Saturday, April 25, 2015

Hollywood Legends

In the Company of Legends was written just for me. Well, probably not, but I sure felt that way while reading this marvelous show biz memoir by Joan Kramer and David Heeley, who have produced outstanding documentaries about such beloved Hollywood legends as Fred Astaire, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Humphrey Bogart, Judy Garland, Paul Newman, Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart. Although Kramer and Heeley reveal fascinating behind-the-scenes information about these classic movie stars and more, their book also describes how they put together their film portraits despite almost insurmountable obstacles. Their individual talents plus teamwork and powers of persuasion shine through in every chapter -- as does their inspiring persistence.

And who knew a book about making documentaries could be so suspenseful? For example, I was absolutely on the edge of my seat reading about how the dynamic duo persuaded Ginger Rogers to take part in one of their Fred Astaire projects. And I didn’t think they would ever succeed in proving Judy Garland frequently sang “Over the Rainbow” to President Kennedy over the phone.    

I agree with Robert Osborne, host of Turner Classic Movies, who calls In the Company of Legends “one of the best reasons ever for curling up with a book.” He goes on to praise the memoir because it’s about “dazzling personalities and told by people who actually knew the celebrities they write about, worked with them and, further, socialized with them, aware of their foibles and strengths from first-hand knowledge, not hearsay.”

Among the Kramer and Heeley documentaries are: Katharine Hepburn: All About Me; Bacall on Bogart; The John Garfield Story; The Adventures of Errol Flynn; The Spencer Tracy Legacy; James Stewart: A Wonderful Life; Fonda on Fonda; Fred Astaire: Puttin’ on His Top Hat; Fred Astaire: Change Partners and Dance.

In the Company of Legends, published by Beufort Books, is available on If you are a movie addict like me, you should order it right away.

Also, don’t miss Kramer and Heeley on our Movie Addict Headquarters radio show. They are scheduled for Tuesday, April 28, at 4 p.m. Eastern Time on BlogTalkRadio. After the live episode, an archived segment of their interview will be available for your listening pleasure. Here’s the link:  


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Saturday, April 04, 2015

Celebrity Banter

Happiness is being interviewed by Phil Hall! He asked me about my radio show, how I happened to become a film critic, and the status of movies today. Fun questions, for sure. Below is a link to the entire interview posted at Celebrity Banter yesterday. 

Thanks so much, Phil, for your interest and support.

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Thursday, April 02, 2015

No Biz Like Show Biz

If you love show biz, please put My Hi-De-High Life by Peter Keogh on your must-read list! In this wonderfully entertaining memoir, the author recalls funny and sometimes shocking adventures of his life as a producer, stage manager, prop master, tour guide, dresser, night watchman and usher at various Australian and London venues. 

As the world’s most avid movie addict, I particularly enjoyed Keogh’s revealing descriptions of fascinating behind-the-scene situations involving so many stars of the Golden Years of Hollywood, including Debbie Reynolds, Carol Burnett, Raymond Burr, Peter O’Toole, Liv Ullman, Eve Arden and more.

Growing up gay in 1950s Australia was no picnic for Keogh, but he did more than survive. Even his later unlucky experience during a court case could not bring him down. Although parts of his life have been painful, Keogh clearly revels in his show biz activities. The book comes even more alive when he writes about the stars he’s come in contact with. For example, priceless is the only way to describe how he started out as a Debbie Reynolds fan, became her friend, and then the producer of Irene, her popular stage production in Australia.

Happily, Keogh writes with a breezy, chatty style that helped draw me into his world. It’s a real treat to read a memoir so genuine, amusing and candid as My Hi-De-High Life!

(Published by Apex Publishing Ltd. E-book version is available on

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