Tom’s Books

Dueling Harlows: Race to the Silver Screen

Publish Date: May 16, 2024

The fascinating backstory of the competition to get two rival film biographies both titled Harlow into theaters first that quickly turned into one of the nastiest, dirtiest feuds that Hollywood ever witnessed. In 1965, in a rare occurrence not seen before or since, two motion pictures with the same title about the same subject opened within weeks of each other. Carol Lynley was Jean Harlow in Bill Sargent’s Harlow a quickie B&W independent production filmed in Electronovision. Carroll Baker was Jean Harlow in Joseph E. Levine’s Harlow a big budget color extravaganza from Paramount Pictures. Both endeavored to tell the story of the legendary thirties blonde bombshell’s passionate love life and her meteoric rise from bit player to super star before her death at the young age of twenty-six. Dueling Harlows: Race to the Silver Screen recounts the struggle it took to get these rival movie biographies into theaters first considering the almost daily war-of-words between the movies’ showman producers, which almost escalated into fisticuffs at the 1965 Academy Awards ceremony; the casting problems each faced; the poor screenplays, which hampered the productions; the hurried pace to complete filming causing on-set frustration; and the law suits that followed in the aftermath. Both movies were failures at the time but have camp appeal today. This well-researched book, with 18 photos, contains new interviews from people who worked on the movies including actors Carol Lynley and Michael Dante, assistant directors Richard C. Bennett and Tim Zinnemann, casting director Marvin Paige, plus film historian Robert Osborne and producer David Permut. Also included are vintage comments from Joseph Levine, Bill Sargent, Carroll Baker, Ginger Rogers, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Michael Connors, and many more.

Ryan’s Hope: An Oral History of Daytime’s Groundbreaking Soap

Publish Date: October 24, 2023

A behind-the-scenes look at the show that changed daytime drama, an in-depth, intimate and entertaining cultural history, told in the words of its cast, crew, and creators.

From the opening scene of its first episode, in which Mary Ryan walks jauntily down a New York City street to her family’s neighborhood bar, it was clear that Ryan’s Hope would be unlike every daytime soap that had come before. Indeed, from 1975 to 1989, the Emmy Award-winning ABC TV serial drew viewers into the world of Maeve and Johnny Ryan, their children, friends, and extended family. This page-turning chronicle gathers memories and exclusive interviews to reveal the show’s fascinating origin story—and explore why it’s missed to this day.

Ryan’s Hope was set in a real city, within recognizable communities. The working-class, Irish-Catholic, immigrant Ryans were the core of a show that credibly tackled such topics as infidelity, addiction, religious faith, and women’s rights. There was melodrama, to be sure, but also heart, depth, grit—provided by co-creators and head writers Claire Labine and Paul Avila Mayer.

Labine and Mayer were also the executive producers in the early years, which gave them full control over their creation, from character backstories to lighting and costume. But there were also some missteps along the way, from the constant recasting of fan-favorite characters to ABC’s ill-judged attempts to infuse the homey, family-oriented show with intrigue and adventure.

Featuring the words of stars including Helen Gallagher, Malcolm Groome, Ron Hale, Ilene Kristen, Michael Levin, Ana Alicia, Roscoe Born, Catherine Hicks, Geoff Pierson, Andrew Robinson, and Gordon Thomson, along with writers, producers, production crew, and family members—plus never-before-seen photos and plot synopses—soap opera fans will find this insider account as captivating as the beloved show itself.

Carol Lynley: Her Film & TV Career in Thrillers, Fantasy and Suspense

Publish Date: October 07, 2020

Carol Lynley: Her Film & TV Career in Thrillers, Fantasy and Suspense highlights Carol’s appearances in the titled genres. She has been terrorized on screen by everything from psychotic relatives to werewolves and the Blob, from murderous convicts to rampaging beasts and sinking upside down ocean liners. Most fans of these genres do not realize how prolific Carol was, going from theatrical features (The Shuttered Room, The Cat and the Canary, Blackout), to made-for-TV movies (The Immortal, The Night Stalker, Death Stalk), to television guest appear- ances (Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Invaders, Night Gallery, Fantasy Island, Tales of the Unexpected) and back again for over thirty years. Peppered with comments from Carol Lynley specifically for this book and past published sources, it also features fascinat- ing behind-the-scenes tales from her co-workers including Arledge Armenaki, Stephan Chase, Matt Dotson, John Goff, Howard Kazanjian, Harry Langdon, Jr., Alan J. Levi, and Tina Sinatra. Tom Lisanti goes beyond The Poseidon Adventure to shine a light on Carol Lynley’s underrated work in the thriller/fantasy/suspense/horror genres with this meticulously researched and well-illustrated tribute book.

