By Samantha Barbas
Hollywood celebrities feared her. William Randolph Hearst loved her. among 1915 and 1960, Louella Parsons used to be America's ultimate motion picture gossip columnist and in her heyday commanded a following of greater than 40 million readers. this primary full-length biography of Parsons tells the tale of her reign over Hollywood in the course of the studio period, her lifelong alliance along with her business enterprise, William Randolph Hearst, and her advanced and turbulent relationships with such famous stars, administrators, and studio executives as Orson Welles, Joan Crawford, Louis B. Mayer, Ronald Reagan, and Frank Sinatra—as good as her rival columnists Hedda Hopper and Walter Winchell. enjoyed via enthusiasts for her "just folks," small-town snapshot, Parsons grew to become infamous in the movie for her involvement within the suppression of the 1941 movie Citizen Kane and her use of blackmail within the provider of Hearst's political and private agendas. As she lines Parsons's existence and occupation, Samantha Barbas situates Parsons's stories within the broader trajectory of Hollywood heritage, charting the increase of the megastar method and the advanced interactions of exposure, journalism, and movie-making. Engagingly written and punctiliously researched, The First girl of Hollywood is either an engrossing chronicle of 1 of the main robust ladies in American journalism and picture and a penetrating research of star tradition and Hollywood energy politics.
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Additional info for The First Lady of Hollywood: A Biography of Louella Parsons
Chaplin left Essanay in late 1916, just as the studio was heading toward bankruptcy. By that time, Louella was long gone. After convincing Keeley to hire her full-time, Louella quit Essanay in January 1915. In addition to the Sunday screenwriting feature, Louella would now write a daily column, “Seen on the Screen,” that combined film reviews with tidbits of gossip about film stars. A precursor to her Hollywood column, it would inform Chicago’s movie fans and film industry employees of the latest news from the nation’s film studios.
Louella later wrote of those years in the cruelest of terms: “I sometimes think of this small town, with it Midwest drab grayness, as though it were an outpost of darkest Siberia. Perhaps that sounds like a harsh indictment. I am sure it was—and is—no different from any other small town, but we remember places by the happiness or unhappiness we have felt there. ”86 In early 1906, not long after the move to Burlington, Louella discovered that she was pregnant. Around the same time, she learned that John had 24 e a r ly ye a r s taken up with Ruth Schaefer, a young blonde who worked at his office.
In the early twentieth century, leaving a philandering husband took strength: women were expected to tolerate affairs, considered a man’s prerogative. Depressed but optimistic, Louella moved in with her aunt and uncle Hattie and Eli Oettinger, who had since moved from Freeport to a small flat on the city’s North Side. She quickly found a job as a secretary in a company that manufactured stereopticons, an early form of motion picture projector, but when she found that her “chief chore seemed to be playing flunky to the boss’s little blonde secretary,” she moved on.