cover image She Damn Near Ran the Studio: The Extraordinary Lives of Ida R. Koverman

She Damn Near Ran the Studio: The Extraordinary Lives of Ida R. Koverman

Jacqueline R. Braitman. Univ. of Mississippi, $35 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4968-0619-2

Historian Braitman (Justice Stanley Mosk) illuminates the woman behind one of Golden Age Hollywood’s most powerful moguls in this revealing biography. Koverman (1876–1954) came to prominence after the 19th Amendment’s passage, as a political consultant who helped political candidates appeal to the new pool of women voters. Her expertise helped boost pro-business, anti-labor Republicans into office in California. Meeting Louis B. Mayer when he joined Los Angeles County’s GOP organization, which she was helping oversee, Koverman joined him at MGM in 1929, officially as his “executive secretary,” but in reality as a mix of gatekeeper, political networker, and talent scout. While forging connections with leading Republicans (she consulted for the likes of Herbert Hoover and Richard Nixon while working at MGM), Koverman helped recruit top stars, including Clark Gable (to convince the otherwise all-male studio hierarchy that Gable would bring in female viewers, she filled a theater with enraptured young women to watch his screen test) and Esther Williams (a prize-winning swimmer who reminded Koverman of her own involvement, during the 1910s, in then-daring women’s competitive swimming). Both women’s history and film buffs will be fascinated by Braitman’s account. [em](Nov.) [/em]