Thursday, May 27, 2010

Reflecting back on my life





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Looking Back

So many of my gossip colleagues have died at an early age that I feel good to be alive. If I had my life to live over I may have taken a different path. I have always had an eye for talent and I should have been a Hollywood agent. Dick Clayton, once one of Hollywood's biggest agents, and now retired, agreed that I had an eye for talent. I spotted Brad Pitt in a small role in an episode of TV's "Blossom" when he was in a scene inside a theater watching "Rebel without A Cause." The gal with him said he looked just like James Dean. I thought to myself, no he doesn't but he has a look that will make him a star. I phoned his agent the next day (Tri-Ad Agency) and I talked to agent David Westburg, and requested a photo of Brad. He asked me why? and I said he was going to be a big star someday. He said, "Really?" He had doubts and he was Brad's agent. But, I could see his talent from the very beginning. It would be a few years later before he would be discovered in "Thelma and Louise," with that magnificent face and body. The head-shot his agent sent to me was awful. I still have it somewhere.

There are too many people to mention, whom I knew had what it takes to be famous, and too many got lost that should have been in pictures. They didn't know the right people. There is so much bad talent being used. I hate to see the good talent over-looked. Yes, casting couches still exist. That's too bad. But, it is a part of the Hollywood scene. Harry Cohn, who owned Columbia Studios, was one of the worst users. But, so was Zanuck and other studio heads. I guess they thought of it as payback time for developing their stars. Many of the stars of the forties and fifties used their bodies to get ahead...many of them. Fortunately many had the talent to sustain their careers.

I knew River Phoenix would become a successful actor. He was one of those natural, talented actors. I felt he could move from a teen star into adult films. I never ever thought he would die of a drug overdose. After his death, I thought he would become a legend like James Dean. But, that never happened. River made more films than James Dean, but none were as strong as the three Dean starred in.

Elvis Presley was a superstar, moreso for his singing than for his acting. He was using drugs but nobody tried to help him. They ignored the warnings. He was a superstar and unapproachable to suggestion. His doctor had been prescribing the drugs, so it was okay. But, it really wasn't okay. The drugs killed him. And his star was fading fast with age. He was too fat, couldn't reach his high notes and couldn't compete with the changing music scene. He was too young to retire and actually to young to die. His music and memory will live on for many years. He truly was the King of Rock and Roll.

In writing this book, I spent many long years at it, working off and on. Much of it is sort of tongue in cheek, written to be entertaining. But, the stories are true, unlike many other writers, I haven't made anything up. Most of it has been published in my, now defunct, newspaper, THE HOLLYWOOD STAR. It was more or less a one person operation. Like learning a computer, I had to learn how to put a paper together. I had had some journalism in high school. I knew that there were several rules that most people use as a standard procedure. But, I broke all of the rules. I put top heavy photos at the top of the pages, when I was told this was improper. I looked to see if it was something that would catch the eye and didn't care if it was, supposedly, wrong. I had a Itek Quad word processor, before computers were really in the public. I did the photo half-tones, the layouts, the interviews, the movie reviews, the gossip gathering and even putting them in the racks on the street. When the first issue was printed and on the streets, I was elated to see the response. Soon there were newsracks all over the city selling my paper. Other publications were taking pot shots at me. I went through many radio interviews and even the Los Angeles Magazine did a good story. Mitch Tuchman, was the writer. The studios ignored me and wouldn't send me any publicity on their releases, nor did they give me press passes for advance screenings. But, after the first issue, when I wrote about this, I was on every studio screening list. I would be sitting in a studio projection room, early in the morning, often watching horror films. I became "known" around Hollywood. I used to travel in limousines to screenings, often with a wannabe starlet. This was long ago, and it is hard for me to realize how many years have passed. I am now a senior citizen, just underwent quad bypass, and diabetic on top of that. I lost a dear friend December 2006, Preston Brown, and I will pay tribute to him at the end of this book. He died at 33. I had him working as an extra on TV programs. They always pulled him from the back and put him in the front. When he was a teen, he was way ahead of his years. He had looks and charisma and I miss him very much.

