This is an ever-evolving story of a girl writer and her two greatest loves, the movies and travel. As she hikes the trenches of Hollywood, you're brought along for the ride.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Beware The Fan: A Brief History, A Fateful Encounter

As long as there has been a Hollywood, there have been fans. Some are harmless, sure. They're just starry-eyed regular folks whose hearts palpitate whenever they see someone of celebrity status. They might get to talk to that person [i.e. "I love your work," "I'm your biggest fan ever!,"], shake that person's hand or ask for an autograph, but whatever that moment entails, the fan will remember for years to come and the celebrity, will more than likely forget entirely.

Then, there are the crazies. Who can forget John Hinkley, Jr.'s attempt to impress actress Jodie Foster by trying to assassinate Ronald Reagan in 1981? There are stalkers that fantasize about marrying their favorite celebrity--like 53-year-old Mark McLeod who was convinced that Miley Cyrus was destined to be his bride. Then there are those like Emily Leatherman who apparently dedicated her life to seeking out John Cusack until an unfortunate restraining order and subsequent arrest. [In October 2008, she accepted a plea deal consisting of mandatory psychiatric counseling and 5 years probation.] The "crazed #1 fan" spilled over into fiction in classic fashion with Stephen King's creation of Annie Wilkes in Misery.

Today there are more celebrities than ever before and more ways to track them-- unfortunate if you happen to be a celebrity. Recently, a posse of celebrity trackers dubbed "The Bling Ring" have been booked on a rash of celebrity burglaries committed in the Hollywood Hills. They used satellite imagery to view the best entrance into stars' homes and used gossip sites and internet resources to track stars' whereabouts. According to CNN, "authorities believe an obsession with celebrity culture could be the motivation for these crimes. "

This is nothing new. People have been obsessed with celebrities and movie stars for quite awhile now. It's just that technology has made it easier for crazed fans whereas the media blitz of the internet has made it more difficult for stars to escape from the spotlight-- unless you're Johnny Depp and rich enough to own your own island in a remote part of the world.

A couple of nights ago, I watched the film noir Laura, directed by Otto Preminger. Laura is a whodunit, murder mystery about a New York career girl named, you guessed it-- Laura, played by actress Gene Tierney. I enjoyed the film, it's not my favorite noir-- but it's worth a whirl. What spawned this post was not the film itself, but my navigation of the special features on the disc which included a biography of Gene Tierney.

For all that she attained in her lifetime, she suffered more than her share of woe. When, the U.S. entered WWII, Gene's then husband, Oleg Cassini, joined the Coast Guard. Shortly thereafter, Gene discovered she was pregnant. During this time, Gene, like many stars during wartime, did her part by serving soldiers at the Hollywood Canteen. One fateful night at the Canteen, she contracted German Measles (also known as rubella.) Alarmed, doctors assured her that her baby would be fine. That said, a few months later, she gave birth to a baby girl, Daria Cassini in 1943. Due to exposure to German measles in early pregnancy, Daria was both deaf and severely retarded. Doctors said that she would never be able to speak and would never progress intellectually beyond that of a small child. Gene Tierney was devastated.

About a year later, Gene was approached by a fan at a party. A former marine, the woman told Gene that they'd met before--at the Hollywood Canteen. The woman had so wanted to meet Gene that evening that she left her quarters where she'd been quarantined for having German Measles. Gene was shocked, but didn't tell the woman what had happened to her daughter. Daria was institutionalized and although, Gene had another daughter, her life and the life of her daughter Daria, had been forever altered by a fan she'd never forget.

More about actress Gene Tierney

If you're feeling sick this holiday season, STAY HOME!

Copyright 2009 by KLiedle
Photo credit: "Annie Wilkes" theOctopus/flickr, "Gene Tierney" Greenman 2008/flickr

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