The Leading Men of MGM

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9780786714759: The Leading Men of MGM

Gable, Tracy, Stewart, Ol’ Blue Eyes, the King. They were Hollywood gods; men wanted to be them, women just plain wanted them. As celluloid royalty and soldiers in Louis B. Mayer’s box office army, the men of The Leading Men of MGM captured the hearts and imaginations of the movie-going public during a thirty-year stretch encompassing three wars and the ultimate downfall of a studio empire. And while their roles onscreen are some of cinema’s most memorable, they often pale in comparison to the lives these men lived behind the scenes. The Leading Men of MGM exposes these legendary figures in all of their salacious glory—from Clark Gable’s clandestine homosexual encounters in bistro bathrooms to Elvis’s pill-popping and Sinatra and Lawford’s icy post-Kennedy jousts. Also profiling such stars as Ramon Novarro, Billy Haines, and Van Johnson, the collection offers complete filmographies, photographs, and insightful looks at the nature of stardom during an era when the phenomenon was being minted. Offering a warts-and-all look at fifteen-plus legendary Tinseltown stars in addition to exploring their successes as genuine Hollywood talent, author Jane Wayne has written a must-have volume for film buffs of all stripes.

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About the Author:

JANE ELLEN WAYNE is the author of Robert Taylor: The Man with the Perfect Face and eight other Hollywood star biographies, among them Lana, Gable's Women, and Crawford's Men. She lives in Wilmington, North Carolina.

From Publishers Weekly:

The men in Wayne's book—some producers (Louis B. Mayer, Irving Thalberg), but mostly actors (Clark Gable, John Gilbert, Elvis Presley, Mickey Rooney, Frank Sinatra, Spencer Tracy)—are, theoretically, connected because they were all big names on MGM's roster. Really, though, they're all here so that Wayne (The Golden Girls of MGM) can dish the dirt, which she does, shovel-like. The Tracy chapter delves into his long history of alcohol abuse and his decades-long relationship (of convenience, says Wayne) with Katharine Hepburn (who, Wayne reports, mothered him while putting up with constant abuse and his refusal to divorce his wife and marry her). Tracy's story is more sad than entertaining, as is the chapter on the miserable decline of Peter Lawford. More tawdry—and fun—are the sections on Gable and Sinatra, where Wayne first shows what unlikely romantic leads they each were (Gable had big ears and false teeth; Sinatra was a "skinny, unknown singer who acted like a celebrity") before getting to the real meat of their careers: who they slept with, when, and if they were any good. Although suspiciously thin on attribution—Wayne has a mysterious, Kitty Kelley–like way with the sources of her more sensational material—this is an undeniably enjoyable selection of Hollywood juice. Photos.
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