Is there life after the Hollywood’s Garden of Allah hotel?

With the release of Closing Credits, the 9th and final installment of my Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novels, the question naturally became: What’s next? My father recently asked me, “Now that your last book is out, what are you doing with all that free time?” He was amazed when I told him that my next book was already researched, plotted out, and that I was half-way through the first draft. And now that I am, I thought perhaps it was time to give you a sneak peek at what I’m working on:

After having spent ten years reading, researching, and writing about the Garden of Allah Hotel, I decided it was time that the Garden’s original owner, Alla Nazimova got her own novel. She led an extraordinary life, which has already been documented in a first-rate biography by Gavin Lambert. On re-reading Lambert’s book, I found myself thinking of the crossroads she faced in the early 1920s when her primary friendships were with Natacha Rambova and her boyfriend, Rudolph Valentino with whom Nazimova had starred in 1921’s Camille. I’ll reveal more about this novel at a later date but watch this space for more info.

~oOo~

 

I also get asked quite frequently what is happening with the screen option that was taken out by film and TV producer, Tabrez Noorani. I can confirm that the option came up for renewal in November 2018 and it was renewed. I don’t know much more than that other than Tabrez’s company has been working on the project. The wheels of that industry turn mighty slowly so there’s no telling when I will have more news, but when I do, I’ll certainly let you know.

~oOo~

A few blog posts ago I shared some of my favorite vintage photos of Hollywood and Los Angeles that I’d posted on my daily photo blog, and I got so much terrific response that I thought I’d post some more:

a forest of oil derricks crowds the huntington beach coastline, los angeles, 1940

The Huntington Beach coastline in 1940 was a forest of oil derricks. Oil discoveries in Huntington Beach, Long Beach and Santa Fe Springs in 1920 and 1921 drove massive drilling.

Maxwell House Coffee and Mayflower Doughnuts at Broadway and 8th Street, downtown Los Angeles, 1937. All that blazing electric light looks like a beacon to night owls and insomniacs…not to mention femme fatales plotting wicked revenge.

Motorists celebrate the completion of Sunset Boulevard during the spring of 1904. (Although why they’re driving along the sidewalk is anybody’s guess.)

Crowds gather to see “Frankenstein” at the Orpheum Theatre, downtown Los Angeles, December 1931. I love how the banner proclaims: “10000 Thrills Frozen Into An Epic Of Terror.”

Night shot of the Carthay Circle Theatre, San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, the year it opened, 1926

~oOo~

I’ve read a couple of books lately that might be of interest to fans of golden-era Hollywood:

hollywood godfather - the life and crimes of billy wilkerson

“HOLLYWOOD GODFATHER –
the life and crimes of Billy Wilkerson”
by WR Wilkerson III

As readers of my novels will already know, the founding publisher of The Hollywood Reporter, Billy Wilkerson, is a featured character throughout the novels. There wasn’t a whole lot of information on Wilkerson for me to use so I hoped that I was able to give my readers a feel for what this guy was like–and I believe that I have. But oh my! Between the Reporter, the nightclubs, the feuds, the blacklist, the mafia, and putting Las Vegas on the map, I wish I’d had this eye-popping, warts-and-all, nothing-held-back biography by Wilkerson’s son to refer to. The story reads like an outrageous movie.

I’m on an Irving Thalberg spree at the moment. MGM’s head of production for the first dozen years of the studio’s life burned brightly and was then snuffed out all too soon. But boy, he sure packed a wallop while he was around. Both these books are by Mark Vieira.

Irving Thalberg: Boy Wonder to Producer Prince is the full-detailed biography that tells you pretty much all you’ll ever need to know.

Hollywood Dreams Made Real: Irving Thalberg and the Rise of M-G-M is the coffee-table version. Less detailed with biographical information but packed with some of the most gorgeous photographs I’ve seen from the studio era.

I suspect that once I’m done with Irving Thalberg, my focus will shift to Ben Hecht, the amazingly prolific screenwriter, playwright, and novelist. For many years he was the go-to guy a studio or producer went to if they needed help fixing their script. He has 165 credits on IMDB many of them listed as “uncredited.” Somehow he also found the time to direct 7 movies and become a busy civil activist. I haven’t read either of these books yet but they promise to be a terrific read.

Ben Hecht: Fighting Words, Moving Pictures by Adina Hoffman

The Notorious Ben Hecht by Julien Gorbach

I’m always on the lookout for a book that covers an aspect of Hollywood or Los Angeles history. So this one that’s coming out in May about the history of the Chateau Marmont (which opened across the street from the Garden of Allah two years later) is on my wishlist. But hmmmm…there’s something awfully familiar about that name…if I could just put my finger on it…

The Castle on Sunset by Shawn Levy (released May 7, 2019)

~oOo~

Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novels:

  • Book 1 – The Garden on Sunset
  • Book 2 – The Trouble with Scarlett
  • Book 3 – Citizen Hollywood
  • Book 4 – Searchlights and Shadows
  • Book 5 – Reds in the Beds
  • Book 6 – Twisted Boulevard
  • Book 7 – Tinseltown Confidential
  • Book 8 – City of Myths
  • Book 9 – Closing Credits

~oOo~

http://www.MartinTurnbull.com

Martin Turnbull’s audio books on Audible.com

~oOo~

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The end of an era: CLOSING CREDITS, the 9th and final Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novel is now available

It’s not every day that you get to announce the culmination of a project that’s taken ten years, but today is such a day. I am happy and excited and relieved and sad and amazed and more than a little verklempt to announce the publication of Closing Credits, the ninth and final novel in the Hollywood’s Garden of Allah series.

