Hollywood Confessions

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Bruce Long
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Hollywood Confessions

Unread post by Bruce Long » Tue Apr 17, 2018 5:21 pm

For many years I've been curious to see issues of "Hollywood Confessions", a short-lived magazine from 1923, published by Myron Zobel. WorldCat only lists a few copies, all located in the popular culture library at Bowling Green. I don't think I've even seen the publication mentioned in books about Hollywood. So my little knowledge about the publication was from seeing a few ads in its sister-publication Screenland, plus items like these in the trade press:

* * *

Camera! December 9, 1922.
"'Hollywood Confessions' Appears"

[datelined Chicago]...Today a new publication made its appearance on our news stands: "Hollywood Confessions"--a nasty mess of salacious junk, naming no one in particular, and making no effort to be anything except a dirty attack on the morality of motion picture people in general...."
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Camera! June 30, 1923.
Myron Zobel, publisher of Screenland, a fan magazine, and Hollywood Confessions, ostensibly a sensational publication, is "on the pan" on the charge of his editorial policies and various tactics being unfair to Hollywood and detrimental as well. One of the local newspapers has been "jumping unto him with both feet" and many merchants have joined in a movement to make known their disapproval of him most emphatically. Meanwhile Mr. Zobel has moved bag and baggage to New York...While he does not maliciously malign this center of film-making, yet there are unsavory intimations in many of the stories he publishes and for this he can be blamed...
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New York Morning Telegraph, July 15, 1923. (datelined from Hollywood by Frances Agnew)
Local newspapers and Hollywood community interests are waging war on Hollywood Confessions, a magazine recently launched here. It purports to tell anonymously "inside stories" of Hollywood scandals and everybody hereabouts is denouncing it as a destructive influence against Hollywood's best interests. Results of the war against it are evident in the news that last week the searchlight of the Department of Justice in four States was turned upon the magazine...
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Variety, August 2, 1923.
Pacific Coast "Scandal Sheets" Attended to by Press Agents
"Screenland" and "Hollywood Confessions" Forced to Reform

It is a case of score one on the victory side of the column for the picture press agents here who constitute the Wampas. Their fight against Meyer & Zobel [Myron Zobel], publishers of "Screenland" and "Hollywood Confessions," has resulted in the discontinuance of the latter publication and promise the former is to be kept clean of the "scandal" of the industry...
"Hollywood Confessions" was a straight out and out "Broadway Brevities" type of sheet, and deserved the fate that press agents administered to it.

[Hollywood Confessions was not immediately discontinued; it simply changed its name to Real Life Stories (presumably switching to stories not set in Hollywood) and survived a few issues longer.]

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I finally was able to obtain an issue of Hollywood Confessions, which I scanned and put in the Internet Archive at https://archive.org/details/HollywoodCo ... nsJune1923.

Hollywood Confessions clearly follows the format established by True Story: first-person fiction stories (falsely purporting to be true), with story photographs posed by paid models (one model in this issue was Anna May Wong). All of the stories are at least partially set in Hollywood or are Hollywood-related, which gives them an extra spark. None of the stories has an author attribution, with themes including racketeering, drug addiction, bootlegging, fraud, murder on a movie set, nude photography, and lechery.

Since the stories are fiction, the contents are worthless in terms of real Hollywood history except as reflected through trashy popular culture. Still, I hope more surviving issues will be eventually located, scanned and placed online, since I think it's an interesting curiosity.

If anyone is ever writing about early efforts of the film industry to suppress media negativity, it might be interesting to dig up those L.A. newspaper items in June and July 1923 to see what was said in the "Local newspapers...waging war on Hollywood Confessions". (I found nothing through online searching of the L.A. Times, so I assume it was other newspapers. I assume that both the Hollywood Citizen and the Hollywood News would be involved, since those papers were promoting Hollywood as being much more than the film industry, and would not want the general public to think the tales in Hollywood Confessions were reflective of their fine city.)

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