Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Lizabeth Scott

I have just caught up with the death of Lizabeth Scott, such a disturbing presence in US films noirs which received frequent outings on BBC TV in my younger days. She would be better known today if her career had not been interrupted by an ill-advised (as it turned out) court action, as the Washington Post obituary outlined:

An article that appeared in 1954 in Confidential magazine linked Miss Scott to a Hollywood lesbian set. She sued the magazine for $2.5 million, alleging it portrayed her in a “vicious, slanderous and indecent” manner. But the 1957 trial ended without a verdict, and the scandal took its toll on her career.

These days, Sandra Bullock can snog Scarlett Johansson at an awards ceremony and neither suffers from a whispering campaign or loses pull at the box office. An actor or actress can be asked about their private life and tell journalists to mind their own business (provided they do it politely). But in the days when the major studios ruled Hollywood, the studio publicity machines  required their stars' images to be 100% heterosexual and monogamous (albeit serially if necessary). Lizabeth Scott was clearly a survivor (she outlived most of her contemporaries, after all) but she could have tasted more success. There are some ways in which we live in more civilised times.

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