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The First Lady of Hollywood: A Biography of Louella Parsons

The First Lady of Hollywood: A Biography of Louella Parsons
Your Price: $23.95 CDN
Author: Samantha Barbas
Publisher: University of California Press
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 417
Pub. Date: 2006
ISBN-10: 0520249852
ISBN-13: 9780520249851

About the Book:

Hollywood celebrities feared her. William Randolph Hearst adored her. Between 1915 and 1960, Louella Parsons was America's premier movie gossip columnist and in her heyday commanded a following of more than forty million readers.

This first full-length biography of Parsons tells the story of her reign over Hollywood during the studio era, her lifelong alliance with her employer, William Randolph Hearst, and her complex and turbulent relationships with such noted stars, directors, and studio executives as Orson Welles, Joan Crawford, Louis B. Mayer, Ronald Reagan, and Frank Sinatra — as well as her rival columnists Hedda Hopper and Walter Winchell. Loved by fans for her "just folks," small-town image, Parsons became notorious within the film industry for her involvement in the suppression of the 1941 film Citizen Kane and her use of blackmail in the service of Hearst's political and personal agendas. As she traces Parsons's life and career, author Samantha Barbas situates Parsons's experiences in the broader trajectory of Hollywood history, charting the rise of the star system and the complex interactions of publicity, journalism, and movie-making.

Engagingly written and thoroughly researched, The First Lady of Hollywood is both an engrossing chronicle of one of the most powerful women in American journalism and film and a penetrating analysis of celebrity culture and Hollywood power politics.

What people say:

"Historian Barbas's thoroughly researched and footnoted biography of the powerful gossip columnist who virtually invented celebrity journalism asks to be taken seriously as a chronicle of American history at a pivotal time—but it is also a fast and fascinating read. . . . This is a terrific book about an unusual life, and the author has done a great service by documenting it so carefully, incidentally exposing all the falsehoods Parsons related in her own 1945 autobiography." — Publishers Weekly

"This significant book is the first full length biography of one of the most influential women in Hollywood. It spans a momentous time in terms of the film industry and, with superior scholarship, examines that era through a different and important lens." — Cari Beauchamp, author of Without Lying Down

 

"This book makes an important contribution to the study of the relationships among journalism, publicity, and celebrity, skillfully connecting issues that have impact on Parson's life and career and thoroughly documenting her rise to extraordinary power. The research is extensive and fills in details that will interest even those who know parts of the story well." — Charles Affron

About the Author:

Samantha Barbas has a Ph.D. in American History from the University of California, Berkeley, and is the author of The First Lady of Hollywood.