Book Reviews - Summer 2019


To begin your summer reading journey, it was the California dream made Route 66 the most famous road in the world. Flappers dreamed of stardom  under the bright lights of Hollywood. A wave of families fleeing the Dust Bowl transformed the state during the Great Depression and World War II when another wave followed the route seeking opportunity in the massive wartime industrial plants. Those who savor the trip as much as the destination still seek it out on Route 66 today. Joe Sonderman penned books on all of the other Route 66 states before turning to the Golden State. His collection of vintage postcards is combined with photos capturing the mom-and-pop motels, diners, juke joints, gas stations restaurants and roadside attractions. In California Dreamin' Along Route 66 special effort was made to research the stories and the people behind the scenery-and the dream.

Though most remember him fondly as the Scarecrow in the 1939 classic The  Wizard of Oz, Ray Bolger led an exciting life and had an illustrious theatre, film and dance career before and after the seminal film was released.  Ray Bolger: More than A Scarecrow is the first biography of this classic American entertainer, and author Holly Van Leuven is the first researcher to access the personal papers of Bolger. The book covers his childhood in an Irish Boston Irish family, his escape to theater and vaudeville through his Tony win and stint as a Hollywood contract actor at the major studios, his experiences as one of the first actors to tour the South Pacific with USO and much more. It also showcases Bolger's luminous career, how he was still relevant during media's major changes  in the 20 th century and further establishes him as an icon in American pop culture.

Forbidden Hollywood: The Pre-Code Era (1930-1934) by Mark A. Viera is classic Hollywood-uncensored. Filled with rare images and untold stories and published by Running Press and the most trusted authority on film Turner Classic Movies, this is the ultimate guide to a gloriously entertaining and strikingly modern era.  Forbidden Hollywood-subtitled When Sin Ruled the Movies-is three books in one: a lavish pictorial, the suspenseful story of the struggle to control American's sixth-largest industry; and a guide to the sexy classics made before censorship. This engaging book pulls salty 2quots from unpublished documents. You will read nervous telegrams from executives to censors, and see artful decisions fool some of the people long enough to get films into theatres and hear from fans as they applauded creativity-or condemned "immoral" movies.There are famous sisters and glamorous dynasties in Hollywood, but no group of sisters had more sex, husbands, lovers, salacious gossip, tabloid cover stories, and glamorous gowns that the Gabors, the beautiful trio of Eluropean knockouts who dominated film and TV for decades with their rollercoaster antics, sudden rises and dramatic crashes.

In Finding Zsa Zsa: The Gabors Behind the Legend, Hollywood biographer, Film historian, Gabor family friend, and intrepid investigator Sam Staggs looks at the sheer resilience of the Gabor family. Beginning with the family's escape from 1940's Hungary during the wrenching prelude to World War II, they were ready to survive he dizzying highs and subsequent obsolescence of Hollywood's post-studio era. The book goes on a detailed tour inside the famous siblings and their parents. Tumultuous, passionate, and unapologetic, it's a loving look at the family that was equal   parts allure and notoriety.

Finally, Olivia Hussey, forever immortalized as the definitive Juliet in Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet, provides readers with a captivating look inside her life in Hollywood through her remarkable, and sometimes tumultuous, career and personal life, in her memoir The Girl on the Balcony. Fifteen year old Hussey was cast in the role of a lifetime and the international spotlight thrust upon her proved to be the more challenging role to conquer. Her candid memoir, written with her son, Alexander Martin (grandchild of Dean Martin), takes readers on an emotional journey through her many challenges and blessings. Her stories take readers up close to the age-defining figures she knew well-The Beatles, Vanessa Redgrave, Bette Davis, Elizabeth Taylor, Christopher Reeve, Sir Laurence Olivier, Ingrid Bergman and more-revealing intimate details, startling facts, bizarre coincidences and experiences as an "It Girl" in the swinging 1960's.

Posted By  on January 20, 2020 03:54 pm | Permalink