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April 7: A Woman in Hollywood

April 7, 2014
9780394575742Julia Miller Phillips, the first woman producer to win a “Best Picture” Oscar for her 1973 film, The Sting, and author of the bestselling, tell-all memoir, You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again, was born in New York on this date in 1947. Phillips was also a producer of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, and acquired the rights to Isaac Bashevis Singer’s “Yentl” for Barbra Streisand some twenty years before the film was made. Phillips’ book — which took Random House’s lawyers 14 months to clear — was a catalogue of drug abuse (including her own), double-dealing, and bad behavior by Hollywood’s elite, especially the men. “People behaved in an ugly and despicable fashion towards me. I felt no constraints,” she said, adding, ”Nothing I did in my book is as mean as any of the people I wrote about.” She died of cancer at age 57 in 2002. To see her receiving her Oscar from Elizabeth Taylor, look below. “Understand, I wasn’t a pariah because I was a drug-addicted, alcoholic, rotten person and not a good mother. I was a pariah because I lit them with a harsh fluorescent light and rendered them as contemptible as they truly are.” -Julia Phillips