Mr. DeMille, I’m Ready for My Close-Up

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Mr. DeMille, I’m Ready for My Close-Up

Classic Hollywood nonfiction and biographies

Classic Hollywood: an era in American cinema that stretched from the 1910s to the 1960s and influenced film world-wide. Countless books have been written about the era. Some focus on actors, often describing their lives and experiences in their own words; or on specific films; and others on scandals that rocked the industry. Some examine how society and government, such as the Hays Code and the Red Scare, influenced Hollywood. Still others look at women’s roles within the industry. The following eight nonfiction titles and biographies are just a small sampling of the stories within stories about the golden age of Hollywood.  
 
Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: The Story of Black Hollywood  by Donald Bogle
Delve into sixty years of history with collected personal anecdotes and interviews from black Hollywood stars. Bright Boulevards studies the lives and careers of both famous stars, such as Lena Horne and Hattie McDaniel, and other people who created Black Hollywood: gossip columnists, talent scouts, hairstylists and others. Within Hollywood, black actors carved out a place for themselves and created their own community, hierarchy, and society.  
 
Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood by Cari Beauchamp
During the early years of Hollywood, women flourished. Frances Marion wrote hundreds of scripts, won two Academy awards, and was the highest-paid screenwriter for decades. She and other women wrote, directed, and acted in hundreds of films. Although eventually ousted from control by a patriarchal society and often forgotten or excluded from Hollywood history, these powerful women are now being remembered in no small part due to books like Without Lying Down.
 
Room {1219}: The Life of Fatty Arbuckle, the Mysterious Death of Virginia Rappe, and the Scandal That Changed Hollywood by Greg Merritt
In 1922, a woman’s mysterious death brought about the ostracism of one of the most popular and highest-paid silent film stars in Hollywood and led to the creation of the Hays Code, which established moral guidelines that restricted films from 1930 to 1968. This book looks at the life of Fatty Arbuckle, the star in the question, and the death of Virginia Rappe, the court case, and the aftermath of the scandal.   
 
Stuntwomen: The Untold Hollywood Story by Mollie Gregory
Did you know that between the 1930s and 1960s, most of the stunts for female actors in Hollywood were performed by men in wigs? Stuntwomen have fought for roles and legitimacy for over a century. Mollie Gregory examines the role of stuntwomen in Hollywood, from the beginning and into the twenty-first century -- with engaging and sometimes infuriating stories of the way women were undermined and overlooked in the industry.
 
High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic by Glenn Frankel
The winner of four Academy Awards, High Noon was created amid a time of political turmoil. The Red Scare was in full swing, and actors and screenwriters were being blacklisted for real or imagined Communist sympathies. One of those men was Carl Foreman, the screenwriter for High Noon. Even as the film was made, he was interrogated by the House Un-American Activities Committee and blacklisted from Hollywood. This book examines both Foreman’s creation of the script as well as Foreman’s eventual exile from both Hollywood and the United States.  
 
Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Sex, Deviance, and Drama from the Golden Age of American Cinema by Anne Helen Petersen
Anne Helen Petersen has gathered together a collection of scandals throughout classic Hollywood, from a smear campaign against the iconic Clara Bow to Mae West’s indecency charges to Dorothy Dandridge’s mysterious death. Light and sometimes irreverent, this collection feels like a gossip magazine pulled from the past.  
 
The lady from the black lagoon: Hollywood monsters and the lost legacy of Milicent Patrick by Mallory O'Meara
While you may know the cult classic Creature From the Black Lagoon, you might not know the creator behind the iconic monster, Milicent Patrick. Male jealousy and sexism led to Milicent Patrick’s early departure from the movie industry. In this book, Mallory O’Meara tells the animator’s life story as a woman ahead of her time.  
 
Hattie McDaniel: Black ambition, White Hollywood by Jill Watts
In this biography of Hattie McDaniel that chronicles her life within the film industry, Watts explores how McDaniel faced the racism and prejudices of the time as the first African American entertainer to win an Academy Award. Instead of her star rising after her Academy win, racism restricted her to servant roles for the rest of her career. Watts looks at McDaniel’s life and career and her civil rights activism -- and examines the deep-rooted issues that still exist within the entertainment industry today.