Skip To Content

    11 Side-By-Sides That Show The Real Life Inspirations For The Cast Of "Hollywood"

    Ryan always does his research.

    This weekend, Netflix dropped a brand new series from the busiest man in television, Ryan Murphy! Starring several familiar faces, Hollywood is a sentimental retelling of America's less than politically correct Golden Age.

    Netflix / Via Giphy

    In typical Ryan Murphy fashion, a lot of the characters in Hollywood blend fact and fiction, and several are actually based on real people. Here they are side by side with their real life inspirations...

    1. Jake Picking as Rock Hudson

    Netflix/Hulton Archive / Via Getty Images

    Rock Hudson arrived in Los Angeles a well-mannered but naive guy from provincial America. Although he dreamed of being a star, he is rumoured to have been just as clunky in his early acting career as the character appears in the show! Rock was secretly gay, and his death in 1985 from an AIDS-related illness made him the first major celebrity to die of the disease, bringing huge public awareness to AIDS.

    2. Laura Harrier as Dorothy Dandridge and Lena Horne

    Netflix/AFP/Evening Standard/Hulton Archive / Via Getty Images

    While Camille Washington isn't strictly based on anyone, the character bears a resemblance to two African-American stars of the Golden Age – Lena Horne and Dorothy Dandridge, in particular the latter. Actor Laura Harrier said she drew inspiration from Dorothy, who was just as tenacious as Camille is in the show. After fighting for years for decent roles, in 1954 Dorothy became the first African-American to receive a Best Actress nomination at the Academy Awards.

    3. Patti LuPone as Irene Mayer Selznick

    Netflix/E. Phillips/Fox Photos/Hulton Archive / Via Getty Images

    Patti LuPone's character of Avis Amberg was again not a real person, but she was inspired by Irene Mayer Selznick. Irene was the daughter of MGM co-founder Louis B. Mayer, and the wife of American film producer David O. Selznick. She was a Hollywood socialite and an executive at her husband's company (although she never ran a major studio like Avis). After separating from her husband in 1945, Irene went to New York where she became a successful theatre producer.

    4. Michelle Krusiec as Anna May Wong

    Netflix/Sasha/Hulton Archive / Via Getty Images

    Anna May Wong was an American actor widely considered to be the first woman of Chinese descent to achieve movie stardom. During her time in Hollywood she would often play cultural stereotypes, but several appearances in European movies and plays during the late 1920s and early '30s helped her diversify her roles. Just as in the show, she really was refused the lead of O-Lan in The Good Earth. The part was instead given to German-American-British film actress Luise Rainer who won an Oscar for it.

    5. Katie McGuinness as Vivien Leigh

    Netflix/Sasha/Hulton Archive / Via Getty Images

    Vivien Leigh was born in India and was raised in Italy, England, and France. She attended RADA but dropped out to marry her first husband, Leigh Holman. After a string of promising film and theatre roles, Vivien campaigned for the role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind. She secured the part and this led to her considerable fame and fortune. Though she struggled with her mental health, as shown in Hollywood, Vivien was considered one of the most dazzling actors of her day.

    6. Queen Latifah as Hattie McDaniel

    Netflix/Loew's Inc. / Via Getty Images

    Hattie McDaniel also starred with Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind, a movie for which she won Best Supporting Actress at the 12th Academy Awards. Infamously, she was only allowed to attend the ceremony as a "gesture of goodwill" because the hotel at which the awards took place had "whites only" policy. As Queen Latifah describes in the show, Hattie sat at a segregated table with her escort and agent. She was also not allowed to the film's premiere. Despite the racism she endured during her career, Hattie remains an icon of Hollywood's Golden Age and is the first person of colour to ever win an Oscar!

    7. Dylan McDermott as Scotty Bowers

    Netflix/Greenwich Entertainment / Via Getty Images

    Dylan McDermott's pimp character, Ernie West, is in fact based on a real-life Hollywood figure named Scotty Bowers. A marine who moved to Hollywood shortly after the second world war, Scotty began working at the Richfield Oil station at Hollywood and Van Ness as a sex worker. He basically recruited more marines and started a sex work service to the stars! His 2012 memoir "Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars" is one of the show's main sources of inspiration.

    8. Paget Brewster as Tallulah Bankhead

    Netflix/General Photographic Agency / Via Getty Images

    Tallulah was the OG party girl of Hollywood, rumoured to have once nearly died after receiving an emergency hysterectomy to treat an STI she had contracted. She even told her doctors after the operation she hadn't learned a thing! Tallulah enjoyed acting but found herself more comfortable on stage than making movies, which she claimed was boring. She had legions of gay friends and fans including Tennessee Williams, who wrote the part of Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire for her.

    9. Daniel London as George Cukor

    Netflix/Keystone/Hulton Archive / Via Getty Images

    In the show, George Cukor hosts these lavish parties for Hollywood's crème de la crème replete with lots of sexy fun, and in real life he did just that, rubbing shoulders with Joan Crawford, Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, and W. Somerset Maugham at his Hollywood Hills home. The American film director worked on stage and screen and is best known for directing Camille, A Star Is Born (the Judy Garland version), and My Fair Lady.

    10. Harriet Sansom Harris as Eleanor Roosevelt

    Netflix/Hulton Archive / Via Getty Images

    The First Lady of America from 1933 to 1945 was probably not friends with any movie execs, nor she did have any meetings with Hollywood studios as in the show, but her son did work as an assistant for producer Samuel Goldwyn. He introduced her to Hollywood society and she attended red carpets like the 1939 premiere of William Wyler’s Wuthering Heights.

    11. Millicent “Peg” Entwistle

    RKO Radio Pictures/Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP / Via Getty Images

    Peg was real, y'all! Though she doesn't appear in the series, the show constantly refers to Peg, and the film Archie Coleman writes is based on her story. Peg was born in Port Talbot in Wales but emigrated to America as a child and eventually started appearing on Broadway. She found her way to Hollywood in 1932 where she starred in her first and only film Thirteen Women. A month before the film premiered, Peg tragically died by suicide after jumping from the Hollywood Sign. She has now been immortalised by Murphy's new series nearly 90 years later.

    TV and Movies

    Get all the best moments in pop culture & entertainment delivered to your inbox.

    Newsletter signup form