Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Peggy Hopkins Joyce

You know how some of you have suggested that I write a book about the doomed starlets I've been profiling recently?

Well, if I take your advice, I've found the perfect inspiration.

Gold Digger is one of the most well-written biographies I have read in ages. It follows the life of Peggy Hopkins Joyce, an influential and much-forgotten American celebrity from the 1920s.

Peggy was the first tabloid-created celebrity in American history. (Think Anna Nicole Smith meets Kim Kardashian.) Peggy was beautiful, incredibly vain, disgustingly naive, materialistic, superficial, and shallow beyond belief.

America loved to hate her.

Peggy was born to a lower-middle class family in Virginia and obsessively dreamed of being a rich bitch since childhood.

When she was a teenager, Peggy gave the middle finger to her hometown and took off with a theatrical group, in hopes of being a star. She wanted to be a silver screen goddess, or at least find a millionaire to marry.

She ended up marrying a series of wealthy men, but it was a high-profiled divorce with her third husband during the early 1920s which made her an international tabloid sensation.

During the trial, it was revealed that Peggy lived a lifestyle most Americans couldn't even fathom. She was draped in $60,000 fur coats and wore diamonds worth millions. Her mansions and trips to Europe were laced with astounding luxury.

And her love life was scandalous enough to make even the most lecherous of men blush. A raging nymphomaniac, Peggy slept with hundreds of men, most who bought her jewels and designer clothes.

The public couldn't get enough. When the divorce was finalized, Peggy still made front page news around the globe, throughout the 1920s, for her indiscreet liasons, outrageous purchases, and fabulous fashion.

She is one of the first American celebrities to be a fashion icon, in fact. Almost every single newspaper article about her described in detail the exact outfit she was wearing. Women everywhere desperately tried to copy her glamorous style.

She was the most famous woman in the entire world.

When she wasn't busy spreading her legs for millionaires and granting interviews to an adoring media, Peggy dabbled in silent films and theater. But it got her nowhere because she had absolutely no talent.

Some of her most famous affairs include Charlie Chaplin (who described Peggy in his autobiography as being "crazy") and Walter Chrysler (the automobile legend was so obsessed with Peggy he bought her the most iconic diamond in the world).

Six of her former lovers were so distraught she dumped them, they committed suicide.

She received thousands of fan letters per day, mostly from worshipful teenage girls who adored her style and middle-aged men who begged her for one night of passion.

Unfortunately, however, the good life didn't last long for Peggy.

By the 1940s, she was getting older and a slowing metabolism took away her girlish figure. Her looks were fading. Men didn't find her appetizing anymore.

Since her beauty and youth were her meal ticket, Peggy found herself selling fur coats and diamonds to stay afloat. She was so depressed, she became an uncontrollable alcoholic.

By the late 1950s, she died of throat cancer in relative obscurity and with a modest savings.

Today, barely anyone knows she even existed.

You simply have to read this book.

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