Marsha Hunt

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A great rollercoaster rags-to-riches-to-rags tale about the first black Hollywood sex goddess.
• Like Elvis, like Marilyn, the first black film superstar didn’t die tragically, but lives among us still, changed out of all recognition…• Propelled out of Depression-era poverty by the ambition of her mother and her own talents, young Irene O’Brien finds she attracts attention easily — both welcome (she is talent-spotted from Mississippi to Harlem to Hollywood) and unwelcome (at six, a fat, over-friendly storekeeper gets altogether too excited when she sits on his lap…)• She blazes a trail no other black performer has taken before and becomes an international sex symbol in the 1950s — ‘the black Monroe’• Fame and fortune come running: she is the first black woman to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress. But happiness eludes her: her celebrity marriage never works; her daughter is autistic; and the studios soon tire of her as she ages• Her descent into drunkenness and derangement ends with her very mysterious ‘death’ in the mid-1960s at the age of forty-three. But, beaten but not bowed, Venus Johnson rises from the ashes of Irene O’Brien to tell her tale and live out her days in tranquillity…
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344 printed pages

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