Beginning after the 1920’s and lasting well into the 1960’s, the Golden Age of Hollywood gave rise to the history of cinema we know today, one whose classic films and movie stars still loom larger than life, their fame far surpassing even the brightest of today’s stars. Some of the most iconic films in Hollywood history came out in these years including Rebel Without a Cause, Citizen Kane, Casablanca and Roman Holiday and they created movie stars like Humphrey Bogart, Rita Hayworth, Clark Gable and Bette Davis who far surpassed their on screen legacy. Though we don’t really know these old world stars, they existed in a time when the picture and the world of Hollywood cinema still held a certain mystique that has worn off with the current commonness of the silver screen.
Though there are still many charismatic stars that inhabit the big screen today, it’s no surprise that the Hollywood star system that used to craft the celebrity image to perfection gave way to luminous stars that enchanted the public with their honed persona. Of course, because of the often times vast difference between the star and their image, it’s no surprise that the scandals that rocked Hollywood seemed so much more dramatic back then.
Whether it was the tabloid drama of Ava Gardner’s supposed man-eating ways or the rumored lobotomy that screen starlet Frances Farmer was said to have endured while institutionalized, the lives of the following Hollywood ladies have managed to turn even more dramatically in real life than they did on the big screen.
5 Frances Farmer
4 Vivien Leigh
3 Ava Gardner
2 Marilyn Monroe
1 Elizabeth Taylor
With her violet eyes and double row of eyelashes, Taylor would have existed as a Hollywood legacy anyways, but her tumultuous personal life has only added to the magnetism that is Dame Elizabeth Taylor. Starting out at a young age, Taylor became an acting phenom when she starred in National Velvet (1944) at the age of 12, and went on to star in a litany of Hollywood favourites like A Place in the Sun, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Cleopatra. Of course, it was Taylor’s personal life that gave fire to her famed persona with a marriage history so lengthy it’s comprised of bullet points. While Taylor married eight times in her life and was a prominent figure in the tabloids, it was her two marriages to English actor Richard Burton from 1964-1974 and 1974-1975 that captured the public’s attention, most notably for the alcoholism, affairs and intense passion that characterized their tumultuous unions and even led to the couple being condemned by the Vatican for ‘erotic vagrancy’. While Taylor passed away in March 2011 at the age of 79, her development of the American Foundation for AIDS Research has made her a hero, and her life story and performances have made her one of Hollywood’s most notorious screen stars.
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