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Give Us the Glam! 10 Books About Old Hollywood

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • May 29, 2020

Old Hollywood Never Gets Old

With the recent success of the Oscar-winning Once Upon A Time in Hollywood and the current popularity of the miniseries Hollywood on Netflix, there has definitely been a resurgence in the enduring interest in the Golden Age of film. In that spirit, here are ten books featuring some of the storied stars.

Drama and Scandal

Many celebrities even today struggle with living in the spotlight. But the movie stars of the past had no idea that their personal lives and behavior would someday be under such close scrutiny. For many of them, the meteoric rise to wealth and fame had a dark side as they struggled with the emotional baggage that came along for the ride. This history makes for some good stories.

The Castle on Sunset
Perched above the Sunset Strip, the Chateau Marmont has been the backdrop for generations of Hollywood gossip and folklore. With wit and insight, Shawn Levy recounts the hotel’s illustrious past.

Bette and Joan: The Divine Feud
Shaun Considine’s joint biography of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford follows their notorious rivalry throughout their careers. Hilarious and poignant, this volume brings the two legendary stars to life and maps the arc of their epic feud.

Hollywood Babylon
Originally published in Paris, this is a collection of Old Hollywood's juiciest gossip, compiled by former child actor Kenneth Anger. If you can’t resist those sensational tabloid headlines, this is the book for you. Bonus: There’s also a Hollywood Babylon II.

Movie Star Memoirs

Curious about what it’s like to be a household name? Get a firsthand look into the lives of these celebrities by reading their autobiographical works.

The Name Above the Title
Reading this autobiography is like having Frank Capra sitting in your living room, regaling you with his anecdotes. The famed director shares his story, from the struggles to the successes, the frustrations to the triumphs.

Everything and Nothing
Completed shortly before her tragic overdose in 1965, Dorothy Dandridge’s memoir recounts her rags-to-riches-to-rags story. Take a mesmerizing journey through the life and times of one of Hollywood's most unforgettable stars.

The Ragman’s Son
Raised in poverty, Kirk Douglas, who passed away in February, rose to stardom in the 1950s. Despite being married, the actor had several high-profile love affairs with his costars, including Marlene Dietrich and Joan Crawford. Read about his passionate, vivid, lusty life

Lulu in Hollywood
Louise Brooks rose to stardom as a dancer and actress in New York City, Hollywood, and Europe in the 1920s and ‘30s. With her glossy black bob, she became an iconic figure of the Jazz Age. She published this excellent memoir just a few years before her death in 1985.

Fame-Infused Fiction

What is that we find so captivating about historic fiction that incorporates famous figures from the past? Maybe it’s that we long to see a more intimate portrayal of these fascinating characters and these stories, although imagined, manage to satisfy our curiosities.

The It Girl and Me by Laini Giles
Daisy DeVoe has left her embarrassing Kentucky roots behind for Hollywood and landed a job working for Jazz-Age star Clara Bow. Bow personifies the new woman of the 1920s onscreen, smoking, drinking, and bursting with sex appeal. But her conduct off the set is even more scandalous.

Marlene by C. W. Gortner
As Hitler and the Nazis rise to power, German cabaret star Marlene Dietrich sets out for America, quickly becoming one of Hollywood’s leading ladies. This enthralling account portrays a woman of grit, glamour, and ambition who defied convention, seduced the world, and forged her own path.

Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates
The legend of Marilyn Monroe comes provocatively alive in a powerful tale of myth and reality from one of America’s most acclaimed novelists. This dazzling fictional portrait of the star tracks her rise to the top of the Hollywood firmament and her tragic fall back to earth.

These Hollywood stories are filled with grandeur, scandal, and tragedy—epic highs and devastating lows. Get lost in the drama of it all.

Read more by Ashly Moore Sheldon

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