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Hollywood Myths: The Shocking Truths Behind Film's Most Incredible Secrets and Scandals

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Hollywood exists to create and sell myth. Often, however, the myths created on screen are secondary to the rumors, half-truths, and lies that circulate through studio back lots and the press. Discover the real stories behind Hollywood’s greatest myths, as veteran film critic and Hollywood reporter Joe Williams sorts fact from fiction and examines how these tales came to be Hollywood exists to create and sell myth. Often, however, the myths created on screen are secondary to the rumors, half-truths, and lies that circulate through studio back lots and the press. Discover the real stories behind Hollywood’s greatest myths, as veteran film critic and Hollywood reporter Joe Williams sorts fact from fiction and examines how these tales came to be and how they persisted. Did Thomas Edison really invent the motion picture? Why has Charlie Chaplin survived as the undisputed king of the silent era? What about Fatty Arbuckle and that ill-fated boys' weekend in San Francisco? Did Woody Allen really marry his adopted daughter? Was there actually a suicide on the set of The Wizard of Oz (or are any of the other countless rumors about that film true)? The tales featured in Hollywood Myths involve specific films, actors' private lives, the industry itself, and urban legends that have existed as long as Hollywood has. Throughout, Williams illuminates what it was that made the biggest stars—from Marlon to Marilyn, Bogie to Brad—shine so brightly on the silver screen. In all, 56 enduring myths are examined, in the process revealing the machinations of myth-making in the fast, loose, and out-of-control world of Hollywood.


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Hollywood exists to create and sell myth. Often, however, the myths created on screen are secondary to the rumors, half-truths, and lies that circulate through studio back lots and the press. Discover the real stories behind Hollywood’s greatest myths, as veteran film critic and Hollywood reporter Joe Williams sorts fact from fiction and examines how these tales came to be Hollywood exists to create and sell myth. Often, however, the myths created on screen are secondary to the rumors, half-truths, and lies that circulate through studio back lots and the press. Discover the real stories behind Hollywood’s greatest myths, as veteran film critic and Hollywood reporter Joe Williams sorts fact from fiction and examines how these tales came to be and how they persisted. Did Thomas Edison really invent the motion picture? Why has Charlie Chaplin survived as the undisputed king of the silent era? What about Fatty Arbuckle and that ill-fated boys' weekend in San Francisco? Did Woody Allen really marry his adopted daughter? Was there actually a suicide on the set of The Wizard of Oz (or are any of the other countless rumors about that film true)? The tales featured in Hollywood Myths involve specific films, actors' private lives, the industry itself, and urban legends that have existed as long as Hollywood has. Throughout, Williams illuminates what it was that made the biggest stars—from Marlon to Marilyn, Bogie to Brad—shine so brightly on the silver screen. In all, 56 enduring myths are examined, in the process revealing the machinations of myth-making in the fast, loose, and out-of-control world of Hollywood.

30 review for Hollywood Myths: The Shocking Truths Behind Film's Most Incredible Secrets and Scandals

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Granted, this was written by a childhood friend whom I adored (he died suddenly last year) but I absolutely love the easy style and conversational tone. The stories are riveting and I was enthralled and happy to get the full picture on some stories I didn't know and some I half knew. A great read! Granted, this was written by a childhood friend whom I adored (he died suddenly last year) but I absolutely love the easy style and conversational tone. The stories are riveting and I was enthralled and happy to get the full picture on some stories I didn't know and some I half knew. A great read!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Denise Brickler

    I was disappointed that the midgets from The Wizard of Oz were not discussed more. I could have written this book!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Neil

    This is fine, probably better than the average rating it's getting here. Nothing in it is blatantly wrong, it doesn't repeat a bunch of apocryphal nonsense (and in fact debunks quite a bit of that). Nor is the book blatantly trashy (maybe that's what some other readers wanted), it just repackages material that most readers who are interested in Hollywood history have already encountered. But if you're interested and new to the subject, you'll probably discover quite a bit that you didn't know, o This is fine, probably better than the average rating it's getting here. Nothing in it is blatantly wrong, it doesn't repeat a bunch of apocryphal nonsense (and in fact debunks quite a bit of that). Nor is the book blatantly trashy (maybe that's what some other readers wanted), it just repackages material that most readers who are interested in Hollywood history have already encountered. But if you're interested and new to the subject, you'll probably discover quite a bit that you didn't know, or like me, tidbits you had read before but forgotten.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    Despite the cover's hyperbolic claims, there really isn't anything new here; Williams covers the same old tired ground: Fatty Arbuckle murder case, Wizard of Oz, the broken mechanical shark from Jaws...a semi-interesting way to spend a couple of hours, but not much more. Despite the cover's hyperbolic claims, there really isn't anything new here; Williams covers the same old tired ground: Fatty Arbuckle murder case, Wizard of Oz, the broken mechanical shark from Jaws...a semi-interesting way to spend a couple of hours, but not much more.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Annie Booker

    Interesting but the various coloured pages made the text very hard to read and gave me eye strain.

