In her new book, Seduction Sex, Lies, and Stardom in Howard Hughes s Hollywood, Karina Longworth uses the story of movie mogul and industrialist Hughes to examine the lives of myriad young women in the early days of Hollywood Given that Longworth, host of the inimitable and interesting You Must Remember This podcast, has a knack for interweaving detailed stories of forgotten Hollywood, it should comes as no surprise that Seduction is a fascinating read.
Better than that, though, is the way in which Longworth is able to take the concept of her podcast and expand it widely As she states in the press interview which came with our review copy, a approaching this as a book gave me a longer timeline to do the research, which allowed me to travel and write about many primary sources, such as telegrams, memos, depositions, unpublished notes and memoirs, etc As a result, the reader gets a view of not only Hughes, but the mechanisms he set in place to control the women upon whom he fixated To explain the cope of the book in a few short sentences is nigh impossible, but the TL DR of Seduction is this Howard Hughes was obsessed with a certain kind of woman, and he relentlessly pursued them in a way which was as controlling as any fictional Svengali.
Longworth created a mini series of episodes tied to the release of Seduction, and after a couple of weeks of listening, my co worker pointed out that all of the stories seemed to follow a particular pattern A girl comes to town, meets Howard Hughes, he treats her awfully and fools around on her, she fools around, she turns to alcohol, and everything ends poorly It s essentially the pattern of the book, distilled to its essence Hughes had a type, to be sure He liked his girls both adult women and in some cases, literal girls not much past their sixteenth birthday bosomy, brunette, and new to town He d have one of his flunkies meet them straight off the train and set them up to be one of his many, many potential starlets Many would never be in a single film.
It would all be sad as hell, were it not for the stories of the women who broke free of Hughes machinations and became successes in their own right Sadly, there weren t many, and Longworth makes a pretty valid point that many of these women could have been icons, were it not for Hughes interference For all of Hughes controlling, deeply disturbing habits, and emotional malfeasance, it appears that he did have an eye for talent, but no ability to let it flourish.
It s astonishing to see how many actresses waited years for their big films to come out, and the fact that someone like Jane Russell was able to outlast the madness and tinkering which was the process of making The Outlaw is astonishing in light of how many young women never saw anything The strength and power Hughes wielded is only matched for the rapidity and sadness of his decline, which has been well documented over the years Thanks to Longworth s dedicated research, she s able to bring into the light the stories of so many women who were kept in the darkness of Hughes shadow.
Longworth s Seduction does an excellent job of demonstrating what a cad Howard Hughes was, as well as using him to tell the stories of these women The most appealing aspect of Seduction is that it s not Howard Hughes was a god among men for the hundredth time, but instead the untold stories of women who were repeatedly tossed aside as the tycoon s interest waxed and waned It s almost as if he s finally the one being used.
As recommended listening, check out the You Must Remember This episode on Linda Darnell, whose story isn t explored much in the book The expanded version of the prologue is also essential background.
In This Riveting Popular History, The Creator Of You Must Remember This Probes The Inner Workings Of Hollywood S Glamorous Golden Age Through The Stories Of Some Of The Dozens Of Actresses Pursued By Howard Hughes, To Reveal How The Millionaire Mogul S Obsessions With Sex, Power And Publicity Trapped, Abused, Or Benefitted Women Who Dreamt Of Screen StardomIn Recent Months, The Media Has Reported On Scores Of Entertainment Figures Who Used Their Power And Money In Hollywood To Sexually Harass And Coerce Some Of The Most Talented Women In Cinema And Television But As Karina Longworth Reminds Us, Long Before The Harvey Weinsteins There Was Howard Hughes The Texas Millionaire, Pilot, And Filmmaker Whose Reputation As A Cinematic Provocateur Was Matched Only By That As A Prolific WomanizerHis Supposed Conquests Between His First Divorce In The Late S And His Marriage To Actress Jean Peters InIncluded Many Of Hollywood S Most Famous Actresses, Among Them Billie Dove, Katharine Hepburn, Ava Gardner, And Lana Turner From Promoting Bombshells Like Jean Harlow And Jane Russell To His Contentious Battles With The Censors, Hughes Perhaps Than Any Other Filmmaker Of His Era Commoditized Male Desire As He Objectified And Sexualized Women Yet There Were Also Numerous Women Pulled Into Hughes S Grasp Who Never Made It To The Screen, Sometimes Virtually Imprisoned By An Increasingly Paranoid And Disturbed Hughes, Who Retained Multitudes Of Private Investigators, Security Personnel, And Informers To Make Certain These Actresses Would Not Escape His ClutchesVivid, Perceptive, Timely, And Ridiculously Entertaining, Seduction Is A Landmark Work That Examines Women, Sex, And Male Power In Hollywood During Its Golden Age A Legacy That Endures Nearly A Century Later In the author s opinion, Howard Hughes believed the purpose of popular movies was to literally expose as much of the lead actress on screen as permissible She also demonstrates that Hughes was serially smitten with and constantly seeking beautiful women, with which being in the movie business fit perfectly After all, he romanced Billie Dove, Faith Domergue, Bette Davis, Ava Gardner, Olivia de Havilland, Katharine Hepburn, Hedy Lamarr, Ginger Rogers, Janet Leigh, Rita Hayworth, Mamie Van Doren, Gene Tierney and many others An exhaustive biography of Hughes love life.
