The lives of those women that existed in Classic Hollywood are pretty interesting when you look at it. Some of these names are barely known to anyone these days save for film buffs and historians that specialize in film. But all of them had an impact in their era and every last one of them probably thought at some point that their names would go down in history as something more than a little special. The truth of it is that all of them are remembered in one way or another but the facts of their lives have been relegated almost to Hollywood myth in some cases. Sad as that might seem it is what happens in a continually growing population in which memory is swiftly becoming based more upon the moments and snippets that are caught and transferred to the current technology than relayed through storytelling as used to be common.
For instance, a lot of people might not know anything about Clara Bow despite the fact that she was a huge star in the 20’s. Even less people would know that her personal assistant once tried to blackmail her by threatening to sell her belongings to the press. Audrey Hepburn is a much more well-known name but how many people would know that she was almost cast as Peter Pan in a live action film? That might be a little more well-known, but how many folks would know that Greta Garbo once operated the elevator in her building for a whole day? Mae West apparently created a play titled Sex and was successful for a whole year until she was arrested in 1927 on account of lewdness. Really, she was allowed to perform for that long and then finally arrested. Elizabeth Taylor apparently hated being called ‘Liz’ as she thought it sounded like a hiss, while Natalie Wood didn’t like the name she’d been given since Wood sounded to her like something vaguely obscene. Rita Hayworth had to slap Glenn Ford four times during a movie and actually wound up knocking two of his teeth out after he told her to go full force. As if that wasn’t enough, Ginger Rogers nearly knocked out Fred Astaire with the heavy sleeve of her dress, which weighed an astounding 25 pounds.
The more you learn about the lives of these woman that populated Hollywood throughout the Classic era the more you seem to get the idea that they did not have easy lives, nor did they really stand apart from the way things are today. With the advent of social media and the increasing use of paparazzi when it comes to digging into the lives of celebrities it seems as though the bar is being set continually higher as the years go by. At least looking back at the past you can see that it was already set quite high from the start, and that the women of that era didn’t have it any easier than women do now.
Quite honestly it’s amazing that so many people have forgotten that female celebrities back in the day were still allowed to exercise the freedoms they do now.