DCS: louise brooks

lulu in hollywood

Louise Brooks, starred in 25 films before retiring in 1938 at the age of 32. Years later, Louise chronicled her tumultuous life in her memoirs, Lulu in Hollywood. In the book, she related her various sexual conquests — both male and female — and her dislike of Hollywood and the film business.

She summed her career up in this way:

“When I am dead, I believe that film writers will fasten on the story that I am a lesbian. I have done lots to make it believable. All my women friends have been lesbians. There is no such thing as bisexuality. Ordinary people, although they may accommodate themselves, for reasons of whoring or marriage, are one-sexed. Out of curiosity, I had two affairs with girls – they did nothing for me.”

Louise passed away in 1985 at the age of 78. Her iconic “bob” haircut was the inspiration for the “Sally Bowles” character in Cabaret as well as Melanie Griffith’s quirky “Audrey Hankel” in Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild.

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IF: castle

o-rama

William Castle was Hollywood’s undisputed “King of Gimmicks,” who gave us “Emergo,” “Percepto,” “Illusion-o,” “The Coward’s Corner” and “The Fright Break.” Early in his career, he worked as an associate producer for legendary filmmaker Orson Welles. Castle gained a reputation for his unorthodox promotional techniques and his ability to bring film production in under budget.

Castle passed away in 1977, but, based on his memoirs (published in 2010), I’m not so sure.

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DCS: whitey bulger

black mass

Look, I know Whitey Bulger was a despicable, violent killer. I know he was responsible for at least the 19 murders for which he was convicted, in addition to racketeering, drug dealing and money laundering. But it takes a special kind of evil to beat an 89-year old feeble, wheelchair-bound man to death with a padlock wrapped in a sweat sock.

Notorious Massachusetts hitman (and fellow prison inmate) Fotios “Freddy” Geas exhibits that special kind of evil.

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DCS: gail gilmore

prima ballerina

At fifteen years of age, Gail Gilmore joined Les Grands Ballets Canadiens in her native Canada. Later, she taught ballet for a time in upstate New York.

For a whirlwind three years, Gail enjoyed a successful acting career. In a short time, she made appearances on the popular television series Mr. NovakMy Three SonsPerry Mason and Wagon Train. In 1965, she was cast in six films including two with Elvis Presley, Harum Scarum and Girl Happy. Gail’s other film roles were mindless romps, capitalizing on the “beach movie” craze that drew flocks of teenagers to theaters. These films featured musical acts of the day — The Supremes, The Beach Boys, The Four Seasons — and very little plot. Gail also co-starred in the infamous cult favorite Village of the Giants, alongside Ron Howard, Johnny Crawford, Joy Harmon and Beau Bridges.

Gail retired from show business in 1966 after meeting (and eventually moving in with) author and screenwriter Terry Southern, best known for his work on Dr. Strangelove, The Cincinnati Kid,  Easy Rider and Barbarella. His film The Magic Christian, starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr, included Gail’s final screen role.

Fifteen years after Terry’s death, Gail published a tongue-in-cheek account of their life together. Entitled “Trippin’ with Terry Southern: What I Think I Remember,” the book was honored with the Independent Publisher Book Award Silver Medal.

In 2014, Gail, a longtime smoker, passed away from complications related to lung cancer. She was 74.

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IF: witch

ooh ooh witchy woman

Ruth Gordon holds the distinction of being the only person to win an Oscar for playing a witch. When she accepted the award, at the age of 73,  for her role as “Minnie Castevet” in Rosemary’s Baby, she said: “And thank all of you who voted for me, and to everyone who didn’t — please, excuse me.”

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DCS: boston corbett

mad as a hatter

As a young man, Boston Corbett began working in a hat factory in Troy, New York. He had regular exposure to mercury nitrate used in the production of felt. Boston showed signs of hallucinations, psychosis and twitching. After the death of his wife and child, he began drinking heavily. He was unable to hold a job until an encounter with a preacher ended his alcohol consumption and led to his joining the Methodist Episcopal Church. Boston became deeply — fanatically — religious. He wore his hair long to emulate Jesus. One evening, after being propositioned by two prostitutes, Boston castrated himself with a scissors in an effort to avoid sexual temptation.

In April 1861, he joined the Union Army in the early days of the Civil War. He carried a bible with him everywhere he went and berated officers for not participating in his impromptu prayer meetings. He was tried for insubordination and sentenced to be shot, although his sentenced was reduced and Boston was discharged. However, he re-enlisted in a different regimen later the same month and was captured and held prisoner at Andersonville prison for five months. He was released in a prisoner exchange.

In April 1865, his regimen was assigned to pursue and apprehend John Wilkes Booth, who has assassinated President Abraham Lincoln early in the month. Two days into the assignment, Corbett’s regimen cornered Booth and Booth accomplice David Herold in a barn on a Virginia tobacco farm. Herold surrendered, but Corbett claimed, through a crack in the barn wall, he saw Booth aim his pistol at him. So, Corbett shot Booth, against orders to bring the assassin in alive. When questioned about his action by superior officers, Corbett said he was “directed by Providence.” Corbett was arrested and brought before the Secretary of War to be court martialed. Corbett maintained that he acted in self-defense.

After a session of rigorous questioning, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton concluded, “The rebel is dead. The patriot lives; he has spared the country expense, continued excitement and trouble. Discharge the patriot.” Corbett was excused. He appeared before a cheering crowd and stated: “God avenged Abraham Lincoln.” Eyewitnesses of the shooting claim that Booth never reached for his gun and that Corbett wasn’t even the one responsible for shooting the presidential assassin.

Corbett proudly wore the moniker of “Lincoln’s Avenger” for the rest of his life. After the Civil War, he returned to the hat-making profession and continued to preach the Gospel to whoever would listen. Fearful of retaliation from Booth sympathizers, Corbett carried a gun where ever he went, often brandishing the weapon at anyone he considered the least bit suspicious. He eventually settled in a cabin in the woods of Minnesota, where he allegedly died in a fire. Over the years, several impostors presented themselves as “Lincoln’s Avenger,” but were all exposed.

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