The Brave Women Who Came Forward About Harassment In Hollywood, Long Before The Weinstein Reckoning

The words "Old Hollywood" conjure up images of glamour, gowns, and women with red lipstick making romantic pronouncements in careful Transatlantic accents. Likely, what features most prominently in your mind are the actresses themselves, who, decades later remain almost titanic in their legend.
Beneath this glimmering facade is a harrowing truth: All of these legendary starlets were subject to the abuses inherent in the restrictive contract system that existed until 1943. Many were sexually harassed by studio executives like MGM's Louis B. Mayer, who was known to chase women around the same wooden desk upon which he put pictures of his family. Even after the contract system ended in 1943, the practice of the casting couch, or the exchange of sexual favors for professional roles, was still rampant.
Historian Cari Beauchamp mourns the loss of all the women who couldn't endure such abuse, and the dearth of talent that may have resulted. "What you can say, which was true now and was true then: We will never know how many careers were cut short. How many women folded up their tents and went home. How much talent was ignored because of these men’s momentary decisions,” she told Refinery29.
Here are the women who were brave enough to speak about their abuses, pre-Weinstein Effect, back in the days when statements about sexual harassment were overlooked and ignored — and when survivors could face both personal and professional consequences for telling their stories. Now, women's accounts of harassment are taken far more seriously, and are followed by swift professional ramifications for their assailants. As this list clearly shows, women have been speaking about sexual harassment in Hollywood for decades — it's only now, though, that they're being believed.
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