Commenting on yesterday’s Cheek to Cheek post, a faithful Seraphic Secret reader privately wrote that the lovely pictures saddened her. “Romance is gone,” she mused. “There are no contemporary Hollywood stars who can be photographed with such loving conviction.”
Very true. Ever since movie stars first sat down with Johnny Carson and revealed themselves to be ordinary mortals, the glamorous Hollywood star has devolved into vulgar celebrity. Today, there is no difference between Kim Kardashian and Angelina Jolie. They both occupy the same space in the public’s mind. It’s beside the point that Jolie is a skilled actress. To a celebrity-hungry culture, where reality stars reign supreme as public gladiators of ghastly humiliations, talent no longer matters. In fact, Kardashian’s notorious rise—let’s not forget that her celebrity was ignited by a self-made sex tape—is an awesome success story. The collective public thinks: “If no-talents like Kim and her sisters can earn 40 million a year, why can’t I?”
But the power and majesty of romance will never die, and Seraphic Secret suspects that images—and, of course, the movies—from Hollywood’s Golden Age, would, if given half a chance, exert a magical influence on even the most jaded and cynical of today’s media drenched generation.
The theme for our brief summer vacation was “Hooray for Capitalists.”
William Randolph Hearst and John Paul Getty were titans of business who built empires, gathered stupifying art collections and then built suitable structures in which to display their treasures.
Hearst built the world’s first newspaper media empire. San Simeon, designed by the great Julia Morgan, took over 28 years to build. But the Depression hit and portions of San Simeon remain unfinished. This was Hollywood’s greatest weekend playground where Marion Davies, Hearst’s mistress, invited her movie friends to relax for a few days. It was also the location for some of the most elaborate costume parties ever staged.
In a touching aside, actor David Niven recalls visiting the castle in 1957—the golden days long gone—and by then, he said, the wine, including an 1890 Tokay “tasted like the bottom of the San Pedro Harbor.”