"Closing Credits" by Martin Turnbull, the 9th and final installment in the Hollywood's Garden of Allah series

Ten years ago all I had was an idea—but it was a doozy: Tell the story of the Garden of Allah Hotel and the unfolding evolution of the golden era of studio-system Hollywood through the eyes of three ambitious wannabes. Somehow, I instinctively knew who my three main characters were: Marcus Adler, Kathryn Massey, and Gwendolyn Brick. I knew what they looked like, talked like, how it felt to be around them, their strengths and flaws, and what their journey through 1920s, ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s Hollywood was going to be like. All I had to do was write it!

Well, yes, okay, there was a little bit more to it than that (my research bibliography totals over 140 books) but now that I’ve typed the final “THE END”, it astounds me that I’ve gone from:

Story idea - Garden of Allah - Sunset Blvd - golden years Hollywood

This is my original note that I made when the idea came to me back in 2008.

to:

When I started, I didn’t know anyone who had done what I was setting out to do. And nobody certainly knew who the heck I was. But now I have nine titles out (plus three boxed sets), and there are a ton of enthusiastic people who follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, and my books have been optioned for the screen. But more importantly, I’ve met all sorts of wonderful people who share my passion for this remarkable era where like-minded, creatively inclined kindred spirits worked together to invent and refine an art form that reached every corner of the globe. To each and every one of you who have been cheering me on, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support, comments, emails, tweets, and messages. It’s really meant the world to me during this decade-long marathon that seems to have flown by.

~oOo~

You can read the Closing Credits description and first chapter HERE.

~oOo~

Closing Credits is now available in the following formats:

Amazon (US) Kindle ebook

Amazon (US) paperback

Amazon (UK) Kindle ebook

Amazon (UK) paperback

Amazon (Australia) Kindle ebook

Amazon (Canada) Kindle ebook

Amazon (Canada) paperback

Barnes & Noble Nook ebook

Apple iBook ebook

Kobo ebook

Book Depository (free shipping worldwide for all paperbacks)

AudiobookCOMING SOON!

For more information, see the Closing Credits page on my website

~oOo~

When you have read Closing Credits, if you have the chance and inclination, I’d really appreciate it if you could leave a review on whichever website you bought it. Rate it as many stars as you see fit, and give your honest opinion. Just a couple of lines will do! The more reviews a book has, the higher its profile rises. Thanks!
Martin Turnbull
PS – Or if you’re not comfortable leaving a review, I’d still love to hear from you.

~oOo~

Now that Closing Credits is available, the 3rd Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novels trilogy is also available (ebook only):

Garden of Allah Trilogy #3

The Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novels trilogy #3

Book 7 – Tinseltown Confidential

Book 8 – City of Myths

Book 9 – Closing Credits

Trilogy #3 on Amazon (US)

Trilogy #3 on Amazon (UK)

Trilogy #3 on Amazon (Canada)

Trilogy #3 on Amazon (Australia)

Trilogy #3 on Barnes & Noble (Nook)

Trilogy #3 on Kobo

Trilogy #3 on Apple iBooks

~oOo~

Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novels:

  • Book 1 – The Garden on Sunset
  • Book 2 – The Trouble with Scarlett
  • Book 3 – Citizen Hollywood
  • Book 4 – Searchlights and Shadows
  • Book 5 – Reds in the Beds
  • Book 6 – Twisted Boulevard
  • Book 7 – Tinseltown Confidential
  • Book 8 – City of Myths
  • Book 9 – Closing Credits

~oOo~

http://www.MartinTurnbull.com

Martin Turnbull’s audio books on Audible.com

~oOo~

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Golden-era Hollywood versus Disney’s Hollywood Studios – a side-by-side comparison

I’m freshly returned from a week’s vacation at the so-huge-it’s-almost-overwhelming Walt Disney World resort in Florida. As a Californian, I was curious to see how their Magic Kingdom measured up to the Disneyland’s Magic Kingdom that I’m used to — it’s much the same, but bigger. As a movie fan, I was keen to see their recreation of Pandora from the movie Avatar — it’s superb, especially the simulated thrill ride, “Flight of Passage.” But as a writer of Hollywood historical fiction, I was particularly keen to experience their Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park.

I was there in 1997, long before I started researching Los Angeles history for my Garden of Allah novels. This time around, however, I am much more familiar with the various landmarks around LA (as documented in my daily Photo Blog) and wanted to see how faithfully they had reproduced LA at its architectural peak.

I’m happy to say that it exceeded my expectations. With so much thought given to so much detail, I thought you might like to see some side-by-side comparisons of the best of the bunch. Each title will link you to more information.

~oOo~

The Academy Theater in Inglewood

~oOo~

Baine Studio Building, 6609 Hollywood Blvd (at Whitley Ave)

Harry Baine was a businessman and LA County Supervisor who created the Hollywood Christmas Parade in 1928. This building was designed by architects Henry Gogerty & Carl Weyl, who designed many buildings including the Hollywood Playhouse on Vine St., Hollywood.

~oOo~

Biltmore Hotel, downtown Los Angeles

The recreation of the Rendezvous Court at the Biltmore Hotel opposite Pershing Square is found inside the “Hollywood Tower of Terror” ride, which I thought was a clever touch. (Ironically, Disneyland here in California no longer has this ride–it’s now Guardians of the Galaxy. Don’t get me started…)

~oOo~

Carthay Circle Theatre, Westwood

Note the old-fashioned semaphore traffic signal. There are several of them around this theme park. Nice touch, Disney!

~oOo~

Crossroads of the World shopping mall, Sunset Blvd

Of course, the original Crossroads of the World doesn’t have a Mickey Mouse perched atop its iconic tower. Disney also lights this very well at night.

