After collecting literally hundreds of vintage tales of Hollywood legends over the years, Stephen Schochet not only wrote a book that everyone could enjoy on the glamorous, and not so glamorous, stories of Hollywood icons, but also created audiobooks. As explained in an interview with Reuters, this
entrepreneur told two kinds of stories on his tour bus; origin stories – telling how things we take for granted came to be, and funny anecdotes. He not only read a lot of books to find his material, but
also tried to meet people who were connected to the famous – like housekeepers – that he could garner some tidbits from! His book is a special blend of biography, history and legends and covers scandalous
yarns on some of Hollywood’s greatest characters – from Shirley Temple and Lucille Ball to Charlie Chaplin, Walt Disney and Michael Jackson.
Hollywood Stories: Short, Entertaining Anecdotes About the Stars and Legends of the Movies! (Hollywood Publishing) is packed with wild and wonderful short tales on many famous stars, movies and directors – anyone who has been a part of the world’s most fascinating and unpredictable industry!
The author covers the gamut when it comes to situational stories; from the one about a bus full of tourists at Universal Studies who were viewing the famous motel from the movie Psycho and who screamed in terror as a tall man, dressed in drag, carrying a large knife and looking remarkably like Norman Bates, charged the tram with a convincing maniacal expression– only to find out it was actor Jim Carrey having some fun – to the story of how Walt Disney overprotected his two daughters from the limelight in fear of their being kidnapped, to the point that when one daughter found out from a classmate that her father was THE Walt Disney, she went home and asked for his autograph!
Hollywood Stories truly has something for everyone. It is a thoroughly entertaining book that features a remarkable cast of Hollywood’s legendary characters and icons and is jam-packed with surprising and
funny tales with often unpredictable endings. No matter which page the book is opened on, there will be some fascinating part of Hollywood history to be savored!
Here’s our exclusive interview with author, Stephen Schochet.
The Mac Wire: One reviewer said, your are “The best storyteller about Hollywood”, what do you say to that?
Stephen Schochet: Boy it sure is, there are so many great storytellers like Peter O’Toole and Michael Caine. It was very nice of Boston radio host Jordan Rich to say that.
TMW: How did the book come about? Were you approached by a publisher due to your Hollywood-oriented experience or did you pitch around the idea? What kind of responses led to doing the book? I bet you were approached first.
SS: Hollywood Stories is actually a self published book which I did on my own, there was never any other publisher was involved. It came from my years of researching fun tales to tell the customers on my bus about stars, movies, directors, producers and famous landmarks like the Chinese Theater, the Chateau Marmont, etc. The idea was that the stories which were very brief but hopefully packed with fun information could be told anywhere. I had previously self published two audio books on CD Tales of Hollywood and Fascinating Walt Disney, and had gotten publicity for them and had them placed in bookstores so self-publishing was not that mysterious to me.
TMW: Your book is so jam-packed with fascinating stories, how long did it take to write? At first glance it looks quite time consuming! Love the short, right to the point stories.
SS: I got the idea to write Hollywood Stories in March 2009 and the whole thing took about ten months of working on it every day. Before that I had been collecting and writing material about Hollywood for about twenty years. Some of the content was for other projects such as articles for my web site and a one minute radio show; some of it I was just collecting to keep my tour fresh. When you have a job like that you see the same places all the time but you can change what you say. Some of the stories go back even longer.
TMW: Tell us about “The Legend of Bozo”.
SS: The Legend of Bozo… A character created for a children’s storytelling record in 1946, Bozo the
Clown became both a franchised television star and part of an urban legend. Over two hundred actors played the redheaded jester in different markets around the world. The jolly circus performer would lead little tykes in contests where they could win prizes. The most notorious rumor about The Bozo Show
started in the 1960s. An underprivileged boy wanted to win a toy from Bozo’s treasure chest. All he had to do was throw three ping-pong balls in a barrel. Unfortunately, the third attempt fell short; the disappointed youngster ran off and buried his face in his hands. The white-skinned host followed him. “That’s a Bozo no–no.” The angry kid raised his head. “Cram it, clown!” The unproven, not filmed incident was repeated so often that after years of denials, some of the retired ex-Bozos began to flip flop and swear the story was true. I first heard that “Cram it Clown” tale from my Communications teacher at UCLA almost thirty years ago and never forgot it. Then when I decided to do the book it took some extra research to flesh it out and hopefully make it flow.
