How to Be a Movie Star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood, By William J Mann

The making and breaking of a screen idol

William J Mann has a reputation for writing incisive accounts of Hollywood stars, without witholding any juicy facts, but here he also widens his remit to look at the studio system and the gossip columnists that moulded young actors such as Elizabeth Taylor.

Taylor's disastrous first marriage was orchestrated to coincide with her film Father of the Bride, and her second to counteract the damage of the first; even her third, to Mike Todd, was a career move. Only Richard Burton stands out as a truly independent decision but, by then, Taylor knew how to handle the press. The viciousness of writers such as Hedda Hopper, who could "make or break" actors in their columns, is breathtaking, even by today's standards.