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So, You Want to be in Pictures: The Making Of Hollywood Idols
by Tommy Lightfoot Garrett

Review by Temperance Goody

They just won’t go away, will they? We move on, our lives are crowded with all their current replacements, but we can’t get them out of our minds, and in many cases, our hearts. They are the old movie stars, the ones who peopled the old silver screen, the glittering stars we stared up at hour after endlessly happy hour in the double features, cartoons and news included, watching their passions and joys, sorrows, horrors and problems. We’re lucky. Really lucky. Author Tommy Garrett has put together a remarkable book (we hope the first of many) where he chronicles the lives of so many of “those who went before” and we cannot stop reading. The old stars, some of whom are still with us, are talked about in an easy breezy way by Mr. Garrett and we find ourselves engaged in a conversation with him about these people he loves and respects. After all, Tommy knows and knew many of them, and he treats them all fairly and with a clean honesty. This is not sleazy tabloid stuff; this is a solid history book, the history of American film, films that greatly influenced America (and the world) from the 1920s on up.

Tommy Garrett shows us that the hard, hard work put forth by these neophyte actors , most straight out of vaudeville or off any stage anywhere gave today’s actors and actresses the huge salaries, great working conditions, rights, privileges and the very good lives they live and enjoy today. They owe it all to the blood sweat and tears of the great actors and actresses of the good old days. Mr. Garrett’s book grabs, even before the biographies begin. His teasing introductions give the reader much information, but not enough to keep us from devouring the pages. The remarks sent over by his Australian “boss” TV and Radio personality Ernie Sigley (Tommy is his favorite star) tell us that Tommy’s weekly appearances on his radio show are Australia’s most wanted. Mr. Garrett’s most moving tribute to our women and men in Afghanistan and Iraq at the start of this book is genuinely heartfelt, words written by a very learned man, a man who cares about these people in our military. Now lest you think this book of Mr. Garrett’s is written only about filmdom’ s dearly departed, you’d be wrong. His tributes to the very living Constance Towers Gavin, Debbie Reynolds, Ann Blyth, Lena Horne, Ruta Lee, Tab Hunter, Doris Day amongst many others, are lively, funny and most au courant. Perhaps one of the finest things about this remarkable book is the fact that while Mr. Garrett really dishes the dirt, it’s never “dirt” in the negative, painful sense. Mr. Garrett is not on any big vendetta quest out to hurt or embarrass anyone. He tells it the way it is; he has wonderful stories about these stars, many of which he himself were a part of. He gently removes these people from the firmaments and makes them human --- perhaps a bit different from the rest of us, but very human nonetheless. The photos, most of which are his, signed over to him with love, are scattered about the short, sharp biographies in interesting non-patterns, holding the reader’s attention, satisfying our need to stare at length at those astonishing faces and figures.

No great clumps of photos stuck in the middle of this book; no, they appear suddenly and surprisingly all through the texts making us know these people around which so many of our film memories whirl; Kate Hepburn, Bob Hope, Henry Fonda, Boris Karloff, John Wayne, and these only scratch the surface. Fear not readers. If you do not see your favorite stars of yesteryear (or even your current favorites,) just wait a while. Tommy Garrett has plans for many more books, all filled with fascinating tales of these glittering people, all filled with their beautiful photos. Imagine! You will love reading this first book and all the while you’re doing that, you’ll be yearning for all the next ones. Mr. Tommy Lightfoot Garrett will not disappoint. Keep reading! And reading!  

Visit Tommy's Web Site

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Updated 9/15/09 


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