalty-free music libraries and licensed music collections. The intro includes a clip from the film Casablanca. Outro song: “Penthouse and Pavement” by Heaven 17.  Excerpts from the following songs were used throughout the episode: "Waltz For Cello 1" by Jonatan Järpehag, "Psychological Drama 4" by Magnus Ringblom, "Clumsy Detective 02" by Thomas Lundgren,  "Russian Dance Off" by Håkan Eriksson, "Victoria's Vintage Pearls 2" by Peter Sandberg, "Pet Cemetery" by Håkan Eriksson, "Eccentric Vibes 11" by Håkan Eriksson, "Baltic Waltz" by Håkan Eriksson, "Discovery - Blute Solo" by William T. Stromberg from Son of Frankenstein, 1939, "Vampires Suck" by Jon Björk, "Etude No. 3 for String Quartet" by Peter Sandberg, "Reflectif" (Artist unknown), "Some Autumn Waltz 1" by Jonatan Järpehag. 

Sponsors:

This episode is sponsored by the Great Courses Plus and Squarespace

Credits:

This episode was edited by Sam Dingman and Jacob Smith, and produced by Karina Longworth with the assistance of Lindsey D. Schoenholtz. Featuring Patton Oswalt as Boris Karloff and Taran Killam as Bela Lugosi. Our logo was designed by Teddy Blanks.

Double Feature Frankenstein and Dracula, 1952.jpg