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Hollywood Godfather: The Life and Crimes of Billy Wilkerson

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  48 ratings  ·  7 reviews
This is the definitive biography of the most powerful man in Hollywood during the 1940s and ’50s, the man who founded the Hollywood Reporter and the most storied nightspots of the Sunset Strip, introduced Clark Gable and Lana Turner to the studios, invented Las Vegas, brought the Mafia to Hollywood, engineered the shakedown of Hollywood studios by Willie Bioff and his mob- ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published September 4th 2018 by Chicago Review Press
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Martin Turnbull
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’ve read (and written) more than my fair share of books on the history of Hollywood and LA and the movers and shakers that helped shaped both the reality and masquerade that is Tinseltown. Consequently, I thought I had a pretty good grip on who the founder of The Hollywood Reporter and creator of legendary nightclubs and Las Vegas was. Or at least I thought I did until I read this warts-and-all biography by Wilkerson’s son. Unfortunately for us all, Wilkerson senior burned most of his papers ne ...more
Raquel
May 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Effectively chronicles the life of a difficult man who had a profound influence on the film industry in its early days. Wilkerson was the founder of The Hollywood Reporter and his story is one of revenge, innovation, aggression and corruption. While reading it I often forgot that the biography was written by his son. The author is brutally honest. Well-researched and comprehensive. Recommended.

My full review here: https://www.outofthepastblog.com/2020...
...more
Emily Nelson
Not a nice subject

....And the writer, Wilkerson's son, really doesn't seem to know much. Super bad luck on the writer's part that ALL his research he'd done with those who knew Wilkerson best, just got lost or was stolen! Was he not paying attention? Why didn't he make sure this incredible first hand information was stored someplace very secure? All that aside, I found Wilkerson to be pretty much a loathsome person. I imagine people didn't say much after he died because they were scared. I think
...more
Dawn
Apr 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Subtitle this: "The Banality of Evil." Wow, Wilkerson was forever scheming, shaking down Hollywood, nursing gripes, dabbling in organized crime, gambling away millions (not all his own), starting the Blacklist, etc. But, unlike Bugsy Siegel, he kept up the appearance of being a reasonable, class-act, guy. Everyone knew what he was up to, and everyone just let him carry on. "Yeah, that's just Billy." I suppose there is poetic justice in the way he finally met his demise, which I won't spoil here. ...more
Matthew Valentinas
Jun 14, 2020 rated it liked it
I read a lot of true crime and a lot about Hollywood given my career. I was expecting much more from this book. The gossip was not as revealing as I was expecting. But I know the author was a young boy when his father died. Still, with his access I was very disappointed. I also found the writing to be plodding and the editing very sloppy on this one. It was hard to get into a flow. I also feel like the author was omitting things or just being naive in an effort to paint his father in the best li ...more
Rita
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I listened to the audio version. Sometimes in life we come across a character so influential and outrageous that we're gobsmacked reading their story. That's the case with Billy Wilkerson, the most important Hollywood power broker you've probably never heard of. I don't want to give spoilers because learning about him is such fun, but he was an important figure in the whole Hollywood scene before and during the golden age of movies. The book is incredibly fun and the narration is easy-going and ...more
Diana
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fascinating reading. There was a lot in here that I didn't know about Hollywood history. This is more about power struggles than film, but the power struggles defined the golden age of Hollywood, and therefore influenced film, making this a worthwhile read for classic film fans.
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