From the frontier days of silent film up to the wild auteur period of the 1970s, Mark Bailey has pillaged the vaults of Hollywood history and lore to dig up the true - and often surprising - stories of seventy of our most beloved actors, directors and screenwriters at their most soused.
I like reading gossip about famous people ... and that's why I was attracted to this book. It's stories about actors, directors, writers, etc. and their drinking habits.
It's divided into four parts:
- The Silent Era (1898-1929) - Fatty Arbuckle, John Barrymore, Clara Bow, Marion Davies, W.C. Fields, Buster Keaton, Stan Laurel, Mary Pickford and more
- The Studio Era - Tallulah Bankhead, John Carradine, Joan Crawford, Bing Crosby, Frances Farmer, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Errol Flynn, Clark Gable and more
- Postwar Era (1946-60) - Humphrey Bogart, Ava Gardner, Judy Garland, Jackie Gleason, Cary Grant, William Holden, Robert Mitchum and more
- 1960s & New Hollywood (1960-79) - Richard Burton, Sammy Davis Jr., Dennis Hopper, Rock Hudson, Dean Martin, Steve McQueen, Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Natalie Wood and more
Here are some of the stories:
- Humphrey Bogart got himself arrested for protecting his drinking buddies, who happened to be a pair of stuffed pandas
- Ava Gardner would water-ski to the set of Night of the Iguana holding a towline in one hand and a cocktail in the other
- Barely legal Natalie Wood said Dennis Hopper could seduce her if he provided a bathtub full of champagne (apparently it burned her sensitive parts, though)
- Bing Crosby’s ill-mannered antics earned him the nickname “Binge Crosby”
- Mary Pickford stashed liquor in hydrogen peroxide bottles during Prohibition
In addition to the stories, there is history of the places these celebrities drank in such as the Brown Derby, the Hollywood Athletic Club, Mocambo, Musso & Frank Grill (open), Whisky a Go Go (open), Trader Vic's (open) and Chateau Marmont (open).
If the star had a favourite cocktail, the recipe is included such as Mimosas, Half and Half, Orange Blossom, Martini, Prairie Oyster, Tom Collins, Zombie, etc.
Films with crazy booze-soaked stories like Apocalypse Now, From Here to Eternity and The Misfits, are featured.
Also included are some quotes ... here are some I found funny:
- "Looks like it's going to get drunk out tonight." Charles Butterworth, character actor (1899-1946)
- "Hell, I used to take two-week lunch hours." Spencer Tracy, actor (1900-67)
- "I'm no alcoholic; I'm a drunkard. There's a difference. A drunkard doesn't like to go to meetings." Jackie Gleason, actor (1916-87)
- "Tequila makes your head hurt. Not from your hangover. From falling over and hitting your head." John Wayne, actor (1907-79)
- "I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they are going to feel all day." Frank Sinatra, singer and actor (1915-98)
I enjoyed this book. I liked the writing style ... the stories were short and snappy and focused. At times, the author was sarcastic, which I enjoyed. As a head's up, there is swearing.
It was a crazy look at the lives of these celebrities ... it's amazing the amount of liquor they consumed, what they did and what they got away with. It seemed like everyone was drinking with everyone and they were all sleeping with each other. It would be interesting to see how much (if anything) has changed with celebrities today.
I'd heard of most of the celebrities in the book but I was still often driven to Google them to get more information about them.