Hollywood Heyday

75 Candid Interviews with Golden Age Legends


In stock

About the Book

“What audacity!” exclaimed actor Robert Wagner when he heard about the authors’ adolescent exploits in nabbing interviews with Hollywood celebrities. In 1978, Fantle and Johnson, St. Paul teenagers, boarded a plane to meet with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. They had written the stars requesting interviews–and to their amazement, both agreed.
Over the years, more than 250 other stars also agreed–Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, James Cagney, Mickey Rooney, Debbie Reynolds, George Burns, Rod Steiger, Milton Berle, Frank Capra and Hoagy Carmichael, to name a few. Published for the first time and with exclusive photos, this selection of 75 interviews chronicles the authors’ 40-year quest for insights and anecdotes from iconic 20th century artists.

About the Author(s)

David Fantle has been interviewing, writing and speaking about Hollywood’s Golden Age stars for 40 years. His work has appeared in media outlets worldwide. He is an adjunct professor of film and pop culture at Marquette University and lives in Milwaukee.

Tom Johnson was a senior editor at Netflix and has written movie reviews and features for E! Online, Moviefone and People magazine, among other publications. He lives in Los Angeles.

Bibliographic Details

David Fantle and Tom Johnson

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 305
Bibliographic Info: 61 photos, index
Copyright Date: 2018
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6805-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3283-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Foreword by Robert Wagner    1
Preface: Origin Story    3
Vaudeville Was Not a Place! Will Ahern and Eddie Parks 7
It Ain’t Easy Being Green Eddie Albert 11
Alphabet Soup Steve Allen 15
Read All About Him Ed Asner 19
That Nimble Tread Fred Astaire 24
Having (Less Than) a Ball with Lucy Lucille Ball 27
What’s the Buzz? Rona Barrett 31
The Biggest in the Business Milton Berle 34
Dog Day Afternoon Jacqueline Bisset 38
Blanc’s Slate Mel Blanc 41
The Importance of Being Ernest Ernest Borgnine 45
Comedy in Three Acts George Burns 49
Measuring Up James Cagney 55
What Makes Sammy Run? Sammy Cahn 59
The-Great-Minneapolis-Kidnap-Caper Frank Capra 63
Stardust and Residuals Hoagy Carmichael 72
The Gamine Leslie Caron 75
Jacked! Jack Carter 79
“Beautiful Dynamite” Cyd Charisse 82
“Mannix”: The Last Interview Mike Connors 86
Festering Jackie Coogan 90
Fred and Ed (and Johnny) Fred de Cordova and Ed McMahon 93
Angie Angie Dickinson 98
Testy(monial) Sparring with Stanley Donen 102
You Must Remember This Julius Epstein 107
Common and Preferred Peter Falk 110
With a Song in Her Heart Kathryn Grayson 113
Man Tan George Hamilton 117
This One’s for the Birds Tippi Hedren 123
Holy Moses!—Heston on High Charlton Heston 126
All the Best Lines Al Hirschfeld 131
On the Road with “Old Ski Nose” Bob Hope 135
“To the Greats Without a Microphone” George Jessel 141
“How Do You Like Them Apples?” Shirley Jones and Rod Steiger 144
The Real McCoy DeForest Kelley 151
Passing Time with Gene Kelly 154
The Last of the Great Anchormen Ted Knight 158
Clock Watching with Martin Landau 161
The Art of Perfect Timing Burton Lane 164
Janet and Tony and the Art of Crowd Control Janet Leigh and
Tony Curtis 166
Mum’s the Word Mervyn LeRoy 173
Jerry-Rigged Jerry Lewis 176
“Great Songs, Drudge Assignments, It Never Mattered”
Jay Livingston and Ray Evans 180
Nice and Easy Does It Every Time Karl Malden 184
The “Toy King” Louis Marx 187
Frankly Speaking Billy May 190
Baked Alaska Virginia Mayo 194
Tops in Taps Ann Miller 196
MGM’s Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Vincente Minnelli 200
TV’s Funniest Shrink Bob Newhart 203
The Great American Flyers The Nicholas Brothers 206
Fred Astaire’s Silent Partner Hermes Pan 209
Of Mockingbirds and Maniacs Gregory Peck 212
Maledictions in a Minor Chord André Previn 216
Unsinkable Debbie Reynolds 221
The Merchant of Venom, Defanged Don Rickles 225
Behind the Tinsel Mickey Rooney 228
The ­Also-Ran Benny Rubin 231
A Delicate Balance Eva Marie Saint 234
The Pen Is Mightier Than the Clarinet Artie Shaw 238
By George! George Sidney 242
The Untouchable Robert Stack 247
A Long Meander with RJ Robert Wagner 252
Benchwarmer Eli Wallach 259
A Friend of Dorothy Charles Walters 262
Lullabies and Nightmares Harry Warren 267
A Short Take on The Three Stooges: Jules White 273
In the Swim with Neptune’s Daughter Esther Williams 275
His Favorite Things Robert Wise 279
Afterword: A View from the Terrace    285
Index    287

Book Reviews & Awards

• Winner, New England Book Festival Award

• Winner, New York City Big Book Award

• “Fans of the glamorous Golden Age of Hollywood are in for a delicious treat with the release of the new book/memoir Hollywood Heyday…The story behind the making of this dishy delight is almost as fascinating as the intimate conversations with the legendary stars themselves.”—PROVOKR

• “This book is an entertaining collection of vignettes, a mixture of stories from the stars and the authors’ own observations”—The News & Observer (Raleigh, North California)

• “If you love old Hollywood, chances are your favorite person is in here.”—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

• “Will change the way you look at some of Hollywood’s classic movies and television shows”—ABC7

• “The book was forty years in the making: worth every minute to bring it to fruition…. Start at the beginning and work through, pick and choose at random; either way, you’ll become immersed in this Milky Way of Hollywood luminaries.”—Lavender

• “How [Fantle and Johnson] landed these interviews is just as fascinating as what their subjects had to say about their careers as movie stars…deeply fascinating…the list of celebrities who are featured in the book is quite impressive…a riveting collection”—Montreal Times

• “This is a fine example of the kind of book I love to have on the bedside table, for bedtime. Also, for morning and for insomnia. These profiles are so well done that it’s hard not to go on to just one more and be late for work. Be a good friend. Get two copies.”—Dick Cavett

• “Guys, your book will be with me: in the car, in the bathroom, in the tote to the dentist, to the doctor, to the rehab, to the movies—anywhere that I might want a wonderful ‘lift’ to my day. It’s full of fascinating reminiscences. Thank you!”—Angie Dickinson

• “Hollywood Heyday took me back to many a year. Dave and Tom are very good writers.”—Eva Marie Saint

• “These are in-depth interviews and not the usual. They’re things that people will really want to know about, not gossip.”—Jane Powell

• “In a book that includes Bob Hope, George Burns, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Lucille Ball, among others, Don (Rickles) is where he belongs.”—Bob Newhart