HOLLYWOOD—HELLO AMERICA! It’s been several weeks since I was physically able to sit before my computer to send you all a message of thanks and gratitude. I had a long meeting with my prostate, and I made it clear that I wasn’t ready to fade into the garden of show biz memories. However, you guys out there, keep your fingers crossed for me.
Lying in bed surrounded by very kind and lovely nurses, I was able to edit my book, “Hollywood through the Back Door,” and it was invigorating just allowing the memories I had living and working with and around the stars for so many years to come to life again. I received a call from Juanita Moore, who co-starred with Lana Turner in the film “Imitation of Life.” She was nominated as Best Supporting Actress for her work. Turner was nominated in the Best Actress category. Juanita reminded me of what kind of town and world we both were attempting to survive in. “Listen boy,” she warned, “Don’t you give up. The good Lord don’t want the likes of you in his heaven yet. We all love and need you to keep things coming our way. So, get well, and make things happen again in this town.”
I had to sit back and think about this new world of filming—one that doesn’t muster up very much mystery or the kind of magic that the old stars were capable of. Of course, not having the likes of a Louis B. Meyer or a Sam Goldwyn around or David Zanuck does make a difference. When I was working for Fox, our primary objective in public relations, was to maintain the glamour of the stars, make them seem bigger than life. Constructing that kind of fantasy was fun and, sometimes depending on who the star was, extremely challenging. However, we tried and most of the time we were quite successful.
Of course, how one gets the news today is quite different. The extensive reach of cable is unending. It covers the world and all of its happenings in minutes. So, fan magazines and tabloids have a lot of competition. All you have to do, no matter the time, is turn to any cable channel and you can get the latest hot news about practically any actor or star of note. Even though this transition is wonderful, I still yearn for the old days when you looked forward to reading something about a star in Life Magazine or The Saturday Evening Post.
When hearing about the death of Bea Arthur, Michael Jackson and so many other names that represented the sparkle and glitter of this outrageous business, the reality of the curtain closing of expectation hit hard. After all, what do we really have left? Of course, thank goodness, we still have Meryl Streep, Angelina Jolie, Nicole Kidman, Mel Gibson, Tom Cruise and Denzel Washington. Let’s face it, this is not a bad list, but we could use many more actors who represent varied types such as Bette Davis, Kate Hepburn and Burt Lancaster and so many others of that past era. What is missing is that old “mystery” that followed many of those legendary actors, which made it extra special when reading something about them or if they appeared at a premiere or an opening.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Madonna and Brad Pitt and many of the new faces that have come to the silver screen, but the impact that the old actors who made this town what it is, keeps many of us hoping and wishing for something that might be similar to make us stand in line for hours, just for the experience of wonder and fantasy.
Well, America, thanks for being there. All of you have made me realize quite clearly how fortunate I am. Chow!