A Peek Inside the Little Black Books of Pop Culture Icons

The words “little black book” conjure all kinds of salacious ideas about jet-setting playboys and Hollywood madams. The earliest black book may be Harris’ List of Covent Garden Ladies — a directory of 18th-century prostitutes working in London that sold thousands of copies annually. Since then, the little black book has evolved into more of a straightforward address book. Depending on your style, it can be a free-form collage of facts and memories about those you meet, or a rigid, alphabetized list of names and numbers. We recently spotted Marlon Brando’s little black book on Tumblr, which we feature after the jump. Fascinated by the handwriting, worn pages, and contents, we went searching for other black books kept by pop culture icons. See what fascinating observations, secrets, and contacts we found hiding between pages, below.


Marlon Brando

In 1949, Brando left his little black book on New York’s Barrymore Theatre stage during a performance of A Streetcar Named Desire. It was never returned to him, despite a poetic plea hand-scrawled inside by the actor: “On bended knee I beg you to return this. I lost eight others already and if I lose this I’ll just drop dead!”

Image credit:  Harry Ransom Center
Image credit: Harry Ransom Center