Friday, November 28, 2014

Hooray for Hollywood! Studios provide feel for film, fodder for book in Los Angeles visits


As Cookie got her novel-writing groove back, she and Keller took to the road, exploring settings for "Lilian's Last Dance."
Here they are, above Los Angeles, their backs to the town, looking at the famed Hollywood sign.

CLICK HERE ==> Lilian's Last Dance

The following review is from: Lilian's Last Dance (Kindle Edition) Verified Purchase
5.0 out of 5 stars If you want an adventure, look no farther! ...November 14, 2014
Laurel Blossom (Edgefield SC USA)
If you want an adventure, look no farther! Christene Meyer's Lillian's Last Dance will amuse, shock, entertain, and inform you! She and the late Bill Jones cover so much territory with so much insight and knowledge, such charm and talent, you won't even know you're learning facts about Hollywood, theatre, the American landscape and the American dream... This is a delightful book! Put it under the Christmas tree.

Although Grauman's Chinese Theater was not around
in the novel's time, it remains full of history and nostalgia 

and was helpful in conjuring detail for "Lilian's Last Dance."

                           (and vintage from studio archives)

EARLY-DAY movie makers often had a background in Vaudeville, as did our major players in "Lilian's Last Dance." My grandmother Olive loved Vaudeville, and played for the silent movies.
An early-day cinematographer.
The action in "Lilian's Last Dance" moved from New York across the United States to Hollywood. That meant we needed to go to, where else, Los Angeles!
To get a feel for the days when Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks roamed the lots, when United Artists was a fledgling enterprise and when MGM and Paramount entered into bidding wars over the top stars, we grabbed the popcorn and took off.
Paramount's past is linked to Hollywood and
the novel's study of the birth of modern-day film. 
In our novel, a troupe of gifted actors and musicians is yearning for challenge and change. We got into that spirit!
WE PORED over photos and found many of a famous "new face on the lot," a Biograph actress with long, cork-screw blonde curly locks, nicknamed "Little Mary."   We decided that Mary Pickford should ake an appearance in "Lilian's Last Dance."  "The Girl with the Golden Hair" became the first major star of movie-making during our novel's unfolding.
Mary Pickford takes a
cameo bow in
"Lilian's Last Dance."
Her career gave us a starting point for imaging the lifestyle of the Hollywood our characters inhabit.
ALTHOUGH he traveled to Hollywood and Los Angeles regularly during his 25 years as chief film critic for the Arizona Republic, Bill's open heart surgeries and cancer treatment left him weakened and unable to make road trips toward the end of his life.  Anyone who has been caretaker for an ailing cancer patient knows the trauma of chemotherapy, radiation, the eventual an air lift back to the desert Bill loved, and his death in hospice care at our Arizona home.
Cookie and Keller took several Hollywood "stars homes" tours to develop
a feel for the property the leading players in "Lilian's Last Dance" would buy. 
AFTER A FEW fallow writing years --  I began to get my old momentum back.  "What would Billy want?" I asked myself. "For you to get back on the horse," I heard him say.
The characters of "Lilian's Last Dance" would have
seen Hollywood Hills much like this vintage photo.
I had just the right person to ride with.  Bruce William Keller (who shares both my late husband's names, Bruce and William) said he's love to accompany me to cinema museums, on Hollywood show biz tours, driving tours of the West, returns to Europe.  An accomplished photographer and illustrator of this blog, he quickly caught the spirit: talking to hotel marketing people, librarians, public relations folks, historians.  He loved visiting a usually "off limits" room where we admired vintage posters.  We found several of  "America's Sweetheart," Miss Pickford, who commanded one of the highest salaries of the day. She was paid $175 week at first and then $1,000 a week for a five year period. Capitalizing on the intense bidding for actresses,  Pickford commanded an unheard of $2 million annual salary, with percentages from Paramount.  She would soon become a co-founder of United Artists, with Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. This research played into the details of our novel's Hollywood days.
"A Christmas Carol" awaits.  Book your tickets early.
Cygnet, in Old Town, is a delightful venue with not a bad seat.

COMING UP: Cygnet Theater is a jewel in San Diego's theatrical crown.  The season is an exciting one -- and its annual holiday gift to the community, "A Christmas Carol," is on tap. While we're in the spirit of giving thanks, with a segue to Hanukkah and Christmas, a thank-you to Cygnet for its progressive, engaging docket. Explore, learn, live and remember: carpe diem.

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