Competition for fame is central to this documentary series that explores the friendly rivalries and ruthless conflicts between Hollywood stars.
S01:E01 - Hollywood Rivals: Charlie Chaplin vs Buster Keaton
Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton both began earning their own money at a young age through performance. Chaplin joined a variety of troupes, and Keaton performed in his family act until he was twenty one. Chaplin later signed to Keystone and became a worldwide sensation. Chaplin had a ballet like grace and variety of facial expressions that set him apart from other comics of the time. Keaton had his own production company, and he used his fascination with mechanics and gadgetry in much of his work. He became known as the great stone face for never smiling on camera but would let his body language express how he was feeling. On the other hand, Chaplin's characters were often over sentimental. Keaton preferred outright falling and and crashing, while Chaplin had a more fluid ballet style. Keaton's lack of business sense brought him down. Although different in style, both men made a lasting impact on the motion picture industry.
S01:E02 - Hollywood Rivals: Marlene Dietrich vs Greta Garbo
Greta Garbo was discovered by an American producer as an awkward, young Swedish. Marlene Dietrich began her acting career in her native land of Germany. Both women, in their journey to fame and glamour, were plucked from Europe and remade into American fantasies during the golden age of cinema, often facing great pressures to change their appearance. With the advent of talkies, both women proved their fluency in English in order to continue their rise to fame. As contemporaries, the two became known as sensual, mysterious dream women who competed for the role of the most glamorous femme fatale.
S01:E03 - Hollywood Rivals: Bela Lugosi vs Boris Karloff
This episode of Hollywood Rivals explores the dark history of early horror films, which was owed in large part to the tremendous talents of the men who played the monsters. After gaining notoriety as the man who played Dracula, Bela Lugosi turned down the role of Frankenstein's Monster. But when the part is turned over to rising star Boris Karloff, it seems that he may have created his own biggest rival. Both men are threatened by Hollywood typecasting, but when Karloff starts to break out of the monster movie role, a deep jealousy develops. Tensions peak when the rivals are co-cast as leading men in an adaptation of a grim and gothic Edgar Allen Poe story, but one man is paid more than the other.
S01:E04 - Hollywood Rivals: James Cagney vs Humphrey Bogart
James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart had drastically different upbringings: Cagney came from a poor family, while Bogart was the uptown son of wealthy parents. Cagney came to Hollywood to do a screen adaptation of a play done in Broadway and soon after signed with Warner Brothers, becoming a star by his fifth picture. Bogart used family connections to work in the theater, taking on cheerful young romantic leads. But it was Cagney's street-wise characters that were popular at the time. Once in Hollywood, Cagney and Bogart followed similar paths. They became top billed stars after acting in box office hit after box office hit, struggled with being part of the Warner Brothers family, started their own production companies, and won various oscar nominations, but they still were very different men.
S01:E05 - Hollywood Rivals: Bette Davis vs Joan Crawford
Joan Crawford and Bette Davis both had aspirations of fame. Whispers of scandal follow both women on their rise to stardom, as everything from their difficult attitudes to their associations with men were scrutinized and compared. As women in Hollywood, their dynamic talent is often undermined by unsubstantial roles that they still must compete over. In time, they would team up for a gothic horror film that would revitalize their fading careers. But their new roles hauntingly echoed real life, and their silver screen immortality would become forever marked by icy attitudes, romantic jealousies, and salacious rumors.
S01:E06 - Hollywood Rivals: Fred Astaire vs Gene Kelly
Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly famously rivaled one another as the two best dancers in Hollywood, and one's success almost always came at the expense of the other. Before breaking through as a pioneer of on-screen dance, Gene Kelly was made ends meet by teaching ballroom dance to men who wanted to be like Fred Astaire. Astaire and Kelly's styles of dance differed wildly, and the popularity of one grew as they other fell. When Kelly finally made his breakthrough into Hollywood, the comparisons from critics caused the men to respond to one another's steps in new and ground-breaking ways.