Interesting in parts, but I got bored in others It s no wonder that Weinstein et al thought they had a right to act the way they did that s the culture that has been around Hollywood since the very beginning It s pretty disgusting that it has been allowed to go on for such a long time Howard Hughes is an interesting guy Horrible, but interesting Reading this book led me to the author s podcast, and I ve listened to several episodes even though I really don t like the way she talks, so I m glad I didn t listen to the audio of this book she places weird emphasis on some parts of words, but not consistently she really emphasizes the t in words like daughter or rotten , but then pronounces important as impordand Not a big deal, I just thought it was strange.
If you are anything like me and love watching old movies and love reading about classic Hollywood, then this book will be right up your alley Exhaustively researched and endlessly engaging, Longworth gives us a detailed look at Howard Hughes and the ways in which he used his power, money and influence to seduce and entrap women into his orbit Some were well known, others less so But they all shared a level of affection for Hughes that often led to their own detriment The Aviator is one of my favorite movies of all time I consider this a supplement to that as it gave us a broader and different picture of Hughes than that movie did Doesn t take away anything from the movie nor do I believe that it was meant to It serves as a complement to the movie and gives us awell rounded picture of Hughes and the various women in his life I found myself completely captivated by this book Longworth kept my interest with her tales of Classic Hollywood and all the famous and not so famous women who crossed paths with Hughes She also doesn t demonize Hughes, which I really appreciated The picture she paints of him is less than flattering but she never goes so far as to make him out to be a monster You are free to draw your own conclusions about him Personally, I pitied him and empathized with him in equal measure That s a testament to how solid her writing is I am unfamiliar with her podcast but after reading this book, I ll have to check it out sometime This is a real gem A tough read but also timely, provocative and intriguing Recommended to any fans of classic Hollywood, old movies or Howard Hughes obsessives.
There s a lot to go over and think about in this book but seriously if anyone was surprised by the depth of the charges against Harvey Weinstein and so much other stuff that s come out recently Hollywood has been enabling hell even celebrating this stuff pretty much since the beginning And if you aren t overly interested in Hughes I m not there s some interesting stuff about films, the early publicity machine, selling women s bodies, how the studio system and the press worked to create this, censorship in classic Hollywood, etc It was nice to for information on the women Howard Hughes messed with that didn t become icons as before this I d only really read about him in biographies of Katherine Hepburn, Jane Russell and Ava Gardiner.
From the 1920s to the 1950s, movie mogul Howard Hughes astounded the world by making movies many never thought would be made, flying around the world in his own private plane, and launching legendary publicity campaigns for the films he would produce He also had many, many romances with famous women in Hollywood from established stars like Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn to lesser known names such as Faith Doumergue and Jean Peters Karina Longworth, host of the popular podcast You Must Remember This, crafts a compulsively readable biography of Hughes that also explores the lives of the many women he was involved with.
Like Longworth s podcast, SEDUCTION strikes a perfect balance between factual biography and human narrative It is a deeply informative book, but also a very entertaining one With a clean, crisp writing style and an eye for character in real life figures, Longworth paints Howard Hughes as a screen struck man obsessed with power From his career as a Hollywood producer to his personal romantic relationships, Hughes wanted dominant control over everything and everyone, which resulted in him victimizing many aspiring actresses.
But Longworth doesn t portray all of the women simply as victims Many of these women, such as Katharine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers, became stars in their own right Others, like his alleged wife Terry Moore, tried to exploit Hughes s fame even after his death Longworth manages to make these lionized legends both human and sympathetic, even when they don t always act in the most sympathetic ways Even Howard Hughes, whose manipulative and controlling behavior is very disturbing, elicits sympathy as he reaches his sad, reclusive end By turns hilarious and devastating, SEDUCTION is perfect for readers who love old Hollywood and its impact on today s cultural landscape.
No one does Hollywood history better than Karina Longworth.
Well, Howard Hughes was a bigger piece of work than most of us might have thought In this exhaustively researched book, the author the creator and host of the podcast You Must Remember This tells what it was like to be a woman in Hollywood during the time of Howard Hughes Such stellar luminaries, including Katharine Hepburn, Jean Harlow, Ava Gardner, Jane Russell and Ginger Rogers are intermingled with young starlets to tell a tale of exploitation, misogyny and manipulation Looking back at these times through the lens of the recent MeToo movement, we can see the movie business with our current perspective and understand a bithow it led to Harvey Weinstein and others Howard Hughes was clearly wounded himself, and was an expert liar Howard Hughes would move from pursuing top female stars to pursuing young sometimes very young women whose careers had not yet gotten very far off the ground More than ever, he would become obsessed with controlling these women, seeking to tie them up via marriage proposals or long term contracts or both and taking ownership over their bodies and how they were presented to the public or weren t For anyone with an interest in this detailed, sometimes gossipy book, it is worth the time It is a long book, but it held my interest as the research was good, the writing was good, and, of course, the subject was very compelling and disturbing at the same time.