Thursday, October 30, 2008


By: Luella O. Parsons
Hollywood, Calif. Feb. 13 –

What price fame? You will never know the suffering these screen favorites endure until you hear how many noses are re-made, the number of teeth that need fixing, and the countless ears that have been jerked back into place. So when the candid camera reveals heretofore unsuspected defects, what is the poor star to do but to remedy it, even though it calls for a painful operation.

Kay Johnson, beautiful and good actress, found that jobs were becoming scarce. She thought it must be her nose that stood in the way of contracts. So she had it re-made until it rivaled the most perfect of Greek features. Carmel Myers, sensitive about her nose, had a plastic surgeon turn it into the shape she liked best.

Johnny Weissmuller, champion swimmer, after a taste of the movies, visited a plastic surgeon and emerged with a synthetic nose.

Much more dangerous and painful an operation than a mere re-made nose is often endured for the sake of beauty. The late Lya de Putti had breasts that did not concur with her ideas of a perfect body. She had them lifted so that she might be a better screen subject.


We all remember when Molly O’Day, in despair over the failure of her diet to remove superfluous weight, went into the hospital for treatment. She had the fat removed from her stomach and arose from her sick bed many pounds lighter.

Joan Crawford never considered an operation, but she dieted strenuously until she removed 40 pounds. When I first saw her she was a plump, round-faced child. Today she is as slim as the proverbial mouse. It wasn’t easy to cut out all the things she liked to eat. Joan had the perseverance of a Spartan. She weighs 108 pounds and she has fasted so long I doubt food would increase her weight.

Producers, who know how fatal a plump figure is to beauty and how weight has often destroyed a star’s popularity, take steps against this contingency. Dorothy Mackaill’s contract with First National called for a certain weight. If she put on any extra poundage, she automatically broke her contract. Other contracts have the weight clause.


Greta Garbo, who was plump when she came to this country, was put on a diet as soon as she made a hit in “The Temptress.” Marlene Dietrich said proudly last time I talked with her, “look how slim I am.” Her hips were much wider and she looked as if she had lost at least ten pounds.

I interviewed Vilma Banky when she stepped off the boat from Germany. She was a nice healthy looking fraulein. In Germany the boyish figures had never been heard of and her figure was all right. According to American standards, however, she was too fat. Poor Vilma was put on a strict diet of lamb chops and pineapple. How she rebelled, but she learned it was lose weight or have her contract cancelled. When she was finally introduced to the fans, it was a slender, ethereal Vilma who looked out from the screen at them. No one knew the sacrifices she had made to attain that beauty.


Elinor Glynn was the first one to try to improve Conrad Nagel’s ears. She put an elastic tape back of them and when Conrad was photographed he became a new romantic leading man.

There has been much talk that Clark Gable had an operation to remove some of the cartilage back of his ears. But no one has ever determined whether this is merely one of the many yarns told about him, or a true story.

Elissa Landi’s teeth failed to impress Fox executives when she appeared for a test. She was sent to a dentist who immediately changed the shape of her teeth. Polly Moran had an unusual experience. She bought herself a fine new set of teeth and became so good looking the fans rebelled. They wanted their old Polly back and she had to have a set of teeth made with all the defects of her own teeth.

Loretta Young is now wearing a brace to straighten her teeth. This is only a partial list of the stars who have suffered to improve their looks. We haven’t the space to write about them all.


Abe Lucas said...

Excellent work! I've often wondered how I could get a hold of old Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper columns! Your blog is fun to read, and particularly interesting because my familiarity with pre-1933 Hollywood could use a good boost.

GAH1965 said...

Thanks for the kind words, I really appreciate hearing that. It's been a fun blog to research and create as well, and it's nice to know such long forgotten Hollywood history is being read and hopefully being useful to others as well.