Hollywood, fantasy and reality
He must have invented the expression “faction”, half-real facts and half fiction. Ryan Murphy, the director of Hollywood – as well as many other Netflix-made hits, such as Pose and Glee – mixes real and fictional characters and completely rewrites Hollywood’s golden years, those that followed the Second World War.
The tragic life of Peg Entwistle
Let’s start for example from the story of Peg Entwistle, who committed suicide in 1932 by jumping from the H of Hollywoodland on Mount Lee in Los Angeles. His tragic life in the TV series is the subject of a screenplay that one of the aspiring directors proposes to the producers of a film major and which becomes the centerpiece of the series. Peg Entwistle was Welsh, his real name was Millicent Lilian Entwistle, daughter of British actors. He emigrated to the United States in the early 1920s and was successful on Broadway. When he tried to go to the cinema, however, things did not go as well: in 1932 he got his first cinematographic role, a small part in reality, in the film Thirteen Women. The film was a flop and she – thanks also to the great depression – could no longer find any other job. He was only 24 when he decided to end his life in such a tragic and blatant way.
Rock Hudson and his agent
Then comes the story of Rock Hudson who was really called Roy Fitzgerald, played by Jake Picking and – as in the TV series – came from Winnetka in Illinois. The life of the character of Hollywood it is very similar to that of the real macho actor: it was the meeting with Agent Henry Willson to give him a future and his tragic debut in front of the camera is also true. The only difference: the coming out. Then it would have been the beginning of its end. On the contrary: Willson advised him to marry his secretary to curb rumors once and for all about his sexual orientation. And this is a bit the secret of the series, to imagine a more open and inclusive Hollywood than it really was.
Of course, Roy’s agent’s story is also quite similar to that of the truth Henry Willson very powerful in Hollywood, also known because, precisely as it is told in Hollywood, he abused his clients and entrusted roles in exchange for sexual favors. In the TV series, in the end, he repents, in reality it doesn’t seem so.
The first successful Asian actress
© SAEED ADYANI / NETFLIX
The first Asian actress to become famous was indeed Anna May Wong. She has been acting in various films since the 1920s but always and only in stereotypical roles, as an Asian woman – which were a little tight. And that was why he decided to go to Europe where he had some success, he starred in films like Fu Manchu’s daughter and in Shanghai Express by Josef von Sternberg, alongside Marlene Dietrich, but however, as told in the series, Luise Rainer was preferred as the protagonist of the film La buona terra, based on the novel of the same name by Pearl S. Buck. And the role earned the Oscar for the German actress.
Hattie McDaniel of Gone with the Wind
Queen Latifah stars in the TV series Hattie McDaniel, who in 1940 won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for playing Mani in Via con vento. It was the first statuette for an African American, but she, who starred in at least 300 other films, still remained anchored to secondary roles and generally as housekeeper. And above all, as told in the TV series, during the award ceremony she was forced to sit down, not with the other actors in the cast, but at a separate and isolated table.
And finally the appearance of Vivien Leigh
Last but not least, the series also appears Vivien Leigh – played by Katie McGuiness – the actress who in Gone With the Wind played Rossella O’Hara.