~oOo~

Dr. Beauchamp Dentistry building at Hollywood and Cahuenga Blvds

~oOo~

Security-First National Bank , 5207 Wilshire Blvd

~oOo~

Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Hollywood Blvd

~oOo~

Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant, Vine St, Hollywood

Their neon signage at night is particularly effective:

~oOo~

Max Factor building, Highland Ave, Hollywood

~oOo~

Pan Pacific Auditorium, Beverly Blvd

It also lit up beautifully at night:

~oOo~

The Darkroom photographic store, 5368 Wilshire Blvd

~oOo~

Warner Brothers Theater, Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills

The original theater wasn’t painted in those bright colors, of course, but get a load of that Art Deco detailing!

~oOo~

Ralph’s supermarket on Wilshire Blvd

~oOo~

Oakland Floral Depot, 1900 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland

~oOo~

Beverly-Poinsettia Commercial Building, 7290 Beverly Blvd

I’m not sure if this last building was modeled after a real-life counterpart so if you can identify ait for me, I’d love to hear from you.

 

~oOo~

As I walked out of the park that night I thought, Until Elon Musk invents a time machine for us, this’ll have to do. Truthfully, it’s not a bad substitute.

~oOo~

"Closing Credits" - Book 9 in the Hollywood's Garden of Allah series by Martin TurnbullThe 9th and final Garden of Allah novel – Closing Credits – is getting closer to publication. I’ll be getting the manuscript back from my editor in the next couple of days. So we’re still on track for a November release…or maybe even earlier!

~oOo~

Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novels:

Book 1 – The Garden on Sunset
Book 2 – The Trouble with Scarlett
Book 3 – Citizen Hollywood
Book 4 – Searchlights and Shadows
Book 5 – Reds in the Beds
Book 6 – Twisted Boulevard
Book 7 – Tinseltown Confidential
Book 8 – City of Myths
Book 9 – Closing Credits

~oOo~

The Hollywood's Garden of Allah series by Martin Turnbull - all 9 titles

~oOo~

isit golden-era Hollywood with two free books!~oOo~

www.MartinTurnbull.com

Martin Turnbull on Facebook

~oOo~

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Say Goodbye To Hollywood: revealing the 9th and final Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novel.

The first book in my Hollywood’s Garden of Allah series – The Garden on Sunset – came out in January 2012. Back then, my planned 9-novel rollicking ride through golden-era Hollywood still stretched before me like the yellow brick road through the advent of the talkies and then Technicolor; the search for Scarlett O’Hara; the fight over Citizen Kane; the war years at the Hollywood Canteen; the postwar rise of anti-Communism and its resulting blacklist; the decline of radio and the rise of television; movies going widescreen and 3-D and stereophonic, and anything else they could come up with to forestall the inevitable breakdown of the studio system.

There was so much story to tell, so much history to explore, and I was excited to plunge into it all. And now six years have flown by and suddenly we’re close to the end of the rollercoaster. This coming November (2018) I will be releasing the final novel in my series, but for now, I am excited to offer you a preview of what is coming.

CLOSING CREDITS

Book 9 in the Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novels

by Martin Turnbull

DUE FOR RELEASE IN NOVEMBER 2018

"Closing Credits" - Book 9 in the Hollywood's Garden of Allah series by Martin Turnbull

This final book stretches from late 1955 to summer 1959 and is about the end of everything:

  • this series of novels
  • the 1950s and everything it represented
  • the restrictive Production Code
  • Hollywood’s golden-era studio system
  • the Garden of Allah Hotel

I wanted a cover that would represent all that, and decided that the Garden of Allah’s closing night party in late August 1959 symbolized it perfectly.

You can see a collection of photos taken that night HERE. As you’ll see, it was quite the merrymaking event.

I asked my cover designer, Dan Yeager to come up with an amalgamation of those images, and I think he’s done a marvelous job. It is also my hope that Closing Credits gives us a taste of what we missed out on, and a fond farewell as we come to that final, bittersweet THE END.

~oOo~

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Sometimes the end is only the beginning.

Kathryn Massey thought a long-forgotten secret was dead and buried—just like the 1950s are about to be—but when a mysterious list circulating Screenland ignites salacious rumors about the gossip columnist, it’s her life that now falls under the magnifying glass.

Marcus Adler is a rare survivor of the Hollywood blacklist. Beset by writer’s block, he’s intrigued by an abandoned box in the basement of the Garden of Allah Hotel. Its contents could rejuvenate his career—but cost him his reputation.

Gwendolyn Brick stumbled into the blossoming television industry. No fan of the spotlight, she’s conflicted by the opportunities coming her way. Things are about to change, and when she teams up with Lucille Ball, she won’t let the network stop the rapid march to progress.

On busy backlots and in quiet basements, secrets and lies dance with fame and failure amid Hollywood’s dying golden era. Nobody knows how this movie’s going to end . . . but it’ll be one for the ages.

Closing Credits is the ninth and final installment in Martin Turnbull’s Hollywood’s Garden of Allah saga.

~oOo~

The Garden of Allah Hotel as seen from Sunset Blvd, circa late 1940sThe Garden of Allah Hotel as seen from Sunset Blvd, circa late 1940s. (colorized)
It opened in January 1927 and closed in August 1959.

~oOo~

CHAPTER 1

Kathryn Massey wished she had a button on her desk labeled “SILENCE.” During the twenty years she’d worked in the Hollywood Reporter newsroom, she’d grown inured to the incessant shrieking of telephones, lewd comments thrown around like clay pigeons, and barking laughter at the expense of some studio peacock whose weekly salary exceeded the gross national product of a small European nation.

The zip and zing of sixty-five people battling to meet a collective deadline usually galvanized her into a feverish blur of fingertips pounding typewriter keys. But there were days when the din drowned her thoughts and she wished she could hit her SILENCE button and make the racket fade away.

This was one of those days.

She reached for her Chesterfields. The pack was empty, the ashtray filled to overflowing. She had worked hard to build Window on Hollywood into the read-first column that had filmland denizens asking, What is Kathryn Massey writing about today?

