The new Coen Brothers movie Hail Caesar! is a work of fiction set in 1951. But one of its major characters, Eddie Mannix, was a real mover and shaker who took care of problems for MGM during Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Remaining on MGM’s payroll until his death in 1963, Mannix is an important figure in Hollywood history. His MGM ledger, which meticulously recorded the secret costs, revenues, and losses of the studio’s films from 1924 to 1948, is a treasure trove for film historians. He is also central in the mythology for the studio that once prided itself on having “More Stars Than There Are in the Heavens,” playing second fiddle only to MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer and Head of Production Irving Thalberg. He also was considered extended family by a number of stars, including Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy.
But primarily, Mannix was the guy that made sure Mayer’s family friendly entertainment stayed “family friendly,” at least as far as the press and moviegoing public were concerned. Alongside Howard Strickling, the unflappable head of MGM publicity, Mannix had a habit for making problems go away, whether they be drunk driving incidents, unplanned pregnancies, libidinous lifestyles, or even the occasional mysterious death, be it of sex symbol Jean Harlow’s second husband or the guy on TV that bullets were supposed to bounce off from.
Den of Geek looks at a few of the more prominent Hollywood scandals that Mannix was involved in, some in his role of covering them up, and some involving his own life.