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My first time in Hollywood: Film historian brings alive stars’ first impressions




Film actress Gloria Swanson (1897-1983) and film director Cecil B DeMille (1881-1959) sitting together on the set of 'Sunset Boulevard,' a biting satire on Hollywood stardom in which DeMille plays himself, 1949.
Film actress Gloria Swanson (1897-1983) and film director Cecil B DeMille (1881-1959) sitting together on the set of 'Sunset Boulevard,' a biting satire on Hollywood stardom in which DeMille plays himself, 1949.
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Do you remember your first time? Your first time in Hollywood, that is.

That’s the theme of film historian Cari Beauchamp’s new book. In it she traces the paths of stars such as Mary Pickford, Gloria Swanson and Cecil B. DeMille. She also highlights the lesser sung heroes of Hollywood, whom you might not have heard of, like set decorator Winfrid Kay Thackrey, who was determined to persuade studios to hire a woman.

Their experiences are as wide-ranging as were their talents. Beauchamp reveals how screenwriter Ben Hecht recounted how his first day in 1926 Hollywood felt like “a year in Siberia,” but by all accounts paints a robust picture of a pioneering community fueled by its members’ streaks of serendipity.

Guest:

Cari Beauchamp, film historian and author of “My First Time in Hollywood: Stories from the Pioneers, Dreamers and Misfits Who Made the Movies” (Asahina & Wallace, 2015)