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Leading Ladies: The 50 Most Unforgettable Actresses Of The Studio Era    by Robert Osborne & Molly Haskell order for
Leading Ladies
by Robert Osborne
Order:  USA  Can
Chronicle, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Ayesha Baumgartner

A collectable item for actors and film buffs, Leading Ladies is a gorgeous book, complete with behind-the scenes facts about movies, full page headshots, movie stills, and fascinating on-the-set stories and profiles of fifty legendary actresses of the Studio Era. Leading ladies featured include Shirley Maclaine, Sophia Loren, Myrna Loy, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly.

Get a closer look at the work of these fascinating women, who not only were beautiful, but also needed charisma, sex appeal and most often, guts, in order to make it in Hollywood. Basic facts such as date and place of birth as well as the women's real names are revealed, in a time when changing one's name was a norm, when Studio heads had control of their starlets. One thing that is constant is that all these woman managed to instill in their audiences a sense of sensuality, talent and uniqueness and an empowering attitude that made them leading ladies of their time. Lists of movies, awards, and famous movie stills fill pages, sure to delight fans and movie enthusiasts of all ages, as well as aspiring actresses who want to learn what it took for some of these women to rise to their status as influential and totally fascinating stars.

One fact I found interesting was that Anthony Hopkins, who played Katherine Hepburn's son in The Lion In Winter, later modeled the voice of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence Of The Lambs (1991) on hers. Makeup legend Max Factor created a shade for Lena Horne called Light Egyptian, a color that is 'still in use by African Americans.' Amusing facts include that 'during the production of Gone With The Wind, the crew played a prank on Clark Gable by sewing seventy pounds of lead weight into Olivia De Havilland's costume just before a scene when Rhett (Gable) had to lift a frail Melanie (De Havilland) from her bed and carry her down a flight of stairs.'

Leading Ladies is a beautiful guide to fifty unforgettable actresses who impress and continue to fascinate us. This glamorous, playful book is a recommended read for both fans and film industry professionals, and is sure to become a collector's item. Enjoy the memories, revealing facts, amazing stories and anecdotes that fill these pages just in time for the Oscars!

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