Two spectacular dead bodies—Elizabeth Short, known as the Black Dahlia, found dumped and posed in a vacant lot in January 1947, and Marilyn Monroe, found dead in her home in August 1962—bookend this new history of Hollywood’s postwar transition. Short’s murder called attention to the lives of the many disenfranchised in Los Angeles; she was, after all, one of them. Monroe’s death involved the entourage inhabiting her movie star orbit: quack doctors, gangsters, Hollywood celebrities, the FBI and the CIA, and, inevitably, the Kennedys. Hard-Boiled Hollywood focuses on the many lives lost at the crossroads of a dreamed-of Hollywood and the real thing follwing the collapse of the studio system as celebrities, moguls, mobsters, gossip mongers, and industry wannabes came into frequent contact and conflict.
Jon Lewis is Distinguished Professor of Film Studies and University Honors College Eminent Professor at Oregon State University. He has published eleven books, including Whom God Wishes to Destroy . . . : Francis Coppola and the New Hollywood and Hollywood v. Hard Core: How the Struggle over Censorship Saved the Modern Film Industry, is past editor of Cinema Journal, and served on the Executive Council of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies.