What Did The Real Eddie Mannix Do? The 'Hail Caesar!' Inspiration Was A Piece Of Work
The Coen brothers' newest film, Hail, Caesar! , looks like a larger-than-life portrayal of old Hollywood, when stars were synonymous with studios and epic productions were all the rage. Co-writers and co-directors Joel and Ethan Coen's newest dramedy is set in 1950s Hollywood, where Hollywood fixer, Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), is forced to ask studio stars for help after their biggest star, Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), is kidnapped by a mysterious organization known as "The Future." As with many Coen brothers' films, the plot of Hail, Caesar! seems too wild to be true, but this one just might actually have some ties to a true story. Hail, Caesar! 's Eddie is based on a real person, Eddie Mannix, known as "The Fixer."
Hollywood Fixer Eddie Mannix became a legend by covering up scandals as General Manager of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, aka MGM, where he worked through the '40s and '50s. His adventures covering up scandals involving stars like Judy Garland and Clark Gable were explored in the book The Fixers. While the book is not credited as providing the base material for the Hail, Caesar! script, it certainly informed the film. Brolin read The Fixers as preparation for the role and was amazed by the cover-ups Mannix was involved in. Speaking with Movie Nation about today's Hollywood scandals, Brolin said, "That's nothing compared to what Eddie Mannix and those guys saw and knew and covered up."
In his prime, Mannix was covering up affairs, drug addictions, and other possible PR ticking time bombs, but he is also believed to have possibly helped cover up murders, pregnancies, rapes, and other illegal indiscretions. The total number of events Mannix and MGM's Head of Publicity Howard Strickling covered up will likely remain a mystery — it turns out, they were pretty good at their jobs. However, some major Hollywood scandals have emerged.
Mannix allegedly orchestrated the cover up of the rape of Patricia Douglas by an MGM employee in 1937. The claimed cover up included allegedly paying off witnesses, manipulating medical records, and playing the legal system, all of which is claimed to have left Douglas' reputation ruined and the employee free to go.
George Reeves, the actor who played Superman in the 1950s television series Adventures of Superman was believed to have committed suicide in 1959, shooting himself in the head. However, some rumors insist that Mannix allegedly ordered a hit on Reeves when he found out his wife, Toni, was having an affair with the superhero actor. This mystery surrounding Reeves' death made it to the big screen in Hollywoodland (2006). The rumor was never confirmed, but it's also never been dismissed.
Mannix was reportedly extremely familiar with Clark Gable, who had a reputation as a womanizer. In 1934, Gable was allegedly involved in a drunk driving accident that lead to one death, all of which was allegedly covered with the help of Mannix. One year later, Gable allegedly sexually assaulted his Call of the Wild co-star Loretta Young and fathered a child with her. She secretly had a daughter, Judy, and, with the alleged help of Mannix and other Hollywood fixers at the time, the rumors go that she managed to "adopt" her publicly before her second birthday, so that the public would not think that she had a child out of wedlock.
There's no question: Mannix was not a likable figure in Hollywood, but he also wasn't the only one of his kind. It wouldn't be Hollywood without scandals and the people who brush them under the rug.
Images: Universal Pictures; Giphy (3)