S01:E07 - Hollywood Rivals: Olivia De Havilland vs Joan Fontaine
Silver screen stars Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine cultivated a toxic off-screen animosity that was well-known throughout Hollywood. But their rivalry began very early on in life, as the two actresses were real-life sisters. This episode of Hollywood rivals details how their intense competition began in childhood, fueled by abusive home lives as girls, strained relationships in school as young women, and romantic and professional jealousies as actresses. Their family feud became scintillating Hollywood gossip, even seeing the life-long rivals purposefully seated next to one another when both sisters are nominated for Oscars, culminating in one of
S01:E08 - Hollywood Rivals: Frank Sinatra vs Bing Crosby
Bing Crosby was already a beloved musician when Frank Sinatra was growing up. As a kid, Sinatra aspired to follow in Crosby's footsteps, but as he emerged from his shadow, Crosby's career begins to wane. Both developed their own signature styles, but fought to keep their careers alive. Over the years, the two beloved crooners would both battle and collaborate as they vied for fame in the ever-fickle world of music, film, and television.
S01:E09 - Hollywood Rivals: Rita Hayworth vs Betty Grable
With tremendous talent and abundant sex appeal, both Rita Hayworth and Betty Grable thrived as triple-threat stars and pinups during World War II. Betty headlined musicals with her million dollar legs while Rita sizzled as Hollywood's Love Goddess. Their rivalry was set off by their wartime photographs, as both women decked the walls of army barracks as the most popular pinups. While both women entered show business as children, their parallel career trajectories would see the women transformed into bombshells, iconized for their talent and legendary good looks, and later struggling to navigate the tumultuous world of Hollywood fame.
S01:E10 - Hollywood Rivals: Burt Lancaster vs Kirk Douglas
Leading men Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas both became renowned for their compelling on-screen presence and tough guy attitudes. As co-stars, the actors remained friendly, sharing a mutual dislike of certain directors and their typecasted parts. While they often played similar roles in their films, they developed very different off-screen reputations. Lancaster was known as a friendly and easy-going professional, but Douglas became infamous for his selfish and unscrupulous attitude. In time, the contrasts in their style and persona would come to define their Hollywood rivalry.
S01:E11 - Hollywood Rivals: Leslie Caron vs Cyd Charisse
In the era of the movie musical, Cyd Charisse and Leslie Caron dazzled as two of the only stars with formal ballet training. Cyd stunned on stage and screen alike, entering Hollywood with grace and poise at a very young age. At the same time, Leslie used dance as an escape from the terrors of World War II in her native France. Though Leslie would make her on screen debut much later than Cyd, she would be catapulted far ahead of her rival when she was cast as the lead in An American in Paris after Cyd passed on the part due to a surprise pregnancy. Though Cyd struggled to gain the fame that Leslie had already attained, she eventually lived out her dream of dancing with Gene Kelly when she was tapped for a role in Singin' in the Rain.
S01:E12 - Hollywood Rivals: Frankie Avalon vs Fabian
Musicians and surf rock icons of the 50's and 60's, Frankie Avalon and Fabian, had remarkably similar careers. Frankie Avalon found success early on, by recording and performing on American Bandstand. Meanwhile, Fabian, born Fabiano Forte, worked odd jobs in the hometown that he shared with with Frankie, Philadelphia. But as Frankie struggled to become a household named, his own agents were busy scouting Philly streets in search for the new rising star. When they found Fabian, he became an instant star with teenaged girls for his dashing good looks. After that, both Philadelphia natives struggled not only for fame but for their own creative voice.
S01:E13 - Hollywood Rivals: Al Pacino vs Robert De Niro
Native New Yorkers Al Pacino and Robert De Niro independently gained praise as being among the most talented actors of their time. However, the similarities in their styles, roles, and tough guy appearances have connected them in the public imagination. Their careers often overlapped and intertwined, as the men shared acting mentors, went up for the same parts, and have been frequent co-stars in major films. Though the two have maintained an affectionate friendship and deep mutual respect, their apparent similarities have have created a Hollywood rivalry between the two masters of their craft.
S01:E14 - Hollywood Rivals: Clint Eastwood vs Burt Reynolds
In the late 20th century, both Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood rose to fame as ideal leading men that could talk tough and sling a gun. While Eastwood began a struggling career in bit parts for action and monster films, Reynolds got his start as a stuntman. They both received harsh criticism when they auditioned for the same role in their attempts to transition into the spotlight. Though they nonetheless found individual opportunities to make their way in Hollywood, their rivalry would follow them for years.
