In the first season of Netflix’s new Ryan Murphy show Hollywood, Mira Sorvino appears as a blonde bombshell actress named Jeanne Crandall. Since the show is populated by both real people and fictional characters (and fictionalized versions of real people), viewers might be wondering if Crandall was a real person or if she’s based on a real person. Here’s what we know.
WARNING: The first header is spoiler-free, but the second header contains spoilers about Hollywood’s first season. Don’t read it if you don’t want to be spoiled.
Jeanne Crandall Was Not a Real Person
Despite being surrounded by real people on the show — actor Rock Hudson (Jake Picking), agent Henry Willson (Jim Parsons), actresses Vivien Leigh (Katie McGuinness), Hattie McDaniels (Queen Latifah), and Tallulah Bankhead (Paget Brewster) — Jeanne Crandall is one of the characters invented for the show.
However, there are several Hollywood stars from that era that she bears more than a passing resemblance to.
Appearance-wise, Lana Turner (pictured above, left) is probably the closest. A heavy-lidded, stunning blonde with sleek waves in her hair, Sorvino’s Crandall is certainly reminiscent of Turner in the looks department.
Career-wise, Crandall sounds a bit like Veronica Lake (pictured above, right). Lake played the femme fatale in a number of films in the 1940s but her career started to decline in the late ’40s due to her struggles with alcoholism and mental illness. She never really broke through to the A-list ranks, she never earned an Academy Award nomination, and she died of hepatitis, cirrhosis, and kidney failure in 1973 at the age of 50.
Ann Sheridan is another actress of the ’30s and ’40s who sounds a bit like Crandall. She broke into the biz and was dubbed the “oomph girl” in 1939, a tag she never enjoyed but she nonetheless acknowledged helped her gain traction in Hollywood. She told the Ogden Standard-Examiner in 1940, “I know if it hadn’t been for ‘oomph,’ I”d probably still bein the chorus. I’m awfully grateful for what it’s done for me. But will somebody please tell me what it means?”
Still, Ann Sheridan is not a name you hear from that era as much as women like Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, or Rita Hayworth.
Warning: Light spoilers ahead for Hollywood’s first season.
Jeanne Crandall’s Career
On the show, Crandall is a respected actress but has never really found her breakthrough role. Even after finding out that Crandall was sleeping with her husband Ace (Rob Reiner), Avis Amberg (Patti Lupone) offers Crandall the role of a lifetime because Avis has always admired her talent — the role in a biopic about famed World War II photographer Lee Miller.
We don’t know what becomes of that picture, but since Crandall is seen at the end of the film presenting at the Academy Awards, presumably it is in the works and is going to really get Crandall the credit she deserves as an actress. We’d like to think that if Hollywood gets a second season, somehow Murphy and Co. will reveal that Crandall earned herself an Oscar nomination for her Lee Miller story.
Hollywood season one is available now on Netflix.