But, the newspaper gave me a lot of satisfaction. Dr. Noguchi, the L.A. Coroner congratulated me on a story that made headlines overseas. I don't recall what country or publication printed it, today. It was exciting.

I am a very emotional person. I cry at many things, movies, memories, even deceased actors. I left Hollywood after Marlon Brando died. Somehow those screen images were supposed to go on forever. But, as those screen images pass on, so do many of our friends, and one day we will too. After my bypass surgery, things that seemed important before, aren't so important now. I just enjoy my past, even though it has often been a rocky road. Yes, Bette Davis, I fastened my seat belt too. We don't know what the future has, but we can reminisce in the past. And, of course, I still type with two fingers.

___________Summarizing Hollywood!____________

Today, some non-stars get attention by being in pornographic films that get on the Internet and seen around the world. They have money and most have never had a lead in a film. Yet, the Papparazzi chases them around. For some crazy reason, there is a segment of society that keep up on these people. In the past, the studio had contract players and during the fifties there were several movie magazines being sold. Those are mostly gone, as are the contract players. Television has taken over with gossip programs on the networks and even CNN and Fox have Hollywood "entertainment" shows. Ingrid Bergman ("CASABLANCA"), was chastized for getting pregnant out of wedlock. She was blacklisted from making movies here in the states for years. Now-a-days, dozens of celebrities are living together, having children and not married. The public has accepted it, since society itself, seems to be doing the same thing. Celebrites get arrested for drunk driving, or using narcotics and they go straight into Rehab before they even appear in court for the offenses. They pay thousands of dollars for a 30 day stay and then they usually get off with probation. Robert Downey, Jr., was one of the few to do time. But, some are arrested over, and over and go back and forth to rehab, but not to jail. The latest fad is for the girls to wear short skirts with no underwear. Well, this isn't new. When Marilyn Monroe was entertaining the troops with Bob Hope, she as well as Ann Margret never wore panties either, so I have heard. They wouldn't do it in the states.

Movie studios pay the so-called-stars $20 million or more per picture, plus money from the Box-Office. Sumner Redstone, of Paramount Studios, woke up and fired Tom Cruise. That shook the shit out of Mr. Scientology. These exhorbitant costs are passed on to the the public and we have to pay higher admission prices because of it. These rich people, who get all of the publicity, are mostly unknown identities to me. My movie going is practically nil. It's easier to wait for the DVD. With high definition, home theater is often better than the theater experience. The high admission prices, high priced candy and popcorn, popcorn that was 100% profit at $1. And often people talking out loud in the audience. Stadium seating has separated the closeness of being intimate with the audience, when they laugh, and get emotional together. I still enjoy the older theaters with seating that is close to one another. Wake up exhibitors.

Yes, celebrities, eat, shit and piss like everyone else. But, when they do it, it's known around the world!

( Memorial for Preston Brown.

Articles and books that mention Bill Dakota or THE HOLLYWOOD STAR newspaper.
Partial listing.

THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE -Interview with Harriet Choice
(Went over the wire service and reprinted in various newspapers).
CNN - Interview with Anne McDermott
VARIETY - Army Archerd
PARTNER MAGAZINE - several photo pages with story
BOULEVARD MAGAZINE - London. A few byline Hollywood columns
HOLLYWOOD LESBIANS - Boze Hadleigh -Barricade Books
THE PUNK GLOBE - Ginger Coyote's paper.
THE SPECTATOR - Jackson Prison paper
THE UNABRIDGED JAMES DEAN -Riese, Contemporary Books
THE MANSON FILES - Nicholas Schreck
CATALOG OF COOL - Gene Sculatti
LIZ SMITH's column in the New York Daily News
JACK MARTIN- Hollywood columnist
JOYCE HABER- the Los Angeles Times
THE FLINT JOURNAL- Flint, Michigan
SAGINAW NEWS - Saginaw, Michigan
TOLEDO BLADE - Toledo, Ohio
THE LOS ANGELES HERALD-EXAMINER - Headline story by Denis Hamill and in James Bacon's Hollywood columns
USA Today