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Old Hollywood’s Most Scandalous Secrets Revealed


Old Hollywood’s Most Scandalous Secrets Revealed


David Niven, the British-born film star, who graced the silver screen in Wuthering Heights, Around the World in 80 Days, and Bonjour Tristesse, has some intriguing stories about Hollywood.

Niven’s 1975 memoir, “Bring on the Empty Horses”, has been well received by those who are familiar with the golden age of Hollywood.

The book is a follow-up to his 1971 autobiography, “The Moon’s a Balloon.”

Niven provides a generous yet straightforward view of Hollywood from the 1930s to the early 1960s, writing, “It was fascinating, and if you were lucky, it was fun.”

Niven spills the tea on some of the biggest names in Hollywood through a series of vignettes.

He shares tales of stars like Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Fred Astaire, Greta Garbo, and Charlie Chaplin.


Niven reveals their passions, pretentions, and secrets with such grace and panache that readers may not even realize that secrets are being revealed.

One of the stars that Niven sheds light on is Errol Flynn, who Niven considered to be a tragic and troubled figure in Hollywood.

Niven writes that he was Flynn’s former roommate and frequent costar.

He explains, “The great thing about Errol was you always knew exactly where you stood with him because he always let you down.”

Niven claims that Flynn invited him to view “the best-looking girls in L.A.” by parking across from Hollywood High just as school was letting out.

When a policeman approached the car, Flynn replied, “We are just admiring the scenery.”

The policeman told them to leave, and Flynn’s reputation as a troubled figure in Hollywood was solidified.

Niven also shares a tale about USSR Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s visit to Hollywood in September of 1959.

He writes that Khrushchev and his family were treated to the filming of a dance scene for the Shirley MacLaine musical, Can-Can.

Niven states that Khrushchev and his cronies gazed with “undisguised horror” as MacLaine and her dancers “kicked their legs, swirled their petticoats, waggled their knees, and ended up with their skirts over their heads and their bottoms pointing directly at the guest of honor and his family.”

Khrushchev gave a one-word summation of the performance, “DISGUSTING!”

Carole Lombard, the screwball comedian, was known for being outspoken.

Niven writes that Lombard was incensed when 1930s MGM queen, Norma Shearer, showed up at her all-white party at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in a bright red dress.

Lombard proclaimed in a voice loud enough for all of Hollywood to hear, “Who the fuck does Norma think she is? The house madam?”

Niven also shares a story about Tyrone Power, who he considered to be a wonderful man.

Power had a passion for flying, and Niven writes that Power would often take to the skies to escape the pressures of Hollywood.

Niven states that one day, Power took off on a solo flight, and he never returned.

Niven concludes that Hollywood was not always the most wholesome place, but it was always fascinating.

He writes, “Hollywood was hardly a nursery for intellectuals, it was a hotbed of false values, it harbored an unattractive percentage of small-time crooks and con artists, and the chances of being successful there were minimal.”

Despite its imperfections, Niven explains that Hollywood was always fun if you were lucky enough to be a part of it.

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