A native of Chicago, Illinois, he attended the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, where, in 1937 and 1938, he was the city editor of the Daily Illini, the independent student-run newspaper.
From 1951 to 1966, Connolly was a gossip columnist for The Hollywood Reporter, a daily entertainment newspaper dealing with film and television productions, located in Los Angeles, California.
The screenplay for the biographical film I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955) was based on the autobiography of actress Lillian Roth, that was written in collaboration with Connolly and Gerold Frank.
He was described by Newsweek as "probably the most influential columnist inside the movie colony," the one writer "who gets the pick of trade items, the industry rumors, the policy and casting switches." Indeed, he was a witness to and participant in more than a decade of sometimes tumultuous Hollywood history, and he was privy to most of Hollywood's secrets during those years.
Actress and writer Shirley MacLaine devoted several pages in her first memoir, Don't Fall Off the Mountain (1970), to an incident in which she had marched into the offices of The Hollywood Reporter and punched Connolly in the mouth. She was angry about what he had said about her career in his column. The incident garnered a headline on the cover of the New York Post in June 1963.
Connolly was also known for his 1937–38 crusade against prostitution in Champaign, Illinois, and later for his battle against communism in Hollywood. According to his biographer, Val Holley, these campaigns were attempts by Connolly, who was a homosexual, to feel part of the mainstream. His sexual preference was not made public until thirty-seven years after his death.
He died from a kidney malfunction following open-heart surgery on November 18, 1966.
Mike Connolly and the Manly Art of Hollywood Gossip by Val Holley
Paperback: 206 pages
Publisher: Mcfarland & Co Inc Pub (June 12, 2003)
Amazon: Mike Connolly and the Manly Art of Hollywood Gossip
In 1954, Mike Connolly, the gay gossip columnist for the Hollywood Reporter from 1951 to 1966, was described by Newsweek as "probably the most influential columnist inside the movie colony," the one writer "who gets the pick of trade items, the industry rumors, the policy and casting switches." He was indeed one of the most talented and influential members of the Hollywood press of his time, and his column, for those who could read between the lines, was a daily chronicle of gay goings-on. Fifty years later, his cumulative output is a virtually untapped lode of gay Hollywood history.
Mike Connolly’s life and work are the focus of this book. It considers his formative years, his pre–World War II life at the University of Illinois and in Chicago, and the ways in which the homosexual community in Hollywood lived lives both secretive and open in the forties, fifties and sixties. It also examines the literary merit, power and newsworthiness of Connolly’s "Rambling Reporter" column in the Hollywood Reporter and its significance as a chronicle of gay Hollywood life; the previously unexplored role of Connolly’s column in the Hollywood blacklist and how his anti–Communist crusade was rooted in his earlier campaign to close down the brothels in his college town; and how his life informed his column and his column shaped his life.
Inside the Hollywood Fan Magazine: A History of Star Makers, Fabricators, and Gossip Mongers by Anthony Slide
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi (February 26, 2010)
Amazon: Inside the Hollywood Fan Magazine: A History of Star Makers, Fabricators, and Gossip Mongers
The fan magazine has often been viewed simply as a publicity tool, a fluffy exercise in self-promotion by the film industry. But as an arbiter of good and bad taste, as a source of knowledge, and as a gateway to the fabled land of Hollywood and its stars, the American fan magazine represents a fascinating and indispensable chapter in journalism and popular culture.
Anthony Slide's Inside the Hollywood Fan Magazine provides the definitive history of this artifact. It charts the development of the fan magazine from the golden years when Motion Picture Story Magazine and Photoplay first appeared in 1911 to its decline into provocative headlines and titillation in the 1960s and afterward. Slide discusses how the fan magazines dealt with gossip and innuendo, and how they handled nationwide issues such as Hollywood scandals of the 1920s, World War II, the blacklist, and the death of President Kennedy. Fan magazines thrived in the twentieth century, and they presented the history of an industry in a unique, sometimes accurate, and always entertaining style.
This major cultural history includes a new interview with 1970s media personality Rona Barrett, as well as original commentary from a dozen editors and writers. Also included is a chapter on contributions to the fan magazines from well-known writers such as Theodore Dreiser and e. e. cummings. The book is enhanced by an appendix documenting some 268 American fan magazines and includes detailed publication histories.
Behind the Screen: How Gays and Lesbians Shaped Hollywood, 1910-1969 by William J. Mann
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics) (October 29, 2002)
Amazon: Behind the Screen: How Gays and Lesbians Shaped Hollywood, 1910-1969
Whether in or out of the closet, gays and lesbians played an essential role in shaping studio-era Hollywood. Gay actors (J. Warren Kerrigan, Marlene Dietrich, Rock Hudson), gay directors (George Cukor, James Whale, Dorothy Arzner), and gay set and costume designers (Adrian, Travis Banton, George James Hopkins) have been among the most influential individuals in Hollywood history and literally created the Hollywood mystique. This landmark study-based on seven years of exacting research and including unpublished memoirs, personal correspondence, oral histories, and scrapbooks-explores the experience of Hollywood's gays in the context of their times. Ranging from Hollywood's working conditions to the rowdy character of Los Angeles's gay underground, William J. Mann brings long overdue attention to every aspect of this powerful creative force.
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