How Powerful Were Gossip Columnists In the Old Days?


Even more powerful than today!

And today I rule from Murray Hill with an iron fist, with occasional broomstick rides to other gossip capitals to wreak even more wide-ranging terror.

But back in the ’30s, Louella Parsons was so powerful she might as well have been in the White House.

Louella was a wildly popular radio host and columnist who stars intimately confided in, for fear of being banished into abject horror if they didn’t.

They lived in mortal terror of the woman–she was simultaneously their closest confidante and absolute worst nightmare.

My new best friend, the late Helen Hayes, always told the story that one time when screen icon Norma Shearer got pregnant, Helen advised her, “Naturally, you’ll tell your husband.”

She meant studio mogul Irving Thalberg–a pretty imposing figure himself.

Norma replied by gurgling, “Yeah, um, eventually,” then chirped, “But first I must tell Louella Parsons!

“I promised to let her know the minute I got pregnant–that she would be the first to know!”

Oy. Sick shit!

Three questions:

*How do you think Thalberg felt when he learned about the baby by reading about it in Louella?

*If Louella ever found out that Norma had told Helen before her, wouldn’t there have been heck to pay?

*And shouldn’t Norma have called Louella during the act of conception, to give her a real scoop?

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