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Olive Thomas: The Life and Death of a Silent…

Olive Thomas: The Life and Death of a Silent Film Beauty

by Michelle Vogel

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Large portions of this book are reprints of interviews and articles from Hollywood magazines to newspapers that date back to the early 1920s. Anyone knows periodicals of that era generally were not accurate; or that they usually glossed over the truths if not outright lied about Hollywood and its stars. That is why further research was seriously needed here. I don’t mind if an author makes references to dated articles or even republishes them in their entirety, but it is when they become the primary source of the story that I consider lazy, pointless and poorly researched.

My conclusion is that the book lacks any proper substance to be called a true biography. Author Michelle Vogel claims that everything that is known about Olive Thomas and her death are within these pages. If that is the case then the book should have been titled “Olive Thomas: her life and death according to popular media”, then feasibly my expectations would have been less.

Even so, some portions of the book are somewhat interesting, and the photographs are nice, but none are adequate enough for me to rate it above the 2 stars nor justify its cost. ( )
3 vote CindyBytes | Oct 29, 2012 |
A most amazing bio of silent film star Olive Thomas who is probably more well known today from her tragic death by drinking mercury (accidentally, on-purpose, or forced). All three reasons are explored in this book but of course no one will ever know what really happened. The book includes numerous photographs of this beautiful lady which is why it must have been so expensive but I thought worth it. Thomas was the first death of a major film star and the first of the many scandals to hit Hollywood in the 1920's and the author touches on the others including Mary Miles Minter/William Desmond Taylor, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, and Wallace Reid. Married to actor Jack Pickford (brother of Mary), she was a former Ziegfeld Follies star who did not capitalize on the Pickford name. The book covers Olive's years as a Follies star, and her entry into film but does not delve too much into her early life. It also covers what was going on in Hollywood and Paris (where Olive took the fatal dose of mercury) at the time. The book features many of the actual newspaper accounts as part of the text as well as interviews as recounted from those who knew Olive, including her first husband. The book also follows up as to what happened to Jack Pickford after Olive's death which I appreciated although I would have liked a follow-up as to what happened to her mother and brothers. There is also a chapter devoted to Olive's supposedly haunting of a New York theatre. There is a complete filmography as well even though so many of her films have not survived the ravages of time. Highly recommended for anyone wanting to know about a film star's life in the early part of the 20th century. ( )
1 vote knahs | Apr 7, 2012 |
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An edition of this book was published by McFarland.

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