What was is it REALLY like to be an actress in Hollywood during the Golden Age of Cinema?
The recent scandal regarding Harvey Weinstein seemed to come out of nowhere last week. It exploded onto the news making headlines across the country. And although his behavior is certainly unacceptable, it is not new. In fact, the casting couch has been around as long as people have been making movies.
Many stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood recall losing parts because they wouldn’t sleep with producers or directors. Unfortunately, the movie business has had a long, terrible history of sexual harassment. Actress Joan Collins remembers losing the lead role in “Cleopatra” because she wouldn’t sleep with a studio head.
She had tested twice as Cleopatra and was in the lead for winning the role. She said that a studio head took her into his office. He asked if she really wanted the role. She said yes, and he replied with “Well, then all you have to do is be nice to me.” She didn’t and the role eventually went to Elizabeth Taylor.
Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland were also sexually harassed by studio heads and others in the film industry.
And even Shirley Temple said that an MGM producer unzipped his pants and exposed himself to her in 1940 when she was just 12 years-old.
And who can forget that filmmaker Roman Polanski pleaded guilty to having intercourse with 13-year-old actress, Samantha Geimer in 1977?
More recently, Charlize Theron recalled going to an audition on a Saturday night at a house in Los Angeles. She went inside and a man offered her a drink. She immediately saw what was going on and thought to herself, “Not going to happen! Got the wrong girl, buddy!”
For the sake of those affected, we hope more of these stories come to light so everyone can feel safe in the work place, no matter how much power they have.
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