Exiles in Hollywood
Exiles in Hollywood by David Wallace.
Paperback: 266 pages
Publisher: Limelight Editions (July 1, 2006)
Release date: July 1, 2006
(Limelight). Fleeing Nazi persecution, half of Europe's creative talents, including screen legend Greta Garbo and composer Igor Stravinsky, were, in Arnold Schoenberg's words, "driven into paradise," settling in Los Angeles. It was the greatest flight of European cultural and intellectual talent in history, and for a time made Los Angeles a cultural capital. Their presence, enabling the evolution of film noir, also changed American movies forever. In Exiles in Hollywood, David Wallace, author of the national bestseller Lost Hollywood and whom columnist Liz Smith has called "the maestro of entertainment history," tells their dramatic stories. His profiles of refugees include filmmaker Billy Wilder, Alfred Hitchcock, Nobel Prize-winning writer Thomas Mann, the screenwriter Salka Viertel and her controversial relationship with Greta Garbo, the deeply conflicted actor Charles Laughton, and many more. The result is a rich, page-turning look at an era, its triumphs and tragedies, its gossip and hidden facts, and its colorful personalities.
This was a very interesting book. Names I knew and Names I didn’t know but the short chapters of each, and being very direct with information made this book one that I read every word to the bitter end.
It’s strange how one books leads to another and another. (I have found this to be true far too many times!) Well, this one did the same thing for me. One small sentence in the chapter of Charles Laughton and his wife Elsa Lanchester made me immediately go to Amazon and search for Elsa’s biography and send for it!
Everyone who knows Elsa knows her best for her scream and looks of The Bride of Frankenstein. When in truth Else had a good career in the movies..she truly wasn’t “just” The Bride of Frankenstein!
I knew she was married to Charles Laughton (man of many fabulous movies) . And like many others “had heard the gossip” that Charles Laughton was gay. But I never really thought any more of it. It’s not like it’s shocking news to find out an actor is gay. (duh) And since it doesn’t bother me one bit I never gave a second thought to Elsa. Hmmm. The sentence in the book mentions she was married to him for over 30 years and yet he had told her he was gay only a year after they were married. So I instantly became curious to what her life was then like! Did she stay in love with him? Did they just lead separate lives? Why didn’t they divorce?? I guess I will find out when I read her biography!
Other’s in the book were writers, directors, symphony conductors etc.. all having exited their countries (mostly Germany) when Hitler was coming into power. There were some names I hadn’t heard of, but when you read about their connections to movies / music and Hollywood you do recognize those!
I found this book very interesting indeed. Parts of Hollywood History that were unknown to me, and I probably never would have thought of, if it were not for this little book. Exiles in Hollywood is definitely a book that will only interest those who want to know more about Hollywood and the creative people in it during it’s early days. But this book is focused only on a handful of Exiles.
This was an excellent read..
..and now I think I will stay with “reality” a bit more and pick up another “little book” titled Dear Mrs. Kennedy, which basically is letters written to Jackie Kennedy during the time of grieving for JFK’s assassination . I’ll be back when I finish the book!