The Casting Couch Perverts Who Peddled Fairy Tales
Hollywood always has, still is, and likely will be full of predators. But two of the most prolific were also two men who dramatically changed the industry.
The Casting Couch is as old as Hollywood and as inescapable as bad reviews.
Journalists keep blaming many different initiators of this demeaning show business “audition.” Suspects include Mack Sennett of the Keystone Comedies; Samuel Goldwyn, the G in MGM; Louis B. Mayer, the second M in MGM; Howard Hughes the studio head, aviator and germaphobic billionaire; Jack Warner of Warner Brothers; and Benny Thau, the MGM casting whiz whose casting couch, some say, “was the busiest in Hollywood.” The talent agent, Henry Willson, may have invented the gay casting couch. If victory has a thousand fathers, power and perversion do too.
All these powerful men had many affairs with young ambitious hotties hoping to become movie stars. The most frequently mentioned of these pioneering phallocrats in the movie business, however, are Harry Cohn and Darryl Zanuck. Their stories are typical – and reveal the sick mix of sex and power obscured in a haze of all-American hypocrisy that explain the rise of the entertainment industry’s perverse, pervasive rite of passage.