Ah, the Golden Age of Hollywood! The studio system reigned supreme, and movie stars were worshipped as lofty beings far finer and nobler than shmucks like you and me. The big studios completely controlled the industry and its stars, coddling and protecting them, and even inventing their lives for them when reality was just a little too prosaic (or scandalous!) for good fan fodder.
Many a big name from the '30s and '40s would draw a blank look today. Sure, everyone knows Bette Davis, Clark Gable, Marlene Dietrich, and Fred Astaire. But what about Irene Dunne, Constance Bennett, Claudette Colbert, William Powell, Don Ameche, and Jean Arthur? How many people have seen Billie Burke as Glinda, the Witch of the North, but have never seen her in Dinner at Eight, A Bill of Divorcement, or Topper?
You want a good laugh? Try keeping up with the hysterically fast and funny repartee of Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday. Or check out Claudette Colbert's hard-boiled, wise-cracking gold diggers in Midnight or The Palm Beach Story.
Some folks may think these films are antiques. I doubt you could convince too many '90s kids to sit around for 90 minutes to watch a black & white movie in which nobody gets killed in a violent manner and nary a four-letter word is uttered. The dialogue so carefully crafted decades ago would fall on deaf ears. But for those with ears to hear and eyes to see, *this* was the REAL Hollywood.
Claudette Colbert on the cover of Movie Mirror, December 1936.
Constance Bennett, from the cover of "Silver Screen" magazine, 1934.
Myrna Loy and William Powell in The Thin Man, 1934.
Clark Gable & Claudette Colbert in their Oscar-winning performances in "It Happened One Night", 1934.
Jean Arthur breaks the bank in "Easy Living", 1937.
Constance Bennett, 1934.
A gorgeous photo of Myrna Loy, ca. 1932.
Olivia De Havilland and Errol Flynn in "The Adventures of Robin Hood", 1938.
Carole Lombard, from a 1937 Lucky Strikes ad.