Talking Sixties Drive-In Movies

Publish Date: March 1, 2017

Talking Sixties Drive-in Movies is a collection of profiles, interviews, and tributes about actors and films popular with the drive-in movie crowd during the sixties. Interviewees include Arlene Charles, Nancy Czar, Gail Gerber, Christopher Riordan, and Irene Tsu talking Elvis Presley musicals; Bobbi Shaw and Steven Rogers talking beach party movies; Jan Watson and Diane Bond talking spy spoofs; Nicoletta Machiavelli talking spaghetti westerns; Mimsy Farmer and Maggie Thrett talking alienated youth movies; and Valerie Starrett talking biker films. Some of the chapters center on one movie or a genre while others are career profiles with a main focus on one or two drive-in movies.

Pamela Tiffin: Hollywood to Rome, 1961-1974

Publish Date: October 06, 2015

Dark-haired 60s cult pop icon Pamela Tiffin debuted in Summer and Smoke (1961) and was a scene-stealing comedienne opposite James Cagney in Billy Wilder’s One, Two, Three (1961) before becoming the queen of teenage drive-in movies in State Fair (1963), Come Fly with Me (1963), For Those Who Think Young (1964), The Lively Set (1964) and The Pleasure Seekers (1964).

After landing a sexy adult role opposite Paul Newman in Harper (1966), she went blonde and ran away to Italy to star in such films as Kiss the Other Sheik (1968), The Fifth Cord (1971) and Deaf Smith & Johnny Ears (1973). This thoroughly researched career retrospective pays tribute to the talented Tiffin, hailed by Cagney for her “remarkable flair for comedy,” and addresses why she did not achieve superstardom. Interviews with co-stars, including Franco Nero, and film historians offer a behind-the-scenes look at her most popular films.

Trippin’ with Terry Southern: What I Think I Remember

Publish Date: July 20, 2009

This award-winning memoir about “the hippest guy on the planet” recollects novelist/screenwriter Terry Southern’s highs and lows, his association with the Beat Generation, and his movie cult classics Dr. Strangelove and Easy Rider.
In 1964, Terry Southern met actress Gail Gerber on the set of The Loved One. He was enjoying his success from co-writing the risqué novel Candy, a satire of Candide, and the movie Dr. Strangelove; she had just co-starred with Elvis Presley in Girl Happy. Though they were both married, there was an instant connection and they remained a couple until his death 30 years later.
In her memoir, Gail recalls what life was like with “the hippest guy on the planet.” It documents their life together and contains numerous photographs of Terry and Gail with friends both famous and notorious. The wickedly gifted satirist, who had a stint writing for Saturday Night Live, kept company with the likes of Lenny Bruce, Dennis Hopper, Ringo Starr, William Burroughs, George Segal, Harry Nilsson, George Plimpton, David Amram and Rip Torn. It also reveals what went on behind the scenes of Gail’s movies (including The Girls on the Beach and Village of the Giants), and Terry’s movies (including The Cincinnati Kid, Casino Royale, Barbarella, The Magic Christian, End of the Road, and Easy Rider).

Glamour Girls of Sixties Hollywood: Seventy-Five Profiles

Publish Date: May 21, 2018

During the 1960s, many models, Playboy centerfolds, beauty queens, and Las Vegas showgirls went on to become “decorative actresses” appearing scantily clad on film and television. This well illustrated homage to 75 of these glamour girls reveals their unique stories through individual biographical profiles, photographs, lists of major credits and, frequently, in-depth personal interviews. Included are Carol Wayne, Edy Williams, Inga Neilsen, Thordis Brandt, Jo Collins, Phyllis Davis, Melodie Johnson, and many equally unforgettable faces of sixties Hollywood.