Tomorrow’s column addressed a subject that could point the way for a brand-new future for Hollywood. But only if she worded it exactly right.

She had just come from a press preview for The Man with the Golden Arm. The movie had everything going for it. Starring Frank Sinatra, directed by Otto Preminger, and based on a National Book Award–winning novel, it was about an ex-con’s attempt to kick his heroin habit. Stirring stuff. Gritty. Unflinching. And likely to be at the front of the line when it came time to hand out shiny awards—except for one little detail: the producers planned to release the picture without Production Code approval.

Preminger had done it with The Moon Is Blue, and that brave shot across the bow had paid off handsomely by pulling in eight times its budget. But this Sinatra movie, with its ex-cons, card sharks, strippers, and heroin addicts did more than break the Code’s rules; it was a double-fisted, middle-finger salute to the sacrosanct Code and the blue-nosed puritans whose morality was stuck in Victorian-era quicksand.

This was 1955, for crying out loud. What could and could not be depicted on screen needed to be overhauled—or better still, overturned. If The Man with the Golden Arm was the hundred-pound bowling ball to knock over those carefully arranged wooden pins, Kathryn was all for it.

And if she could word her column to persuade rather than browbeat, she might set the whole town talking. But she needed to say it right and at the moment, the squall around her served to distract rather than ignite.

She dropped the empty cigarette pack into her trashcan and cast around the office for a catalyst to kickstart her juices. What caught her eye, though, was the Reporter’s honey-blonde receptionist stomping toward the women’s bathroom. Deadline or not, the sight of this one-woman Sherman’s March to the Sea was worth investigating.

Her telephone buzzed.

“This is Kathryn Massey.”

“Are you free to talk discreetly?” Darryl Zanuck sounded as though every syllable was being throttled out of him.

“I’m sitting in a roomful of people all within spitballing distance.”

“I want to come see you.”

In the usual course of events, men like Zanuck issued a summons and people like Kathryn broke the speed limit to accommodate them.

“When did you have in mind?”

“Tonight. Your place.”

The “OH!” rocketed out of Kathryn before she had a chance to smooth away its sharp edges. “How’s about eight o’clock? I’m in number twelve.”

“Be sure Nelson Hoyt is there.”

He hung up, leaving her to wonder what the blue blazes had just happened. For Zanuck to request a meeting at the Garden of Allah was puzzling, but to ask that her private-eye boyfriend also be there was intriguing.

Kathryn’s mind returned to the vision of Cassandra beelining for the ladies’ room, and she got to her feet. She found the girl at the farthermost mirror repairing her watery mascara and parked herself at the neighboring vanity. “You okay?”

Cassandra reached into her purse and pulled out three sheets of paper that had been stapled together. She crumpled them between her knuckles like the bouquet of a bride jilted at the altar. “Mr. Wilkerson had me paw through yesterday’s trash to look for a memo he accidentally threw out.”

“Is that it?”

“No. This is a list of employees and their salaries.” Cassandra thrust the papers into Kathryn’s hand and told her to check the name at the bottom of the third page.

Kathryn smoothed out the papers on the vanity and flipped to the last page in the sheaf. Her eyes narrowed. The number wasn’t much but she guessed it was probably the going rate for a seventeen-year-old mailroom boy.

“Now look at my name, top of page two.”

Kathryn turned the sheet over. “You earn seven dollars a week less than the mailroom boy?”

“Yup, the one who’s been working here eleven months.”

“But you’ve—”

“Nearly ten years.”

Kathryn checked her salary against her own name. The amount was accurate. “You want me to take this to Wilkerson?”

“Look at Mike’s figure.”

From the day Mike Connolly had arrived at the Reporter, Kathryn had suffered through a love-hate relationship with the guy who wrote the other high-profile column. He had pushed The Rambling Reporter to admirable prominence, but his snide tone and underhanded tactics left her wishing he’d creep back to Daily Variety, from whence he’d slithered.

She stared mutely at the number beside his name until Cassandra asked, “Do you feel like puking?”

“I’ve been here for twenty years. I had a radio show. I helped elevate the Hollywood Reporter name to national prominence. I—I’m—”

“—paid a whole bunch less?”

Kathryn sat immobile, transfixed by a whirlpool of emotions. It was outrageous. Stupefying. Downright insulting was what it was. “Do you mind if I hang on to this?”

“You can cut it up and make paper dolls, for all I care.”

On the hike back to her desk, Kathryn counted seven women, including herself and Cassandra. Of the ten lowest-paid staff members, eight of them were women. She was the only one on a decent salary.

She picked up the phone and buzzed Billy Wilkerson’s secretary to see if he was available. Vera told her he was at Santa Anita and wouldn’t be in the office until tomorrow. Kathryn inserted the papers into the zippered side pocket of her handbag. “One campaign at a time,” she told herself, and turned back to her typewriter.

* * *

By the time eight bells chimed on her mantle clock, Kathryn had decided it was just as well that her boss had been at the racetrack. If she’d come roaring in, guns blazing like Annie Oakley, she might’ve ended up shooting herself in the foot. Taking the time to consider all approaches might result in a more equitable outcome—and not just for her, but for every female employee at the Reporter.

“Am I fooling myself?” she asked Nelson.

“About what?” He knew as well as Kathryn did that this was likely to be no ordinary meeting, so he’d stirred up a pitcher of martinis.

“Men are paid more because they have families to raise, kids to send to college, Elks Lodge fees to pay.”

“You don’t actually believe that, do you?” he asked.

Even as she’d said it out loud, she knew she was regurgitating all the drivel Wilkerson would give her. “No, but I’m not sure which way to play it.”

“Are you asking for advice, or do you just need an ear to bend?” He moved aside the vase of pink and mauve peonies she’d arranged to distract her anxious hands.

“You’re a guy, too,” she said drily, “so your loyalty is questionable.”

