He was still smarting from having let Marilyn Monroe slip away: unimpressed by her beauty, he had neglected in 1948 to renew her initial six-month contract.

She balked at being renamed “Kit Marlowe,” and, incredibly, she won that battle.

They compromised on “Kim” Novak—the name of the son of her Chicago friend and business manager, Norma Herbert, then Norma Kasell.

He was in the dark and suddenly the spotlight picked him up—he was electric, he was hot, it was almost a sexual thing.

He was singing to Kim Novak, sitting at a stageside table; she had just finished work on Alfred Hitchcock’s the most challenging film of her career.

“People used to say, ‘I’m going to beat Harry,’” Sidney recalls.

“But no one could beat Harry—he was too smart, he was too sharp. Mayer, Harry Cohn, Jack Warner—these men with their blood and their money and their reputations, they smelled out who had star material.”Cohn took all the credit for creating Rita Hayworth—he was also obsessed with her.

The man known as “the greatest entertainer in the world” was onstage, the smoke from his cigarette trellising the air.

You had to see him: the gorgeous shirt, the cuff links, the way everything billowed.

He ran Columbia Pictures as if it were a family business, and in a way it was, because he had wrangled control from his brother Jack, who was back on the East Coast in New York.