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Palm Springs Confidential: Playground of the Stars Paperback – December 24, 2005


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Johns, editor-at-large for Palm Springs Life, set out to write a locator guide for stars' homes but instead wound up compiling a gossipy who's who of Palm Springs, Calif., the tony desert community 100 miles from Hollywood that was once was the stomping ground of the big screen's hottest silent stars, screen goddesses, studio moguls and more. As Johns explicates in lurid detail, Palm Springs and its environs was where the rich and famous came to drink and do much more than dance the night away, while hangers-on and has-beens got into even worse trouble. Robert Mitchum opined about his short stay in a local jail after a pot bust in 1949: "It was like Palm Springs, without the riffraff." Johns delights in his tabloid antics, and his range of trivial knowledge about a vast array of movie and TV stars is impressive. Who knew Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas was implicated in the disappearance and death of a starlet in 1949? Or that beloved family man Bob Hope romanced numerous ever-younger women behind the back of his faithful wife of nearly 70 years? To be sure, Johns focuses on the more salacious moments in Palm Springs history: the murder trials of Lana Turner's daughter, Cheryl Crane, and actor Tom Neal; the overdose deaths of Dorothy Dandridge and Alan Ladd; and the bisexual affairs of Cary Grant and Van Johnson. Much of the book is well-researched filler concerning who lived where and is often repetitive. Bitchy and irreverent, this dish isn't very fresh, but Johns serves it with lots of spice and relish, making it a guilty pleasure. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Barricade Books (December 24, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569802971
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569802977
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.6 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,970,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Howard Johns knows movie stars from A to Z, from Astaire to Zeppo. He not only knows all about them - trivia, triumphs, trash, but he tells all in "Palm Springs Confidential: Playground of the Stars."
As editor-at-large for Palm Springs Life from 1996-2002 he interviewed the hottest in Hollywood, and appeared on the major TV networks to chat about movie stars and their homes. Speaking of homes, this tasty volume comes complete with exact addresses of the stars and a map. If a girl wished she could sit in her car and troll the streets of this exclusive enclave.
In the beginning, the beginning being silent movies in Hollywood jargon, moviemakers were on the lookout for out of the way locations for stars such has Theda Bara and Rudolph Valentino. It wasn't too long before "the Springs" became a winter playground boasting 5000 clear as crystal private pools.
Tony lodges, especially the vaunted Racquet Club, appeared and the stars built expensive homes. Today, for over 75 years Palm Springs has been the place of privilege for those who have reached the op of the show business ladder. It is here that they not only relax but pull a few stunts that some live to regret.
Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy came to the Racquet Club where "they had an apartment converted for them in the old servants' quarters, and no one ever saw them." Before they wed Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were also frequent visitors, checking in with suitcases "filled with her frilly nightgowns and his silk pajamas."
Kirk Douglas conducted a few extramarital affairs there with such stunners as Gene Tierney and Marlene Dietrich, while Ginger Rogers married her fourth husband there.
"Playground" is an apt description for Palm Springs, and nobody plays like the beautiful, rich, and famous. Readers will learn all about their games from a master teller of tales, Howard Johns.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Oregongal on September 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Loved the book and it's many pictures and movie star history. Having grown up in Palm Springs, I found it especially interesting to read about the more glamorous side of a familiar town. Great book--well worth the money!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nelson Aspen on February 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Expensive for a softcover book with only B&W stock photos, but still a fun resource guide for Desert afficianadoes. Not-too-dishy gossip about some of the celebs and celeb wannabe's who have had residency in Palm Springs, California...both past and present.

Author Johns obviously had some fun researching and writing this prosaic "Map to the Stars Homes" manual. Especially fun if you are a frequent visitor to the area or are planning a vacation there.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. V. E. Roberts on January 25, 2007
Format: Paperback
Is a complete waste of time. It reads (and looks) like a bad copy of the National Enquirer, but in a better cover.

I've already recycled my copy.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Killian HALL OF FAME on November 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Howard Johns book is a great eye opener. Before reading it I had never so much as heard of Palm Springs, and now I feel like I live there. He tells you which famous people live in which house all the way down all the roads in Palm Springs, so that if you want to, you could write to them and ask them for their autographs. In a way they're vulnerable now, having their addresses published in this book but i suppose when you move to a town like Palm Springs, with its reputation for scandal and overt sexuality, you don't really care about things like that. While some residents oof the town, past and present, were religious people, often a lot of them are not religious by any means, and there are any number of free-thinkers living there. It's a beautiful city with a stunning climate, and the real estate can be pretty pricey. People who love hearing the stories of other people's bargains will enjoy Johns' account of how Charles Farrell and Ralph Bellamy bought the whole Racquet Club and dozens of surrounding acres for the equivalent of a few beaded necklaces.

Some will object to Johns' continual prurience, and I was a bit taken aback when he referred to Marilyn Monroe going down on Johnny Hyde, but then again, if you pick up a book called PALM SPRINGS CONFIDENTIAL, you're just as implicated as he is, so get over it already. There isn't much of a narrative line either, just a visit to all the different houses and him telling you what old time stars and present day porn stars live in each one, but the dirt you'll hear will make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. It is like having someone with a wonderfully dirty mind stand behind you and whisper sexy suggestions into your ear.
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By Bigred on March 24, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found this book to be most entertaining and shone some different views on many of the characters that we have watched over the years.
This is not a difficult read and is addictive.
Highly recommended and good value
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