S01:E15 - Hollywood Rivals: Arnold Schwarzenegger vs Sylvester Stallone
With braun and resilience, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone conquered the action movie genre of the 1980's. Stallone survived a traumatic childhood by learning to use his fists, a skill set that would later inform the iconic role he wrote for himself, Rocky. Schwarzenegger grew up in Austria, a natural athlete known for his physique and strength. While Schwarzenegger achieved renown as a bodybuilder, Stallone suffered rejection and homelessness as a struggling writer and actor. Though they lived worlds apart, both men shared a love for figures like Hercules. In time, the two would compete to play the role of their icon, eventually ascending to the same iconic stature as these role models.
S01:E16 - Hollywood Rivals: Lassie vs Rin Tin Tin
In the golden age of Hollywood, audiences embraced heart-warming sagas about the journeys and bravery of man's best friends. Amongst these films, Border Collie Lassie, played by a male dog originally named Pal, and German Shepard Rin Tin Tin rose to the top as the most famous leading dogs in America. Though Rin Tin Tin had a bad boy reputation for his tendency to bite, Lassie proved to be the consummate good girl. This episode of Hollywood Rivals chronicles the pup actors, trainers, film makers, and Hollywood celebrities that contributed to the fame of these iconic furry heroes.
S01:E17 - Hollywood Rivals: Batman vs Superman
In the throws of the Great Depression, America needed a hero. Aspiring comic book writers Jerry Siegel and and Joe Shuster drew from silent era icon Douglas Fairbanks and other Hollywood legends to create Kal El, the Superman. At first rejected, Superman would eventually debut in Action Comics and become an instant success to young readers everywhere. Over the next few years, DC sought to capitalize on Superman's success with a new hero. That's when Bill Finger and Bob Kane drew from Zorro to create wholesome Superman's total opposite, the dark-cloaked Batman. Their unique abilities and groundbreaking stories have made them an integral part of American history and pop culture. Though both superheroes seek justice, their starkly opposed demeanors and motivations have often put them at odds on page, on screen, and amongst audiences. Nonetheless, their feats of heroism would spark an entirely new genre in popular culture, and to this day they remain America's greatest superheroes.
S01:E18 - Hollywood Rivals: Bruce Willis vs Mel Gibson
Bruce Willis and Mel Gibson were both class clowns. Willis' ability to overcome his stutter when performing propelled his intense interest in drama and acting. Mel Gibson was a fan of the three stooges and became the comedian of the family and a prankster. Willis started out acting in plays, but when he landed the main role in Moonlighting, he was thrust into stardom. Gibson's career also started full force, as he performed in Shakespearian plays after moving to his family's home in Australia. Known mostly for action roles like Die Hard and Mad Max, the two revolutionized the genre with portrayals of tough guys with range and vulnerability.
S01:E19 - Hollywood Rivals: Marilyn Monroe vs Jayne Mansfield
Alluring curves and sultry personas launched both Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe into the public eye, and the two became iconic sex symbols for generations to come. Monroe and Mansfield both posed nude in order to fund their Hollywood dreams, and will use their sex appeal in their climb to success. Though Monroe's career took off much earlier that Mansfield's, Jayne admired her rival and the two shared a mutual respect. While Mansfield struggled against Hollywood typecasting for more serious roles, Monroe likewise fought with her male counterparts to be taken more seriously on set. Sadly, both women suffered haunting childhoods that motivated them to seek adoration through fame, leading to high-pressure public lives marked by scandal, pill addiction, tragic ends.
S01:E20 - Hollywood Rivals: Star Wars vs Star Trek
Star Trek and Star Wars were both groundbreaking sci-fi sagas that crossed barriers and built massive fandoms. While Star Trek gained popularity over time, in large part thanks to a loyal cadre of Trekkies, the later advent of Star War proved an instant blockbuster. The release of A New Hope also saw the escalation of instant competition between the two fantastic world when Trekkies lined up outside the theatre to harass Star Wars movie-goers. But the success of each contributed to the popularity of the other, and both became iconic space operas that would inspire fans for generations.