A keeper of Hollywood's secrets now spills them

A keeper of Hollywood's secrets now spills them

A keeper of Hollywood's secrets now spills them

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Posted on June 10, 2012 at 1:28 PM

(CBS News) The off-screen behavior of some of our biggest stars diverges somewhat from their on-screen personas. Here's Anthony Mason with a Hollywood Confidential:

At a poolside party in Los Angeles, an 88-year-old bartender serves up cocktails and conversation. His name is Scotty Bowers, and for half a century he had another occupation, which made him intimately acquainted with some of Hollywood's best-kept secrets.

He did not keep a little black book, he told Mason, but kept it all in his head.

 In the Golden Era of Hollywood - the 1940s and '50s - the studios carefully manicured the images of their stars, and fiercely guarded their private lives.

But Bowers knew there was another side to the city, a sort of subterranean Hollywood.

Off the set, many stars had wild appetites they could not acknowledge.

Bowers says he discreetly arranged "companionship" for Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Tyrone Power, William Holden, even FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and the Duke & Duchess of Windsor.

"Somebody said to George Cukor, the director, 'You know, Scotty's a hustler,'" Bowers recalled. "He said, 'Yes, but he's a gentleman hustler!'"

"That meant something to you?" asked Mason.

"Yes," he replied. "The way he said it meant something."

 

And for nearly 70 years, like a gentleman he did not speak of his liaisons.

"Why did everybody trust him? "Because I could be trusted, because I was that type of person," Bowers said. "I still am today."

But now, Scotty Bowers is talking.

"Frankly," he writes in his memoir, "Full Service," "I knew Hollywood like no one else knew it."

The book, which has spent a dozen weeks on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list, has only Bowers to back it up. You can choose not to believe it.

But his friend, Gore Vidal, testifies on the dust jacket: "Scotty doesn't lie - and he knows everybody."

Was he concerned in writing the book that people who might be fans of these stars would think that he was trying to tear them down? "I thought of that," Bowers said, "And whatever you do, you can't please everyone."

Bowers, who grew up in rural Illinois, landed in L.A. when he came out of the Marine Corps at the end of World War II. Hollywood "was like a smaller town then," he said.

He was working at a gas station, when he says he was picked up by actor Walter Pidgeon. Soon he was getting calls. He charged for his own services. But Bowers refused to be paid for referrals:

"Why didn't you take the money?" Mason asked.

"I didn't believe in being an outright pimp - sort of a pimp, but not an outright pimp," Bowers said. "There's a difference, you know."

"You say you were just trying to help people out?"

 "Yes, I was."

But the risks - particularly for gay or bisexual actors - were serious. The vice squad and the tabloids were always lurking. For the magazine Confidential, which dealt in Hollywood dirt - it was TMZ before TV and the Internet - the more salacious the story, the better.

Bowers said the magazine would come to him with a completed article, "and all you had to do was sign that story."

 Bowers said he was brought three different stories that he knew to be true, and each time was offered $1,000 if he'd sign. He said he wasn't tempted. "Because I knew that eventually that's gonna be trouble."

"One thousand dollars then was a lot of money," Mason said.

"You bet it was a lot of money!"

One of the stories was about Katharine Hepburn. Bowers had met the actress through George Cukor, who directed her in several films, including "Adam's Rib," in which she starred with Spencer Tracy.

 

"I picked up on what she wanted," Bowers said, "which I kind of have a way of doing that."

 

"I don't know why I'm not surprised!" said Mason.

 

"And all of a sudden we become buddy, buddy because I was fixing her up with girls."

 

"You say in the book you fixed her up with 150 women?"

 

"Well, this is over a period of almost 50 years, 49 years. And that's not many."

 

"So what are we supposed to make of [Hepburn's] love affair with Spencer Tracy?"

 

"I know magazines and people like to think they were lovers right 'til the end," Bowers said. "No, not really at all."

 

Bowers said he came to know Tracy, too, going to his house to do odd jobs and sometimes spending the night.

 

"He wasn't an outright gay person," Bowers said. "But after drinking and pretending he didn't know what he did, and not admitting what he did the next morning, do you get what I mean? Which sometimes people do: 'Jesus, what did I do? I must have gotten drunk.'"

 

Bowers also found female friends for Desi Arnaz, who apparently did not only love Lucy . . .

 

"One night at a party, Lucille Ball came up and - not slap me, punched me - boom!" Bowers said.

"She says, 'Look, I listen in on the extension phone. And I've heard you numerous times fix Desi up.'"

 

"What did you say to her?" Mason asked.

 

"Nothin'. There's not much you can say."

 

And what do you say to the director of the FBI, who Bowers says enjoyed dressing as a woman?

 

"And, of course, when J Edgar Hoover was in drag, he was no beauty. You know he was not a pretty girl, really, you know what I mean?"

 

"And you weren't sitting there going This is the head of the FBI! ?"

 

"No, no, no, no, no!"

 

Judge Bowers' behavior, if you will - but he never judges his clients in his memoir.

 

"What are you trying to say with this?"

 

"Nothing, really. I just thought, 'I'm gonna do it. Even if I don't make a dime, just do it,' because people kept trying to talk me into it."

 

Scotty Bowers still works bartending jobs a few times a week. The man who kept Hollywood's secrets for so long will turn 89 next month.

 

Any regrets? "No, oh no," he laughed. "If I had to do it over again, I'd probably do it over again!"

 

 

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