LEADING LADIES by Don & Louise Brody Macpherson


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Superb glamor portraits of Hollywood's leading ladies, from Theda Bara to Meryl Streep. Most of these studio compositions of limpid ladies poured into white satin will be new to the viewer. Though nostalgia shimmers from each shot, they look as if taken just this morning, with Merle Oberon imploring us from a face sculpted by Phidias, or Hedy Lamarr's exotic European darkness ready to whip Charles Boyer off to champagne and bedsheets. And it's nice to be reminded of Ingrid Bergman's great natural beauty at the time of her first Swedish films and early Hollywood bloom. In fact, here bloom is all. Without one bust shot in the book, these are sexy goddesses whose eyes well with tender dynamite. Call it artful innocence. As Macpherson's text tells us, in covering seven decades of charm, most of these goddesses were small-time actresses, shopgirls and chorines before being plucked into the astral realms. Few put in three years at the Yale Drama School, as did Streep, arriving on the screen as full-fledged actresses. Only gradually did most of them build their skills, the way Carole Lombard rose from routine stories into her magnificent nuttiness as queen of the screwball comedies. By the middle 50's the actresses had a rough bite to them, a brashness no longer simply sophisticated or genteel. They got sexier and earthier, while still delivering their lines with tremendous skill (witness the leap in acting ability from Lana Turner to Jessica Lange in the 30 years separating their rival versions of The Postman Always Rings Twice). Indulge yourself with a daydream.

Pub Date: Dec. 15th, 1986
Publisher: St. Martin's