San Francisco

MGM Stories Part Nine: Spencer Tracy by Karina Longworth

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When Spencer Tracy signed with MGM, he was a character actor better known for his problem drinking (and very public extramarital affair with Loretta Young) than for his movie hits. But the studio made him a star, and by the time Katharine Hepburn was looking for a male star who could play a prototypical American male opposite her very idiosyncratic persona, Tracy was the obvious choice. Tracy and Hepburn became one of the most legendary Hollywood couples of the century, on-screen and off, and their partnership helped to canonize both as important stars. But their personal relationship was complicated by his drinking and his relationships with other women -- including his wife.

Sources: 

The "most recent biographies" of Tracy and Hepburn mentioned in this episode are William J. Mann's Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn and James Curtis' Spencer Tracy: A Biography. The latter disputes the former, at least where the sex lives of its subjects are concerned. I'm honestly not sure what to believe about Tracy and particularly Hepburn's sex life, and I'm honestly not sure it really matters; what's more interesting to me is the ways in which stories/rumors/ideas about famous people circulate in the culture and become a part of their history, whether they're true or not. 

Other sources: Tracy and Hepburn: An Intimate Memoir by Garson Kanin; Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer by Scott Eyman; and City of Nets: A Portrait of Hollywood in the 1940s by Otto Friedrich.

This episode was edited by Henry Molofsky. Our research intern is Allie Gemmill. 

Special thanks to our special guests: Steve Zissis played Spencer Tracy; Kelly Marcel played Katharine Hepburn; and Craig Mazin returned as Louis B. Mayer. 

This episode is sponsored by Audible.com Go to Audible.com/remember for a free audiobook and a 30-day trial.

This episode is also sponsored by Squarespace. Start your website with no credit card required by going to Squarespace.com and using the offer code REMEMEBER. 

Charles Manson's Hollywood, Part 2: Charlie Manson Finds His Family by Karina Longworth

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Today we're tracing Charles Manson's life from his birth to a teenage con artist, through multiple stints in reform schools and prisons, and finally to San Francisco circa 1967, where Manson began to try out his guru act on the local hippie kids, and started to form the "family" that he'd eventually migrate with to Los Angeles. We'll explain how Manson cobbled together a dogma and worldview from a number of disparate sources -- including pimps he met in prison, the devout Christians in his family, San Francisco activists The Diggers, Dale Carnegie and Scientology -- and describe how and why he was an appealing figure to young women floating around the Bay Area in the late 1960s.  

"Manson girls" Pat Krenwinkle, Susan Stkins and Leslie Van Houten.

Show notes:

This week, we welcome a very special guest: Nate DiMeo, the creator of the wonderful history podcast, The Memory Palace. Nate will be playing Charles Manson throughout this season. Check out Nate's podcast on iTunes or at the above link, and follow him on Twitter @thememorypalace.

The main sources for this episode are the same as those noted last week, plus Can't Find My Way Home: America in the Great Stoned Age, 1945-2000, By Martin Torgoff

 

Discography:

Album Tag Song by Dennis Wilson

Slim Fitting by Glass Boy

OLPC by Marco Raaphorst

Scubba Adventure by Apache Tomcat

The Last Ones by Jahzzar

La Hacienda by Apache Tomcat

She's Leaving Home by The Beatles

Make a Wish (For Christmas) by Lee Rosevere

Don't Be Square (Be There) by Adam and the Ants