Magazine article American Cinematographer

Celebrity Biographies: Truth or Profit?

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Celebrity Biographies: Truth or Profit?

Article excerpt

Everybody who writes books makes mistakes and this reviewer has made more than his share. It's an unpleasant experience to buy an expensive book andencoun ter errors of fact so sophomoric as to destroy the credibility of the whole tome. A currently controversial book about Walt Disney, forexample, contains so many obvious errors of fact that it's impossible to accept the more sensational disclosures which are trotted forth. Disney, being long deceased, can't rebut a word of it or take the author to court.

Waiting for a celebrity to die before publishing a scalding exposé is a safe and thriving enterprise - certainly more profitable financially than writing something that aspires to accuracy or scholarship. We've read in recent years that Errol Flynn was a Nazi spy, that Gary Cooper became a star by romancing homosexual producers, that Alfred Hitchcock harrassed women mercilessly and that damned near anyone who ever worked in the movie industry and then died was bisexual. Is any of this stuff true? Of course. Is all of it true? Assuredly not. The boners are a tip-off.

For example, one mean-spirited best-seller includes a photo purportedly of Thelma Todd and Roland West, the latter a prime suspect in Todd's mysterious death. …

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