Seduction: Sex, Lies, and Stardom in Howard Hughes's Hollywood (Hardcover)

Seduction: Sex, Lies, and Stardom in Howard Hughes's Hollywood Cover Image
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“A compelling and relevant must-read.” –Entertainment Weekly

In this riveting popular history, the creator of You Must Remember This probes the inner workings of Hollywood’s glamorous golden age through the stories of some of the dozens of actresses pursued by Howard Hughes, to reveal how the millionaire mogul’s obsessions with sex, power and publicity trapped, abused, or benefitted women who dreamt of screen stardom.

In recent months, the media has reported on scores of entertainment figures who used their power and money in Hollywood to sexually harass and coerce some of the most talented women in cinema and television. But as Karina Longworth reminds us, long before the Harvey Weinsteins there was Howard Hughes—the Texas millionaire, pilot, and filmmaker whose reputation as a cinematic provocateur was matched only by that as a prolific womanizer.

His supposed conquests between his first divorce in the late 1920s and his marriage to actress Jean Peters in 1957 included many of Hollywood’s most famous actresses, among them Billie Dove, Katharine Hepburn, Ava Gardner, and Lana Turner. From promoting bombshells like Jean Harlow and Jane Russell to his contentious battles with the censors, Hughes—perhaps more than any other filmmaker of his era—commoditized male desire as he objectified and sexualized women. Yet there were also numerous women pulled into Hughes’s grasp who never made it to the screen, sometimes virtually imprisoned by an increasingly paranoid and disturbed Hughes, who retained multitudes of private investigators, security personnel, and informers to make certain these actresses would not escape his clutches.

Vivid, perceptive, timely, and ridiculously entertaining, Seduction is a landmark work that examines women, sex, and male power in Hollywood during its golden age—a legacy that endures nearly a century later.

About the Author

Karina Longworth is the creator, writer, and host of You Must Remember This, a podcast on the secret and forgotten history of twentieth-century Hollywood. A former film editor of LA Weekly and critic for the Village Voice, she is the author of four previous books, including Hollywood Frame by Frame and Meryl Streep: Anatomy of an Actor. She lives in Los Angeles.

Praise For…

“First-rate...written with forceful style and a passionate regard for the forgotten hopefuls who came to California seeking success in a thoroughly sexist era.”
USA Today (four stars)

“A compelling and relevant must-read.”
Entertainment Weekly

“A very timely book…A vibrant history not just of Hughes but of Hollywood itself, its sins and glories, its darkness and light. Longworth does not pull her punches….This is a book about Hollywood and so it is a book about male power run unchecked.”
Los Angeles Times

“Seduction reads like a scandal sheet tempered with primary and secondary research.”
Los Angeles Review of Books

“Karina Longworth loves Hollywood the way it ought to be loved — mercilessly. She is a skeptic without cynicism, a feminist without apology, and in Seduction she has found the great subject that her essential podcast has long promised”
— James Kaplan, author of Sinatra

“An entertaining and timely tour of early Hollywood mores and manipulation. No matter how much you think you know about golden age Hollywood, Longworth serves up fascinatingly fresh perspective on the ways male desire and power shaped movie mythology.”
— Joy Press, author of Stealing the Show

“Full of insight...illuminating and memorable.”

“A history that shows clearly how powerful men exploited actresses long before the #MeToo movement began. Hollywood historian Longworth has mined memoirs, biographies, magazines, newspapers, and archives to create an entertaining, gossip-filled portrait of the film capital’s golden age… A lively—and often sordid—Hollywood history.”
— Kirkus Reviews

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9780062440518
ISBN-10: 0062440519
Publisher: Custom House
Publication Date: November 13th, 2018
Pages: 560
Language: English