Confidential Confidential

Confidential Confidential
Confidential Confidential

Confidential Confidential

The Inside Story of Hollywood's Notorious Scandal Magazine
By Samantha Barbas


368 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: Cloth, Mobipocket, PDF, EPUB

Cloth, $27.99 (CA $37.99) (US $27.99)

ISBN 9780912777542

Rights: WOR

Chicago Review Press (Sep 2018)


eBook Editions Available

Will it work on my eReader?
Price: $27.99
Google Preview
Media Copy


Confidential—the forerunner of People, the National Enquirer, and—established the foundations of our present-day obsession with sensational gossip and celebrity scandal
In the 1950s, Confidential magazine, America’s first celebrity scandal magazine, revealed Hollywood stars’ secrets, misdeeds, and transgressions in gritty, unvarnished detail. Deploying a vast network of tipsters to root out scandalous facts about the stars, including their sexual affairs, drug use, and sexuality, publisher Robert Harrison destroyed celebrities’ carefully constructed images and built a media empire. Confidential became the bestselling magazine on American newsstands, surpassing Time, Life, and the Saturday Evening Post. Confidential’s spectacular rise was followed by an equally spectacular fall. Stars filed multimillion dollar libel suits against the magazine, and the state of California, prodded by the film studios, prosecuted its publisher for obscenity, culminating in a famous, star-studded Los Angeles trial in 1957. The lawsuits forced Confidential to end its scandalmongering, and it stopped printing its sleazy gossip in 1958. However, the magazine’s legacy lives on in our culture’s obsession with gossip and celebrity scandal. Confidential’s success marked the end of an era of hush-hush—of secrets, closets, and sexual taboos—and the beginning of our age of tell-all exposure.


“Before the National Enquirer and TMZ, Confidential fascinated readers with its claims to tell the ‘truth’ about the rich and famous. In her investigation of Confidential’s lurid allegations about 1950s celebrities, Samantha Barbas contributes a much-needed legal perspective to current understandings of the publication’s historical impact. Confidential Confidential is a richly detailed and lively examination of the notorious magazine’s rise and fall.” —MARY DESJARDINS, author of Recycled Stars: Female Film Stardom in the Age of Television and Video

"Popular culture enthusiasts and media studies students will appreciate how this well-documented tale resonates in today's climate of celebrity scandal and Orwellian politics." —Library Journal

In Confidential Confidential, law professor Samantha Barbas recounts the inside story of the “little magazine that could” with drama, humor and verve… Ms. Barbas paces her terrific story well, and the book ends with her cogent analysis of Confidential’s larger significance.”—The Wall Street Journal

Author Biography

Samantha Barbas is a professional historian, law professor, and author of Movie Crazy, The First Lady of Hollywood, Laws of Image, and Newsworthy. She frequently offers commentary on issues related to celebrity gossip and freedom of the press to the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Guardian, and the Associated Press.