Monday, November 06, 2017

How Maureen O'Hara called out Hollywood sexism - in 1945!

How Maureen O'Hara called out Hollywood sexism - in 1945!

This clipping appeared in the Sunday May 27, 1945 edition of the Mirror. It was actually a truncated version of a column written a few days earlier by Erskine Johnson, who was the gossip columnist for the Hearst chain.

Here is the full story: (To see it in full size, click right to open the link in a new tab or window.)



Of course she was totally correct in her accusations, but as you may guess, Hollywood shenanigans were not foremost on people's minds then.

The war in the Pacific was raging. Okinawa was a tinderbox. 240,000 people died there in April through June, including 150,000 civilians. That civilian body count is as high or higher than commonly attributed to either the atomic bombing of Hiroshima or the firebombing of Tokyo, although it's not directly comparable to those catastrophes, having occurred over the course of a wide-raging 82-day battle rather than as the result of a single fierce strike.

Compared to Okinawa, Maureen O'Hara's concerns seemed kind of trivial at the time. If she had made the same objections after the war, when people were again obsessed with celebrities, the story might have turned into a cause célèbre for the decency groups, and the course of Hollywood might have been very different.

Or not.

(Because people seemed to think that was just the way things were then, and maybe many people thought that's the way they were supposed to be.)

SIDEBAR #1: O'Hara herself was accused of sexual harassment! O'Hara wrote in her autobiography, "'Tis Herself," that in 1944 or 1945 "an actress named Kathryn" falsely accused her of making sexual advances in an elevator. O'Hara responded that the other actress was simply trying to gain attention at the start of her career.

SIDEBAR #2: Confidential magazine, a notorious scandal rag, printed a story that Maureen had had sex with a Latin male in row 35 of the balcony of Graumann's Chinese Theater, allegedly on November 9, 1953. In the famous Confidential trial, O'Hara was a witness, and denied the incident, although ...

"Several defense witnesses contradicted O'Hara, including one who testified that O'Hara all but had sexual intercourse in her lover's lap. A clerk who worked Grauman's candy counter contradicted O'Hara's testimony that she had been to the theater only twice, both times with her brother. The clerk testified that after a visit to the theater by O'Hara one night, she remembered the ushers all abuzz about what had happened in Row 35."

Whoa! That certainly does not sound like the love-life of a "cold potato," as she was allegedly called by those producers she refused to cuddle with.

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