World War II

Marilyn Monroe: The Beginning (Dead Blondes Flashback) by Karina Longworth

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Today we begin the first of three episodes on the most iconic dead blonde of them all, Marilyn Monroe. We’ll start by revisiting our episode on Marilyn from our series on stars during World War II, in which we traced the former Norma Jeane from her unhappy, almost parentless childhood through her teenage marriage, her work in a wartime factory, her hand-to-mouth days as a model, her struggles to break into movies and, finally, the sex scandal that made her a star.

This episode originally debuted in February 2015. The original show notes for this episode can be found here

Marilyn in 1946.

Marilyn in 1946.

Tom Kelley's nude Marilyn photos, 1949 

Tom Kelley's nude Marilyn photos, 1949 

Carole Landis (Dead Blondes Episode 5) by Karina Longworth

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Carole Landis was a gifted comedienne, a decent singer, and -- once she dyed her natural brown hair blonde -- perhaps the most luminous beauty in movies of the early 1940s. Plus, she was one of the most dedicated USO performers of WWII, and her elopement with an Air Force pilot on her travels became the inspiration for a book, movie and long running tabloid narrative. But then Landis fell into an affair with Rex Harrison -- and this affair turned out to be Landis’ last.

Carole Landis with World War II troops 

Carole Landis with World War II troops 

Show notes:

Sources specific to this episode:

Carole Landis: A Most Beautiful Girl, by Eric Gans

Fatal Charm: The Life of Rex Harrison, by Alexander Walker

Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley, by Jeffrey Spivak

Lovely Me: The Life of Jacqueline Susann, by Barbara Seaman

This is the issue of TIME Magazine mentioned in the intro.

The book containing the claims about Pat DeCicco’s violent involvement in Carole Landis’ changed nose is Carole Landis: A Tragic Life In Hollywood by EJ Fleming. Other than citing this one specious claim, I did not use this book as a source precisely because Fleming has a tendency to phrase conjecture as though it is fact. 

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.

Rex Harrison and Carole Landis

Rex Harrison and Carole Landis

Blacklist Flashback: Frank Sinatra through 1945 by Karina Longworth

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Before our episode on Frank Sinatra’s attempt to end the blacklist, we’re going to flashback to an episode from April 2015, on Sinatra’s rise to fame and his experiences during World War II.  In the early 1940s, shortly after skyrocketing to fame as a heartthrob crooner, Sinatra was perceived, and from some corners pilloried, as a draft dodger. Today we’ll talk about how Sinatra acquired that reputation, how it impacted his early career, and the early success which, as we’ll see next week, faded, and became something that Sinatra struggled to recapture, and couldn’t bear to let go of once he did so.

This episode originally debuted in April 2015. The original show notes for the episode contains sources, soundtrack information and more.

Blacklist Flashback: Lena Horne During WWII by Karina Longworth

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Stunning singer/actress Lena Horne was the first black performer to be given the full glamour girl star-making treatment. But as the years went on and her studio failed to make much use of her, Horne started feeling like a token — and she wasn’t wrong. Today we’ll detail Horne’s experiences rising through the ranks of the black nightclub world to MGM, where she remained under contract through the 1940s, and found herself competing with Ava Gardner for parts. Next week, we’ll talk about Horne’s post-MGM career and her struggle to stay off the blacklist.

This episode originally debuted in February 2015

There are several excerpts in this episode from the autobiographical stage show Lena mounted in the early 1980s, “Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music.” Some of these excerpts come from a television version of the show that’s been posted on YouTube; others are from the official soundtrack album.

Other audio-video sources used in this episode, not including music:

Lena Horne on the Tonight Show 

Lena Horne on Good Morning America, 1981

Clip from Cabin in the Sky

Jubilee! Episode #89, from Armed Forces Radio Service, July 24, 1944

Blacklist Flashback: Charlie Chaplin During World War II by Karina Longworth

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In 1922, Charlie Chaplin was one of the most beloved men in the world. In 1952, after over a decade of being publicly shamed, he was essentially manipulated into self-deportation. What happened in between? We’ll explain over two episodes, beginning with this flashback to an episode that originally ran in March 2015, detailing Chaplin’s politics, his fascination with Adolf Hitler, the making and release of The Great Dictator, and the sex scandal that gave J. Edgar Hoover an opening to persecute Chaplin.

This episode originally debuted in March 2015. The original show notes for the episode contains sources, soundtrack information and more.