He kissed her lightly on the cheek. “Do I get extra points for being a guy who’s one hundred percent on your side?”

She smiled. Their rock-strewn trail to romance used to feel like the plot of an over-baked Ida Lupino picture. But once they’d dropped all pretenses that the relationship couldn’t work, everything had fallen into place.

Their summer had been a glorious kaleidoscope of candlelit dinners, Sunday picnics on Malibu Beach, holding hands at the movies, and splurging on expensive champagne that neither of them could sensibly afford. But the first bloom of a new love was not the time to be sensible. Not even if that new love was on its second go-around.

“Yes,” she told him. “You get ten extra points.”

A soft tap-tap-tap wasn’t what Kathryn expected from a movie mogul. Then again, a home visit was unprecedented too. Kathryn pulled at the cuffs of her blouse before she opened the door.

Darryl Zanuck usually held himself like a Roman general. Tonight, however, he looked every inch the sort of five-foot-six guy who wished he were six-foot-five.

He stepped into Kathryn’s vestibule with a reticence she wouldn’t have believed possible if she weren’t witnessing it firsthand. “Thank you for making the time.” He threaded the brim of his Homburg through his fingers.

Kathryn made the introductions and led Zanuck into the living room, where she gave him the choice of sofa or dining room chair. He threw the hat onto the dining table.

As Nelson poured the martinis, she took a seat beside Zanuck. “I assume you’re here for something that ought not be discussed at the office?”

Zanuck reached into his jacket and pulled out a sheet of paper folded into thirds. “I received this in the mail.” He hadn’t looked Kathryn in the eye yet. “It came to the house marked ‘Strictly Private and Confidential.’” He unfolded the paper and laid it in front of her.

None of the twenty names in the neatly typed column sounded familiar. “Who are these women? Ex-girlfriends?”

“Jesus! How many women do you think I’ve had?”

She threw Zanuck a look that said, Don’t make me answer that.

He chugged a mouthful of martini that must have burned his throat. “I don’t have a clue who they are, but you’re as well connected in this town as anyone I know. Probably even better.”

“I suppose that’s true.”

“Do you know any of these names?”

One of them near the bottom—Lorelei Boothe—looked familiar, but only in the vaguest way. Or was she thinking of Lorelei Lee, the character Marilyn had played in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes? “Sorry, but I don’t.”

Zanuck turned to Nelson. “I want to hire you to look into these women.”

Nelson took the paper from Kathryn. “I can certainly do that. My daily retainer—”

“Christ only knows where your investigations might lead—” he pressed his forefinger to the table “—so it goes without saying that you must exercise the utmost discretion.”

“Of course.”

“And that goes for you, too,” Zanuck told Kathryn. “If you promise to keep this on the Q.T., I can offer you the scoop of the year.”

No word in the English language possessed the power to set Kathryn Massey’s heart fluttering like the word scoop. Especially when followed by those three delicious qualifiers: of the year. She sipped her martini, then sipped it again for reinforcement. “I’m all ears.”

Zanuck let a moment tick by. Two villas away, Doris Adler was holding a cribbage party, although given the loud chatter punctuated with bursts of laughter, Kathryn doubted that much cribbage was being played.

“I’m moving to Europe to start a new life with Bella Darvi,” he said.

During her time in Hollywood, Kathryn had witnessed the careers of czars like Zanuck come to an end. Virtually every one had had to be dragged from his office, fingernails raking the carpet.

“That’s quite a step,” she said evenly.

His eyes came to rest on Kathryn’s reproduction of a Maxfield Parrish painting called “The Garden of Allah”—a neoclassic image of a languid trio of gauze-draped women lounging at the edge of a pool. “I’m following my heart for once.”

“Thank you for trusting me with this.” Her mind was whirling: she had been planning how to confront her boss about the insulting pay disparity, but she knew that she’d need as much firepower as she could muster—and this earthquake had landed in her lap right when she needed it.

“I have a condition,” Zanuck said, interrupting her thoughts.

“Name it.”

“You have to sit on this news until I’m ready to announce it.”

“And when—?”

“February at the latest.”

Three months. News this big was like smoke in a wicker basket: likely to leak out at any time. It’d be a miracle if Louella Parsons or Hedda Hopper or Sheilah Graham didn’t catch wind of it first. Or worse, Mike Connolly.

“Can I have your word?” Zanuck asked.

“Absolutely.” She pointed to the list. “May I keep it?”

“All yours.” He followed Kathryn to the front door. Stepping outside, he said, “I’ve always heard about this place. It’s nice. Cozy. Got atmosphere.”

“You should’ve been here in the twenties and thirties.”

His eyes sparked with long-dormant memory. “Prohibition! Those were the days, weren’t they?” He jammed his hat on his head. “But nothing lasts forever.”

She listened to the sound of the gravel crunching under his Mullen & Bluett shoes and watched him dissolve into the shadows.

~oOo~

CLOSING CREDITS is due for release in NOVEMBER 2018

~oOo~

Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novels:

Book 1 – The Garden on Sunset
Book 2 – The Trouble with Scarlett
Book 3 – Citizen Hollywood
Book 4 – Searchlights and Shadows
Book 5 – Reds in the Beds
Book 6 – Twisted Boulevard
Book 7 – Tinseltown Confidential
Book 8 – City of Myths
Book 9 – Closing Credits (due out November 2018)

~oOo~

The Hollywood's Garden of Allah series by Martin Turnbull - all 9 titles

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Releasing the audiobook of “City of Myths” (and other tidbits)

I am very happy and excited and all-things-tingly to announce the release of a new audiobook in my Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novels:

BOOK 8: CITY OF MYTHS

I have a new narrator for this one. His name is Price Waldman and oh boy, did he have a challenge on his hands. Not only did he have to contend with the usual rigors of giving voice to Marcus, Kathryn, and Gwendolyn, but part of the story unfolds in Italy, so he also had to come up with a number of Italian accents, as well as some Italian dialogue. In addition to that, he had to voice Romanian film director Jean Negulesco, Polish actress Bella Darvi, Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman, and Hollywood legend Marilyn Monroe. He has done a superb job and I’m sure all you audiobook fans out there will agree.

