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Hollywood’s Dark History: Exploitation of Actors in the Golden Age

The Hollywood film industry of the Golden Age was marked by a number of abuses, largely due to the star system that was in place at the time.

Studios and studio executives often viewed performers as their property, and sought to protect their investments in those they had groomed to fame through the star system.

This led to the widespread use of exclusive service contracts, which gave studios complete control over the performers’ careers.

These contracts included a number of restrictive clauses, including morality clauses that dictated how performers should behave and present themselves in public.

Men were expected to maintain a certain level of gentlemanly conduct, while women were required to always wear makeup, dress stylishly, and behave like ladies.

This system often resulted in abuse, with performers who angered their Hollywood masters facing punishment in the form of unattractive roles or being loaned out to less prestigious studios.

Women were particularly vulnerable, as evidenced by the case of actress Jane Greer.

Greer caught the eye of tycoon Howard Hughes, who sponsored her entry into Hollywood.

In exchange, she signed a personal contract with him, which included a clause that prohibited her from marrying anyone.

When she went ahead and married a singer, Hughes became incensed and shelved her without any film work.

She ultimately sued and got out of the personal contract, but Hughes then bought RKO Pictures just to ruin her career.

The star system received its first major blow in the late 1940s, when the US Supreme Court ruled against the studios in an antitrust case.

Additionally, the arrival of television reduced movie audiences, making the contracted stars an expensive overhead for the studios.

As a result, studios gradually phased out long-term contracts in the 1940s and 1960s, and Hollywood performers became freelancers, part of a large pool from which studios could draw.

The ugly truth

The Golden Age of Hollywood was a time of great glamour and success for the film industry, but it was also a time of great abuse and exploitation of performers.

The star system that was in place at the time gave studios and studio executives near-absolute control over the careers of performers, and this power was often abused in a number of ways.

One of the most notorious examples of abuse in Hollywood during this time was the treatment of child actors.

Many child actors were taken away from their families at a young age and placed under the control of studios, who often treated them as little more than property.

They were forced to work long hours on set, and were not given adequate time for education or rest. Some child actors were even physically abused by studio executives or other adults on set.

Another common form of abuse in Hollywood during this time was the exploitation of performers by studios through their contracts.

Studios often signed performers to exclusive service contracts that gave them complete control over their careers, and included restrictive clauses that dictated how performers should behave and present themselves in public.

Performers who did not comply with these clauses could be punished with unattractive roles or being loaned out to less prestigious studios.

Women were particularly vulnerable to abuse in Hollywood during this time.

Many female performers were forced to adhere to strict beauty standards and were expected to always be perfectly made-up and dressed in fashionable clothing.

They were also often subjected to unwanted advances and sexual harassment by male studio executives and other powerful men in the industry.

One example is the case of Jean Harlow, a popular actress in the 1930s, who was known for her “blonde bombshell” image.

Harlow was forced to dye her hair blonde and maintain a certain image, and was often subjected to unwanted advances by male studio executives.

She was also forced to work long hours on set and was not given adequate time for rest.

In addition, many actors were forced to hide their true selves and conform to the expectations of the studios.

For example, actors like Rock Hudson and Anthony Perkins were forced to hide their sexuality, and were even forced to marry women as a cover for their true identities.

This only resulted in more abusive relationships and mental health issues for these actors.