Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Real Stars Of Holywood



"I am involved in a freedom ride protesting the loss of the minority rights belonging to the few remaining earthbound stars. All we demand is our right to twinkle.
.....Marilyn Monroe

"Where are the real stars? Today it`s a four-barreled carburetor and that`s it."
...............Robert Mitchum

"Bogart's a helluva nice guy until around 11:30 every night. After that he thinks he's Bogart."
............David Chasen - Founder of Chasen's Restaurant, Circa 1950's.

"I've been fortunate enough to work with - and befriend - many of the stars of the past," Julie Adams said, crossing her long fine legs. "I'm doubly blessed to be able to count a few of them as dear, dear friends."

Julie was visiting us in our office at Code Red, a series helmed by Irwin (The Towering Toupee) Allen, which was so dismal that even Julie and her co-star, Lorne Greene, couldn't rescue it. (See Episode #36 - Julie Adams: The Lady Even Movie Monsters Fell For. 

"Who was your favorite?" I asked.

Julie smiled, and said, "Oh, I couldn't choose any particular one. And there were so many stars in Hollywood those days. When I was at MGM the studio's motto was that 'There are more stars at MGM, than in all the heavens.' A publicist's concoction, to be sure. But when you were walking around the lot seeing them all, it didn't seem like such an exaggeration."

She leaned forward, voice becoming conspiratorial. "I wouldn't want to diminish the talents or screen presence of the new generation," she said, "But stars were... well... actually Stars, in those days. There's really no comparison."

Warming to the topic, she said, "I like to count Shirley (MacLaine) among my friends - we met at MGM... she was doing a romantic comedy, I was doing a Western... and I remember this delicious story she liked to tell.

"You might not know this, but Shirley was an unofficial member of Frank's (Sinatra) Rat Pack. A lot of actresses like to claim membership these days. But there were really only a few - 'Broads,' as Frank might say - who were welcome members of the Pack.

"Lauren Bacall was the Rat Pack's 'Den Mother,' because the original chief rat packer was her husband, Bogie. (Humphrey Bogart)." Julie gave a little musical laugh. "And there was Judy Garland, of course. If for no other reason than she was Judy Garland.

"And, of course, there was Shirley. You can't imagine... She's lovely now, of course. Beautiful, talented, and oh, so sweet. But when she was young.... Well, she had this quality - she could stop a man's heart with a look. Or stir the mothering urge in a woman."

Chris laughed. "She stopped my teenage heart a helluva lot," he said. "She has this... quality... on the screen."

"Star quality," Julie agreed. "Which brings me back to my story - or, Shirley's story, really. She and some of the other rat packers were having lunch at the MGM commissary one day.

"Frank was there, of course...And Dean (Martin) and Sammy (Davis Jr.) and Peter (Lawford), naturally. She didn't mention Joey (Bishop), so I suppose he wasn't in attendance.

"Well Shirley said Frank was at his best. Cracking jokes, trading jibes with the others. She said he was so full of life that day, his eyes so blue they would break your heart. And you could see right then why so many people - especially women - adored him.

"But, then Frank spotted someone coming into the commissary and suddenly fell silent. Shirley and all the other looked, and in came Clark Gable!

"She said he looked so handsome... so... so... Clark Gable that she had to catch her breath. He walked right by their table, turned slightly and flashed them that glorious Gable smile in greeting. And then he vanished among the tables.

"And Shirley said she heard Frank murmur in absolute awe: 'Now, there goes a Real Star!"

Julie chuckled that musical chuckle she had. And she repeated, "'There goes a Real Star....' "And from the mouth of one of the greatest."
* * *
I'll always remember that conversation, and the prickles running up my spine listening to how Frank Sinatra, a mega star himself, was overwhelmed by the likes of Gable, and, presumably others like him in those days now known as Hollywood's Golden Era.

And I think of it often when I hear people call this actor, or that actress, a Superstar. We seem to confer that status on anyone who is the latest box office and scandal sheet darling. In many cases, the person's sole talent is the ability to avoid falling over cables while posing before a Blue Screen. Not just a Star - but a By God Superstar. One word! Not two.

The Age Of Aquarius has instead become the Age Of Empty Superlatives.

So, what's a Real Star? I guess it's like the guy said about art - "I know it when I see it." (Or was he speaking about porn?) Here's a page from my own scrapbook of Star memories:

When I was about twenty or so, I took care of Jack Kelly's house (the other Maverick) for a few months while he and his soon-to-be-ex-wife Donna, went through the throes of divorce (Donna Kelly's stage name was May Wynn. A former Copa Girl, Donna was also known for her small part as the only woman in the Caine Mutiny and as the (not-so) former girlfriend of Mafioso Boss Jack Entratter, who ran the Sands, in Las Vegas. (Entratter reportedly put a "hit" order out on Jack when he and Donna eloped. They fled to Hong Kong, where they cooled their heels while doing an awful movie - the aptly named "Hong Kong Affair.")

