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Abstract

Curs, canine or human, tend to bite the hand that feeds them. Therefore it is not surprising that a lot of satirical barbs have been flung by writers at the dream factories of Hollywood where so many of them have labored. There is a long list of obscure plays about Tinsel Town: Hey Diddle Diddle (Cormack), Schoolhouse on the Lot (Fields and Chodorov), The Greatest Find Since Garbo (Birchard and Bard), On Location (Wiley), Dearly Beloved (Beahan and Buckner), Kiss the Boys Goodbye (Boothe), Hollywood Be Thy Name (Fagan), Stars in Your Eyes (McEvoy), and the list goes on. Some few plays on this subject are still remembered: the Spewacks' Boy Meets Girl is one and Kaufman and Connolly's Merton of the Movies (based on a story by Harry Leon Wilson) is another. Fiction has done better: think of Evelyn Waugh's The Loved One, Nathanael West's The Day of the Locust for the mood of the town, and What Makes Sammy Run? by Bud Schulberg for the methods of The Industry. Writers were willing to exploit Hollywood if not to extoll it. "Millions are to be grabbed out here and your only competition is idiots," Ben Hecht telegrammed back east after arriving in the mid-Twenties. "Don't let this get around." William Goldman in Adventures in the Screen Trade (1988) says the "single most important fact" about Hollywood is (and he puts it in capital letters) "NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING." But here, as I examine satirical names in a work set in Hollywood, I want to concentrate on the onomastic aspects more than on whether the genial barbs are deserved or not deserved. For the dirty linen of Hollywood, you'd have to go somewhere else than the novel Dirty Eddie (1947) by Ludwig Bemelmans (1898 -1962).

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