"City of Myths" by Martin Turnbull, narrated by Price Waldman (audiobook cover)

The City of Myths audiobook is available through:

Amazon

Audible

iTunes

Links to the paperback and ebook versions are on the City of Myths page on my website.

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CITY OF MYTHS

When you live in a city built on shifting sands of myth, it can be hard to know which way is up.

Kathryn Massey spends her days spreading rumors and keeping secrets. Losing herself one headline at a time has left Kathryn’s personal identity scattered—and dumps her at the narrow end of the bargaining table with the man she trusts the least.

Gwendolyn Brick has simpler aspirations. As a costume designer, her sights are set on glamour, not heights of fame. But her friendship with Marilyn Monroe puts her directly into the crosshairs of studio head, Darryl Zanuck—and he’s someone you don’t say no to.

Marcus Adler is stuck in a much more precarious situation. Exiled in Rome but under the spell of an unexpected romance, he’ll have to learn to say goodbye to everything he’s accomplished in order to give love a chance.

The road through Hollywood bears sharply to the right as those who dare to play its game can easily become lost in its intoxicating glow.

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HOLLYWOOD’S GARDEN OF ALLAH NOVELS – BOOK 9

For those of you who are wondering, the first draft of the 9th (and final!) book is progressing well. In fact, I’m working on the second-to-last chapter right now. It takes place at the Garden’s closing party, which means it all comes down to this night. Come the morning, there shall be no more Garden of Allah Hotel…

(For photos of that night, see my collection of shots taken during the party.)

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Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novels:

  • Book 1 – The Garden on Sunset
  • Book 2 – The Trouble with Scarlett
  • Book 3 – Citizen Hollywood
  • Book 4 – Searchlights and Shadows
  • Book 5 – Reds in the Beds
  • Book 6 – Twisted Boulevard
  • Book 7 – Tinseltown Confidential
  • Book 8 – City of Myths
  • Book 9 – Due out November 2018-ish (emphasis on “ish”)

Hollywood's Garden of Allah novels by Martin Turnbull

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Connect with Martin Turnbull:

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Facebook

Pinterest

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Grab your free books now (limited time offer)

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Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novels on FACEBOOK

Martin Turnbull’s audio books on Audible.com

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Now available! Book 8 in the Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novels: “CITY OF MYTHS”

Those of us who are fascinated by all things golden-era Hollywood can sometimes forget that it wasn’t the only city in the business of myth creation. When I started writing my Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novels, my focus was entirely on Los Angeles. But as my series and research progressed into the 1950s, I was reminded that there was another city in the process of creating its own myths: Rome.

Via Veneto, Rome, 1950s

Via Veneto, Rome, 1950s

It wasn’t the only place, of course. Paris, London, and Scandinavia were also busy reviving their post-war cinema, but in the course of my reading, I came to see that Rome in the 50s was much like LA in the 30s, which is to say an effervescent ferment of creativity where the right people with the right skills and the right look rose to the surface. Together they created the legendary careers of people who we still talk about today: Lollobrigida, De Sica, Rossellini, Loren, De Laurentiis, Fellini, Zeffirelli.

And not just people, but places, too, like Via Veneto, the home of café society and paparazzi (originally called scattini) centered at the Café de Paris, and the vast studio facility, Cinecittà, where the Italians were filming their own mythic Roman Empire stories, and where Hollywood studios came to shoot productions like Quo Vadis (1951), Roman Holiday (1953), The Barefoot Contessa (1954), Three Coins in the Fountain (1954), Helen of Troy (1956) and Ben-Hur. (1959)

By the mid 50s, Hollywood filmmaking could no longer take place on back lots. 1952 saw"Three Coins in the Fountain" movie poster the inauguration of the first commercial jet services, which gave rise to faster air travel, which in turn birthed the “jet set.” This development brought the world to Hollywood, and Hollywood to the world. This meant that it was no longer the epicenter of filmic mythmaking. I struggled for a while to find a title that straddled both Hollywood and Rome until I had a head-slapping “DUH!” moment. The perfect name had been staring me in the face all along.

I am very happy to announce that my new novel

“CITY OF MYTHS”

is now available.

~oOo~

"City of Myths" by Martin Turnbull (book 8 in the Hollywood's Garden of Allah series

When you live in a city built on shifting sands of myth, it can be hard to know which way is up.

Kathryn Massey spends her days spreading rumors and keeping secrets. Losing herself one headline at a time has left Kathryn’s personal identity scattered—and dumps her at the narrow end of the bargaining table with the man she trusts the least.

Gwendolyn Brick has simpler aspirations. As a costume designer, her sights are set on glamour, not heights of fame. But her friendship with Marilyn Monroe puts her directly into the crosshairs of studio head, Darryl Zanuck—and he’s someone you don’t say no to.

Marcus Adler is stuck in a much more precarious situation. Exiled in Rome but under the spell of an unexpected romance, he’ll have to learn to say goodbye to everything he’s accomplished in order to give love a chance.

The road through Hollywood bears sharply to the right as those who dare to play its game can easily become lost in its intoxicating glow.

City of Myths is now available in the following formats:

Martin Turnbull with
“City of Myths”
Book 8 – February 2018

Amazon (US) Kindle ebook

Amazon (US) paperback

Amazon (UK) Kindle ebook

Amazon (UK) paperback

Amazon (Australia) Kindle ebook

Amazon (Canada) Kindle ebook

Barnes & Noble Nook ebook

Barnes & Noble paperback

Apple iBook ebook

Kobo ebook

Overdrive

Book Depository (free shipping worldwide for all paperbacks)

Audiobook – COMING SOON!