The Kellys had three poodles - a standard, Misty, a medium sized one, Sammy, and a tiny one, Mitzy that suffered epileptic fits, poor thing. One of my jobs was to exercise them a couple of times a day, being extra careful with Mitzy.

The Kelly's lived on Sunset Boulevard in a stretch where a lot of stars had homes - Jayne Mansfield's house was two doors up. Beyond her was Jim Backus. And next door to Mr. Magoo was none other than Walter Matthau.


I used to have friends over and we'd sit in the windowed breakfast nook that looked out on Sunset Boulevard, drinking frozen daiquiris and playing cards. When the Star Tour buses went by, pausing to show off the home of TV star Jack Kelly, we'd wave at the tourists and give them a thrill! ("Oh, look, Myrtle, that must be Jack Kelly and his chums!")


Mr. Matthau had dog-walking chores of his own and we'd pass each other now and again, strolling along the back gate of UCLA. (Sometimes you'd see Elvis Presley out on the field playing touch football with his entourage.) Anyway, Matthau would pass by, nod in greeting and say, "Hello, young fella," and continue on,

Years later Chris and I landed a gig as story editors for a TV show at MGM. (See The Movie Rock Mogul) One day we were standing in line at the commissary, (the very same one in Julie's Gable story) waiting to be seated, when in walked Walter Matthau.

He hesitated, looked out across the room, spotted the people he was meeting, and started toward them. But, then he noticed me. Paused for a minute. Frowned that patented Matthau-Beagle frown.

Then his eyes lit up and he said, "You're the kid with the poodles, right?"

I was so star struck all I could stammer was "Yessir, Mr. Matthau," and he gave me a smile and continued on - with that long, loping Matthau stride.

Damn. Now there was a Real Star.

But, that's not all, folks.

A few years drifted by. A young actress friend (Laurie Prange) landed the ingénue part in Sean O'Casey's Juno And The Paycock, starring none other than the original Odd-Couple - Walter Matthau and Jack Lemon.

It was at the LA Music Center downtown and our friend left four tickets at the box office for me and Chris, his true love, Karen, and my wife, Kathryn. During intermission, Laurie came to escort us backstage to meet Matthau and Lemon. (I hadn't told Laurie that Matthau and I had sort of met before.)

She led us to the dressing room, and the two of them were in there, door open, joking with each other and passing a bottle of Scotch back and forth. Half in and half out of costume, makeup smeared. Talking to beat the band to keep revved up.

Laurie introduced us and right away Matthau recognized me, poked Lemon, and said, "Hey, Jack, it's the Poodles Kid."

Then he explained how we used to walk our dogs together on Sunset, making it sound way more than it was, but making me feel like a king.

Then he said, "You doing okay, Kid?"

I said I was a writer now and he said "Good for you," and that was that. We tactfully withdrew, then went back out to enjoy the remainder of the play.

To echo Sinatra once more, "There goes a Real Star."





A True Story About A Boy,
A Teacher, An Earthquake,
Some Terrorists And The CIA

LUCKY IN CYPRUS is a coming-of-age story set in the Middle East during the height of the Cold War. An American teenager – son of a CIA operative – is inspired by grand events and a Greek Cypriot teacher. He witnesses earthquakes and riots and terrorist attacks, but in the end it is his teacher’s gentle lessons that keep him whole.

Note to Audible.com subscribers: Lucky In Cyprus will be available there in a few weeks. Save a credit!

Meanwhile, here's where to get the paperback & Kindle editions worldwide: 

Here's what readers say about Lucky In Cyprus:
  • "Bravo, Allan! When I finished Lucky In Cyprus I wept." - Julie Mitchell, Hot Springs, Texas
  • "Lucky In Cyprus brought back many memories... A wonderful book. So many shadows blown away!" - Freddy & Maureen Smart, Episkopi,Cyprus. 
  • "... (Reading) Lucky In Cyprus has been a humbling, haunting, sobering and enlightening experience..." - J.A. Locke, Bookloons.com
  • *****




Can't wait to read the blog each week to find out what happens next? No problem. Click the following link and buy the book. 

