Gossip! I have been gathering it, writing about it and spreading it ever since I began interviewing celebs and their “friends”. And I have a collection of the controversial scandal magazine Confidential, which, without a doubt, was the bible of gossip.
Confidential was the forerunner of today’s titillating headlines and celebrity gossip exposés. American culture in the 1950s revered celebrities as exemplary citizens with high morals and honest characters—Confidential challenged that notion with each issue it printed. The magazine tarnished Hollywood stars’ well-constructed images by publishing raunchy and brazen stories of their misdeeds and transgressions. Soon, the magazine was surpassing other successful publications such as Time, Life and the Saturday Evening Post in newsstand sales. For the first time, readers will learn how Confidential gained its notorious reputation and how it forever altered American culture, law and journalism.
Confidential Confidential: The Inside Story of Hollywood’s Notorious Scandal Magazine (Chicago Review Press, $27.99), by Samantha Barbas, presents a thoroughly-researched history of America’s first gossip magazine and the legal disputes that led to its end. With an extensive network of informants, Confidential soiled celebrities’ pristine reputations by publishing the stars’ scandalous secrets including extramarital affairs, drug use and taboo sexual practices in lewd detail.
By 1955, Confidential was the nation’s ruling publication on newsstands, forcing many to question the legalities of freedom of the press and society’s moral obligation to censor indecent content. Ultimately, a slew of multi-million dollar libel lawsuits and criminal charges brought by the state of California—concluding in the infamous 1957, star-studded Los Angeles trial—caused Confidential’ s downfall. Confidential Confidential provides readers with an insider’s view as to how the magazine obtained its juicy stories and how it laid the foundation for future gossip tabloids such as People, the National Enquirer and TMZ. Though it was legally forced to stop its gossip-mongering in 1958, Confidential’s legacy endures as society’s contemporary obsession with sensationalism and celebrity scandal remains more popular than ever.
Insightful and entertaining, Confidential Confidential will appeal to both Hollywood and journalism history aficionados and readers interested in celebrity culture.
Oh, yes, remind me to tell you about the famous movie star who was a notorious shoplifter. And we don;t mean Winona.