I'd heard the story of the actress who's said to have jumped from the H of the Hollywood sign to her death. But until I watched the Netflix miniseries Hollywood, I hadn't delved into what happened.
Why would a beautiful, young, rising star in Hollywood who starred in a stage play with one of the greatest actors ever Humphrey Bogart throw herself from the very same Hollywood sign that had so first entranced her when she'd arrived in town as a teenager brimming with dreams?
The full story of what I discovered both fascinated and saddened me because I felt as if I was reading the story of an actor who died too soon.
Peg's parents, both actors, had a very acrimonious divorce where - according to the BBC - her mother stated that she'd never loved her husband or her five-year-old daughter.
The psychological impact that might have had on such a young child can only be guessed at but can't have helped her mental state. But that wasn't tragic Peg's only heartbreak.
Triple heartbreak for Peg
In 1921 her stepmother actress Lauretta Ross died from meningitis. Peg adored her.
In 1922, 6 years after they'd immigrated to New York from the UK, Peg's beloved father Robert was killed in a hit and run. Peg was 13 at the time. Her uncle, an agent to an established Hollywood star took her and her two step-brothers who were now orphans into his home.
At the age of just 19, Peg married actor Robert Keith, a man who she later divorced for cruelty and failing to tell her he'd been married before and had a little boy who was 6*.
|Behind the Hollywood glamour |
In a career path full of disappointment and backstabbing, Peg might not have had the tools necessary to deal with disappointment even although she was used to it in her turbulent personal life.
But what led her to leap to her death (no foul play was ever suspected far less proved) at the point where she was starting to make it in Hollywood?
Peg was cast in her first and only movie Thirteen Women but after test audiences watched it her role was cut back. Even worse, her contract with film studio RKO was cut leaving her demoralised and penniless. The die had been cast.
Leaving a note saying she was off to visit friends, Peg made her last, tragic climb. She wasn't found for two days and only after another woman found her shoes and bag near the famous Hollywood sign along with a jacket that contained a goodbye note.
One thing they can't take away from Peg Entwistle is her influence on Bette Davis, one of the biggest Hollywood stars of all time. She credits seeing Peg acting in the theatre play The Wild Duck as her inspiration for becoming an actress herself.
Without Peg Entwistle, we might never have got to see Bette Davis's eyes light up the screen. But the main reason Peg Entwistle will never be forgotten is that maybe in her crushed dreams we see our own.