  6. 5 out of 5

    James Carter

    The title, Hollwood Myths, is straightforward, yet the book come across to me as full of stories, which are largely retreaded, than myths. Even the myths are so old that they have been pointlessly repeated just to sell a few copies. How about exploring some long enduring myths that haven’t been really addressed in books such as: -Did a gerbil go through Richard Gere’s butt? [It turned out to be a made-up story which caused a long-standing feud between him and Sylvester Stallone.] -Who sexually abu The title, Hollwood Myths, is straightforward, yet the book come across to me as full of stories, which are largely retreaded, than myths. Even the myths are so old that they have been pointlessly repeated just to sell a few copies. How about exploring some long enduring myths that haven’t been really addressed in books such as: -Did a gerbil go through Richard Gere’s butt? [It turned out to be a made-up story which caused a long-standing feud between him and Sylvester Stallone.] -Who sexually abused Corey Haim and Corey Feldman? [Only Corey Feldman knows and still hasn’t named names yet.] -Who really wrote the screenplay for Good Will Hunting? [Matt Damon and Ben Affleck never did, but an MIT graduate claimed to have done so.] -Were Angelina Jolie’s kids adopted and charity work just for publicity stunts to cover up her heroin addiction? [Probably, but that’s a book idea for Kitty Kelley.] -Did Lawrence Kasdan rip-off the story from Return of the Secaucus 7 for The Big Chill? [Of course, he did!] -How much of the book Full Service by Scotty Bowers is true? [My guess is: all of it.] -Did Bernardo Bertolucci encourage Marlon Brando to digitally rape Maria Schneider with peanut butter in Last Tango in Paris? [Yes.] -Is there any truth in Oliver Stone’s conspiracy films? [For the most part, nah.] One myth from Hollwood Myths is actually worth pursuing: the mysterious death of Natalie Wood. I still think Robert Wagner killed her. In the meanwhile, there are many misstatements in the book that bother me, so I want to set the record straight: On Charlie Chaplin, the author dropped the ball by not addressing his predilection for prepubescent girls, bizarre sexual demands, and sadism. On Jean Harlow, the author mentioned that she died of a kidney ailment. Okay but...why? It was the ammonia and clorox mix, which creates hydrochloric acid, for her platinum blond hair that was most likely the cause of her kidney failure. Two years prior to Jean’s death, her hair had started to fall out, and she was wearing wigs. On John Wayne, nope, not true. The author got it all wrong. John Wayne stayed put because he was having sex constantly with Marlene Dietrich and didn’t want to leave her during WWII. On Montgomery Clift, what a terrible explanation by the author as to why he crashed the car. The truth is Montgomery was very liquored and drugged up all day that day and was drunk driving prior to the fateful accident. On Harrison Ford, oh, please. That’s not even him in Leave It to Beaver. The myth had no legs to begin with. Move on, and what a waste of space. On Tom Cruise, the author described Scientology as religion. That’s not true because it’s a cult. Scientology just doesn’t have a lot of tenets that are commonly found in a religion. On Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the author described their strict professionalism of working together being unlike Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn’s, but was he really sure about it? It’s because there is evidence that their relationship was simply a sham that was manufactured by Hollywood so both could go separate, albeit homosexual, ways behind the facade. The author didn’t bother mentioning any of that in the next section. On Rock Hudson and Jim Nabors, the author said Katharine Hepburn was a “straight woman” while it was “believed” that Montgomery Clift was bisexual. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Katharine was a lesbian while Montgomery was exclusively gay which was long acknowledged by Elizabeth Taylor who tried to sleep with him but was refused. On Elizabeth Taylor, she was married to Eddie Fisher, not Fischer. On Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, the author attempted to compare them with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Honestly, there’s no comparison as the latter pair set the bar so high that no Hollywood couple (past, present, or future) could ever match. Salvaging the book from being worthless, the author does a nice job of talking about the current, albeit immensely changed, state of cinema with a lot of information that I didn’t know before. Although he talks long about the Academy Awards, the Oscars are unfortunately a joke, and barely anyone takes them seriously nowadays and hadn't for more than two decades. All in all, Hollywood Myths is mostly old stories with some tidbits.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Christine Sinclair

