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The man known as “the greatest entertainer in the world” was onstage, the smoke from his cigarette trellising the air.
You had to see him: the gorgeous shirt, the cuff links, the way everything billowed.
He was in the dark and suddenly the spotlight picked him up—he was electric, he was hot, it was almost a sexual thing.
The reporter James Bacon, fresh out of Chicago, was assigned to cover Hollywood for the Associated Press back in 1948. He used to fire people all the time—usually on Christmas Eve.”Henri Soulé, the owner of Le Pavillon and La Côte Basque in New York, detested Cohn and considered him a déclassé Hollywood hood.She was Columbia’s resident sex goddess in the 1940s, but she had a bad habit of getting married.Her first husband was a 40-year-old car salesman named Edward C.Judson; she then married director Orson Welles, Aly Khan, heir apparent to the Ismaili Muslim throne, and singer Dick Haymes.Every time she got married, her box-office standing eroded.“People used to say, ‘I’m going to beat Harry,’” Sidney recalls.“But no one could beat Harry—he was too smart, he was too sharp. Mayer, Harry Cohn, Jack Warner—these men with their blood and their money and their reputations, they smelled out who had star material.”Cohn took all the credit for creating Rita Hayworth—he was also obsessed with her.Her marriage to Khan, a notorious playboy and womanizer, kept her out of pictures for more than two years, infuriating Cohn and further alienating her fans. Cohn wanted her in one of his pet projects, a biblical epic called until her then husband, Haymes, came into Cohn’s office with a marcelled beard and demanded to be cast as Joseph.“I’ll have that son of a bitch back in Argentina,” Cohn exploded.(Haymes, an Argentinean native, was always facing deportation.)Instead, Cohn decided to get back at Hayworth.She balked at being renamed “Kit Marlowe,” and, incredibly, she won that battle.They compromised on “Kim” Novak—the name of the son of her Chicago friend and business manager, Norma Herbert, then Norma Kasell.