Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Amphetamines fueled the old Hollywood studio system

In the 1920s major studios sent scouts to spot promising young talent and contract them for years of work. ...

With strict contracts, morality clauses, and minimal child labor laws, studio bosses were able to push child stars at breakneck pace. Garland worked six days per week, sometimes 18-hour shifts of constant singing and dancing to pump out as many movies as possible. To keep her energy up and force her weight down, studios plied her with “pep pills,” amphetamine uppers to keep her perky and alert all day. When she couldn’t sleep, they supplied sleeping pills.

“After four hours they’d wake us up and give us the pep pills again,” said Garland. She was using throughout the filming of Wizard of Oz.

In 1941, at age 19, Garland married composer David Rose. MGM did not approve, and ordered her back to work within 24 hours of the wedding. When she became pregnant, her mother Ethel worked with the studio to arrange for an abortion. She was innocent little Dorothy, after all. The public wasn’t ready to see her as a mother, a grown-up.

Meanwhile, MGM manipulated Garland’s publicity. When she gained weight, she was made to take more speed, while press reps told magazines she ate like a truck driver. Her persona was not her own, and she was given little time to discover herself outside the movies.
--Stephanie Buck, Timeline, on the human cost of old Hollywood glamour. HT: Digg