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on 13 November 2012
I was eager to find out more about Henry Willson, particularly his influence on and connection with Rock Hudson. But I was very disappointed with this authors account. He seemed to be padding the book with endless repetitions and frequently I found myself losing the will to read on. If only the authour had given us more about Willson himself. He hardly seems to have researched the man at all. In the end I found this books confusing and unenlightening. A scattershot approach to the subject made the book repetitious and almost unreadable.
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on 29 September 2015
Really enjoyed this. The casting couch of Hollywood is well known and Henry Willson made sure that this was an equal opportunity phenomenon as it was men who were expected to provide him sexual favours in return for career advancement. The picture of Willson that emerges is quite complex. Some in Hollywood hated him and saw him as evil others considered him very professional at least in regards to his abilities as an agent. Willson loved Hollywood and stars or at least the glamour he does not seem to have been too interested in the artistic aspect of cinema. For him sex appeal was the most important asset for an actor or actress, talent was not that important. Rock Hudson was of course his most famous client and Willson was sometimes blamed for turning Hollywood's leading macho man into a homosexual. Of course this was just the way Hudson was made and Willson and the film studios went to extraordinary lengths to prevent the public finding out about Rock's sexuality. They thought probably correctly that this would destroy his image and cost them millions in revenue.
Willson was a very plain looking man in a world of beautiful people a fact of which he aware. His main asset apart from family connections at the beginning of his career was his self belief. He believed that he could spot a potential star within a couple of minutes of meeting them and then transform them from a nobody into a star or at least someone with a respectable career. They just had to trust him. His downfall appears to be an inability to change with the times. This refers to both his personal life and professional acumen. The male clients he lusted after were increasingly distant from him in age and must have felt little connection with him whatever their sexuality. He also drunk too much something a young person can get away with but not an older man. Most importantly the tastes of the public had changed. His clients had tended to be very good looking but somewhat limited in acting ability or at least emotional range. In the 60's and 70s the public looked for actors that could project a sense of danger, classical good looks without emotion were not in fashion. Talent actually became more important and while looks still mattered someone did not have to be physically perfect to become a star. Instead of looking for a different kind of actor Willson still seemed to be focused on clean cut pretty boys even if the movie going public had long since lost interest in that kind of performer. Overall the books is sympathetically written, the author is very knowledgeable and often very funny.
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on 4 January 2014
This is a fascinating book, these are men who made the Hollywood goose produce the golden eggs. The talent spotters, dealmakers, agents and film makers when Hollywood was the dream factory that tried hard to never let the public see the constant and necessary nightmares that were happening behind the silver screen keeping the box office dollars flowing in.

We know that Hollywood in the period covered by the book was the hard as nails machine that ground up and discarded the many thousands of individuals who went there to be 'discovered' and to make their fortune in the movies. This book, in graphic detail describes the demands and the cost to the human spirit that fame and fortune can make upon the talented and the talentless in the ruthless climb to be a 'star'.

It is a timely book and reminds in a truly honest and poignant telling that sometimes the price that is demanded and paid to be 'a star of the silver screen' is one that is counted out in tears and pain and that ultimately is one that costs some everything they have and are. Henry Willson was a remarkable man in a time when Hollywood was dominated by remarkable men and women, he has earned his place among the greatest of them thanks to this book. Highly recommended if you want to share briefly the magical dream Hollywood made about the men who defined masculinity for the masses and a generation of movie goers across the world.
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on 23 September 2009
For anyone who likes the background of the Hollywood star of a past era and their agents and lives, this a must. The background of how the stars lived, comparred to their star personae,and how much os it was covered up from the general public, is covered fully in this book. For Hollywood lives fans, this is a great read and value of its history during a past more naive era.
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on 16 December 2010
Books about Hollywood are ten a penny especially when dealing with the actors,directors and studios.However books about agents are rather few and far between.In fact the only previous book i can recall had Lew Wasserman as the subject.It has to be said that looking at the cover you might believe that this book was all about Rock Hudson which it is not.It is about his agent Henry Willson,whose name is only mentioned at the bottom of the cover.This book is loosely biographical.It constantly strays onto stories about his many gay actors and their pecidillos,which were all kept under raps in the 50s.Whilst mainly entertaining it tends to become a bit repetative towards the end.After about 300 pages my interest started to wane .I think that 420pages without counting the pages of notes is just too long for the book to sustain.However given that it deals with agents it does give a useful insight as to exactly how some of them used to work and for that alone is worth reading.
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on 23 November 2011
i must say i could not put down this book once i started to read it ,very informative also gave you a clear idea how hollywood created stars a bit like a production line really but in the end everyone was using each other.
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on 10 February 2015
all good
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