Hollywood’s Dark History written by Matt MacNabb and published by Pen & Sword Books – £12.99 – Softcover – Pages 160

The dawning of the nineteenth century brought with it a new era for entertainment. Vaudeville was the preferred form of entertainment, until the popularization of the silent film. This new medium proved to be a draw for many of the stars of the Vaudevillian stage and soon they migrated to the exciting possibilities that the movies had to offer. Audiences were instantly enthralled and captivated by the stars of the silent screen. The early days of Hollywood were full of glamour and a newfound decadence. The stars in these films were instantly catapulted to fame and fortune and the spotlight of the public eye. The real people behind the glamour were far different than the characters that audiences grew to know and love and much like Hollywood today, the lives of the stars were often full of scandal and debauchery.

This book examines the forgotten scandals of yesterday, featuring silent and silver screen stars like Jean Harlow, Mae West, Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin and Errol Flynn. Don’t let the romanticized black and white world of yesterday fool you, their stories are rife with sex, drugs and murder.

This book is a dark and sad look at some of the stars of Hollywood in the first half of the 20th century, from Charlie Chaplin to Jean Harlow. What struck me from these chapters which each take a look at a star, is how sad all the photos look in the middle of the book. From that I mean the actual stars look sad behind the eyes as if problems and stardom have got to them and the reality of Hollywood is very different in reality. Although I only really recognised a handful of the stars, it was still an interesting read, certainly one for those that enjoy the celebrity side of life.

By Ben Davidson

Hello, I have been studying all aspects of history for about 25 years. I have a BA History from the University of Bedfordshire. My historical areas of interest are anything really, but I specialise in 19th - 20th century Britain, America and Ireland. I am also strongly aligned with most military history, really enjoying WW2 and the US Civil War. Chuck in the king or queen and Bob's your uncle.