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Love and Loss in Hollywood: Florence Deshon, Max Eastman, and Charlie Chaplin

Love and Loss in Hollywood: Florence Deshon, Max Eastman, and Charlie Chaplin


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In 1919, Florence Deshon—tall, radical, and charismatic—was well on her way to becoming one of Hollywood's brightest stars. Embroiled in a clandestine affair with Charlie Chaplin, she continued to remain romantically involved with the well-known writer and socialist Max Eastman. By 1922, she was found dead in a New York apartment, rumored to have committed suicide.

Love and Loss in Hollywood: Florence Deshon, Max Eastman, and Charlie Chaplin uses previously unpublished letters between Deshon and Eastman to reconstruct their relationship against the backdrop of the "golden age" of Hollywood. Deshon's tragic life and her abuse at the hands of powerful men—including Chaplin, Eastman, and Samuel Goldwyn—resonate with the concerns of today's MeToo movement. Above all, though, this is a book about an extraordinary woman unjustly forgotten: a brilliant writer and campaigner for women's rights, driven both by her ambition to succeed and a boundless desire for life.

Rich in tantalizing detail, Love and Loss in Hollywood chronicles crucial years of American film history, overshadowed by the pervasive fear of Bolshevism after World War I, the Red Riots, and the emergence of the big studios in Hollywood. This beautiful edition features dozens of unpublished photographs, among them six mesmerizing full-length portraits of Deshon by Adolph de Meyer, Vogue's first fashion photographer.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780253052940
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Publication date: 02/23/2021
Series: Special Publications of the Lilly Library
Pages: 474
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Cooper Graham, retired film curator at the Library of Congress, is widely known for his work on Leni Riefenstahl and D. W. Griffith. His most recent book, (written with James W. Castellan and Ron van Dopperen) American Cinematographers in the Great War, 1914-1918.

Christoph Irmscher is Provost Professor of English and Director of the Wells Scholars Program at Indiana University Bloomington. A regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal, he is the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Max Eastman: A Life and Stephen Spender: Poems Written Abroad.

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations List of Major Works by Max Eastman Frequently Cited in the Notes Introduction Editorial Note 1. "Words to Keep Us Warm" (1917) 2. "A Lovely Place to Work?" (1918/1919) 3. "Talking Together in the Ford" (1920) Interlude: Deshon Images 4. "I Object to the Slander of the Ladies" (1921) 5. Coda (1922) Glossary of Names Chronology Selected Bibliography Index Authors

What People are Saying About This

Katherine A. Powers

These eloquent, passionate letters between writer and political thinker Max Eastman and actress Florence Deshon show a brilliant, charming man who cannot reconcile the contradiction between freedom and commitment and an independent, charismatic woman, lover of both Eastman and Charlie Chaplin, making her way in Hollywood in its early years. The letters, interspersed with brisk, informative commentary, give a revelatory, ground-level view of America during the First World War and its dark aftermath of economic recession, government repression, summary imprisonment, xenophobia, race riots, and lynchings.

Nicholas Delbanco

Few if any women could equal Florence Deshon in terms of beauty and talent; none of whom I am aware could claim the devotion of both Charlie Chaplin and the radical Max Eastman.  This account of "love and loss" is searingly recovered in the letters between Eastman and Deshon: an early twentieth century version of the epistolary exchange between Abelard and Heloise. The editors have done us all a service with their painstaking research, and it's excellent if woeful to learn about the three adventurers, their passion and collapse.

Charles J. Maland

This carefully edited series of letters between the author Max Eastman and actress Florence Deshon, supplemented by an informative historical introduction, not only sketches out the relationships between the couple and the actor/director Charlie Chaplin but also more broadly illuminates the cultural and social history of the American Bohemian left after World War I and of Hollywood in the late 1910s and early 1920s, as the industry was consolidating into what became the studio system.

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