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The Hollywood Book of Death: The Bizarre, Often Sordid, Passings of More than 125 American Movie and TV Idols Paperback – October 29, 2001
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About the Author
James Robert Parish, a former entertainment reporter and publicist, is the author of more than 90 books. A well-known authority on show business, he appears frequently as an expert on A&E's "Biography" and E! Television's "Mysteries and Scandals," as well as numerous other network and cable television documentaries.
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Top Customer Reviews
But... There needs to be some fact-checking as well as some proofreading of the book. Consistent in mistaking an uppercase I for the number one seemed popular. Also the author tended to inject a lot of personal opinions, as we see in the note for Clara Blandick (Auntie Em from The Wizard of Oz). Clara committed suicide after being wracked with pain and a steadily declining health outlook as well as progressive blindness, prompting the author to write, "What a pathetic end for the sturdy, no-nonsense Auntie Em." I took exception to that statement and it caused me to read the rest of the book with a slightly less enthusiastic demeanor. I don't feel that this is the kind of book that is served by editorializing in this manner.
I was pleased to see that the book contains a very comprehensive necrology of, at the very least, many hundreds - perhaps thousands -- of Hollywood notables. There is also a lengthy list of burials by site of Tinseltown's departed, a surely welcome resource for fans who plan vacations around cemeteries and death ephemera.
To be sure, I would have given this at least one more star but for the distraction of unproofread copy and unnecessary editorializing.
The only real issue I had with the book was the way the author classified several deaths as "suicides", when they might not have actually been suicides. One actor (I don't remember his name), apparently held a gun to his head and pulled the trigger while joking around, thinking it wasn't loaded, which hardly counts as being a known suicide. To give the author credit, he does present these in an unbiased, neutral way, settling on just presenting the details and letting the reader come to their own conclusions, but many of the so-called "suicides" in that section didn't seem to me to belong there.
It was still a fascinating read, and I learned a ton about actors whose deaths I had heard of, but knew little about. For example, I knew that Chris Farley had died of a drug overdose, but I never knew the almost unbelievable story of his last few days. The story of Freddie Prinze was also interesting. I loved that it covered a wide variety of celebrities, from a variety of time-periods, rather than focusing on the most famous and the most recent. It focused quite a bit on Old Hollywood, which is what I'm most interested, so that was perfect. The author sticks mostly to the facts, and avoids trying to glamorize, or even villify, the many, many, celebrities covered in the book. Definitely worth a re-read!