I run a support group, and like any support group, it has its problems and issues. Some people want this while others want that. Some people like that while others like this. In the past few months, we have had a great deal of gossipers, which is really too bad because gossip is not the truth, just some poor, angry, bored people who need to stir a pot up and get attention for themselves. I realized that for the most part we need to pity people who gossip, and this got me thinking….
Though we know it’s wrong, and we should not do it, and people get hurt, Americans love to gossip just as much as they love to listen to the gossip, and why not? We promote it! As we check out at the market, we see all sorts of gossip newspapers and magazines and we view the headline because we want to know which celebrity is getting fat, and who is cheating on whom, and then we pass it around like it was the drug we put in our crack pipes.
But how did some of this Hollywood gossip get started? Why do Americans love to hear the dirt on celebrities and people they don’t even know? Well, I believe we can begin to unravel some of the mayhem with one of the queens of gossip, Rona Barrett.
Rona Barrett became a gossip columnist for the newspaper Bell-McClure in 1957. In 1966, she began broadcasting Hollywood gossip on a Los Angeles television station. The rest is history. She became a national gossiper. Nearly every major star of the era revealed their deepest secrets to Barrett, and if they didn’t she sure created secrets. She had many fans, and enemies. Barrett made an enemyt of Frank Sinatra by criticizing his personal life, particularly his relationships with his children.
So who is this wild and wacky woman who could do this? A gossiper! And guess what folks, we ate it up; in fact, we gobbled it up. We couldn’t get enough. People like Rona ate it up too. What she wouldn’t do to give the public something to talk about. She sent spies to get shots of Elvis and Priscilla kissing and sunbathing on his private property right after they were married.
Why, she even picked on poor Frankie Avalon. He was a good guy, but Rona revealed that Avalon fathered a girl, born in December 1960, by a fan. She let the world know and truthfully it wasn’t even our business, but she was in the business of making it our business. In fact, to make it more of our business, Rona also produced prime-time specials, where she tried to make celebrities more down to earth and human by interviewing them in cozy settings. Oh now who does that sound like? Barbara Walters perhaps?
Yes indeed, some things never change over the years no matter how much time has gone by. Good wine and good gossip. We have had Hedda Hopper, Louella Parsons, Rona Barrett, and now Barbara Walters. One will have to wonder who will be the next great American gossiper.