For more information, see the CITY OF MYTHS page on my website.

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And when you have read City of Myths (assuming, of course, that you enjoyed it), if you have the chance and inclination, I’d really appreciate it if you could leave a review on whichever website you bought it. Rate it as many stars as you see fit, and give your honest opinion. Just a couple of lines will do! The more reviews a book has, the higher its profile rises. Thanks!
Martin Turnbull

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THE HOLLYWOOD’S GARDEN OF ALLAH NOVELS:

  • Book 1 – The Garden on Sunset
  • Book 2 – The Trouble with Scarlett
  • Book 3 – Citizen Hollywood
  • Book 4 – Searchlights and Shadows
  • Book 5 – Reds in the Beds
  • Book 6 – Twisted Boulevard
  • Book 7 – Tinseltown Confidential
  • Book 8 – City of Myths
  • Book 9 – details to be announced
~oOo~

Connect with Martin Turnbull:

Website

Facebook

Pinterest

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“The Ranch” – a Hollywood boyhood reminiscence

Winston Churchill said “History is written by the victors.” I’d like to append that with this corollary: “History belongs to those who record it.”

As a history buff–and especially as a Hollywood history buff–I love to hear about it all. “No detail too small” is my way of thinking. And I’ve found that those fine details can only be recalled by people who were there. And those of us who weren’t around at the time can only hear those stories if people take the time to write them down.

Recently, Richard Dixon contacted me to tell me how much he enjoys my daily Photo Blog posts and to share with me a reminiscence from his boyhood spent in Los Angeles. I enjoyed it so much I asked his permission to reproduce it here so that it, too, can become part of the public record.

THE RANCH

by Richard Dixon

“Lady, if you don’t get your boy back out of the shot I will be forced to cast him in this movie”.

It was LeRoy Prinz, the Hollywood movie director, speaking. Everyone laughed, I turned bright red, and my Mom pulled me way back. The film being shot was A Boy and His Dog; the year was 1946. I was 11 years old and already fascinated by everything about the movies. This Warner Bros. production which, by the way, went on to win an Academy Award for Best Short Feature of 1947 was filming on location and I couldn’t help myself from being as close to the action as I could possibly get. You see, I was now living on a movie ranch. It had once been The Lasky-Paramount Movie Ranch back in the very early days of Hollywood film-making.

Poster for "The Squaw Man" (1914)Cecil B. DeMille shot parts of Squaw Man there. DW Griffith shot scenes for Intolerance and Birth of a Nation, too. The studio had moved most of the standing sets up the coast to Agora in 1924 and opened the new Paramount Ranch there, but this entire area remained a film-shoot location and on this day, the movie was being shot, literally, right in our front yard.

Our family had been living in Burbank when my father was offered the position of manager of a part of this movie ranch, which was in the Hollywood hills just across the LA River from the Warner Brothers studio. We were on the east side of Mt. Hollywood facing the San Fernando Valley. It was the end of my Catalina Street adventure and the beginning of a very special time of my childhood.

The entire area was later bought by Forest Lawn and became Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills. It covered a thousand acres of wilderness and forest with standing sets here and there. Dry stream beds ran down deep gullies and there were mountain lions living in the caves up on the bare face of Mt. Cahuenga to the west. Although Hollywood was only a 20-minute drive over the Cahuenga Pass from our place, coyotes howled in the gully outside our house in the night creating the feeling that we were many miles from civilization. It was a boy’s living fantasy—and I was that boy.

You entered the ranch through a wooden gate on Hollingsworth Drive, which ran along the Los Angeles River just across from the Warner Brothers Studio. The roads from this point on were all dirt. Suddenly you would find yourself in a wilderness, removed from the clatter of the city. The remains of the old Lasky racetrack were on the left as you entered, and up ahead a ways was the Hudkins Brothers Ranch. This Ranch was mostly made up of stables housing movie horses.

Hudkins Stables - Burbank - Roy Rogers - Trigger Hudkins Stables - Burbank - Roy Rogers - Trigger

Clayton Moore as the Lone Ranger and Silver from a personal appearance booking at Pleasure Island, amusement park, Wakefield Massachusetts

Clayton Moore as the Lone Ranger and Silver from a personal appearance booking at Pleasure Island, amusement park, Wakefield Massachusetts.

Some of the most famous horses in film history had been boarded there over the years. Included among them was Trigger, who was purchased by Roy Rogers from the Hudkins Brothers back in, I believe, the early 1940s. Also Silver, of Lone Ranger fame, Smoky, and a lot of amazing stunt horses like those owned and ridden by Fred Kennedy, the great stunt rider of movie westerns.

There were also big barns housing all kinds of wagons, buckboards and stagecoaches just beyond the stables. We would drive through this area about three quarters of a mile up the road through a forest of mountain oaks and sycamores to our house situated at the foot of Mt. Hollywood.

My father was back in his element. Having been raised on a West Texas cattle ranch and possessing a true love for horses, he did not hesitate to leave his conventional job in Burbank to take up a position where he would be around horses every day. This was his real calling: to wake up in this beautiful setting every morning and work with horses all day long. A lot of the western stars of that time were friends of my father: Preston Foster, Bill Williams, Ken Curtis, and others. Some of these folks would visit us at the Ranch and it was exciting for me to see them in person.

On this property, there was a stable with about ten horses and a small heard of around thirty cattle that we kept fenced in an area of several acres. The horses were owned by wealthy businessmen and western actors who boarded them at our stable and rode mostly on weekends. The cattle were used in film shoots. We also had a paddock for exercising the horses, and were surrounded by beautiful, rolling woodlands where I would ride my beloved Idaho, a gentle bay mare that was my constant companion.

