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Disturbing Secrets From Hollywood’s Golden Age

at 3:06 pm | By

Classic Hollywood wasn't all bright lights and beautiful stars...

The phrase “Old Hollywood” brings to mind images of glitz, glamour, and a whole lot of peppy movie-musicals, right? Well, not quite.

When moving pictures were introduced around the turn of the 20th century, filmmakers had to build an entire industry and aesthetic tradition from the ground up in record time. Think about it—the conventions of theater and other live storytelling have been around since, well, the beginning of human history. We’ve only had movies for about 100 years, and in those 100 years the language of cinema has evolved as rapidly as technology, culture, and laws changed.

Okay, so we all know now that the “Golden Age of Hollywood” (essentially the late 1920s to the mid-1960s) wasn’t actually so rosy, but the studios at the time worked extremely hard to maintain their public image over those years. And by hard, I mean they were basically gangsters who went around doing shady things to their stars to perpetuate the aspirational image that they wanted to portray in their features. Excuse my French, but sh*t was f**ked up. Seriously.

Jean Harlow, Rock Hudson, Judy Garland Banner

Credit: Evening Standard/Getty Images; Getty Images; Hulton Archive/Getty Images

It took a lot of (usually sinister) work to make Old Hollywood look glamorous...