Tales Sometimes Tall, but always true, of Allan Cole's years in Hollywood with his late partner, Chris Bunch. How a naked lady almost became our first agent. How we survived La-La Land with only the loss of half our brain cells. How Bunch & Cole became the ultimate Fix-It 
Boys. How an alleged Mafia Don was very, very good to us. The guy who cornered the market on movie rocks. Andy Warhol's Fire Extinguisher. The Real Stars Of Hollywood. Why they don't make million dollar movies. See The Seven Pi$$ing Dwarfs. Learn: how to kill a "difficult" actor… And much, much more.

Here's where you can buy it worldwide in both paperback and Kindle editions:

U.S. .............................................France
United Kingdom ...........................Spain
Canada ........................................ Italy
Germany ..................................... Japan
Brazil .......................................... India

Hear voice artist Colin Hussey's 
Bring all the stories and people 
To life in the audiobook version
Of My Hollywood MisAdventures.


Ever since my British publisher put all eight novels in the Sten series in three omnibus editions, American readers have been clamoring for equal treatment. 

Well, my American publisher – Wildside Books – was listening and has issued all three omnibus volumes on this side of the Atlantic. Here are the links to buy the books:

THE TIMURA TRILOGY: When The Gods Slept, Wolves Of The Gods and The Gods Awaken. This best selling fantasy series now available as trade paperbacks, e-books (in all varieties) and as audiobooks. Visit The Timura Trilogy page for links to all the editions. 

NEWLY REVISED KINDLE EDITIONS OF THE TIMURA TRILOGY NOW AVAILABLE. (1) When The Gods Slept;(2) Wolves Of The Gods; (3) The Gods Awaken.


A NATION AT WAR WITH ITSELF: In Book Three Of The Shannon Trilogy, young Patrick Shannon is the heir-apparent to the Shannon fortune, but murder and betrayal at a family gathering send him fleeing into the American frontier, with only the last words of a wise old woman to arm him against what would come. And when the outbreak of the Civil War comes he finds himself fighting on the opposite side of those he loves the most. In The Wars Of The Shannons we see the conflict, both on the battlefield and the homefront, through the eyes of Patrick and the members of his extended Irish-American family as they struggle to survive the conflict that ripped the new nation apart, and yet, offered a dim beacon of hope.




What if the Cold War never ended -- but continued for a thousand years? Best-selling authors Allan Cole (an American) and Nick Perumov (a Russian) spin a mesmerizing "what if?" tale set a thousand years in the future, as an American and a Russian super-soldier -- together with a beautiful American detective working for the United Worlds Police -- must combine forces to defeat a secret cabal ... and prevent a galactic disaster! This is the first - and only - collaboration between American and Russian novelists. Narrated by John Hough. Click the title links below for the trade paperback and kindle editions. (Also available at iTunes.)


A novel by Allan and his daughter, Susan

After laboring as a Doctors Without Borders physician in the teaming refugee camps and minefields of South Asia, Dr. Ann Donovan thought she'd seen Hell as close up as you can get. And as a fifth generation CIA brat, she thought she knew all there was to know about corruption and betrayal. But then her father - a legendary spymaster - shows up, with a ten-year-old boy in tow. A brother she never knew existed. Then in a few violent hours, her whole world is shattered, her father killed and she and her kid brother are one the run with hell hounds on their heels. They finally corner her in a clinic in Hawaii and then all the lies and treachery are revealed on one terrible, bloody storm- ravaged night.

BASED ON THE CLASSIC STEN SERIES by Allan Cole & Chris Bunch: Fresh from their mission to pacify the Wolf Worlds, Sten and his Mantis Team encounter a mysterious ship that has been lost among the stars for thousands of years. At first, everyone aboard appears to be long dead. Then a strange Being beckons, pleading for help. More disturbing: the presence of AM2, a strategically vital fuel tightly controlled by their boss - The Eternal Emperor. They are ordered to retrieve the remaining AM2 "at all costs." But once Sten and his heavy worlder sidekick, Alex Kilgour, board the ship they must dare an out of control defense system that attacks without warning as they move through dark warrens filled with unimaginable horrors. When they reach their goal they find that in the midst of all that death are the "seeds" of a lost civilization. 



Venice Boardwalk Circa 1969
In the depths of the Sixties and The Days Of Rage, a young newsman, accompanied by his pregnant wife and orphaned teenage brother, creates a Paradise of sorts in a sprawling Venice Beach community of apartments, populated by students, artists, budding scientists and engineers lifeguards, poets, bikers with  a few junkies thrown in for good measure. The inhabitants come to call the place “Pepperland,” after the Beatles movie, “Yellow Submarine.” Threatening this paradise is  "The Blue Meanie,"  a crazy giant of a man so frightening that he eventually even scares himself.

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