|Hollywoodland | Politique Diabolique||Apr 26 2010|
Above is a colorful cover of the tabloid Top Secret, from this month 1960, with Sammy Davis, Jr. composited next to a woman the magazine says is his future wife, Canadian singer Joan Suart. But things change quickly in Hollywood. Davis had just broken off his engagement with Stuart and was already seeing Swedish actress May Britt, who he would marry in the autumn. In any case, Stuart doesn't look anything like Kim Novak, the world class beauty Davis had briefly been involved with and who he may well have been pining for since their split. We’ve mentioned the story before: when Novak was possibly the most famous woman in cinema, she and the Candyman started sleeping together. Her studio bosses weren’t about to risk the news reaching the public, so they spoke to some Mafia friends and had Sammy kidnapped to throw a scare into him. It worked, and the affair with Novak ended.
It gets worse. The Mafia then pushed Davis into a marriage with a black dancer—just to squelch the Novak rumors that had begun to crop up—and the union lasted less than a year. His marriage to May Britt lasted longer, about eight years, but even though Sammy had found a woman the Mafia didn’t care about, most other Americans were scandalized. It was driven by racism, of course, but it was also driven by that eternal desire to control women’s sexuality. Ask any woman you know, and she'll agree that men are always trying to tell her whom she can sleep with, irrespective of skin color. Davis thought he could handle the public fallout from his interracial marriage, but when John F. Kennedy caved in to political pressure and removed him from the bill of a White House party, it scarred Davis and led to the bizarre sight of him endorsing Richard Nixon and even hugging him on live television.
There’s a second interesting story here, about the child star Evelyn Rudie, left. Rudie was nine years old in November 1959 when, without telling anyone where she was going, she hopped on a plane for Washington, D.C., with the purpose of seeing First Lady Mamie Eisenhower. Rudie supposedly broke open her four piggy banks and collected $160.00 in change, which was just enough for a ticket to D.C. And why did she want to see the First Lady? Here’s what she said at the time: “When I saw Mrs. Eisenhower in Washington last year, she told me that her grandchildren and the President enjoyed my acting so much. So I decided to talk with her and see if she couldn’t get me a part in a film or television series.” That’s called going straight to the top. But Rudie never got to see the First Lady. Mainly, she just made headlines. And that’s the most interesting part about this—the headlines did not concern the fact that she had traveled alone, but that the whole scenario might have been a publicity stunt. How times have changed. Today, her parents might end up in jail for neglect. We’ll have more from Top Secret soon.
|Politique Diabolique||Dec 19 2008|
Famed whistleblower Mark Felt aka Deep Throat died yesterday of heart failure in Santa Rosa, California at the age of 95. In 1972 Felt was instrumental in helping Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein break open the infamous Watergate scandal, which remains one of the most important events in American history.
At the time, Felt was an FBI operative frustrated by the slow pace of investigation into a break-in at Democratic Party Headquarters at Washington, D.C.’s Watergate Hotel. It seemed clear to him that Republican operatives—possibly directed by President Richard Nixon—were likely involved, and that they were sabotaging the FBI investigation. Felt took matters into his own hands by secretly meeting with Bob Woodward during the Post’s investigation of the crime.
At these meetings, which took place in the dead of night in a Virginia parking garage, Felt gave Woodward crucial FBI information. They agreed that Felt’s identity could not be revealed, and that was when Woodward coined the Deep Throat moniker. Felt coined his own immortal phrase: “Follow the money.” That advice helped keep Woodward and Bernstein moving in the right direction during their investigation, and today is a mantra for investigative reporters seeking the truth behind political scandals, as well as an almost universal insight into human motivation.
When the Watergate scandal broke, Nixon resigned the presidency rather than be impeached. The event is often cited as the first major blow to the American public’s belief that their presidents were incorruptible. In that way, Mark Felt helped usher in an age of political cynicism. When he finally revealed his true identity in 2005, the Watergate saga was replayed and he was criticized and praised anew for his role. But whether hero or traitor, he is without question one of the most important Americans of his time.