Honoring Marie Prevost

Actress Marie Prevost from her early screen career as a Mack Sennett bathing beauty.

I can remember the first time I ever heard of Marie Prevost. It was while I was reading Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon back in 1975. For a book loaded with salacious and unsubstantiated stories about many famous stars, the tiny entry on this actress was particularly unkind and disturbing. There was a coroner photograph of Prevost (supposedly) lying on her stomach in bed with what looked like abrasions on her skin with the photo caption “Doggie’s Dinner.”

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Unlucky Horoscopes

The cast of Thirteen Women consult with Ursula Georgi (Myrna Loy, center) over their horoscopes in this publicity photo from the 1932 melodrama.

Throughout most of the 19th century in America, astrology was considered an occult science embraced by a small but growing number of converts. It wasn’t until the mid-1920s that an interest in astrological signs and horoscopes crossed over from a cult phenomenon to more popular acceptance on a national scale. This was partially due to the success of The Bowl of Heaven (1924), an autobiography of famous astrologer Evangeline Adams and the influential periodical American Astrology, which began publishing in 1923. It was only a matter of time until Hollywood would capitalize on the movement’s popularity by using it as a plot device in Thirteen Women (1932), one of Myrna Loy’s least known and most peculiar roles.

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