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Scandals of Classic Hollywood

Believe it or not, America's fascination with celebrity culture was thriving well before the days of TMZ, Perez Hilton, Charlie Sheen's breakdown and allegations against Woody Allen. And the stars of yesteryear? They weren't always the saints that we make them out to be. Film professor Anne Helen Petersen is here to set the record straight with Scandals of Classic Hollywood. Pulling little-known gems from the archives of film history, Petersen reveals eyebrow-raising information, including- The smear campaign against the original It Girl, Clara Bow, started by her best friend The heartbreaking story of Montgomery Clift's rapid rise to fame, the car accident that destroyed his face, and the 'long suicide' that followed Fatty Arbuckle's descent from Hollywood royalty, fueled by allegations of a boozy orgy turned violent assault Why Mae West was arrested and jailed for 'indecency charges' And much more Part biography, part cultural history, these stories cover the stuff that films are made of- love, sex, drugs, illegitimate children, illicit affairs, and botched cover-ups. But it's not all just tawdry gossip in the pages of this book. The stories are all contextualized within the boundaries of film, cultural, political, and gender history, making for a read that will inform as it entertains. Based on Petersen's popular column on the Hairpin, but featuring 100% new content, Scandals of Classic Hollywood is sensationalism made smart. 'Delectably lucid and sympathetic cultural analysis. Petersen brings a fresh, thoughtful perspective to a question that's still relevant- How does the Hollywood dream factory deal with its own nightmares?' Mark Harris, author of Pictures at a Revolution and Five Came Back- A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War 'Reading Anne Helen Petersen's Scandals of Classic Hollywood feels a little like sitting in on a slumber party hosted by the funniest, gossipy-est, and yet - somehow - kindest girl in school. Who also can make decades old stories of sex, drugs, and violence seem sweaty, twisted, and new.' Edith Zimmerman, founder of The Hairpin
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About the Author

Anne Helen Petersen received her Ph.D. in media studies from the University of Texas, where she studied the industrial history of the gossip industry. After teaching in the university setting for several years, she transitioned to full-time feature writing, most recently with BuzzFeed. Her work has appeared in The Believer, The Awl, The Hairpin, Laptham's Quarterly, The Baffler, Pacific Standard, The Guardian, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Virginia Quarterly Review.


"Engaging...Petersen is an author for our age." -The Boston Globe "Insightful." -TIME Magazine "Clear and convincing...Although Petersen's book benefits from intelligent analysis of archival research, she writes with the verve of an enthusiast." -LA Times "Terrific and thoughtful and fascinating." -NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour "Smart, relevant, and fun...think TMZ with a PhD." -Bitch "Compulsively readable." -The Rumpus "Compulsively readable...[Petersen] sheds light on often-repeated myths with impeccable research and razor-sharp analysis." -Yahoo "[This] dishy book delivers the juicy anecdotes readers crave." -NY Post "Dishy as hell." -Refinery29 "Not merely a rehash of salacious old Hollywood gossip, Petersen revivifies flattened images of Hollywood icons...Wide-ranging and surprisingly thoughtful." -Kirkus "Brisk and lively." -Library Journal

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