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He was still smarting from having let Marilyn Monroe slip away: unimpressed by her beauty, he had neglected in 1948 to renew her initial six-month contract.Cohn decided he was going to take the next girl who walked into his office and manufacture a new star for Columbia Pictures, one who would do exactly what he wanted, who wouldn’t walk away until he and the public were finished with her.“We always had a blonde,” George Sidney remembers.Then they changed her hair, dyeing it three shades of blond at once.Columbia Pictures’ house designer Jean Louis was brought in to remake her wardrobe.He ran Columbia Pictures as if it were a family business, and in a way it was, because he had wrangled control from his brother Jack, who was back on the East Coast in New York.By the mid-1930s, Cohn had nurtured Columbia from a low-rent, B-movie studio on Hollywood’s “Poverty Row,” a block off Sunset, into a major Hollywood film studio.
Her first husband was a 40-year-old car salesman named Edward C.“We started with Mae West, Jean Harlow, Marilyn, then Kim. It’s a terrible comparison, but it’s like betting on the Kentucky Derby.That fourth horse, I think can do it.”The next girl to walk through Cohn’s door was Marilyn Novak, a shy, plump, large-boned 20-year-old from Chicago with no acting experience but a breathtaking face. Since there was already a Marilyn, the first thing that had to go was her name.threatened to become a national scandal on the eve of America’s long struggle for civil rights.It started in 1957 at Chicago’s most famous nightclub, Chez Paree.The man known as “the greatest entertainer in the world” was onstage, the smoke from his cigarette trellising the air.You had to see him: the gorgeous shirt, the cuff links, the way everything billowed.“People used to say, ‘I’m going to beat Harry,’” Sidney recalls.“But no one could beat Harry—he was too smart, he was too sharp. Mayer, Harry Cohn, Jack Warner—these men with their blood and their money and their reputations, they smelled out who had star material.”Cohn took all the credit for creating Rita Hayworth—he was also obsessed with her.Cohn wanted to be known as the toughest, meanest mogul in Hollywood.He brandished a riding crop and slashed it across his desk to terrify employees.