“1937: A Tale of Hollywood’s Nastiest Scandals” by David Wallace— Hidden and Public Scandal

Wallace, David. “1937: A Tale of Hollywood’s Nastiest Scandals”, CreateSpace, 2016.

Hidden and Public Scandal

Amos Lassen

Just as it is today, in 1937 Hollywood was a town like no other in this country. Even though excitement fame and fortune were easily found there, so is/was scandal of all kinds. Oakley Webster, a gay private detective discovers a strange connection between some of Hollywood’s celebrity Jewish community and Nazi Germany, and to find the truth to his suspicions, he uses help from some of the biggest names in Hollywood back then.

It actually took World War II for the media to see and to reveal what was going on. For a place so well known because of its gossip mill, how is it that big names like Louella Parsons did not speak out about what they knew? There was a connection between studios that were owned by Jews and Nazi Germany and something was going on with William Haines, the first openly gay star in Hollywood, and the role of Louis B. Mayer, cofounder of Metro-Goldwyn Mayer studios? What about other celebrities that seemed also to be involved? How does a big-screen face like Joan Crawford factor in? David Wallace has based his novel on fact and history and we see that Hollywood was not as golden as some wanted others to believe. During this age of glamour, not all was glamorous. Using what he discovered in books of history about Hollywood, Wallace uses fiction to tell the truth.

Webster knows the rich and famous and writes about the smear scandal of Haines. He basically came into the entire business via gossip columnist Louella Parsons and Joan Crawford and heard from other actors who were sympathetic to Haines and his long-term partner. As he worked his way into the gossip, he learned of deliberate manipulation of the motion picture industry by Nazis who insisted on eliminating references to Jews from films and on this way the studios could continue preserving the lucrative German market. Parsons told that one of the first things that is learned in Hollywood is that everyone is a potential enemy. This is the basis for the novel, a dark, detective story inspired by true Hollywood scandals. Webster tries to solve several mysteries but this is more than a detective story, it is a look into the Hollywood of 1937 as we meet real and fictional characters. You will be turning pages as quickly as possible.

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