Thursday, January 06, 2011

Introduction to the "THE GOSSIP COLUMNIST"

                                                NOTICE TO MY FANS! - Dakota



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ISBN  978-0-615-37758-2

 A celebrity becomes a celebrity through exposure. Through motion pictures, television, politics, and often through crimes, we get to know them. Basically, it is the media, through print or television, that make stars and celebrities. Photographs, interviews, and media coverage, can get anyone (to quote Andy Warhol), their fifteen minutes of fame. Security guards accused of bombings, skaters accused of attacks on other skaters, young women killing or attempting to murder their lover's wives, can all lead to instant celebrity. Charles Manson and his, so called family, all convicted of murder became celebrities after being charged and convicted of murdering other celebrities.

Criminal celebrities are often remembered more than our heroes. And often their celebrity continues long after their deaths. Al Capone, Billy the Kid, Bugsy Segal, all live on long after they have left this world. The whole world is still aware of Charles Manson. He will be written about long after he has passed on.

There are all kinds of celebrities, good ones as well as bad. Hollywood, of course, creates the most celebrities. "More stars than there are in heaven," was the credo of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios. Those large images on theater screens became super beings to the audience sitting in theater seats. Large images on screen, become bigger than life. We get to know them through their screen persona, even though many, in real life, are nothing like the image they portray in films. Most of the stars are nothing like we see on the screen. And most have egos as big as their screen images.

A former Los Angeles Prosecutor's brother, referring to women in general, said, "Women eat, shit and piss like everyone else. What makes them so special? Why put them on a pedestal?" Whether or not you are a sexist and think along those lines, I guess this could apply to celebrities too. Just because they become known around the world, through film roles, are they really special people?

The late Steve Allen told me that exposure alone cannot sustain a celebrity, that there has to be more than exposure. If they don't have the talent to carry them on, then their celebrity is short lived. Steve had an eye for talent and he exhibited that talent on the Steve Allen show. I was a fan of Steve's and I interviewed him for the Hollywood Star, which is reprinted in this book. I was in awe of Steve while doing the interview because I had been one of his biggest fans when I was in high school. I missed a lot of classes because I had to sleep-in the following morning after staying up late to watch his show. Of course there weren't any VCRs in those days and television wasn't even in color.

I was star struck growing up. I was then and probably somewhat, still today. There is something exciting about being so near to someone who is known around the world. Getting to know them is still exciting and interesting. Once the newness of meeting them wears off, a closeness develops and you feel you have known them all of your life. You forget they are known figures and you develop a relationship like you do with your close friends you see everyday. Even seeing and talking to celebrities for the first time gives you a familiarity feeling of having known them for a long time, because we have seen them so many times on the screen and in the media. Like Mr. Bugliosi's brother said, "They eat, shit and piss like everyone else." But, we still enjoy reading and hearing about them.

As a teenager I collected autographs. I had two books filled and through carelessness, lost both of them. One I had left at the concession stand, for safe keeping, when I worked at Grauman's Chinese Theater as doorman; and the other at the Sylvania Picture tube factory in Ottawa, Ohio, where I had taken it to show to co-workers. I miss them and it took me a long time to get them filled. I had everyone from Elvis Presley to...well just about everyone who was anyone during the fifties, many of which have now passed on. I went to many places where I knew there would be celebrities and waited within a group of other fans, to get autographs. It is sad today, that when a fan does this, it is called stalking and can become a criminal offense.

For about a five year period I was a Hollywood gossip columnist and owned the Hollywood Star newspaper. I say owned, but my backer claims he owned it, although I did all of the work of putting it together and distributing it. He got the money from the sales because he fronted the expenses of getting it started.

I have decided to share my story, my life story, for those who might be interested in reading it. Sidney Skolsky's headstone (he was a famous gossip columnist), says something like, "he loved Hollywood, he really did." I guess I can say that about myself too. I read all of the fan magazines that were so popular in the fifties and sixties. I saw nearly every movie that played in my home town. My first job was working in a theater, as an usher, then doorman, to assistant manager. I would later end up leasing and operating theaters in Michigan and Ohio.

When celebrities die, it seems strange that persons who have never known nor met them in real life actually cry as if they had been related to them. My mother cried when Elvis Presley died. Many cried when Frank Sinatra passed on, even though his death was anticipated the last year or so of his life. But, many people had grown up in his era, and listening to those fabulous songs as only he could sing them. He wasn't ever supposed to die, but he did. When John Derek died, I was moved. He was one of the handsomest leading men I had seen on the screen. He was still handsome at 71. 71? Could he have been that old? Even though we all age we seem to forget that those stars we grew up with, grow old too. They are only human beings. They eat, shit and piss like everyone else, and that also includes dying.

