The Story of the “Casting Couch”

Okay, just how many Hollywood executives (and politicians) have now been charged with making inappropriate actions toward young girls and women.  I seem to be losing count and I know there are probably many more to come.  Since I don’t want to ruin cases against them, I decided to look at this issue from another angle.  So maybe it’s time we review ancient history and the mention of the “casting couch.”

In the heyday of motion pictures, such noteworthy actresses as Jane Russell, Claudette Colbert, and even Shirley Temple (at a very young age) were exposed to bosses who either exposed themselves or expected sexual gratification to allow the women to work in Hollywood.  In 2006,  Alan Royle wrote this brief history of the early days in Hollywood and “the casting couch.”  To advance, producers expected to get side benefits.  Money made off movies was not enough.

Some of the more interesting stories revolve around “great film and actresses.”  In an article entitled, “The Casting Couch: Hollywood’s Dirty Secret”  some history is giving.  According to Joan Collins, she missed out on Cleopatra because she wouldn’t sleep with the studio boss.  Marilyn Monroe spoke of Hollywood as a brothel.  The man who helped her achieve her fame, Darryl Zannuck, was rumored to meet young actresses wearing nothing more than his dressing gown.

Maybe the question that these producers/professionals didn’t understand revolves around what constitutes sexual harassment and what constitutes an affair.  The article quoted above also listed famous “Hollywood” executives who had notable affairs with famous actresses.  Howard Hughes is pointed out for having affairs with Ava Gardner, Bette Davis, and Ginger Rogers.  I wonder if these women did it for love or for fame.  Sexual favors can be said to be love if the right inducement exists.

And about politics.  In histories I have read of John F. Kennedy you see mentions of what appears to be affairs with other women besides Jackie.  Again, most notably is Marilyn Monroe.  It has been said that all presidents up until the Bushes had had affairs with women but we didn’t know about it.  I will also point out that Clinton had the Monica “Black dress” incident and let’s stop there.  There were ladies called “Madames” in Washington in the 1800s who held salons for political discussions.  While some were legit, it always raised the question of how they got so powerful.

Something has happened that is good.  People are stepping forward and saying what is happening.  Will it make a difference?  Who knows because it is the same old “he/she said” business?  The  thing is to recognize that people in power can do power plays to attain their ends.



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