TMW: What about the Walt Disney’s Daughters story?
SS: Walt Disney’s two daughters, Sharon and Diane, grew up sheltered from the limelight. The children had no images of Mickey Mouse around their home. Their father didn’t go to many parties, preferring to stay in after a long day of work. Sometimes he would playfully chase the youngsters upstairs, cackling like the evil peddler woman in Snow White. When they behaved badly, Walt would admonish them with a raised eyebrow; his stern demeanor inspired the character of the wise old owl, in the 1942 animated feature Bambi. As toddlers, the brainy Diane and beautiful Sharon stayed blissfully unaware that theirparents worried about them being kidnapped and allowed no pictures of thesisters to be publicly circulated. Once in 1939, a curious classmate questioned six-year-old Diane about her family. She went home and said, “Daddy, younever told me you were that Walt Disney,” and asked him for an autograph.
TMW: Organizing the topics for the book must have been a nightmare!
SS: You are right, organizing the material was hard but it was really fun. There were alot of things to decide like the story Comics and Monsters about Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein; should it go in the comedian section, Science Fiction and Horror or Drinking Tales. Likewise, should The Real Maria Loved the Sound of Music go in Singers and Dancers, Great Movie Anecdotes or Oscar Tales, a lot of those choices were whimsical, some were made due to the chapter’s length.
TMW: What stories do you think readers will reference the most?
SS: This book is kind of skewed to classic Hollywood so I think it will probably go in that direction although there are plenty of contemptary people in it like Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts. One of my favourite reviews so far was from a mother who said her nine-year-old son didn’t know a lot of the names in the book but loved the anecdotes anyway. I honestly think you could take some, not all, but some of the stories of the book change the names and it would still be enjoyable.
TMW: You really dug deep to find celebrity stories that hadn’t been published before.
SS: What I tried to do well tell the stories in a way that hadn’t been done before. For example: Greta Garbo’s Strange Encounter Three ghostly figures induced Greta Garbo to restate her famous quote from the 1932 movie Grand Hotel. The twenty-eight-year-old Swedish beauty never allowed visitors while she worked on MGM movie sets. Interlopers caused her to lose concentration when she made faces on camera, shattering the illusions she worked so hard to create. But somehow these three clownish apparitions, with their ghoulish makeup, had come charging into Garbo’s workspace. She hadn’t seen them at the studio before; there was something unusual, almost frightening about them. What did they look like normally? “I want to be alone!” she cried, and then beat a hasty retreat to her dressing room. Her antagonists, who were actually new contract players at Metro, were at first bewildered by her reaction, and then they began to laugh and ran off. “C’mon, let’s see who else we can scare around here!” Moe said to the other two Stooges. My source for that story was The Three Stooges Scrapbook (Howard-Maurer, Joan, Jeff Lenburg, and Greg Lenburg. The Three Stooges Scrapbook. New York: Citadel, 2000.) The change was I told it from Greta Garbo’s point of view with biographical information so the revelation at the end came as a surprise. So hopefully Hollywood Stories will really be fun to read for people because of the way the material is presented.
TMW: We can’t wait for your next book.
SS: I think it will be a while before there is a follow-up book and it might be something a little different, I have some ideas on that score. If people would like to find out the book Hollywood Stories: Short, Entertaining Anecdotes About the Stars and Legends of the Movies, the audio books Tales of Hollywood and Fascinating Walt Disney, or the tours I give either privately or for VIP Tours and Charters they can visit: http://www.hollywoodstories.com