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Hail, Caesar! Hollywood Scandals and the Real Life Fixer


From the inimitable Coen Brothers comes Hail, Caesar! The story follows a day in the life of Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), a Hollywood Fixer for Capitol Pictures, who cleans up after and solves problems for the studio’s biggest stars.  When Capitol’s leading man Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) suddenly disappears, it is up to Mannix to recover him in time to finish the picture. The stellar supporting cast includes Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill and Alden Ehrenreich.

To mark the release of Hail, Caesar! on Digital HD on 27th June and on Blu-ray™ and DVD on 11th July, we take a look at the biggest “fixes” that the real life Mr. Mannix carried out in Hollywood’s Golden Age.

The real Eddie Mannix was the general manager and later a vice president of MGM studios during the period, and it was part of his job to keep the talent in line. Mannix had people all over Los Angeles on his payroll, from members of the police, to doctors and even coroners which meant he could spin a story whichever way he needed to. He worked very closely with MGM’s head of publicity, Howard Strickling, who influenced how the press reported on the studio’s films and stars. While Strickling distracted the media, it was Mannix’s job to make the scandalous stories disappear.



Mannix kept megastar Clark Gable out of trouble so often he considered Eddie one of his closest friends. In 1933 Gable was believed to have run over and killed actress Tosca Roulien, and it is alleged that Mannix paid off MGM screenwriter John Huston to take the blame. Luckily, Huston was never charged due to lack of evidence. One year later, Gable supposedly sexually assaulted Loretta Young, his co-star in Call of the Wild, and she fell pregnant.  To prevent a scandal – and echoing a plotline of Hail, Caesar! – Mannix helped Loretta to ‘adopt’ her own daughter publicly before her second birthday.



Joan Crawford was constantly surrounded by rumours and scandal; she lied about her date of birth to make herself appear older to join MGM Studios, her freckles and red hair were masked by makeup and she even changed her name from Lucille Fay LeSueur. Nothing was more scandalous, however, than the pornographic film Joan starred in during her pre-fame years. Mannix allegedly tracked down every last copy, and paid $100,000 of the studio’s money to buy the original negative.



George Reeves played the eponymous Superman in the 1950s TV series Adventures of Superman and was believed to have committed suicide in 1959 by shooting himself in the head. However, rumours persist that Mannix allegedly ordered a hit on Reeves when he found out his wife, Toni, was having an affair with the actor. This mystery surrounding Reeves’ death made it to the big screen in 2006’s Hollywoodland where Reeves was portrayed by Ben Affleck. The rumour was never confirmed – but it’s also never been dismissed.



Mannix did all he could to protect the top Hollywood studio at the time. In 1937, one of the studio’s young actresses called Patricia Douglas answered a casting call requesting that she show up at the studio lot on May 5th. On the lot Douglas and a number of other girls were given cowgirl outfits that showed plenty of leg and full camera-ready hair and makeup. They were promised $7.50 for a day’s work, but it wasn’t until 300 salesmen and executives arrived that the women realised they had been hired to provide a female element at a private party. The night sadly ended with Douglas allegedly being raped, and when she tried to take legal action Mannix went into damage-control mode. The studio supposedly paid for statements from the other guests saying Patricia was “uncontrollably drunk” and when the court date arrived, no lawyers turned up. A federal judge was finally forced to dismiss the case.


Annex - Harlow, Jean_84

In 1932 Director Paul Bern married the studio’s biggest star, Jean Harlow, despite already having a wife in New York. One night, neighbours heard a man and woman arguing in the Hollywood Hills. There was a sound of breaking glass and then a gunshot. Bern lay dead in his bathroom with a bullet through his head. Mannix arrived and knew instantly what had happened; Bern’s first wife was in town and when they argued, she ended up killing him. The scandal would have ruined Jean Harlow and the studio, so with the help of the police (who were on Mannix’s payroll) they staged the murder as a suicide and it was never questioned.

“Mannix was a tough guy from New Jersey, if he hadn’t fallen into the movie business he would have ended up as a knee-breaker for somebody.” – E.J. Fleming, author of The Fixers: Eddie Mannix, Howard Strickling And The MGM Publicity Machine

Hail, Caesar! is available on Digital HD™ on 27th June and on Blu-ray™ & DVD on 11th July, courtesy of Universal Pictures (UK).


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