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Hollywood Babylon - Kenneth Anger

Related: 1959 - Kenneth Anger - Hollywood - Babylon

Hollywood was not yet a dirty word in 1916. It was just a junction of dirt roads, a solitary "Mission-style" hotel, some claptrap bungalows scattered in the orange groves, and the startling apparation of a Babylon orgy in full swing in the sunshine, smack on Sunset Boulevard. --first sentence of the 1965 edition.

Jayne Mansfield on the cover of the Italian edition of Hollywood Babylon I
image sourced here.

Hollywood Babylon (1959) - Kenneth Anger [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Hollywood Babylon II
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Hollywood Babylon : The Legendary Underground Classic of Hollywood's Darkest and Best Kept Secrets - Kenneth Anger [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Hollywood Babylon is a book by Kenneth Anger an ex-child star, avant garde filmmaker, occultist, and author, which details the sordid scandals of many famous and infamous Hollywood denizens from the 1900s to the 1950s. It was originally published in 1959 by J.J. Pauvert (Paris, France). Anger wrote a sequel, Hollywood Babylon II, in 1981 and has frequently mentioned that Hollywood Babylon III may be on its way. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_Babylon [Feb 2005]

Like any newspaper article, events are turned into "stories." These "stories", like any silver screen biography, tells the dramatic tale of a life in turmoil. Kenneth Anger's book, "Hollywood Babylon" takes the angle of a tabloid and digs up some old dirt of famous celebrity lives and puts it into a full collection of grime, grease and oil. This collection takes a chronological look at Hollywood's finest at the time beginning in the early twenties with such big names as Fatty Arbuckle whose drinking problem got out of hand at one of his big parties after signing a lucrative deal. Moving through time to the 30's, 40's, right up to the Sharon Tate murder, which Anger recognized it was no longer "Old Hollywood."

The book reads like a gossip column mixed with sleazy tabloid journalism, yet with the wit and humor of a prankster. It's an exploitation of exploited lives. To mimic tabloids further, the pages appear with large and sometimes disturbing photos of stars at their most inopportune moments.

While much of the material has already had its heyday in newspapers of the times, it has a new life today where many of these actors and actresses are virtually unheard of by the general public and rekindled new interest in their films. Just as watching and old O. J. Simpson football game may have the same appeal as watching Lana Turner in her debut "They Won't Forget."

The title to me is entirely fitting, as Hollywood is the "Babylon" of our society, one in which everyone has all their wants at their disposal. A place where hedonism is the religion and tragedy is only the end of a scene, for we know by the end of the movie everything will be all right. My only disappointment in the book is its cursory glance at such stars as Marylyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield and many other stars that became almost a tally only to be put under a heading of how they died. "Hollywood Babylon" still fits the bill, however, as an enticing and racy read of the darker seedy side of that strange and secret society. --mygotta, amazon.com

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