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“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.
She was Columbia’s resident sex goddess in the 1940s, but she had a bad habit of getting married.
Every time she got married, her box-office standing eroded.
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.
He was still smarting from having let Marilyn Monroe slip away: unimpressed by her beauty, he had neglected in 1948 to renew her initial six-month contract.
Cohn decided he was going to take the next girl who walked into his office and manufacture a new star for Columbia Pictures, one who would do exactly what he wanted, who wouldn’t walk away until he and the public were finished with her.“We always had a blonde,” George Sidney remembers.
Her first husband was a 40-year-old car salesman named Edward C.
This led to her going to California to demonstrate refrigerators as “Miss Deepfreeze.”The studio contoured her figure by encouraging her to purge 15 pounds.
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.
“I went from covering Al Capone to covering Harry Cohn,” Bacon recalls. At the time, Le Pavillon was one of the most famous restaurants in the world: Through its doors, at 5 East 55th Street, came the Vanderbilts, the Rockefellers, the Cabots, and the Windsors.
“We started with Mae West, Jean Harlow, Marilyn, then Kim. It’s a terrible comparison, but it’s like betting on the Kentucky Derby.
That fourth horse, I think can do it.”The next girl to walk through Cohn’s door was Marilyn Novak, a shy, plump, large-boned 20-year-old from Chicago with no acting experience but a breathtaking face. Since there was already a Marilyn, the first thing that had to go was her name.