Friday, November 04, 2011

November 1948 - 63 Years Ago

Imagine yourself interviewed today - and being able to then look at what you said and who you were, in the distant future. What would ring true? What would appear uncanny or ironic; what would you think about the unexpected twists of fate that were to befall you? I guess that's why people go to psychics.

I got my hands on a copy of Silver Screen magazine, November 1948, and here are tales of three screen queens found in its pages. Gene Tierney, with her sexy overbite, is to me the most stunning of sirens. Here, she talks about how all the attention of celebrity would make you go mad if you didn't laugh:

Gene Tierney didn't laugh enough, one might discern, as a few years after this issue, mental illness saw her undergo 27 electroshock treatments. She lost a ton of her memory and went on to scorn the use of this method. Gene didn't have it easy, even with the beauty and fame. Her daughter Daria was born severely retarded because of rubella contracted when a female fan broke quarantine (with rubella) to meet Gene Tierney when she (pregnant) was selling war bonds.

Add to that failed romances with prince Aly Khan (his father wouldn't let him marry yet another movie star after the debacle with Rita Hayworth) and JFK (he had political ambitions; she was divorced), and the tabloid headlines after she was discovered working in a dress shop post electroshock-therapy - and Gene's career, together with her sanity, struggled to survive.

She pulled herself together for a couple small roles, a bio "Self-Portrait" (I even read it) and ultimately married a rich oil baron who had previously been married to the next star in this issue, Hedy Lamarr.

It must've been a lot of pressure to be labeled 'most beautiful woman in the world', but such was Hedy's lot.

In this issue, Hedy is returning to the screen in Samson and Delilah, after taking a two years off because being considered not much more than a smoldering glamor girl tired her. She once said "Any girl can be glamorous; all you have to do is stand still and look stupid." Here in 1948, she just wants to be happy, with shades of Garbo's "I want to be alone" or rather, as Garbo clarified, "I want to be left alone" (there's a difference).

Lamarr would soon be left mostly alone, until an embarrassing $21 shoplifting (laxatives and eyedrops, honey) arrest (charges dropped) erupted in the early 1990's. In early 2000, she died alone in her sleep near Orlando, Florida, but not before something enormously surprising would top even her world-famous beauty.

Once married to a jealous Nazi arms dealer in Austria, Hedy had to drug her maid and don the uniform to escape him. But from that marriage, she learned much about weapons, and with a deft composer she met in Hollywood, George Antheil, she would patent frequency hopping, to make radio guided torpedoes harder to detect. She did this seven years prior to this interview - in 1941. Though such technology was not yet available, it was later used in war and her spread spectrum patent became the basis for cell phones and the wifi technology we use today. Finally given credit (but never a penny) for her invention in the late '1990's, she said only, "It's about time."

In 1948, Lizabeth Scott (below) was Paramount's husky answer to sultry vixens Veronica Lake and Lauren Bacall. They even labeled her The Threat.

In private life, she went by "Scotty", wore only men's cologne and didn't care for "frilly" femininity. On screen, she seduced men and audiences alike- but there's a reason you don't recognize her name like you do the above. A few years after this issue of Silver Screen hit the stands, an issue of tabloid "Confidential" outed her as a lesbian. A "baritone babe" - busted as a client on the rolodex of a famous female call-girl house. Her reputation ruined, she sued for libel - lost - Paramount dropped her and it all spiralled.

Of the three ladies here, Lizabeth Scott is the only one alive today. She's the only one now able to look back with perspective, elucidate or comment, but of the scandal, the alleged lesbianism, any of it, for all of these many years, she refuses to speak. The Threat declines all interviews.

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