Essay: What the Stars Are Really Like

As soon as the film industry invented movie stars, the public caught a case of chronic curiosity about their off-screen lives. Americans idolized the images of actors but still never stopped asking: What are they really like? For years, Hollywood exploited the public curiosity while making no honest effort to answer that basic question; it was left to fan magazines to contrive tales that supposedly revealed what the top players were in private life. But no more. Lately, the outpouring of tell-all and tell-a-lot books by and about filmdom's ranking personalities has grown into a torrent.

Indeed, Hollywood may be bent on...

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