    Not that shocking or incredible, but I really liked this book! Beautiful format, lots of great pictures and very witty text on lots of different subjects. The author's favorite movie was It's a Wonderful Life, so we had that in common. (Mr. Williams passed away shortly after writing this book, but it appears he had a wonderful life too.) Not that shocking or incredible, but I really liked this book! Beautiful format, lots of great pictures and very witty text on lots of different subjects. The author's favorite movie was It's a Wonderful Life, so we had that in common. (Mr. Williams passed away shortly after writing this book, but it appears he had a wonderful life too.)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mick Meyers

    Shocking truths is a bit of a mislead,many are known a few not,some they discredit and others which you know aren't correct they go along with.hence the three star rating. Shocking truths is a bit of a mislead,many are known a few not,some they discredit and others which you know aren't correct they go along with.hence the three star rating.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Heather Troglin

    Could have been a Buzzfeed list and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Not bad, not good, just forgettable. Could have been a Buzzfeed list and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Not bad, not good, just forgettable.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Skims too much.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jillian

    There's nothing I love more than being alone and browsing in an used bookstore that's new to me. Recently, I had the chance to visit Gallery Bookstore in Chicago (highly recommend it, by the way!), and of course I found a few things I just had to take home with me! One of them was Hollywood Myths: The Shocking Truths Behind Film's Most Incredible Secrets and Scandals. I love books like this, and I read it basically in one night sitting in a hotel room with my friend. One thing to note (or at le There's nothing I love more than being alone and browsing in an used bookstore that's new to me. Recently, I had the chance to visit Gallery Bookstore in Chicago (highly recommend it, by the way!), and of course I found a few things I just had to take home with me! One of them was Hollywood Myths: The Shocking Truths Behind Film's Most Incredible Secrets and Scandals. I love books like this, and I read it basically in one night sitting in a hotel room with my friend. One thing to note (or at least that I noted) is that Joe Williams is not an unbiased journalist. He takes great pleasure in name-dropping celebrities he has interviewed or met before, and he makes sure you know in the INTRODUCTION that he went to the same high school (college? I can't remember) as Brad Pitt. You can see pieces of this bias in some of the entries. He makes sure to reassure his audience that Tom Cruise (who he has interviewed) is not as short as reported and that his religion may be weird but it's definitely not a cult. (Um, okay? It is, but go off I guess?) Also, the entry on Bradgelina seemed both boring and far too generous. He clearly never saw their marriage (and divorce!) coming. Still, the entries were mostly fun. I thought it was interesting that Williams was on the "Cary Grant was probably queer" train but thought Katherine Hepburn wasn't a lesbian or bisexual. The last section was boring, mostly because it focused on industry stuff and not celebrities. Industry talk is always boring. I'm here for celebrity myths, not that stuff! You could do worse for your dose of Hollywood myth-debunking than Hollywood Myths.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Katherine Coble

    None of these are shocking or amazing. But they're passably interesting. I never did read it in a sitting, which is why it took 18 months to finish. It was pretty much my "waiting rooms" book for a year and a half. Each section was just the right length for killing time while waiting for the doctor to see you. By the same token, none of the entries were compelling enough to entice me to reading the book during my evening read times. None of these are shocking or amazing. But they're passably interesting. I never did read it in a sitting, which is why it took 18 months to finish. It was pretty much my "waiting rooms" book for a year and a half. Each section was just the right length for killing time while waiting for the doctor to see you. By the same token, none of the entries were compelling enough to entice me to reading the book during my evening read times.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Connie

    This was a fun little book, nothing really new or shocking in it for me, but did remind me of a few tidbits I had forgotten about. Lately for whatever reason I have been having fun reading about old Hollywood, book form and online.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Elsey

    Just a cheap rip off of Hollywood Babylon with none of the craziness.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michelle "Champ"

    Some things I've never read....fun if you can call tragedy fun Some things I've never read....fun if you can call tragedy fun

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dee brown

    I really enjoyed this book. Lots of interesting tidbits on celebreties, and some history on Hollywood .

  17. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    Same old same old, diverting in a dentist waiting room kinda way

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Not as shocking as one would expect. Most of these stories are old Hollywood folklore and well known.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tim Fay

    An enjoyable read The author penned an excellent and we'll written book. I liked the fact that the obviously well researched. material sticks as much as possible to the truth. An enjoyable read The author penned an excellent and we'll written book. I liked the fact that the obviously well researched. material sticks as much as possible to the truth.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Calvin Austin

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ashleigh

  22. 5 out of 5

    Penny

  23. 5 out of 5

    Evie Halfacre

  24. 5 out of 5

    Renee

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

  26. 5 out of 5

    Carol

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kay Anderson

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lora

  29. 4 out of 5

    James

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

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