Hollywoodland Jan 19 2010
CONFIDENCE BUILDING
No indiscretion was too small for Confidential.

Above is a January 1957 Confidential with Joan Crawford in the spotlight and Elvis in the wings. The Crawford story involves her playing cougar with a boytoy bartender. She’d call, or have an assistant call, and he’d drop everything, scurry over to her house, and be seen leaving the next morning. Pretty salacious claim, but of course, the bartender is never named and so the story is impossible to prove. The Elvis article is in a similar vein. Basically, Presley signed an autograph on a girl’s bare skin, and she ended up going home with him. The next morning the girl called a friend to have the signature photographed before she showered it off.

You can get a sense from these two pieces just how extensive Confidential’s network of spies was, and who they were—cabbies, switchboard operators, busboys, mailmen, and doormen. You can also, if you imagine yourself as a movie star, get a sense of how paranoid Hollywood players must have been. Every misstep—no matter how small—was splashed across Confidential’s pages.

For a while, the stars simply hoped against hope they could stay under the radar, but eventually they went on the offensive and ran Confidential into the ground with lawsuits. But in 1957, the magazine was still at the height of its power, selling millions of copies and being read secondhand by millions more who were too prim to be seen buying a scandal sheet. Confidential’s actual circulation may have been quadruple its sales figures. Humphrey Bogart said it best: “Everybody reads it but they say the cook brought it into the house.” 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
March 22
1963—Profumo Denies Affair
In England, the Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, denies any impropriety with showgirl Christine Keeler and threatens to sue anyone repeating the allegations. The accusations involve not just infidelity, but the possibility acquaintances of Keeler might be trying to ply Profumo for nuclear secrets. In June, Profumo finally resigns from the government after confessing his sexual involvement with Keeler and admitting he lied to parliament.
1978—Karl Wallenda Falls to His Death
World famous German daredevil and high-wire walker Karl Wallenda, founder of the acrobatic troupe The Flying Wallendas, falls to his death attempting to walk on a cable strung between the two towers of the Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Wallenda is seventy-three years old at the time, but it is a 30 mph wind, rather than age, that is generally blamed for sending him from the wire.
2006—Swedish Spy Stig Wennerstrom Dies
Swedish air force colonel Stig Wennerström, who had been convicted in the 1970s of passing Swedish, U.S. and NATO secrets to the Soviet Union over the course of fifteen years, dies in an old age home at the age of ninety-nine. The Wennerström affair, as some called it, was at the time one of the biggest scandals of the Cold War.
March 21
1963—Alcatraz Closes
The federal penitentiary located on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay closes. The island had been home to a lighthouse, a military fortification, and a military prison over the years. In 1972, it would become a national recreation area open to tourists, and it would receive national landmark designations in 1976 and 1986.
March 20
1916—Einstein Publishes General Relativity
German-born theoretical physicist Albert Einstein publishes his general theory of relativity. Among the effects of the theory are phenomena such as the curvature of space-time, the bending of rays of light in gravitational fields, faster than light universe expansion, and the warping of space time around a rotating body.
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