Hollywood Surf and Beach Movies: The First Wave, 1959-1969

Publish Date: April 1, 2005

Description Surfers loathed them, teenagers flocked to them, critics dismissed them, and producers banked on them. They were surf and beach movies?which were Hollywood?s interpretation of the surf culture. For a short period in the 1960s these films were extremely popular with younger audiences?mainly because of the combination of sand and surf, the musical performers, the shirtless surfer boys and bikini-clad beach girls, and the wild surfing footage.This lavishly illustrated work features profiles on 32 sizzling fun-in-the-sun teenage epics from Gidget to the Beach Party movies with Frankie and Annette to The Sweet Ride plus a few offshoots in the snow. It offers an introduction with an overview of the surf movie genre; film entries with credits, plot synopses, DVD availability, memorable lines, reviews and awards; and biographies of actors and leading actresses who made their marks in the genre. The work also includes behind-the-scenes commentary from such actors as Aron Kincaid of The Girls on the Beach, Susan Hart of The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini, Peter Brown of Ride the Wild Surf, Chris Noel of Beach Ball, and Ed Garner of Beach Blanket Bingo. Catch the wave!

Drive-in Dream Girls: A Galaxy of B-Movie Starlets of the Sixties

Publish Date: August 15, 2012

During the 1960s, a bushel of B-movies were produced and aimed at the predominantly teenage drive-in movie audience. At first teens couldn’t get enough of the bikini-clad beauties dancing on the beach or being wooed by Elvis Presley, but by 1966 young audiences became more interested in the mini-skirted, go-go boot wearing, independent-minded gals of spy spoofs, hot rod movies and biker flicks.

Profiled herein are fifty sexy, young actresses that teenage girls envied and teenage boys desired including Quinn O’Hara, Melody Patterson, Hilarie Thompson, Donna Loren, Pat Priest, Meredith MacRae, Arlene Martel, Cynthia Pepper, and Beverly Washburn. Some like Sue Ane Langdon, Juliet Prowse, Marlyn Mason, and Carole Wells, appeared in major studio productions while others, such as Regina Carrol, Susan Hart, Angelique Pettyjohn and Suzie Kaye were relegated to drive-in movies only.

Each biography contains a complete filmography. Some also include the actresses’ candid comments and anecdotes about their films, the people they worked with, and their feelings about acting. A list of web sites that provide further information is also included.

Film Fatales: Women in Espionage Films and Television, 1963-1973

Publish Date: April 11, 2017

Sean Connery began the sixties spy movie boom playing James Bond in Dr. No and From Russia with Love. Their success inspired every studio in Hollywood and Europe to release everything from serious knockoffs to spoofs on the genre featuring debonair men, futuristic gadgets, exotic locales, and some of the world’s most beautiful actresses whose roles ranged from the innocent caught up in a nefarious plot to the femme fatale. Profiled herein are 107 dazzling women, well-known and unknown, who had film and television appearances in the spy genre. They include superstars Doris Day in Caprice, Raquel Welch in Fathom, and Ann-Margret in Murderer’s Row; international sex symbols Ursula Andress in Dr. No and Casino Royale, Elke Sommer in Deadlier Than the Male, and Senta Berger in The Spy with My Face; and forgotten lovelies Greta Chi in Fathom, Alizia Gur in From Russia with Love, and Maggie Thrett in Out of Sight. Each profile includes a filmography that lists the actresses’ more notable films. Some include the actresses’ candid comments and anecdotes about their films and television shows, the people they worked with, and their feelings about acting in the spy genre are offered throughout. A list of websites that provide further information on women in spy films and television is also included.

Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinema: Interviews with 20 Actresses from Biker, Beach, and Elvis Movies

Publish Date: September 23, 2010

Elvis Presley musicals, beach romps, biker flicks, and alienated youth movies were some of the most popular types of drive-in films during the sixties. The actresses interviewed for this book (including Celeste Yarnall, Lana Wood, Linda Harrison, Pamela Tiffin, Deanna Lund, Diane McBain, Judy Pace, and Chris Noel) all made their mark in these genres. These fantastic femmes could be found either twisting on the shores of Malibu, careening down the highway on a chopper, being serenaded by Elvis, or taking on the establishment as hip coeds. As cult figures, they contributed greatly to that period of filmmaking aimed at the teenage audience who frequented the drive-ins of America. They frolicked, screamed, and danced their way into B-movie history in such diverse films as Eve, Teenage Millionaire, The Girls on the Beach, Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine, Three in the Attic, Wild in the Streets, and Paradise, Hawaiian Style.

This book is a celebration of the actresses’ careers. They have for the most part been overlooked in other publications documenting the history of film. Fantasy Femmes addresses their film and television careers, focusing on their view of the above genres, their candid comments and anecdotes about their films, the people they worked with, and their feelings in general regarding their lives and the choices they made. The book is well illuminated and contains a complete list of film and television credits.