Judy Garland was a beloved icon in the LGBTQ+ community and died of an accidental overdose after a lifetime of battling an addiction that started during her leading role on “The Wizard of Oz.” Audrey Hepburn’s waifish figure was the direct result of the severe malnutrition and starvation she suffered as an adolescent during World War II. John Wayne, the eventual star of many classic westerns, looked like the lead singer of a boy band when he was young.
Did you know any of that?
Probably not. It’s so hard to keep track of the modern-day scandals and goings-on of Hollywood that the intricate, decadent, sometimes political and often tragic relationships of the previous century are often lost. We know the faces — images of people such as Garland, Hepburn and Wayne are still found on posters and television screens today — but rarely do we get to know the stories and lives behind them. It is in this gap of information that the podcast “You Must Remember This” steps in.
Karina Longworth, a former film critic who writes, narrates, records and edits each episode, takes listeners beyond the mythologies, and institutionalized spin from movie studios and hearsay surrounding many of Hollywood’s most beloved stars, and then some of the forgotten starlets and behind the scenes people. Currently on its 72nd episode, Longworth uses recordings and excerpts from films and autobiographies, as well as guest actors, to recreate and get to the heart of histories often overlooked as unimportant.
What marks this series as a must-listen podcast is not just the chance to hear some juicy gossip you didn’t know about some long-dead silent film star, but also the way in which Longworth delivers it. Delivering her lines in a clear and soothing voice, Longworth does more than just share a very-well resource historical account of events such as the Manson murders, tales of celebrity drunkenness and the many, many affairs of Hollywood’s past elite, but also offers her own commentary on them.
For instance, take the episode that dissects the legend of Frances Farmer, a B-list 1930s movie star who was institutionalized for rowdy behavior by her family and later mythologized by the ’90s grunge-rock stars Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love. Her legend was distorted, with apocryphal accounts claiming she was lobotomized and severely mistreated by everyone in her life. While she was treated poorly by both studio execs and her own family, the more extreme cases of her abuse are completely fictional. Longworth clearly and precisely delves into the facts and fictions of Farmer’s life, then analyzes why it is our society clings to the falsehoods and what kind of value there is in them.
Episodes run an average of 40 minutes to an hour, with episode notes and a list of resources available at the podcast’s website, youmustremeberthispodcast.com.
“You Must Remember This” is available for free on the podcast’s website and iTunes. For additional details about the show and other details about the scandals of classic Hollywood, visit the show’s Twitter @RememberThisPod.