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Hollywood Babylon: The Legendary Underground Classic of Hollywood's Darkest and Best Kept Secrets [Mass Market Paperback]

Kenneth Anger
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 15 1981
Originally published in Paris, this is a collection of Hollywood's darkest and best kept secrets from the pen of Kenneth Anger, a former child movie actor who grew up to become one of America's leading underground film-makers.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Hollywood Babylon: The Legendary Underground Classic of Hollywood's Darkest and Best Kept Secrets + Hollywood Babylon Strikes Again!: More Exhibitions! More Sex! More Sin! More Scandals Unfit to Print
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Good for a laugh. Oct. 16 2006
By Hodiak
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Hollywood is not the scandal ridden, seedy place a lot of people seem to think it is. Sure there were people who had no redeeming qualities and yes there were unsolved celebrity murders, but there are also several stories of great things happening there just like any other place. In any case several stories are only myths and this book is no exception.

Speaking for both the Hollywood Babylon books, this book is full of it. There is no evidence that Cary Grant and Randolph Scott were lovers and yet there it is in the book as if it were fact. Parrish speaks about Judy Garland as if she were a pill popping queen and yet she tried to get off the pills all her life. She did not commit suicide, it was an accidental overdose, people forget she was a survivor and think of her only as a tragedy.

Combining both books together, what is the deal with presenting sisters Lillian and Dorothy Gish as lovers and then offer no explanation or proof just a photo caption with saying they were lovers. That's the problem with this book, Parrish offers us a story and then refuses to delve further. He has the Mauch twins on a horse together with the caption "Closer than Close" and that's it. What's the deal with the photo of "Petty Girl" Robert Cummings in drag, and Van Johnson dressed up as a Reverand. It was only a gag photo in a studio. Does Parrish seem to think that this photo hints at a different side to both Cummings and Johnson?.

The front cover picture of Elizabeth Taylor was not flattering either, this is what Parrish does best, he makes all the stars look like trash.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Anger is the right name for this guy! March 5 2007
Both Hollywood Babylons are full of lies and gossip. Some might find it titilating, but have a close look at the faces in some of the pictures. The nudes he implies are Jean Harlow in the first book are not even her. One of the nudes which is supposedly Joan Crawford is definitely not her. Anger makes insinuations of all kinds that he never explains, much less backs up. The spread on the Black Dahlia is tasteless and insensitive to the extreme. Some of the pictures are fun, but there are plenty of books out there with good pictures -- spend your money on one of them and not this trash by a failed actor and director of colossally boring "Art" films.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Good For The Photos Only March 12 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The photos are rare, and oftentimes very shocking, but the books overall are nothing but half-truths and outright fabrications. Even a photo of Marilyn Monroe leads the reader to think it was of her dead body. Anger just makes up things at times, and reduces legends like Buster Keaton to a "drunk who died obscure" which it completely untrue. He hints that the famous Gish sisters were lovers, then backs it up with...nothing. He also claims in a photo caption that Harold Lloyd fathered many illegitimate children, but again, no proof. Just a caption. What would you expect from a friend of Aleister Crowley? Plus the second book's Reagan-will-nuke-the-world paranoia only dates it to the 80s. The author has sympathy for a clap-ridden prostitute who died most likely from a botched abortion, but ignores the evidence and blames a comedian who had nothing to do with it. Writing about scandal is one thing but to make it up is nothing short of the Weekly World News. This is no way to learn about old Hollywood, kids.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A full-sized load of Hollywood's dirty laundry Sept. 22 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Reading this book probably wasn't the best way to learn of Hollywood's sordid trash, when I bought this ages ago, but I didn't have a movie encyclopedia at the time, which would have been useful, and I would've learned of the many tragedies that befell certain Hollywood stars in a more scholarly way. However, I didn't know that Peg Enwistle was the one who started a trend by diving off the LAND of the HOLLYWOODLAND sign, which now reads HOLLYWOOD.
The key scandals of the 1920's through 1950's are played out. The Fatty Arbuckle scandal of 1921, involving his alleged part in the death of starlet Virginia Rappe, was the O.J. Simpson of the 1920's is given a separate chapter. It took three trials to acquit him, but his career was finished. As Anger snidily writes, "The Prince of Whales had been harpooned." The others include Errol Flynn being accused of having sex with two underage girls, Mary Astor's diary, and the stabbing death of Lana Turner's lover John Stompanato by Cheryl Crane. Frances Farmer's nervous breakdown and collapse has some of snidiness in there, although he makes it clear that he does sympathize with her plight years before Nirvana did a song on her on their In Utero album.
Two mysterious and to this day still unsolved are probed, that of Thelma Todd, the Ice Cream Blonde, who may have been murdered by the mob instead of committing suicide, and the murder of director William Desmond Taylor, and those aren't as treated sensationally as other material.
Suicides are written with some embellishment in this book, i.e. Paul Bern, Jean Harlow's second husband, Marie Prevost, whose starving dog ate parts of her body, Lupe Velez, a.k.a. the Mexican Spitfire, and Carole Landis. Separate sections are written for Velez and Landis.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Not as good as "Strikes Again" but interesting read.
Published 2 months ago by Randy Osborne
4.0 out of 5 stars fun
overall, hollywood babylon is an interesting and engrossing read. as with any book on old hollywood, it's important to take the insinuations made by the author with a grain of... Read more
Published on Jan. 28 2012 by blacktoenail
5.0 out of 5 stars a book that is a fun guilty-pleasure!!!
Hollywood is a place i have always dreamed about and have NEVER wanted to visit, and this book only solidifies my conviction. Read more
Published on July 16 2004 by Kate C.
3.0 out of 5 stars An inside glimpse of Tinsel Town
Kenneth Anger, once a child actor himself, unvales and points both barrels at Hollywood and its subculture of excess and outrageousness. Read more
Published on May 5 2004 by Frank Forrest
1.0 out of 5 stars The Worst Book I've Encountered In Some Time
This book is questionable as far as accuracy. For example, I have read several recent books on Judy Garland. Read more
Published on April 14 2004
1.0 out of 5 stars Lies, lies and more lies
Kenneth Anger obviously hates Hollywood. So he writes this book based on gossip magazines that has little facts in truth. Read more
Published on Jan. 8 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars A "Must Read" on Hollywood History
Hollywood Babylon is a definate must read for anyone interested in Hollywood history. I doubt if everything in the book is accurate. It reads like a tabloid. Read more
Published on Aug. 13 2003 by Donna Grayson
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious, malicious fun! (but don't believe a word of it)
Kenneth Anger's trash classic is still worth a look after all these years. No, this is not the book for those tender and naive dears among us who still think "they wouldn't print... Read more
Published on July 27 2003
1.0 out of 5 stars If You Like To Read Lies, This Book Is For You
Hollywood Babylon is filled with inaccuracies and slander, but if that's your cup of tea, go for it.
Published on May 28 2003
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