Each day after school, most Saturdays and Sundays, and every day during summer vacation, Idaho and I would venture out in search of film crews shooting in the area. Sometimes we would just wander through the lush oak woods, dreaming of being in an adventure movie among standing sets left from the old Lasky-Paramount days.

One summer day we headed over to Gopher Flats, a large open area about three quarters of a mile long and had a dirt track that was suitable for stage coaches, buckboards and horses to travel on.

Running parallel to the track was a paved road, which ran its entire length. This road was used by a camera car to film running horses or stage coaches. The camera car, usually a Woody station wagon with a camera and a couple of chairs mounted on top, would travel along with the action, a camera man and director sitting in the chairs on top filming the scene. What a thrill to witness these people work. I would watch these activities for hours on end and only leave when the sun was sinking, the usable light lost and the crew was packing up to head back to the studio.

As we approached The Flats that day, I saw that a large location shoot was under way. ItPoster for Stallion Road" starring Ronald Reagan, Alexis Smith, and Zachary Scott (1947) was a Warner Bros. crew and they were setting up to film an unusual scene. They were shooting Stallion Road (1947) starring Ronald Reagan and Alexis Smith. Rounding out the other parts was Zachary Scott and Harry Davenport. Harry was the consummate character actor of his time but is best remembered for playing the old family doctor or the friendly country squire.

So, why was Gopher Flats chosen for the scene being shot? The script called for a scene at the beach, and believe it or not it made sense to use this unlikely location.

When I saw the film some time later I realized why they chose this place. The scene starts with Reagan and Smith riding in the shallow surf of Santa Monica beach. They save a small boy who is caught in deep surf and they come out of the water carrying the boy up on the sand and play out the scene at the water’s edge. The script called for a wilderness background, and because the beach at Santa Monica had a city background with cars whizzing by on the highway, the reverse shot had to be filmed at Gopher Flats. My lucky day!

Perhaps because I was riding a horse, I was always able to get right up to the edge of everything that was going on. No one ever asked me what I was doing there. This was all right with me because I was in a different world as I witnessed the magic unfolding before my eyes.

On a slope of the Flats thirty miles from Santa Monica, the Warners crew had spread sand over a large sloping area and scattered wet seaweed around. A fire truck was standing by with several large hoses that were fitted with nozzles that produced soapy water. When the director, Raoul Walsh, called “Cue water,” the hoses gushed forth and a mountain of foamy “waves” roared up the slope. As the water retreated, he called “Action!” and the players moved into frame carrying the small boy. The result was stunning to me—they were emerging from the surf! It was completely believable.

When this shot was cut together with the previously filmed ocean footage, the audience would never think for a moment that they had been visually “taken.” A year or so later, I saw Stallion Road in a movie theater and was thrilled to see the beach scene that I had witnessed being shot and, yes, I was taken in just like everyone else.

Over the next several weeks I watched other scenes being shot at various locations on the Ranch for this film, both day and night shoots. Returning home from a visit to my grandparents one evening, we drove right through a night shoot on the Ranch near our house. I remember looking through the car window at what was going on and wishing I could hang around to take it all in.

I have come to realize that this aspect of motion picture making is visual “fraud” in which the director and his team take bits and pieces of film footage, usually shot out of sequence, in locations far apart, then hand them over to a talented editor who in the darkness of the cutting room cuts and splices these various bits of business together into a seamless motion that glides across the screen. Yes, all of this is what makes me helplessly enamored with every aspect of movie making.

Over the three years that my family lived on the Ranch, I watched many films being shot on location there. Some I never knew the names of, but among the ones I do know are The Boy With Green Hair, The Perils Of Pauline, Hoppy’s Holiday, It Happened on Fifth Avenue and So Dear To My Heart.

After three years on the Ranch, Dad took another job, managing a riding academy and I said a sad farewell to some of the most wonderful years of my youth. Those experiences were magical and unforgettable, and have, in some ways, influenced my entire life. Whenever I am in a nostalgic frame of mind, I can, even today, relive moments that made a young boy love every waking hour of the day.


Learn more information about the Lasky Ranch, see:

The Three Stooges, Birth of a Nation, Forest Lawn Trees



UPDATE: CITY OF MYTHS (book 8)

"City of Myths" by Martin Turnbull (book 8 in the Hollywood's Garden of Allah series

 

Yesterday, I got the manuscript for City of Myths back from my editor, so we are still on track for a release date of late February 2018.

For those of you who keep telling me “The longer the book, the better!” you’ll be pleased to know that she said it was such a tight manuscript that she only lost about 1000 words, which mean this one will definitely be the longest one yet.


UPDATE: MAREM PERFUME

Marem perfume artwork (Caswell-Massey)

A while ago I announced an exciting project that I and the Alla Nazimova Society have become involved in. New York perfumer, Caswell-Massey announced that they were releasing a new fragrance based on a personal perfume they formulated for Alla Nazimova in 1914. They sent me a sample of MAREM (which is Alla’s original name in Russian) and I am glad to report that it’s delightful. Recently they sent me this artwork so that we can see can get an idea of the bottle and the box. I’m excited to share it with you all today and will keep you posted about their launches, which are planned for sometime in the spring of 2018.

~oOo~

http://www.MartinTurnbull.com

For tons of photos and information about the places and people mentioned
in the Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novels, visit Martin Turnbull on Facebook
and/or go to his Photo Blog on his website.

~oOo~

Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novels:

  • Book 1 – The Garden on Sunset
  • Book 2 – The Trouble with Scarlett
  • Book 3 – Citizen Hollywood
  • Book 4 – Searchlights and Shadows
  • Book 5 – Reds in the Beds
  • Book 6 – Twisted Boulevard
  • Book 7 – Tinseltown Confidential
  • Book 8 – City of Myths (due out February 2018)
  • Book 9 – Watch this space for future announcements

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