Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Hell of a Drug

Drugs in Hollywood is nothing new. Since the birth of tinseltown actresses have been dropping dead from narcotics. Watching second rate actresses like Linsday Lohan and Mischa Barton self destruct has been a pastime for the public for 90 years and believe me, greater performers than those two have let their addictions destroy them.

Let's take a walk down memory lane and revisit some of the early stars whose lives came to a sad and tragic end.

Barbara LaMarr

Known as "The Girl Who is Just Too Beautiful" she was a sensation on the silent screen. She made over 25 films in five years and loved the rip roaring life of Hollywood in the 1920s. Between working, partying and marrying five times she admitted to sleeping fewer than three hours a night. She died of complications from heroin addiction at the age of 29 in 1926.

Jeanne Eagles

Jeanne Eagles was without a doubt one of the greatest actresses of the early 20th century. Over 1 million people saw her originate the role of floozy Sadie Thompson in the stage production of Rain and she played the role of Leslie Crosbie in the original film version of The Letter, in 1928. She was temperamental and stormy and her addiction to heroin did her in at the age of 35, in 1929. She was nominated posthumously for an Academy Award for The Letter but lost to Mary Pickford.

Alma Ruebens

She began her career in 1914 and became a big star just as the cultural concept of "movie star" was being created. Rubens was arrested on her first narcotics charge in 1919 but her downward spiral would last another 12 years. By 1923, she was making one thousand dollars a week which helped her afford her habit. By 1929, her career had nosedived as a result of her addiction. Her story of addiction, as recounted in her own 1931 autobiography, is worth the read. In it she describes her time in a sanitarium, her many arrests and selling her valuables to buy dope. She died in 1931, she was 33.

Marie Prevost

She was a silent screen comedienne who had great promise as a dramatic actress. Her life began to spiral out of control after her mother was killed in a car accident in 1926. Marie tuned to alcohol to cope with the loss and was soon addicted. Her heartbreak was further compounded by an ill fated relationship that sent her into a deeper depression. Along with depression and alcoholism, Prevost began struggling with weight problems and would crash diet to keep slim for the few film roles that she was offered. Marie Provost was found dead in her apartment in 1937, dead of alcohol abuse and malnutrition she was 38. Her estate was valued at only $300.

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