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KING COHN : Life and Times of Hollywood Mogul Harry Cohn (1967)

harry-cohn

After  years of seeing this book on library shelves I finally picked up an edition released in 2000 from a used book shop. Glad I did. It’s a wonderful window into the early days of Hollywood and the studio era up to the late 1950’s. From other books on the era I have always held the opinion that Harry Cohn was the tyrant who owned and operated Columbia studios from it’s inception up to his death. Think of Rod Steiger in The Big Knife. While I still hold that opinion on one hand, I see on the other a man who begrudgingly had a heart after all. There is no doubt he nurtured the tough guy facade publicly towards his stars and studio hands, but after reading the book I find there really is something to like about him though I am sure he wouldn’t have appreciated it.

As far as biography’s go this is an easy read. No first 100 pages of ancestral history. It jumps around a little bit from chapter to chapter as each one more or less represents a story in itself. From clashing with Rita Hayworth, endless power struggles with producers and directors like Frank Capra to family squabbles with brother Jack this is a fun read. On his standing room only funeral Red Skelton had this to say” Give the people what they want, and they’ll come out for it.” Find a copy if you can.

3 Comments »

  1. He was a character, like so many (all?) of those moguls. I guess they were bound to be larger than life in order to deal with hollywood goings-on. I have another book on him, the Merchant Prince of Poverty Row which has tons of business deal background but this one covers more the personal side as you say. Good to hear its a worthwhile read

  2. I have that other book on the shelf somewhere around her, just haven’t gotten to it. As you say, all the studio heads were hard bargainers and treated there stars like pawns in a game of chess with other studios. thanks for the comment. 🙂

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