Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hollywood Babs

I discovered hollywood babylon as a teenager rummaging through my father's bookshelves looking for books to steal.  After a quick perusal of the books, the pictures alone led me to scoop both volumes up for my own. They have piqued my interest over and over again throughout the years, and I still have my father's old copies in my possession to this day (I don't think he ever noticed they were missing?). They've led me to seek out and read several full biographies on some of his subjects - Jean Harlow, Tallulah Bankhead, Marilyn Monroe, Mabel Normand, Mae West, Joan Crawford..

What I find so enchanting about the hollywood babylon books is that they are truly works from the heart. Alongside the sensationalist, sordid bent (which I also love), Anger has a deep respect and honest love for the glamour and magic of hollywood's golden era.  The book is not a mere work of research, but the showcase of a personal collection.  Anger gathered his tales throughout his youth, clipping stories and scandals from the local papers, oftentimes as they occurred, and carefully preserving them, a beloved scrapbook.
sensationalist bio paperbacks (my own)
It's a bit like vintage collecting, really. It's a fascination-fueled compusion, and you just want to gather it all up and have it for your own, turn it over in your hands and imagine all the possible lives your little artifact has lived.  Any hint of the bizarre, and you're totally enraptured - like the glitter postcards I wrote about the other day, for example. A little twist that makes it stand out and lets your mind run. There has been so much arguing about which stories in the 'HollyBab's are true and to what degree, but c'mon! It doesnt matter a bit. It's just so fun to imagine it all.
a very choice layout from hollybab 2

Check out this youtube about Hollywood Babylon ! Most of it is garbage ( the parts that depict stories from the books), but the interview snippets w/Kenneth Anger are just delightful!


  1. these are so cool! i'd love to read these

  2. You should!! They're pretty much guaranteed to entertain & Anger's writing style is SO wonderfully readable and fun. Also, I didn't really go into the subject matter, but there are some truly bizarre and intriguing stories in both volumes! I'm talkin' jaw-dropping!