Gloria Swanson: Ready for Her Close-Up shows how a
talented, self-confident actress negotiated a creative path through
seven decades of celebrity. It also illuminates a little-known
chapter in American media history: how the powerful women of early
Hollywood transformed their remarkable careers after their stars
dimmed. This book brings Swanson (1899-1983) back into the
spotlight, revealing her as a complex, creative, entrepreneurial,
and thoroughly modern woman.
Swanson cavorted in slapstick short films with Charlie Chaplin
and Mack Sennett in the 1910s. The popularity of her films with
Cecil B. DeMille helped create the star system. A glamour icon,
Swanson became the most talked-about star in Hollywood, earning
three Academy Award nominations, receiving 10,000 fan letters every
week, and living up to a reputation as Queen of Hollywood. She
bought mansions and penthouses, dressed in fur and feathers, and
flitted through Paris, London, and New York engaging in passionate
love affairs that made headlines and caused scandals.
Frustrated with the studio system, Swanson turned down a
million-dollar-a-year contract. After a wild ride making
unforgettable movies with some of Hollywood's most colorful
characters--including her lover Joseph Kennedy and maverick
director Erich von Stroheim--she was a million dollars in debt.
Without hesitation she went looking for her next challenge,
beginning her long second act.
Swanson became a talented businesswoman who patented inventions
and won fashion awards for her clothing designs; a natural foods
activist decades before it was fashionable; an exhibited sculptor;
and a designer employed by the United Nations. All the while she
continued to act in films, theater, and television at home and
abroad. Though she had one of Hollywood's most famous exit
lines--"All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up"--the
real Gloria Swanson never looked back.
Subjects: History, Film Studies
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