Old Hollywood

Vernitra’s Book Club [2018, Ep. 4] “Book Review: If This Was Happiness: A Biography of Rita Hayworth”

In this episode, I share my review of the book IF THIS WAS HAPPINESS: A BIOGRAPHY OF RITA HAYWORTH by Barbara Leaming.

Book Review | If This Was Happiness: A Biography of Rita Hayworth by Barbara Leaming (1989)

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Vernitra Jones, Writer, book blogger, and classic-movie fan

Book Review | If This Was Happiness: A Biography of Rita Hayworth by Barbara Leaming (1989)

by Vernitra Jones

One of the most legendary screen goddesses in motion-picture history, Rita Hayworth epitomized 1940s glamour. With her angelic face, warm eyes, toothy smile, and luscious mane of fluffy, coppery curls, Rita Hayworth became one of the most adored faces on the silver screen. A trained professional dancer, Rita could glide across the floor and move to a tune like nobody’s business. While Rita capitalized on her picture-perfect image of soft, alluring feminine grace, she led an often tumultuous life plagued by toxic relationships with men and self-destructive tendencies.

In her biography about Rita Hayworth, Barbara Leaming paints an honest picture of the star’s life, one that begins with the childhood sexual abuse which conditioned Rita for a lifetime of damaging relationships with men, in both her personal and professional lives.

From Rita’s early days as a disciplined child dancer, to her reign as a pin-up girl and box-office queen, to her various roles as real-life wife to Eddie Judson, Orson Welles, Prince Aly Khan, Dick Haymes, and James Hill, Leaming spares no tough detail. Leaming provides just enough Hollywood glamour but anchors her story on the harsh realities of Rita’s life.

Ending with Rita’s untimely descent into Alzheimer’s disease, this book provides a candid portrait of the woman behind the glamorous visage.

I enjoyed listening to the audio version of this book, and I recommend it to anyone interested in learning about Rita Hayworth, Old Hollywood, Hollywood gender dynamics, and the effects of childhood abuse.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Bookshelf | Tell-All by Chuck Palahniuk (2010) | An Old Hollywood tale with a dark twist

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This novel is dripping with Old Hollywood, and if you love that kind of stuff—as do I—you will enjoy this book. The story transported me back to that glamorous era where inimitable stars like Joan Crawford and Bette Davis reigned over Tinseltown and gossip mongers like Hedda Hopper and Lillian Hellman had the power to either enhance or tarnish a star’s reputation.

The star of the book is Hazie Coogan, who really isn’t a star at all but the trusty maidservant and companion to excessively glamorous and untouchable former film star Katherine Kenton. For decades, Hazie has spent her life not only catering to every need and want of her “Miss Kathie” but also protecting her and–most importantly–her glittering star from harm. Now, Hazie’s focus is protecting Miss Kathie from the loving arms and machinations of one Webster Carlton Westward III—a handsome, young, smooth-talking gentleman caller who is finding it quite easy to cozy up to the older and vulnerable Miss Kathie. (more…)

Movie Picks | All About Eve (1950) | Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

Classic Movie Pick: All About Eve (1950)

While veteran theater star Margo Channing (Bette Davis) is initially enchanted by young, wide-eyed Eve Harrington’s (Anne Baxter) idolization of her, Margo soon begins to doubt Eve’s motivations. With Bette Davis delivering delicious dialogue like “Remind me to tell you about the time I looked into the heart of an artichoke,” this movie is a drama-filled treat!

Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Screenplay by Joseph L. Mankiewicz (based on the 1946 short story “The Wisdom of Eve” by Mary Orr)
Produced by Daryl F. Zanuck
Released by 20th Century Fox