This article contains Hollywood spoilers. You can find our easter egg guide for the previous episode here.
A lighter episode for inside baseball winks and nudges, the fourth hour of Hollywood still crucially introduces us to the concept of Avis being friends with Eleanor Roosevelt, as well as the prospect of turning “Peg” into “Meg.” So like Ace’s blood pressure, let’s get cracking.
Hollywood Episode 4
-As far as I’m aware, there is no Gene Tierney movie in which she plays a fake nun who seduces William Holden, nor is there a movie where Humphrey Bogart plays Indian-slaughterer William Henry Harrison, but I totally buy they’d make those movies in 1947! Apparently they did at Ace Pictures. Also Ace just came up with the plot of Old Yeller (1957) when he pitched making a movie about a boy and his dog where the boy has to kill the dog at the end.
-Upon discovering that his Peg screenwriter is black, Ace says this is “communist” stuff and dreads the reaction of the Hayes Office or Southern censors. Whether or not they’d react to a black screenwriter (Southern censors would likely be more agitated than the Hayes Office), if Ace knew who was going to play “Peg,” he’d have a heart attack right there.
-During the montage of everyone preparing for their screen test, we hear the Pied Pipers’ “Personality.”
-While Rock Hudson did not screw up his screen test for Peg with 67 takes, that’s because he never auditioned for a movie called Peg. His actual first role was in a film called Fighter Squadron (1948). And despite having one line of dialogue, he did need 38 takes to get it right.
-Glen Miller’s version of “Rhapsody in Blue” plays before Camille and Claire’s auditions.
-While I’m unversed in whether Eleanor Roosevelt toured the South in the years immediately following Franklin’s death, she was considered a “controversial” first lady (particularly in the South) given how outspoken she was in support of the rights of African Americans and Asian Americans. She was especially conscious of how Asian Americans were being treated as refugees during World War II. I’d be curious to learn what she thought of her husband’s internment camps for Americans of Japanese descent. She never really lectured a Hollywood studio to cast a black lead.
-In fact, MGM signed Lena Horne to be the first glamorous African American lead actress in 1942. Like how Camille is presented in the series, Lena went through the movie star classes, but she only ever led all-black musicals. Otherwise, she was treated as a supporting actress who would sing musical numbers for the white leads to react to. One of the reasons for this is the Hays Code wouldn’t allow any interracial relationships on screen, and MGM (and all other studios) refused to hire black actors to be male leads. Even the musicals Horne did lead, like Cabin in the Sky (1942), were already being banned in the South. So for any studio to defy the Code and the bigotry of Southern censors like this in 1947 would’ve been more than national news; it could’ve prevented the movie from even being released nationwide… a fact the show glosses over when the fight with the Hayes Office should’ve become central.