Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Celebrity: Whatever Became Of....?

Whatever Became Of....? (by Richard Lamparski, Bantam, 1980)
A book bought because of its title, which, in full, reads From Playtex 18 Hour, Jane Russell Presents Whatever Became Of...?
The best parts of the book are Russell’s introduction, which manages to plug Playtex four times in what would be less than a page of text if it were without photos, and the back cover, an advertisement featuring three truly ugly Playtex undergarments. (Did our mothers really wear that stuff? No wonder our fathers all divorced them.) As for the 50 entries that are included in this volume of Lamparski’s series of Whatever Became Of....?, they are as superficial, fawning, badly written, uninformatively dull and aggravating as to be expected from fluff pieces.
While Lamparski has an interesting selection of not-so-forgotten, forgotten and obscure name, as 100 years of cinema should allow one to have, the entries read as if written by and for mentally deficient foreigners and, having the depth of a mud puddle in the dessert, offer little real information. Traumas, scandals, changes major and small are all given one or less sentence, and one gets the feeling that either Lamparski is either too star struck to be able to write a serious, informative update about his subjects or he is too disinterested in his subjects to spend the time required to do any given entry justice. While an informative book doesn't necessarily have to dish all the dirt, it shouldn't do something like give a completely forgotten actor such as Turhan Bey (remember: this book was written years before Babylon 5, so Bey was still a mostly forgotten person) a half-page entry, refer to "the scandal that made him leave Hollywood" and then not explain anything at all about it.
Other people included in this volume, amongst others, include Hedy Lamarr, John Agar, Jane Greer, Bee Freeman, John Derek (Pre-10 [1979 / trailer]), Lash LaRue (anyone have a copy of his porno film Hard on the Trail [1972]? — the poster shown below is not found in the book) and John Barrymore, Jr.
The book is a total waste of paper, especially in this day and age when much more and much better information can be found about the forgotten has-beens on the Net — providing you can even remember their names in the first place — but its title does have the kind of appeal required for the indiscriminate collector of trash books.
Oddly enough, however, though I have searched the web, I can't find out what "the scandal that made [Bey] leave Hollywood" — it must have been a minor one. Anyone out there know what it was?

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