Book 45 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from May 24 - 25
High Exposure: Hollywood Lives - Found Photos from the Archives of the Los Angeles Times by Amanda Parsons
Summary (via the book jacket)
High Exposure, a compilation of a mere fraction of the Los Angeles Times archive photos from 1920 through 1960, offers an extraordinary and unique chronicle of early Hollywood marriages, divorces, births, deaths, lawsuits, celebrations, and arrests. They were events captured on film before international video and photo crews began blanketing known celebrity hangouts, photos taken before television devoted dozens of hours each week to entertainment "news".
The realism of these shots - some posed, but most completely candid, illustrates the high personal exposure, with its attendant adoration and vulnerability, that came with being a Hollywood star. And as personal and private lives merged in the public images captured by the photojournalist, art as well as news emerged. These photos give us both.
Today, with the luxury of time, we can see these photographs as something other than remnants of yesterday's news. They are more than reminders of history; they are social artifacts of a time when few Hollywood residents really "knew" the consequences of fame. They are evidence of a time when few understood the public vulnerability and commitment required by stardom, fewer still the way celebrity shapes personality. In these exposures from Hollywood's past, we can see the roots of our worldwide obsession with the famous.
Combining two of my favorite things, old photos and celebrity life, made this book an enjoyable way to spend a day. I came away with a few movies and people I would like to research more fully.
The caption on a picture of Fred Astaire made me laugh: "he was given a small part...despite the verdict from his screen test: "Can't act. Slightly bald. Can dance a little." "
I also learned that Hattie McDaniel (Oscar winner of the Best Supporting Actress for Gone With the Wind) was not only the first African American to win an Oscar, she was the first to attend an Academy function as a guest rather than a waiter.