As the days pass, we lose more of our screen heroes, sometimes too fast, too soon. Robert Mitchum one day and James Stewart the next. We always say, "Whose next?" They die in threes. We lost Guy Madison and even the Motion Picture Academy didn't acknowledge his passing. I had reminded them, before the Oscars, not to forget him, but was told so many celebrities had died that they couldn't get all of their photos into the program. GUY MADISON! Wasn't he, at one time, a handsome leading actor? And they couldn't even use a glossy still shot on television as a memorial tribute!


Now we have lost Heath Ledger, who was too young to die, and Brad Renfro, another talented actor, both died from drug overdoses. Like Guy Madison, years ago, the Academy over-looked mentioning Renfro's death on the Oscar show too. Leonard Rosenman, who did the fantastic soundtracks to "EAST OF EDEN," and "REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE," and "BARRY LYNDON," just to name a couple of his successes. Vampira, (Maila Nurmi), Jimmy's friend and Perry Lopez who were part of the Googie's gang that used to meet and eat at that famous Hollywood diner. They also often got together at Barney's Beanery, that is still in existence on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. These celebs recently died in 2008. Dick Clayton, Dean's famous agent, also died in 2008. Not too many of that gang are still alive.

Well, Guy is gone. I met him once at a restaurant across the street from Warner Bros. Studios. We chatted and played darts. I enjoyed talking to him and that's what is important to me. As we age, we have grown to love our memories. After all, that's all we have left. And even brilliant, Marlon Brando is gone since I started this book, as well as Paul Newman. And now even Michael Jackson is gone, due to his drug addiction.

Strange how some celebrities remain stars after they have passed on. People like James Dean, Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe. They have become icons of our past. I wonder why Steve McQueen isn't on that list? He was a major star in his heyday. Yet you seldom hear anyone mentioning his name. The ones we remember are those who touched us through their talent and performances. River Phoenix made more movies than James Dean did and was well liked, but his memory has faded fast. Dying from a drug overdose isn't the same as dying in a car accident. But then, didn't both Elvis and Marilyn die of drug over-doses? It is hard to figure out stardom and how one can become immortal, like the three I mention here. I am one of the few people who will remember and miss Brandon de Wilde. Young people today don't even know or care who he was. He was a young, very handsome and talented man, who died at a young age and whose most famous roles were in "SHANE," as a young boy, with Alan Ladd and "BLUE DENIM" as a teenager with Carol Lynley, and as a grown up in "HUD," with Paul Newman. He had an innocent, bashful, Dean look. And he was much better looking than Dean. As I recall, he was high on pot, and drove his truck into a bridge, killing himself while touring in summer theater. And no biography has been written on this charismatic and interesting person.

Blue-eyed Frank is gone. Like Elvis, he will live on through his music and films. Elvis was no great actor, at least in the films that were chosen for him to be in. Perhaps if he had gotten rid of Colonel Tom Parker, he may have had a more successful film career. But, without the Colonel, we may never have had Elvis, the Elvis we knew. The Colonel was a promoter on the highest level. Frank Sinatra, on the other hand, was a very talented actor. Frank will be missed, but not like the three icons are. He grew into old age, had Alzheimer's, and had led a full, though controversial life. Celebrities, quoting Victor Bugliosi, "come and go and eat, shit, and piss like everyone else." But, when they do, the whole world knows about it.

( Author's Pledge


  • At 5:54 AM , Blogger Gregory Boyd said...

    Hi, Bill! We met in San Francisco back in the mid-80's at a Tenderloin porno palace called the CIRCLE J. I was night Manager and you came in late one night offering some old issues of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER for sale. I instantly bought all you'd sell me - but, none reached our customers... I, the owner [Hal Call] and the day guy all confiscated them for ourselves! I LOVED your publication and miss it alot!

    Fast-forward to current news and David Cassidy's passing; here's a great bit of trashy lore about his Daddy, Jack:

    Back in SF, I worked in the hair industry and a stylist in our shop turned out to be a nephew of Sal Mineo who always hinted darkly about a secret truth behind his famous Uncle Sally's death - that's how Sal was known in the "Family" [with a capital F] and they were generally cool about him being Gay since he was fairly low-key about it! The nephew would never talk openly about the whole scandal, but after I plied him with ALOT of alcohol up on Polk St he finally opened up one boozy night.

    Turns out that Sal had been dating Jack Cassidy for quite some time, but Cassidy was a violent, jealous drunk who slapped Sal around more than once before Sal finally split. Cassidy was enraged and hired a rough-trade hustler to pay Sal a visit to throw a scare into him. But the hustler got really high beforehand and just knifed Sal in his carport with no warning at all. Just ran up, stuck him and took off. BUT: Sal's Family soon found out what went down and swore out a vendetta against Cassidy. The hustler was soon history; and you'll recall that about a year later Jack Cassidy's crispy body was found in his burned-out luxury apartment... they had to ID the body from his famous teeth! The LAPD/Coropner ruled it an accident since there were no fire accelerants found.... but, arson -and revenge- it was!

    The nephew swore every word was true and started sweating bullets immediately after telling me... pledging me to a silence I have kept for over 30 years. Until now, that is!


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