The First Lady of Hollywood

The First Lady of Hollywood : A Biography of Louella Parsons

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Hollywood celebrities feared her. William Randolph Hearst adored her. Between 1915 and 1960, Louella Parsons was America's premier movie gossip columnist and in her heyday commanded a following of more than forty million readers. This first full-length biography of Parsons tells the story of her reign over Hollywood during the studio era, her lifelong alliance with her employer, William Randolph Hearst, and her complex and turbulent relationships with such noted stars, directors, and studio executives as Orson Welles, Joan Crawford, Louis B. Mayer, Ronald Reagan, and Frank Sinatra - as well as her rival columnists Hedda Hopper and Walter Winchell. Loved by fans for her 'just folks', small-town image, Parsons became notorious within the film industry for her involvement in the suppression of the 1941 film Citizen Kane and her use of blackmail in the service of Hearst's political and personal agendas. As she traces Parsons' life and career, Samantha Barbas situates Parsons' experiences in the broader trajectory of Hollywood history, charting the rise of the star system and the complex interactions of publicity, journalism, and movie-making.
Engagingly written and thoroughly researched, "The First Lady of Hollywood" is both an engrossing chronicle of one of the most powerful women in American journalism and film and a penetrating analysis of celebrity culture and Hollywood power politics.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 426 pages
  • 147.3 x 226.1 x 35.6mm | 748.44g
  • Berkerley, United States
  • English
  • 25 b/w photographs
  • 0520242130
  • 9780520242135

Back cover copy

"This significant book is the first full length biography of one of the most influential women in Hollywood. It spans a momentous time in terms of the film industry and, with superior scholarship, examines that era through a different and important lens."--Cari Beauchamp, author of "Without Lying Down"This book makes an important contribution to the study of the relationships among journalism, publicity, and celebrity, skillfully connecting issues that have impact on Parson's life and career and thoroughly documenting her rise to extraordinary power. The research is extensive and fills in details that will interest even those who know parts of the story well."--Charles Affron, author of "Lillian Gish: Her Legend, Her Life"More than just an addictively engrossing study of the infamous gossip columnist, Barbas' "The First Lady of Hollywood: A Biography of Louella Parsons, is a deftly written historical, political and cultural chronicle of the United States during the first half of the 20th century."--Susan King, Los Angeles Times
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About Samantha Barbas

Samantha Barbas has a Ph.D. in American History from the University of California, Berkeley, and is the author of Movie Crazy: Fans, Stars, and the Cult of Celebrity (2001).
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Table of contents

Acknowledgments Prologue PART I 1. Early Years 2. Essanay 3. The Column 4. New York 5. "The Lovely Miss Marion Davies" PART II 6. On the Way to Hollywood 7. Hollywood 8. Feuds 9. Radio 10. The Best and the Hearst PART III 11. The First Lady of Hollywood 12. Raising Kane 13. The Gay Illiterate 14. War and Peace 15. Scandal 16. The End of an Era 17. Eclipse Notes Bibliography Index
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Rating details

41 ratings
3.7 out of 5 stars
5 17% (7)
4 44% (18)
3 32% (13)
2 7% (3)
1 0% (0)
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