The year was 1929

Joe Kennedy
Joe Kennedy

The Great Depression?  Prohibition?  Nothing bad touched Joe Kennedy; he just kept making money.  Attracted by the glamour of Hollywood and the gorgeous women, Joe decided to get into the movie business.  He wined and dined the hottest of them all, Gloria Swanson.  One of his presents to her was an opulent movie set dressing room.

Gloria Swanson
Gloria Swanson

Together, the two (married but not to each other) lovebirds worked on a silent movie, produced by Joe and starring Gloria as the title character, Queen Kelly.  It was about a school girl (the then 30-year-old Swanson) who gets thrown out of a convent and ends up the madam of a brothel in Africa. In every way, it was a disaster. Never released to theaters in the United States.  One of the many problems was that the death knell had already rung for the silents with the release, two years earlier, of the first mainstream “talkie,” Warner Brothers’ The Jazz Singer.

Gloria should have read the fine print of her contact with Joe.  All proceeds from Queen Kelly would be divided equally; all losses would be hers alone.  And lose she did – almost everything – while Joe walked away from the movie. And from Swanson. Years later, she found out that not only had her money paid for the opulent dressing room, but Joe had installed a surveillance device in the ceiling!

Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard
Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard

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