With Christmas fast approaching, here are some film/TV books that I have enjoyed this past year and would make wonderful gifts:

From my former publisher McFarland and Company, Lost Laughs of ’50s and ’60s Television: Thirty Sitcoms That Faded Off Screen by David C. Tucker. As someone who writes about Sixties starlets , I loved this book that chronicles a number of sitcoms that these actresses appeared on that I really didn’t know much about since they never went into syndication or if so very briefly, such as Grindl with Imogene Coca; I’m Dickens…He’s Fenster; O.K. Crackerby!; Occasional Wife with Michael Callan wo pretends to be married to his neighbor so he can get ahead at work; etc. Two that are covered that I actually watched were my fave Love on a Rooftop starring Judy Carne as a rich girl who marries poor but proud Pete Duell and they move into a rooftop apartment in San Francisco, and The Governor and J.J. with Dan Dailey and Julie Sommars as his daughter. Tucker does a wonderful job giving the back stories of these not-so-successful sitcoms with interesting tidbits and reasons why they failed.

I just love reading back stories of TV shows/movies, which is patently obvious by my choices, and another book I loved and tried to emulate with my Dueling Harlows’s was Vanity Fair’s Tales of Hollywood edited by Graydon Carter. These were edited or expanded pieces from the magazine of the making of such classics as All About Eve, Rebel Without a Cause, The Best of Everything, Midnight Cowboy, Myra Breckenridge, etc. A great read chcok full of intersting anecdotes from the actors/creators who worked on these movies. My favorite thing in it was learning that Carol Lynley, Pamela Tifffin, Yvette Mimiux, and Sue Lyon, among others, were on the producer’s short list to play Mrs. Robinson’s daughter in The Graduate. Alas the role went to Katherine Ross.

I cannot praise enough the splashy coffee table tome Steve McQueen: The Actor and His Films by Andrew Antoniades and Mike Siegel. There are lots of books out there about McQueen, but this has to be one of the very best. Just chock full of interesting information and photographs galore. See my previous post for longer review.

And finally a shameless plug for my own Dueling Harlows: Race to the Silver Screen. Coinciding with the 100th birthday of Jean Harlow, comes the backstory of the competition to get two rival film biographies both titled Harlow (one with Carroll Baker from Paramount, the other with Carol Lynley from Electronovision) into theaters first that quickly turned into one of the nastiest, dirtiest feuds between their producers (Joe Levine and Bill Sargent) that Hollywood ever witnessed.


Comments: 6

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  • Stephen Bowie

    Tom, I love all of those ladies (well … all but one, maybe), but I can’t imagine any of them making a better Miss Robinson than Katharine Ross.

    • Katherine Ross never did anything for me though like her in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Stepford Wives. For me, The Graduate would rank higher on my list of fave movies if one of those starlets was cast. I am curious now, which one of the four (Lynley, Tiffin, Mimiuex, Lyon) do you dislike?

  • John Black

    The sitcom book sounds like fun. I assume that the book might have some other howlers like THE UGLIEST GIRL IN TOWN and MY MOTHER THE CAR? I remember watching GRINDL every week. It seemed like most of its episodes had a murder or crime plot, although comic in tone. I haven’t seen that series since the early sixties.

    • Actually, neither are included. Some others: Angel; The Bill Dana Show: Mr. Terrific: Wendy and Me; How to Marry a Millionaire; Margie; Pete and Gladys: and more.

  • Stephen Bowie

    Tiffin is the one who always struck me as a stiff. The crucial FUGITIVE backstory episode founders because she can’t carry the central role.

    • I do agree that this was not one of Pamela’s shining moments, but I just adore her. She was stunningly beautiful (more so as a brunette) and extremely talented. Too bad she mucked her career by relocating to Italy.

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