Sunday, October 22, 2017


Rita Hayworth and Harry Cohn
  The floodgates of sexual harassment accusations opened wide when Ashley Judd told of her experience with Harvey Weinstein. Scores more actresses followed her lead and other executives, such as director James Toback, Weinstein's brother Bob, Amazon boss Ron Price and the late Michael Winner found themselves in the frame as well, with many more names to come.
  Weinstein and other sexual predators of today are following in the footsteps of the old time film moguls who founded and ran the studios. Film historian Neal Gabler describes them as "vulgarians, men without taste or temperance, shouters who ruled by fear, heathens who demanded women trade their sexual favours for the moguls' professional ones."
  Darryl Zanuck, he says, ordered female contract players into his office for afternoon liaisons; Louis B. Mayer pursued starlets; Jack Warner was a compulsive womanizer who would ask directors about prospective actresses: "Would you fuck her?"

  Columbia Pictures boss Harry Cohn viewed starlets as sexual commodities and according to the Hollywood Reporter no one had to fend off more unwanted advances from him than Rita Hayworth, whom he discovered in 1936 and groomed for Hollywood.
  As she became a major star, in movies such as 1944's Cover Girl and 1946's Gilda while fulfilling G.I. fantasies overseas as a pinup girl, Cohn relentlessly demanded that she sleep with him, bugged her dressing rooms and imposed financial penalties on her for insubordination because she did not comply with his wishes. 
   "In front of people Harry Cohn would say, 'I never put a hand on her,'" Hayworth told the New York Times in 1970. "Of course he hadn't---as if I'd let him!"

  She died in Manhattan in 1987 aged 68 and Cohn succumbed to a heart attack at 66 in 1958. His well-attended funeral led Red Skelton to note: "It proves what Harry always said: 'Give the public want they want and they'll come out for it.'"

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