PERFORMING ARTS

Jean Peters: Hollywood’s Mystery Girl

Univ. Pr. of Mississippi (Hollywood Legends). Mar. 2024. 240p. ISBN 9781496850263. $35. BIOG
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Jean Peters (1926–2000) was a popular Hollywood actress who costarred in some classic 1950s films with Marilyn Monroe (Niagara); Marlon Brando (Viva Zapata!); Richard Widmark (Pickup on South Street); Burt Lancaster (Apache), and Spencer Tracy (Broken Lance). But she retired from the screen in 1957, when she married eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes. Her 14-year marriage to Hughes, however, is only a small section of a book that documents an actress who went from being a rising star to withdrawing and falling off the radar. A short read, the book includes many publicity photos and movie stills. Capua (Jean Simmons) includes an extensive notes section, a bibliography, and an incredibly detailed filmography, which comprises about one-third of the book. While there are many movie set tales, the details of her personal life are less forthcoming. Readers learn much more about her college days and her earliest years in Hollywood than about the rest of her adult life; she and Hughes were so private. Peters refused offers to write a memoir about her life with Hughes.
VERDICT The author clearly did an incredible amount of research, but much of Peters’s personal life remains a mystery.
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