Jessie Lilley
Buddy Barnett
Brad Linaweaver

November 2009     Web Edition     Issue #3

Forum Blog News Mondo Girl Letters Photo Galleries Archives Back Issues Books Contact Us Features Film Index Interviews Legal Links Music Staff

From Mondo Cult Issue 1

I must have some reputation in this business. It seems every book written about dead actors shows up in my mailbox. It matters neither how they died nor how long it’s been since they departed this plane—if they’re dead, they find their way to me. And so I have decided to take this last batch and present a series of commentaries on each, thereby fulfilling my duties as a loyal reviewer of McFarland books and in the hopes that they’ll hold this type of research down to a low roar in the future and maybe send me something cool—you know—like Keep Watching The Skies or something like that—as if Bill Warren needs any more publicity where that title is concerned.

Suicide in the Entertainment Industry

David K. Frasier
McFarland & Company, Inc. $35—428 pages

Presumably, Frasier opened up the police files and listed every suicide he could locate. Some of these suicides are questionable at best—like the Bobby Fuller incident where the young man’s body was found beaten to a bloody pulp in the front seat of a car. Yep, first you beat yourself up and then you inhale gasoline. That’s a way to kill yourself I guess. To Frasier’s credit, he questions it and notes further the hue and cry that arose regarding the initial police findings. That’s the best part of this book; the questions. Some of these entries also direct you to “further reading” which is a plus if you’re this much of a ghoul. As a research tool for film scholars, this book is invaluable, but for light reading at bedtime? Oh, no.

Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries

A Directory Allan R. Ellenberger
McFarland & Company, Inc. $35—250 pages

Listed by cemetery, and thence alphabetically, Ellenberger gives you names, film roles and plot numbers for easy access to your favorite dead celeb. Now, this is okay, because you can access the star’s name in the index as well if you don’t want to play hit or miss with your local boneyard. This book is necessary to have in conjunction with the Wilson book noted below because they don’t have the same listings. For instance, Ellenberger has Frances Keenan and Wilson does not. So completists must cough up the bucks for both if they want those cheery Sunday drives to be at all productive.

Resting Places

The Burial Sites of Over 7,000 Famous Persons Scott Wilson
McFarland & Company, Inc. $85—432 pages

Same gig, different sort code. Wilson chooses to list his bodies alphabetically and with short bios and then note the locations. It must be said of both Wilson and Ellenberger that this must have taken one hell of a long time to compile. Ellenberger only has LA in his book while Wilson has cemeteries from all over the country in his volume. No doubt that’s why the price tag is so high on this one, lots o’ legwork here. And incidentally, I can tell you that I dragged myself off to a few of these locations—Errol Flynn’s final resting place for instance—and found the locations to be accurate in both books. Hey! For Errol Flynn, I’ll gladly go wandering through a graveyard. In fact, I’ll wander through a graveyard at the least provocation. I find them very restful. Anyway, the locations are accurate and it’s rare that these folks move once ensconced so if you’re into it, these books will save you hours of digging.

Hollywood Death and Scandal Sites

E.J. Fleming
McFarland & Company, Inc. $35—281 pages

Now this is a hoot. Another directory of locations, these where the incident occurred as opposed to where the body wound up. And in case you’re not familiar with the town, it has driving directions! I couldn’t help it, I cracked up when I saw this. I don’t know if it was because I truly find the notion absurd, or if I was so chagrined at my innermost gremlin saying, “Hey, wow! I know how to get there! This’ll be cool when you’ve got friends in from out of town!” God help me. But it’s true, and you can’t kid me. Loads of you out there reading this are thinking just the same thing. So, you’d best go on and buy it, ‘cause when you visit LA it’s cheaper to have the book in hand than to sign up for one of those incredibly expensive tours they have on Hollywood Boulevard. Now Johnny Grant is gonna come after me with a gun. Well, so my murder can be listed in the next scandal site directory that comes out. Honestly, some of us will do anything to get our names in print.

Fallen Stars

Tragic Lives and Lost Careers Julian Upton
Critical Vision: An Imprint of Headpress $17.95—160 pages

Lest you think we in the States are the only ones so fascinated with dead or forgotten entertainment types, leave us pop ‘cross the pond to the country that spawned us to note that the apple does not fall all that far from the tree. Julian Upton has written a well-crafted discussion on the tragedy of fame. A sense of humor along with a smattering of pathos lend this volume a touch of class as one finds oneself engrossed in the stories of some of the greats and near greats of British show biz. They’re all here, from Peter Cushing to David Rappaport with a few Yanks mentioned for good measure. This was an enjoyable read.