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The host of the hugely popular podcast You Must Remember This explores Hollywood’s glamorous golden age via the cinematic life of Howard Hughes and the women who encountered him-sometimes at the expense of their minds and souls
Howard Hughes’s reputation as a director and producer of films unusually defined by sex dovetails with his image as one of the most prolific womanizers of the twentieth century. The promoter of bombshell actresses such as Jean Harlow and Jane Russell, Hughes supposedly included among his off-screen conquests many of the most famous actresses of the era, among them Billie Dove, Katharine Hepburn, Ava Gardner, Ginger Rogers, and Lana Turner. Some of the women in Hughes’s life were or became stars and others would stall out at a variety of points within the Hollywood hierarchy, but all found their professional lives marked by Hughes’s presence.
In Seduction, Karina Longworth draws upon her own unparalleled expertise and an unpreceded trove of archival sources, diaries, and documents to produce a landmark-and wonderfully effervescent and gossipy-work of Hollywood history. It’s the story of what it was like to be a woman in Hollywood during the industry’s golden age, through the tales of actresses involved with Howard Hughes. This was the era not only of the actresses Hughes sought to dominate, but male stars such as Errol Flynn, Cary Grant, and Robert Mitchum; directors such as John Ford, Howard Hawks, and Preston Sturges; and studio chiefs like Irving Thalberg, Darryl Zanuck, and David O. Selznick-many of whom were complicit in the bedroom and boardroom exploitation that stifled and disappointed so many of the women who came to Los Angeles with hopes of celluloid triumph.
In his films, Howard Hughes commodified male desire more blatantly than any mainstream filmmaker of his time and in turn helped produce an incredibly influential, sexualized image of womanhood that has impacted American culture ever since. As a result, the story of him and the women he encountered is about not only the murkier shades of golden-age Hollywood, but also the ripples that still slither across today’s entertainment industry and our culture in general.
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