Harvey Weinstein was only a 10-year-old boy when Marilyn Monroe died, but during her short life, the Hollywood icon was all too familiar with the breed of man that more than a few people are accusing Weinstein of becoming.
The girl who entered Tinseltown as Norma Jean and was spat out the other end of the dream machine as Marilyn Monroe was a target for the lecherous and degenerate prime movers in Hollywood who could make or break a gal or guy’s career on the currency of sexual favors alone.
Here’s what Marilyn had to say about her experiences at the hands of the sordid studio chiefs and groping filmmakers who called the shots.
“I met them all. Phoniness and failure were all over them. Some were vicious and crooked. But they were as near to the movies as you could get. So you sat with them, listening to their lies and schemes. And you saw Hollywood with their eyes – an overcrowded brothel, a merry-go-round with beds for horses.”
Monroe met her untimely demise in 1962 at the age of 36. Yet, the tragic starlet probably wouldn’t have been surprised to hear a powerful film producer called Harvey Weinstein had been accused of all sorts of sexual harassment over 50 years later in the town she called home.
Marilyn probably wouldn’t have even raised one of her exquisite eyebrows. After all, if a leopard can’t change its spots, why should Hollywood?
Tinseltown has a long and lurid history of sexual harassment. For nigh on a century, it’s been producing dreams on the silver screens for the hungry masses, but behind the curtain, it’s been plagued by all sorts of skeletons that just won’t stay in the closet.
Take, for example, the tale of Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and Virginia Rappe. A tale which is also known as Hollywood’s first major scandal.
Arbuckle was a famous silent film actor, comedian, and Hollywood’s first $1 million star. Rappe, on the other hand, was an aspiring actress. On Labor Day in 1921, both attended a bootleg booze-soused party in Room 1219 of San Francisco’s Westin St. Francis Hotel.
Later that day, Rappe would be found on a bed, fully-clothed but screaming in agony.
When discovered, she said of Arbuckle, who was the only other person present in the room, “He did this to me.”
A few day later, Rappe died in absolute agony from peritonitis caused by a ruptured bladder.
Arbuckle explained he has gone to the bathroom, and when he returned, the girl had fainted and he carried her to the bed. He insisted she had fallen off, and that’s what caused her injuries. The authorities begged to differ and charged him with first-degree murder.
Arbuckle was tried three times and eventually acquitted. But the scandal stuck. Hollywood was tarnished and tainted by the affair. A little bit of the glamorous facade had been chipped away, and people didn’t like what they saw lurking beneath.
Los Angeles-based film historian Cari Beauchamp explained, “This was the first scandal in Hollywood with box office implications. Everyone had believed the stars were covered in fairy dust. Now that illusion was shattered and studio bosses were terrified it would destroy Hollywood itself.”
It didn’t, but the scandals kept coming.
Errol Leslie Flynn may have made a living playing romantic swashbucklers, but the reality was a little different.
The legendary womanizer lost his virginity at the age of 12 and was apparently an “equal-opportunities lover” who “crossed swords” with the likes of Howard Hughes, Truman Capote, and Tyrone Power.
The actor, who once claimed “I like my whiskey old and my women young,” was arrested in 1943 for the statutory rape of two underage girls. Like Arbuckle, Flynn was acquitted. But not before he met his second wife — the teenager who ran the courthouse’s cigarette stand and who he hit on religiously during the breaks in his trial.
And so finally we come to the legendary casting couch, a place where many a young actress or actor has been offered a plum role in return for some rather unsavory favors.
It’s something that doesn’t sit well with legendary thespian Joan Collins, who claims she lost out on the lead role in Cleopatra because she wouldn’t capitulate to the studio head’s advances.
Joan explained, “I had tested for ‘Cleopatra twice and was the front-runner. He took me into his office and said, ‘You really want this part?’ And I said, ‘Yes. I really do.’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘then all you have to do is be nice to me.’ It was a wonderful euphemism in the Sixties for you know what. But I couldn’t do that. In fact, I was rather wimpish, burst into tears and rushed out of his office.”
And as we all know. The role eventually went to Elizabeth Taylor.
“America’s little darling,” aka Shirley Temple, was no stranger to the “adventuresome casting couch.” She claimed that upon meeting an MGM producer for the first time he unzipped his trousers and exposed himself. Shirley, who was just 12 at the time, responded by laughing nervously. In turn, the producer grew angry and threw her out of his office.
Fellow child star Judy Garland also had to contend with being pawed and mauled by MGM’s studio bigwigs. According to her biographer Gerald Clarke, one of the most notorious harassers was allegedly studio head Louis B. Mayer.
“Mayer would tell her what a wonderful singer she was, and he would say ‘you sing from the heart’ and then he would place his hand on her left breast.”
Through the years and down the decades, the likes of Roman Polanski and Bill Cosby have kept the scandals burning brightly in Tinseltown, and now it appears another worm has come out of the woodwork in the form of the Harvey Weinstein allegations.
As is fitting let’s let Marilyn have the last word on the matter.
“Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.”
[Featured Image by L J Willinger/Getty Images]